A lot of ink has been spilled about President Donald Trump. Approximately 294 books have been written about him running the gamut of outright praise, calling him a God appointed leader to being the worst human alive.
Trump was an extraordinarily productive President with a huge list of accomplishments. The pre COVID-19 economy was remarkable for almost everyone. Regarding COVID there is no doubt his lack of a hands on comprehensive plan has resulted in a disaster of death that is ongoing. He has personally been indifferent to the suffering. Yet here at the end of his presidency Operation Warp Speed must given due credit for the unprecedented speed in which vaccines have been developed.
In foreign policy, Trump managed to reign in North Korea, kept a lid on ISIS as he was keeping Iran in check and he did not get us entangled in more regional wars and orchestrated multiple Middle East accords. In and of themselves all of theses things are great achievements. And yes, he should have gotten more credit.
Yet there are particularly good reasons that his personal behavior overshadowed his accomplishments.
All of us are sinners, the worst of sinners. We cannot and should not judge a man’s heart as only God knows. Trump may or may not be a Christian. His outward remarks and certainly his actions have indicated otherwise.
Trump was and continues to be arrogant, bombastic, petty, rude, and crude, caustic, and divisive, and woefully UnChristlike. Without a doubt Trump displayed bold leadership on a vast array of important policies, yet sadly here’s the rub, Trump has squandered all of it away through his boorish and obnoxious temperament. Had Trump been a truly decent, humble, and reverent man, he undoubtedly would have remained in office, and his faith based -supportive influence would have continued.
Now yes, I have heard the objections, even from Evangelicals that we were not looking for a pastor. True but at the least we wanted and needed a man that if not decent in the basic secular sense at least pretended to be so.
There is no perfect man, no perfect politician. We get them warts and all. We can as citizens overlook a lot in a person if they have some minimal contrition and humility. Unfortunately, Trump has never to my knowledge displayed any contrition or regret except when it comes to him losing money or if it effects his popularity. His narcissism is legendary. No doubt there.
Prior to Trump it was typical of Evangelicals to call out bad behavior and immorality and to make a direct connection to that and public office. Something happened and with Trump many Evangelicals, national figures like Franklin Graham etc. decided to disregard moral behavior and instead make transactional bargains with politicians to achieve Biblical goals in policy like stopping abortion etc. Trump gladly made the deal and went on to do many of those things including appointing supreme court Justices that reflected those values.
Part of what makes this all possible is our cultural background of acceptable lying. Even Christians have been culturally cultivated to think this way.
In a culture of acceptable lying, we must constantly choose what to believe, and our choices from toothpaste to political candidates are at the same time driven by and shaping our desires. The bottom line is we mostly believe what we want to believe, and by choosing to believe what we want to believe, we confirm our beliefs.
This means we can choose to believe a claim or conspiracy without any proof because we desire to, and we want to believe. We have been fooled and duped if don’t look objectively, through the lens of common sense of facts and through the lens of God’s Word. You must learn to be reflective of what you think and what you do.
Free speech then becomes a casualty. Truth becomes dependent and linked to our desire. Rather than the need for true speech, truth making, we desire speech that corresponds to what we desire (or think we desire) so when that doesn’t happen, we feel justified and free to dismiss it.
Since we don’t want Trump to be a liar as it undermines our ability to vote for him, we just deny the truth and like Trump make our own reality.
Many choose to ignore the politics of our nation hoping it will go well or deciding it just does not matter. Wishful thinking but far from reality.
While upholding and doing “God’s work” obviously did not make Trump a virtuous person, his poor character has greatly diminished the prospect of America remaining a God-honoring nation. Let us Imagine what a powerful, lasting force and legacy for good a truly godly President might have been!
Looking into the mirror of God’s Holy Word do we see Trump in ourselves? Do we think “going to church” and doing “God’s work” makes us personally righteous and acceptable to God?
Tim Keller has said that if your “god” never disagrees with you, you might be worshiping an idealized version of yourself. When reality confronts us with unpleasant and difficult truths, we can be assured our God is present.
As the church fights against the cultural onslaught of encroaching narcissism, it becomes even more urgent for Christians to trust the unfailing promises of God.