We recently received feedback from a reader, and I would like to take a moment to respond to it. A number of themes brought up in the letter are of general concern. Therefore, a response to the reader also addresses those broader issues in society. I publish both the letter to the editor and the response accordingly.
A Letter to the Editor
Joseph D. writes on October 11, 2020:
“Hello and God bless. I just read your article about JD Hall. I agree with everything. He is, in my opinion, a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
But I also was bothered by your stance on Trump. You were right in pointing out his various evil deeds. That is exactly why we as the Body of Christ should not vote for such a person.
Nowhere in scripture does God give us a free pass on supporting someone who is as ungodly as they come. Matter of fact we are commanded to be separate from the world. Jesus calls us the church because He calls us out of the world. Literally [that’s] what the word “church” means.
Nowhere in scripture are we commanded or encouraged to get involved with politics. That is of the world.
Let me encourage you brother to reconsider your stance on such an ungodly man.
Let me ask this: if you were given a choice between the Antichrist or Satan, who would you choose? Obviously neither. This is the same attitude we should have when considering voting.
Trump is a person who is led by Satan. Biden is led by Satan. Most politicians are led by Satan. Politics is of the world. Jesus calls us to be separate from this.
God will put in power whom He chooses. He does not need our help in raising or lowering kings. God bless brother. Stay close to Jesus and follow His teachings.”
Thank you for your letter. I am sorry to hear you are bothered by my stance on President Trump. Please allow me to respond to a few of the points you made. In so doing, hopefully both my position and objective truth and goodness will become clearer.
Firstly, my aim in being honest about the character flaws of our president was not to tear him down. But look back at articles I wrote during the Republican primary leading up to the 2016 presidential election. From the first, I issued warnings about the seeming lack of concern for character on the part of Trump’s supporters. The seeming excessive importance attributed to the fact that he was a wealthy and confident businessman disturbed me.
As Jesus said in John 7:24, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
It seemed to me at first as though Trump supporters were doing just the opposite. They were judging by appearances instead of judging with right judgment.
What changed my mind in no small part was when I saw men of good character like Dr. Ben Carson, Dr. James Dobson, and Rev. Franklin Graham coming out in support of Trump.
Dr. Dobson went as far as saying he had mutual friends and acquaintances with Trump. These had confided in Dobson that Trump had recently come to genuine faith in Christ.
Whether this report was accurate or not, only the good Lord knows for sure. Yet Trump does seem to have undergone a remarkable change of heart with regards to his former way of living in the public eye since running for president, particularly where his relationship with women is concerned.
But I have a genuine question for Christians who dismiss Donald Trump as irredeemable. From whence comes this sort of thinking? I ask because I do not believe it comes from the Scriptures.
The irony here has to do with the commonest caricatures drawn of conservatives and Christians. We are called judgmental, stuffy, and unforgiving. Yet for all that, it is remarkable how so many conservative Christians have been willing to graciously set aside Trump’s former indiscretions in light of the man he appears now to be.
In short, when we stand firm in opposing wrongs, we are accused of being stuffy and unloving. Yet when we are forgiving and merciful, we are called unprincipled hypocrites, and are told we are damaging our testimony.
Was Trump a lewd womanizer before? Yes. He divorced twice prior to marrying his current wife, Melania.
What is done is done, however, and it cannot be helped now. There is no time machine to go back and undo the mistakes and misdeeds of Trump’s former self. There is only the present and future with which to reckon.
Should we therefore be more severe with Trump than Jesus was to the woman caught in adultery?
Or what about the woman of Samaria? She had been married five times, and when Jesus met her she was living with yet another man who was not her husband.
This is where we do well to say as Jesus did.
“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
“Neither do I condemn you.”
Otherwise, I fear we are in peril again of ignoring what Jesus said about not judging by appearances but judging with right judgment, as well as ignoring God’s requirement that we love mercy.
Led By Satan
You say at one point that Trump, Biden, and most politicians are led by Satan. Again, where does this confident assertion come from?
I strive to be like the Bereans in the book of Acts in the New Testament. I aspire to being worthy of what was said about them being said of me, that I search the Scriptures daily to see whether the things I hear claimed are consistent with what God has revealed in His Word. Having studied the Scriptures all my life, I cannot readily conceive what you base this position of yours on.
The Apostle Paul writes in Romans that the one in authority is a minister of God. His role is to punish those who do evil and reward those who do what is right.
Jesus says that we are to judge trees by their fruit.
Taking these two together, I conclude something about what my responsibility is in evaluating candidates as presented for elected office.
Let us consider the issue of abortion for just the first of many examples.
On the one hand, we have Trump who as president has done more to protect the unborn than anyone in the past fifty years.
