“Let’s frame an argument beginning with an agreement that God put Donald Trump in the White House. Why would He do that?”
The question of whether Donald Trump belongs in the White House is one that has been asked since his campaign began but even more so this week as the embarrassment that is his administration reached new lows. His chief of staff was summarily dismissed and replaced, apparently due to leaks. His new communications director went on a foul-mouthed rant that has left even ardent supporters shaking their heads. Mr. Trump has been in office six months, and it’s gotten so that the only voices with good things to say about the man come from his own administration, some right-wing pundits, and the very core of his support. He’s made enemies of the press, his own party, and two-thirds of Americans, but to those who practice The Gospel of Self, these are all to be tolerated in the name of God rising up to save the country. Evangelical Christians used to base the entirety of their belief system in preparation for a life to come, but The Gospel of Self has taught them that they should also be fighting in the political realm today for those who would restore righteousness to America and the world.
Perhaps God actually did put Donald Trump in office, but for a different reason.
I played a significant role at The 700 Club during the 1980s in teaching these people that the first English-speaking settlers here planted a cross at Cape Henry in 1607 and claimed the land for “our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.” Moreover, according to what we taught at CBN, that claim continues today in the form of the United States, and we have a duty to protect it and see it advance. This is but one of the reasons the President’s core support can look the other way as he practices his form of managing the affairs of the country. All that doesn’t matter, because God is in it, and this form of faith can be very strong.
One common response is to view these people as ignorant, a dangerous assumption that speaks to education as the solution. That’s simply not going to happen for three reasons. One, it’s dead wrong at core. I know a great many believers of this ilk. They are not ignorant; they are driven by their faith, and that’s a different animal than ignorance. Two, this group tends to believe that advanced education is an enemy of the church, because it drives people away from the faith. Finally, the accusation is an insult to their integrity, which drives them further away while validating persecution verses from the Bible in the process. Dealing with Donald Trump from a Christian perspective is going to take a strategy other than insulting them.
So does Donald Trump belong in the White House or not? The answer, of course, is yes. We elected him. But there’s another view on this, too.
Sometimes, the most likely and obvious answer to the question of whether something “should” be is its existence, and this forms the essence of the right response to certain Evangelicals regarding the behavior of “their man.” Donald Trump IS the President, and to borrow the language of the faith, he’s there because he’s supposed to be there. Therefore, the question isn’t so much how we survive this remarkable time in history, as it is what do we do afterwards?
We must remember that Evangelical Fundamentalist Christians take their cues from the Bible, which they believe instructs them on how to respond to the cultural shifts in front of them. They’re mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore when it comes to morality, jobs, taxes, security, safety, freedoms, and education. It’s no coincidence that these were the planks on which Trump campaigned, so it’s easy to understand their excitement with the candidate and now President. However, the Bible is filled with stories of people who stepped outside the will of God and were destroyed as a result. Therefore, let’s frame an argument that begins with an agreement that God put Donald Trump in the White House. Why did He do that?
If we can bring ourselves to ask this, it’s completely fair to then ask the question “what could be going on with such a scenario,” if it isn’t to remove “sin” from the U.S.? Could God be judging His own people and not the culture? Perhaps God is the One who’s mad as hell and isn’t going to take it anymore. Asking God to judge the world is a dangerous proposition, because God’s judgment, the Bible teaches, begins with the “house of God,” His people.
Everyone knows there is a great divide between us in the West, one that life cannot tolerate forever, and perhaps that is what the Trump presidency is all about. Could our current chaos be the very path for resolving the great divide in our midst? Frankly, if anything, that “divide” is contrary to what life could want from any of us, so again borrowing from the language of the church, perhaps this is what God is trying to show us. After all, how often does life lead us through our own difficulties by forcing us to deal with them over and over until we get it right?
The power of this argument is that it puts a contrary view on the same playing field as those who use the Bible to press a nationalistic worldview. We’d no longer be fighting in different stadiums.
Let’s look at one current example. Scott Pruitt, a climate change denier, is now head of the Environmental Protection Agency. This appointment was just one of the shocking moves made by Trump under the guise of “draining the swamp.” I suppose, from a distance, destroying a government can look a great deal like draining a swamp. What Pruitt’s appointment means is an EPA that won’t cause problems for the rich, which is understandable given the President’s circle, but by choosing Pruitt, he’s putting global warming itself on trial. Actually, the real issue is whether human beings are causing or contributing to global warming, for that’s where it becomes political (and influences those deep pocket friends of Trump’s who run the energy industry).
“The administrator believes that we will be able to recruit the best in the fields which study climate and will organize a specific process in which these individuals ... provide back-and-forth critique of specific new reports on climate science,” the official said, according to E&E News.
“We are in fact very excited about this initiative,” the official reportedly added. “Climate science, like other fields of science, is constantly changing. A new, fresh and transparent evaluation is something everyone should support doing.”
Of the possible outcomes of such an initiative, not all are unfavorable. If the discussion is “fresh and transparent” as promised, then truth stands a chance, and isn’t that what we all want? Oh, the deck will certainly be stacked in favor of the “it’s not our fault” crowd, but it would be a mistake to assume such an effort will be a total whitewash. Isn’t there just a chance that we need to have this discussion? What’s the alternative?
This process is likely to be repeated many times over as President Trump continues his form of governance. Do we need to be watchful? Of course, and that’s one of the good things about our nature. We can be quite skeptical when we need to be. In doing so, however, we might want to take a deep breath and consider that what’s happening isn’t automatically a net disaster, because life has a funny way of putting obstacles in front of us, so that we can learn and grow as humans.
The rise of Trump is a false promise to those extreme fundamentalist believers who “just know” that he’s right, because their church, their faith, and their families and friends all say so. It’s a false promise, because truth is one of those things that has a way of surfacing no matter how many times people try to hide it. Life’s way has always been to let humans do what we wish and watch as our efforts collapse. It’s the hard way, but it’s the way we learn as a species.
Our mistakes matter in our willingness to fulfill the potential of the human race. Could this be one of those times when we’re able to fix some of the big ones?