Christianity Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
I began this blog as a point by point take down of the recent Christianity Today article. I got about half way through it, but then I took a breath, said a prayer, asked for patience, and deleted the entire post. I'm not against Christianity Today. I'm not against people who disagree with me, particularly my brothers and sisters in Christ. What I am, however, is someone who looks to the Bible for answers, and so I did. And here is how I will answer them.
Romans 13:1-7 says:
"Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. 7 Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor."
Now, before I catch a landslide of criticism, let me say this, this verse cuts both ways on the political spectrum. Men like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were just as much allowed by God to lead in their times as George W. Bush and Donald Trump are in theirs. These verses simply lay out a principle that God allows humanity to govern itself, and he superintends over it from a distance. God was no more responsible for the moral failings of the two liberal men as He was for those of the two conservative men. Let's not even talk about LBJ, Winston Churchill, or (GASP) JFK. Even stellwalt moral pillars such as Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter had things that they did in office that could be questioned.
Clearly we can say that not all government is good. Yet we must also admit that authority is not in and of itself bad, and neither does it come about in a vacuum. If it were truly evil, God would not have put rulers in place. So we can't say that all authority is bad, just like we cannot say that all government is good.
We see examples of this in Scripture. Rulers with deep and astounding moral flaws were used by God to impact the affairs of man on Earth. Xerxes, Darius, Cyrus, David, Solomon, and even Pontious Pilot were all used by God at different times to effect change within the world. Yet by in large, the people always get the ruler that they deserve. Unfaithfulness leads to moral decay, and moral decay, to bad rulers (either by conquest or moral dissolution). Societal virtue and scriptural following lead to blessing and prosperity, and results in moral rulers who put their people first. Yet the later statement doesn't describe America anymore, not in any true or real sense. So enter Donald Trump, a leader that God is using, even though his character flaws match the society around him.
In an almost astoundingly perfect correlation, Donald Trump's biggest faults appear to mirror American Society. Narcissism, authoritarianism, disregard for other's dissenting opinions, a "do what I want to" attitude, and a list of hurt feelings and retaliatory needs that could fill a book. He also believes that he's right and everyone else is wrong. Just like the general public and American society at large.
So, yes, America has received a ruler that it deserves, and God seems to be using this one to return society to its social moorings. In many ways, this is a Cyrus moment. No one, and I mean no one, could objectively look at King Cyrus' life and claim that he was a moral man, or that he was anything close to a Christian, yet God used him to return Israel to their land, and the law to its rightful place. I believe that what we're witnessing today is very much the same thing.
Now before you think that the above statement is saying that Trump is a good person, it is not. I do not believe that. I do not believe that he is a perfect man, or even a moral man. He is deeply flawed and in some cases outright wicked (this word pertains most specifically to some of his business dealings). Yet, he is doing for American society what Cyrus did for the nation of Israel. He is restoring it to its foundational reality, and he is driving back the social anarchy that has slowly unraveled our society's moral fabric since the sexual revolution of the 1960's.
Is he the man that I would have picked for the job? No, in fact I refused to vote for him, but he is the man who God is using to do it, so I accept it, just as I had to accept that God was allowing Bill Clinton and Barack Obama to destroy our country's moral compass against my wishes. God knew better, and so I accepted the rule of law even though it broke my heart.
I did not want Donald Trump either, but that does not mean that I am angry at what he is accomplishing within our society.
Is his agenda perfect? Again, no, but he at least seems to understand that compassion is not the responsibility of Government. Compassion is the responsibility of the Church and/or individuals who give to charity. There are no moral brownie points, spiritual or otherwise, for forcibly taking from some in order to give to another. Christ told us to give. He told us to care. He never said to have the government do it for us.
Yet so many have gotten so used to abdicating this responsibility that they cannot imagine a world where they are responsible for compassion themselves. They do not want to be, it is no longer easy. So they will use this charge as a shield against Trump and his moral reforms, because that is what they truly despise, not his fiscal policies as much as they attempt to paint it that way.
Make no mistake, no one cared a whit about the morality or fiscal reality of Donald Trump until he started tossing the apple cart of their "Moral Progress." As long as he stayed out of their way as they reshaped America into a perfectly secular humanist and amoral society, they couldn't have cared less what he did or didn't do. And that, if nothing else, should tell you all that you need to know. They are not truly concerned at all about his moral compass, they are worried about their own, and seeing what they want happen, happen. This is absolutely about secularizing society and removing religion from our country in any type of meaningful way. ESPECIALLY Christianity.
The other charge that I've received from some readers is that Trump is shrinking the Church, particularly from those big tent Christians who feel like morality is absolutely passe and not required for salvation. The more we pack in the better we're doing. Who cares about how they live or what they do? Avoid the hard truths, keep them coming, and just wish and hope that they'll live better. It's all about the size of the tent and not about the quality of the church.
This is dealt with directly in the Christianity Today article when they say that it is effecting our witness within society. The logical conclusion of their statement seems to be, that Trump is causing people to leave the church. Therefore if you support Trump's reforms, you are doing so as well. They believe that you cannot separate the reforms from the person. Therefore, you cannot support Trump because of who he is as a person.
This statement, if followed all the way out, would leave Christians in a place where they cannot participate in the political process at all. If we were to drag the skeletons out of the closet on all of the politicians, and hold them to that litmus test, then we could not in good conscience vote for any of them.
Does that give Trump a pass on his moral failings? By no means; but it does create a reality where the Christian is being forced to vote between a flawed person who is doing good within the framework of society and a flawed person who wants to return to the secular humanism and amoralization of society. It is not a pretty choice, yet it appears to be the choice.
In the end, I would rather sit in a church with twenty-five real and true believers than sit in a church thronged with thousands who are there to have their ears tickled and to hear preachers tell them that how they live and what they do are irrelevant and have no bearing on their salvation.
Here is a news flash, if you are not living a reformed life that is being regenerated by the Holy Spirit, then you need to take a good hard look at your salvation. And when churches stop preaching that, then there becomes no problem with the secularization and amoralization of society. At least from the view of that church and its congregants.
No, Trump's policies are not pushing people out of the church, they are forcing people to look into the mirror and decide if they agree with the teachings of the Bible and of Christ. For many who have called themselves "Christian" for so long without doing so, it is a gut wrenching experience that they do not want to participate in. It is causing them to look at their own track record of evangelism and life choices and to see if they match up to the standard that they are attempting to hold the President to, and then finding how short of it they themselves fall. They do not like it, and they want it to stop. They do not mind the devolution of society as it gives them cover to participate in their own sinful desires. After all, it is not as bad as that one over there they can say.
I will be writing another entry soon on the necessity of the Bible as a moral anchor for society, but the fact remains that what Trump is doing for out society is no less transformational than that of Cyrus, and it once again proves that God can use anyone, even a deeply flawed individual to accomplish His will and to return society to its morality. He did it repeatedly with Israel. I am just grateful it came in the form of Trump, and not in the form of an international exile and slavery.
"19 This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. 22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. 26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world."