On the other hand, we have a candidate for president who claims that shedding the innocent blood of unborn children is a “right.” Then he goes farther by maligning anyone who seeks to prevent such by restricting or outlawing abortion. Biden and his party even believe that partial-birth abortion is permissible, so long as that is what the mother wants.
God tells us very clearly. Hands that shed innocent blood are an abomination to him. Therefore, there is no moral equivalence between those who are for abortion and those who stand staunchly against it. So do not invent or contrive one.
There is a more fundamental claim you make, however, which puzzles and saddens me. You say that Christians are commanded to be separate from the world. You say that Jesus calls us out of the world, and that this is what the “church” literally means.
Yet the truth is that the word translated as “church” in our Bibles is in the original Greek “ecclesia.”
You must not know what this word “ecclesia” according to Merriam-Webster has as its first definition.
“1: a political assembly of citizens of ancient Greek states; especially : the periodic meeting of the Athenian citizens for conducting public business and for considering affairs proposed by the council”
The second definition simply reads “CHURCH.”
In other words, our word church in its most literal sense is just a gathering or assembly.
However, it is of exceeding interest to me what word was used by the New Testament writers. It was a word which was already in common usage at the time they were writing. And the common usage of the term at that time was to describe a political assembly of citizens to discuss public business and to consider the council’s proposals.
The Welfare Of The City
Indeed, another interesting term to define here is the word “politics.”
According to Wikipedia, this term also comes from the Greek “politiká,” meaning ‘affairs of the cities,’ and is “the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups…”
How then can you say that “politics is of the world”?
Are we not exiles in a sense, and strangers in a strange land? Many Christians heartily embrace the notion that this world is not our home. If they have the right of it, however, consider Jeremiah 29:7 where God gives His people a mandate and a purpose during their time in exile.
“But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to Yahweh on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”
In reply you might ask what that means about how we should vote, and who for. Clearly elections have both positive and negative consequences effecting directly the welfare of the city, state, and nation.
So then, we ought to vote in such a way that fosters economic growth, domestic and national security, and righteousness.
It is beyond disputing that Trump’s policies have greatly fostered economic growth by reducing burdensome regulations and tax rates which were both punitive and re-distributive.
Similarly, Trump has championed American security by insisting on energy independence and rebuilding a depleted and demoralized military.
Trump has also sought the welfare of the city by insisting on the rule of law as opposed to mob rule and anarchy.
Moreover, to the end of doing justice as Micah 6:8 tells us God requires, Trump has appointed impartial and originalist judges who honor the Constitution and Bill of Rights rather than trampling on them by legislating from the bench.
In The World
Yes, politics often is of the world. Yet Christ told us our role in the world is to act as salt and light. We are to preserve, add flavor, and illuminate the darkness.
Consider what the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 12:2.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
We must deduce from this the immediate purpose of becoming heavenly minded. It is to be of earthly good, not to retreat and idly await the second coming. Otherwise, we are burying our talents in a field like the wicked servant in the parable.
Even if you were correct when you say that President Trump is a wicked man, however, what of it? I do not agree with you that he is in the present. But even if you were correct, does that mean the Lord will not use him?
Throughout the Old and New Testaments the Almighty repeatedly uses sinners, and even pagan kings to accomplish His purposes.
Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And God changes not. Therefore, God still does use sinners and pagan kings in our day. And He will continue in doing so until that which is imperfect is swept away when God makes all things new again. Indeed, he has no one else with which to work.
What is more, God raises up even sinners and pagan kings to accomplish His purposes, and yet without any blemish on His own holy and righteous character. How then can it be said that Christians corrupt themselves by voting for and supporting Trump?
In short, Joseph, you go too far. You say that choosing between voting for Trump and Biden is akin to choosing between the Antichrist and Satan. Your mistake is to conclude from an accurate statement – that both men are imperfect, sinful, and flawed – something which does not follow. You are demonizing both candidates, and thereby seeking to relieve yourself of the responsibility to “judge with right judgment.”
In so doing, you are drawing a false moral equivalence between not only their own personal character, but more importantly what they are proposing and what they have done.
What is more, drawing a false moral equivalence between their parties and platforms is an injustice that is not merely unnecessary. It does not comport with what God’s Word says about truth and justice. Nor does it represent good stewardship of the opportunity and moreover responsibility we Christians have according to the prophet Jeremiah to “seek the welfare of the city.”
Again, we do not just have the liberty to seek the welfare of the city. God’s Word commands us to seek the welfare of the city to which God has brought us as exiles, and strangers in a strange land.
Moreover, by seeking the welfare of the city, we also seek our own welfare. And this is not at odds with our loving God and our neighbor. To claim otherwise is to embrace a false dichotomy which is not only misguided, it is unproductive and even dangerous.
By seeking the welfare of the city – or the United States of America, in the case of our vote for president – we obey what Jesus said are the greatest commandments. Love the Lord your God with all your being, and love your neighbor as you love yourself.