To my “Still Never Trump” brethren
July 3, 2017 § Leave a comment
Before I begin I offer the following caveat:
- I voted for Donald Trump
- I take Donald Trump at his word that he is a Christian
- I believe Donald Trump’s tweeting is out of control
- I believe Donald Trump’s self-defensive stance is beneath the Office of the POTUS
It is necessary for me to make this caveat because, apart from it, I will inevitably be accused of being a non-objective “Always Trumper,” one who believes that Donald Trump can never do wrong and that every time he lashes out against his detractors he is completely justified. I am afraid, however, in the end, the caveat will be in vain.
Some of you are still stuck on the second bullet point—so bear with me.
It is truly dangerous business for us to say we know for certainty that anyone is or isn’t regenerated by the Holy Spirit. In a conversation about my writing this post, a good friend of mine reminded me that he takes professions of faith at face value. Christians, of all people, should understand that their behavior is not the final test that they have been born again. Believers can and do behave badly; we possess most of the letters of the New Testament because this is true.
In 1 Corinthians, for instance, Paul never questions the professions of faith of the individual Corinthians, but he does question their behavior. The basis of that questioning is the Gospel: how do truly gospel-born people behave? And when they discover their behavior is inconsistent with their profession of faith, what do they do? The answer is they repent—and they rest in the truth and power of the Gospel not only to assure them of the forgiveness of sins but also to build them up in the faith and make them more like Christ.
Every believer needs the edification of this Gospel reminder both for the grace of accountability and the hope of maturity. The beauty of this is that it calls true believers struggling with their sinfulness to rest in God’s grace, it calls merely professing believers to repent of believing they are Christians because of their behavior and it reminds everyone that we are to encourage one another and build each other up—because we all need the accountability and hope of the grace of God in Christ.
The point of all of this will become clear a bit later—but now it is necessary for me to make an up-front, full disclosure: I support Donald Trump—in precisely the same way I supported Barack Obama (whom I did not vote for either in 2008 or 2012).
I do indeed want Donald Trump to succeed as President—not because I agree with him on every point or believe his behavior is “fine” or for any other ridiculous reason that supposedly proves that my desire for his success makes me an “Always Trumper.” I wanted the same thing for Barack Obama, too—and I could hardly be accused of walking anywhere near lockstep with his policies. But Obama was my President by virtue of the facts, and so I gave him the best possible support any President could ever hope to have: I prayed for him to have wisdom and courage to make the right decisions, not necessarily his party’s decisions. I want my President, whoever he or she may be, to succeed in this way because by such success all Americans also succeed.
I want to make some observations and then ask a few questions.
I have observed an ugly hypocrisy.
I have observed that many of my evangelical Christian friends—and by friends I do not mean virtual friends via social media but people I have had and continue to have face-to-face interaction—are utterly consumed with their distress over Donald Trump. I have further observed that the majority of these folks demonstrate a complete and total intolerance of all things Trump; while they extend great amounts of grace toward all manner of celebrities (actors, authors, recording artists, pundits, etc.) who not merely reject but show open contempt for their professed values, Donald Trump gets nothing. They get this grace because their expression, though often vulgar and even blasphemous, is “honest” or “gritty” or “real.” Donald Trump? No way—he’s practically already in hell.
I fully acknowledge the difference between actors or recording artists and the POTUS—but that very difference makes my point all the more critical; of all people in the world, by virtue of his position of influence and visibility, not to mention for the sake of his own soul, Donald Trump needs to be surrounded by Gospel-driven, grace-grounded people who patiently, lovingly, and directly give it to him straight.
My first question is simply, “Why do you behave so hypocritically?”
This brings me back to my explanation of the second bullet point of my caveat. If we take Donald Trump’s profession of faith at face value, why are you tearing down your brother for whom Christ died? Will you not extend to your brother the same grace that Christ extended you—and all the more so if in fact, as a believer, he is behaving badly and sinning as he is? Why be less patient and gracious with him than you are with non-believers?
If he isn’t regenerate—why does he not deserve to receive the same grace you urge that we extend to other famous professed unbelievers? Is it because you think Donald Trump is beyond grace? Is he unredeemable? Or, worse, do you actually hope he is unredeemable? Is it right to refuse to extend to him the same grace and “room” that you extend other unbelievers? His behavior may very well be proof that he is not, indeed, regenerate. What do you propose should be done—that we refuse him the Gospel and condemn him?
My next question is, “What do you mean when you say Christians should condemn Trump?”
Do you want him to acknowledge his sin, to repent and pledge to behave differently? What if does just his very thing—will that change anything? Is praying for him in the manner I mentioned above not to be preferred over condemnation? If you mean we should condemn his words, then please make that clear.
My next question is a follow up on the previous question: “What do you hope to accomplish by your detraction and condemnation?”
Is it that you simply want him gone, no matter what, whether by impeachment or resignation? Is it that you wish to further alienate your brethren who, like me, do not believe Donald Trump is beyond redemption and who hope God will use him like he has used every single other unregenerate President before him? Is it impossible by common grace for Donald Trump to do anything right?
My final question is, “Are you willing to give him a chance?”
Specifically, are you willing to give him a chance by acknowledging that our Constitution allows him 4 years of opportunity—then you can vote for someone else?
Are you willing to give him a chance by praying for God to surround him with godly men and women as advisors and counselors?
Are you willing to give him a chance by praying for God, if he is an unbeliever, to soften his heart to his own need for a Savior, to grant him repentance and faith in Christ; or, if he is indeed regenerate, that God would convict him of his frequently inappropriate behavior and encourage him to rest in the power of the Gospel to bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance?
Are you willing to give him a chance by admitting that you have been holding to the grace of Christ with partiality by refusing to extend to him the same grace you have received?
Are you willing to give him a chance by admitting the possibility that you have basically been pitching a fit since he was elected?
In the end, I am afraid that what drives my “never Trumper” brethren is their fear of the world. Hold on, now; don’t hear what I am not saying! What I mean is that these folks are listening to the hysterical “never Trumper” media and pundits and are believing their narrative—though there is practically nothing factual to support it. Adding to this the fact that it is, indeed, a plain chore to stand by Donald Trump, my brethren are frankly worn out and embarrassed. Even worse, Trump’s most ardent detractors, both non-Christian and, sadly, allow no gradations of support for the man; any endorsement of any of his policies proves one is just as sexist, racist, xenophobic and vulgar as he supposedly is. For fear of being identified with him in any positive way, I believe many of my friends would rather just join together with the band.
A final caveat: By saying these things I do not at all mean to suggest that Donald Trump is “God’s man” in any strange messianic sense. Literally, Lord, no! But every political leader, whether elected by the people or in power by wickedness and intrigue, is God’s man in that no one person is ever in a position of authority except by the ordination of God (Romans 13:1-7)—and in every case that leader deserves the proper support that the very same text commands us to render.
This does not mean our support is to be unquestioning or blind. But it cannot be selective. Our President—our country—needs us. He, especially if he is indeed a brother, needs the Lord.
What else would you propose?