Evangelicalism and the Donald

I’ve generally avoided discussing candidates in the past on Truth in the Trenches. In part, Christians role in politics has, I believe, distorted people’s understanding of our central message – that man is created in the image of God, that we are a fallen race, deserving of punishment, but that God is merciful, and provided a way of escape from our deserved wrath through Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, when we start discussing political topics, this last point, God’s mercy and grace, gets lost in the shuffle, or at least in the popular media.[1]

And yet, I am very concerned with the number of Evangelicals supporting Donald Trump. I can understand supporting Trump if he wins the Republican Primary; after all, at that point and time, there will be fewer choices, most third parties aren’t viable in the United States (for good or for ill), so one has three choices, vote for the democratic nominee, vote for the Republican nominee, or abstain from voting (or vote for a third party candidate, which has the same impact as staying home). And yet, during the primary, there are a number of other choices.

Trump is usually criticized for his rhetoric, this is not a fair or wise criticism in my opinion; while I dislike his lack of nuance bellicose rhetoric did not prevent Churchill from being the essential figure in World War II. But what is concerning is the man’s questionable honesty and integrity, and in a Republic, these are serious concerns. Trump has called himself a Christian, but when he says that he doesn’t think he needs God’s forgiveness, (and this would include his divorce from his first wife after he had an affair). Now please don’t get me wrong, I believe firmly in forgiving people of their past sins; but claiming to be a Christian without realizing a need for forgiveness seems to be pandering, the empty rhetoric common at this time of the year. The lack of distinction of his supposed conversion to conservative principles equally lack credibility; he supported Hillary and abortion, until he decided to run as a Republican in the primary. He may compare himself to Reagan, but this is the pale comparison of a political opportunist.

Trump is also arrogant. I am not against confidence, but I serious question a man whose biggest argument is that he will “do great at” whatever the question of the moment is. Finally, Trump is not a lover of good men, one of the requirements for a pastor (and on that ground this is something I think believers should take very seriously). Trump’s approach to Cruz is over the top character assassination – we do not like it when this is done by the progressives to conservatives and Christians, will we render, therefore evil for evil? Do we replace a democrat who regularly uses invective as a means of punishing his enemies in the press with a Republican who will do the same? Some will make the argument that this means he won’t be able to work with Congress, and this certainly has been true of Obama’s demonizing of Republican, but an even bigger issue is that Obama and Trump here share the same character flaw.

This is in juxtaposition to other conservatives whose embrace of conservative principles seems sincere. Some of whom discuss Christianity in a way that is unfeigned and honest. So why would an Evangelical choose Trump in the primary when there are simply better men available?

[1]On a second note, my goal for Truth is the Trenches is to be broadly Evangelical, but while a Christian approach to political theory will be influenced by his or her Christian worldview, these approaches will also be influenced by secondary questions of theology.

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