A Question About American Politics
August 23, 2023, 12:45 PM

Question: Are we to see what's happening to Trump as him reaping what he has sowed, or is it a political witch hunt?

Answer: Thank you for your question. I may be stating an unpopular opinion, but I remain fascinated by the attraction within Evangelical circles to Pres. Trump. Full disclosure, I did not vote for him in 2016, but I did in 2020. My reasons for the change were more policy related than personality related. I do understand the personal attraction Pres. Trump receives from vast swaths of middle America; he is a voice and a lightning rod that has revealed a disdain by our nation's elite toward white (mainly), middle-class, working Americans. But to this day, I remain amazed at the strong level of devotion Pres. Trump garners within Conservative (American) Evangelicalism. Part of that, I believe, is due to a misunderstanding of role the United States plays in Redemptive-History. Be that as it may, I recall a time a few years ago when I preached a sermon on Judges 3 (the story of Ehud). I referred to Ehud as an "unlikely hero," and then pointed to Christ as the unlikeliest of unlikely heroes. A man came up to me after the service and said to me, "I think Donald Trump is an unlikely hero." I stood dumbfounded because this man completely missed the point of the sermon (not once did I mention Trump's name), but it goes to show the adoration that Evangelicals have for Pres. Trump.

Looking at your question, though, I feel it's a case of two things that can be true at the same time. Pres. Trump is both reaping what he has sowed and is the victim of a political "witch hunt." Let's not kid ourselves, Pres. Trump has not led a morally upright life by any stretch of the imagination. He has spent the vast bulk of his life in the real estate industry and the entertainment industry. I think we would be naive to think that all his business dealings have been moral to a fault. He may have been within the bounds of legality, but there is a difference between moral and legal. Furthermore, his exploits within the entertainment industry are legendary. His extra-marital affairs and trysts are common knowledge. None of this mattered, though, when Trump donated large sums of money into the coffers of democratic candidates. However, ever since running as a republican in 2016, he has been the recipient of a near-infinite stream of attacks. Suddenly, the democratic party discovered "morality." Part of this is just "par for the course" in the political arena. However, calling Pres. Trump "Hitler" or a "white supremacist" or a "Nazi" is clearly an organized political smear job. Pres. Trump is many things, but no one with any sense of rationality believes Trump is "literally Hitler." Additionally, the two impeachment trials were clearly a sham and a politically motivated hit job. "Russia-Gate" was a hoax, and the there was nothing wrong with the phone call to Ukraine. Moreover, the recent indictments (four as I write) are for the most part politically motivated as well, and not honest attempts at justice.

So, yes, there is clearly a political witch hunt. But Pres. Trump has also reaped what he has sown. Part of this is seen in his hiring practices while in office. Many of the people he hired to help run his administration were not the best people for the job. Pres. Trump has these odd "loyalty tests" that are somewhat like tests of orthodoxy for him. If you flatter Trump or show unwavering loyalty to him, he will praise you and support you. This is despite what that person's political views are. Conversely, Pres. Trump has "cut off" people whom he believes have shown themselves as "disloyal" ("disloyalty" for Trump is basically you don't do or say what he likes). Examples of this are Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida or Kaleigh McEnany, his former press secretary.

Another example of Pres. Trump reaping what he's sown is seen in his treatment from the mainstream and establishment press. You may say, "No republican would ever receive fair treatment from the mainstream media, they're in the bag for democrats." Yes, that is, for the most part, true, but Pres. Trump doesn't do himself any favors when he goes head on and "destroys" the press. I realize that this is part of his charm to his supporters, but we're Christians, and part of Christian living is in controlling what comes out of our mouths. Paul says to the Ephesian church, "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers" (Ephesians 4:29 NKJV). Furthermore, Trump's past regarding his marital life (thrice married, twice divorced, extra-marital affairs) has taken away some of the moral high ground conservatives have held in years past.

Having said all this, I'm not saying that Christians can only vote for Christians, or that Pres. Trump, despite all his personal failings, wasn't a good president (or that he's somehow beyond redemption). What I am saying is Christians need to stop placing their hopes in earthly, political leaders. The United States is not, and never has been, a "Christian nation." We may have been founded upon Judeo-Christian virtues, but we are not, and never have been, a nation governed by Jesus Christ and following the Bible. There has been only one, true, "theocracy" and that is Israel in the OT. Since the coming of Christ, that theocratic nation is no more. In its place is the Church of Jesus Christ, made up of people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. Paul, in Ephesians, says:

[14] For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, [15] having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, [16] and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. (Ephesians 2:14-16 NKJV)

The Church of Jesus Christ is the making of "one new man from the two" (Jew and Gentile). The Church of Jesus Christ has existed in many different nations and under many different forms of government; it is truly an international organization. In fact, the Church of Jesus Christ is an embassy for the Kingdom of God. As the Apostle Paul says, "Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:20 NKJV). To the Philippians, Paul says, "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:20 NKJV). When you become a Christian, you become a citizen of the Kingdom of God and a subject of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, you are still, as it pertains to the flesh, a citizen of the US or the UK or Russia, etc., but your new citizenship supersedes all this.

How does this play out in our engagement with society and culture? Do we seek to transform the culture and society and turn it into a Christian nation? Some believe this. Do we retreat into our own Christian conclaves and have no engagement with the culture at all? Some Christians believe this as well. I believe that "none of the above" is true. The Apostle Peter is quite clear that we, the Church, ought to see ourselves as "pilgrims and sojourners" (1 Peter 1:1; 2:11). We need to adopt a "pilgrim" mindset. This is like what the Israelites were like in the wilderness or when they were in exile. In fact, in Jeremiah 29, the prophet writes a letter to the exiles in the Babylonian captivity, and in that letter, the Prophet says, "And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace, you will have peace" (Jeremiah 29:7 NKJV). How are Christians to live in the world today? Live as good citizens (read 1 Peter in its entirety), pray for your country and its welfare. Vote your conscience. Vote for the person you think will govern according to the principles of truth and justice. Remember that all earthly governments are established by God (Romans 13:1), and that was written during some of the worst excesses of the Roman Empire. God is also in sovereign control over the rise and fall of nations (Daniel 2:21), and that includes the United States.

What it all boils down to is this: I don't know if Pres. Trump is the leader we need, or the leader we deserve. In considering all of this, I find the words of Joseph de Maistre (18th century European philosopher) very apt. He once said, "Every nation gets the government it deserves." As an addendum, John Calvin added this pearl of wisdom, "When God wants to judge a nation, He gives them wicked rulers." What does this all mean regarding Pres. Trump? I don't know. What I do know is this: Whoever occupies the Oval Office, Jesus Christ is our King, who is seated at the right hand of the Father Almighty. He will come again to bring judgment and consummate His eternal Kingdom, and when He does, He will destroy all earthly kingdoms. Until that time, I want to live as an ambassador for Christ.

I hope this helps.

~ Pastor Carl

Post a Comment