U.S. Presidents

On Court Prophets and Wilderness Prophets

"Whether you view Trump as a David or an Antipas, whether you serve at the court of the resplendent king or stand over against the court from the wilderness, one thing Nathan and John the Baptist held in common was that both were willing to condemn unrighteousness in their rulers—even if it cost them everything." - Christiatnity Today

265 reads

Christians in the Age of Trump: A Contrasting View

Donald Trump rose to power amid controversy. Two and a half years into his administration, there is no sign that’s ever going to change. No doubt, he’ll continue to be a controversial figure long after his administration has moved into the history books.

I agree with much of what Greg Barkman had to say on the topic yesterday, particularly the negative assessments of President Trump’s character and behavior. I agree also that some of the President’s policies have been helpful to the nation and sensible in the eyes of conservatives. I concede, too, that in an election, deciding what candidate to support can be difficult—especially if we only consider those who have a chance of winning. If we accept that constriction, we’re stuck with what the parties decide to offer us.

Those are the primary points of agreement. Philosophically, I’m sure we agree on much as well. Most of the controversy among conservative Christians has to do with how to apply principles we share. Still, these principles are often not articulated in the more Trump-friendly perspectives I hear from fellow-Christians. I believe that if these truths are more front-of-mind, they’ll have more influence on how we evaluate presidents and make electoral choices.

1. Christian perspective is long and deep.

I’m using the word “Christian” in this post in a particular sense: not “the way Christians actually are,” but rather, “the way Christians ought to be,” that is, the way we are when we’re true to what Christianity is.

6766 reads

Christians in the Age of Trump

Donald Trump is unlike any U.S. president before him, a real enigma to many. Some scold Christians for supporting a president who is so un-Christlike. Are Christians wrong to support a man like this?

His Character

Donald Trump has a long history of sexual immorality. A serial husband with several divorces, he has a reputation for womanizing. His integrity as a businessman is questionable, given his habit of ignoring debts and using bankruptcy as a business strategy. His speech is provocative and he is careless with the truth. Combine this with an over-sized ego and Trump is not the kind of person Christians respect. It’s no wonder some think Christians are hypocrites to support Trump. In many ways, Donald Trump is as un-Christian as it’s possible to be.

His Policies

Which is why it is so surprising that many of his policies are shared by conservative evangelical Christians. Donald Trump is probably the most pro-life president ever, who backs up his words with actions. Trump is pro-capitalist. He understands that the best way to help the greatest number of people economically is to unleash the power of free-enterprise. Under his administration, more people are gainfully employed than at any time in American history, with the greatest gains being among minorities. More than merely talking about helping the poor, this president harnesses the energy of capitalism to give people the dignity and rewards of honest labor. He is a friend of religious freedom who has defended Christianity against attacks.

2620 reads

How to Think Straight About Trump

Quite a few conservative-ish Christians are not thinking straight about President Trump. The work of pollsters continues to reveal this. Conversations with believers, both online and in person, bear it out as well. My purpose here isn’t to pile up evidence critical of Trump’s character, political philosophy, and management style.

The weightier problem is the thought process many are using to evaluate the president. We’re not going to see what we need to see unless we put the whole matter in the right light first.

So here’s an effort at improving the light a bit—in six steps.

9213 reads

From the Archives: Do the Religious Beliefs of US Presidents Matter?

Detail from The Prayer at Valley Forge, Arnold Friberg 1999

(Used with permission from Baptist Bulletin July/Aug. 2012. All rights reserved.)

Do the religious beliefs of U.S. presidents matter? Though the question is not new (Baptists, as well as Protestants and evangelicals in general, wrestled with “the Catholic issue” when John F. Kennedy ran for president in 1960; Kennedy spoke to allay their fears), American voters appear to be headed toward a 2012 election with unusual religious features. As of this writing, the top-tier choices include a vaguely “Christian” candidate and an indisputably Mormon candidate. The latter appears certain to become the Republican nominee for president. This development has many taking a fresh—and anxiety-tinged—look at what they believe about separation of church and state.

For conservative Christians, the situation is especially uncomfortable. They believe deeply that President Obama’s political philosophy and policies are harming the country and that he must be defeated, yet they find Mitt Romney’s Mormonism disturbing. After all, though the Mormon religion is suffused with old-fashioned American values, it’s a religious newcomer born entirely by reinventing major components of the Christian faith—and that sort of reinventing is a profoundly “unconservative” thing to do to the religion that built Western civilization.

5212 reads