About a week before the 2020 election, while driving home from Orlando, I saw a sign that read, “In Trump We Trust.” And all I could think was, “that’ll have to be answered for, and probably sooner than we expect.”
God will not be mocked.
Now, seeing America’s Charismatic and Evangelical Christians teetering on the cusp of an existential crisis fills me with hope. Perhaps I need to see a pastor and, you know, get that looked at…
Dark humor aside, I find I have less in common with the bold-faced Christian nationalist worldview and what seems its self-evident aim to interweave “God” and country with each year that passes. At the same time, I remain convinced that just as Christ should become Lord of our lives, hearts, and minds, he should also become Lord of our communities, cities, states, and nations (which, I admit, makes me something of a Christian nationalist myself, though I can only hope more so in the vein of C.S. Lewis or G.K. Chesterton). But as to how that is to happen and how I am to walk that line, I am uncertain.
But maybe that’s a good thing. Perhaps a little uncertainty, a little trepidation and caution, could help us walk that line—right through the center of boldness and humility, of fierce zeal for God’s justice and the quiet, stoic patience needed to trust Him fully.
In case you are unsure of what I’m talking about, I am alluding to two recent phenomena, both of which require a caveat:
- First, I am referencing the union between the American Evangelical and Charismatic churches and the candidacy/presidency of Donald Trump.
- Caveat: I understand that it may be unfair to generalize Evangelical and Charismatic, knowing that both categories comprise many people groups exhibiting diverse political and theological opinions. Still, I use these categories to make my life easier and establish a firm albeit debatable thesis.
- Second, I am referencing the variety of so-called modern-day Charismatic prophets who proclaimed Donald Trump’s re-election, citing it as the will of God.
- Caveat: I understand that a few of these leaders have since repented to their followers and congregations.
Now that we’ve covered what I’m rambling about, let’s get back to it. Where was I? Oh yes—God will not be mocked. While I’m sure a political sign on the freeway affirming unmitigated trust in “Trump” is of no consequence to the Uncreated One, I’m also persuaded it may represent a larger constituency of American “Christians” than we would like to admit.
And that, if true, suggests to me that these same Christians have set before them as precarious a ledge to navigate as the self-deceiving ideations of the dreaded radical left.
But I’m not writing to the radical left—why would I? Their epistemological framework is so skewed that such a noble but foolish attempt would implode well before lift-off. Their political ideology is their religion, in and through which they spawn proselytes like swarms of baby spiders. You can find them crawling all over social media, entangled in their own webs and drowning in their own vitriolic bile.
But alas, there I find you also, “Beloved,” spinning webs of your own. Should we not, therefore, take heed, lest our political ideology become our religion? Or am I too late?
The great delusion…
At the heart of “In Trump We Trust,” we circle around again to the problem of misguided prophecies and, by extension, false prophets. I’m not going to waste time detailing what some of these talking heads had to say about Trump’s God-ordained re-election or the wicked schemes they believe must have succeeded to oust him from office. Rather, I want to target the crux of their delusion, which is this: like the radical left whom they abhor, they have conflated their political aims with a pseudo divine, super-moral, transcendent self-righteousness without a face or a name—a nonhuman.
In other words, they have partnered with the demonic (or something like it; I hope you will pardon me for being a bit vague on that point). What do I mean by this?
Such religious-political aims, when prioritized, obscure the truth of the Gospel, a truth to which no one can lay claim because of its universal transcendence and because it demands more of us than we can give, in and of ourselves. As a matter of reflex, I am now wary of anyone claiming to have exclusive access to the truth, especially when that truth coincides with preexisting beliefs, expectations, and self-imposed interpretations.
For everything I have gathered from my study of scripture has led me to this conclusion: Truth is a person, and He has a name. Truth emptied himself on a cross not to transform our politics but our hearts. He did not live, die, and live again so that you could keep your guns, nor did he preach to undermine or resist the god-emperor of Rome, whose very existence was an idolatrous rebellion against the one God of all creation, time and space.
God does not need to undermine all that he will outlast.
Rome had long been aborting its babies, had long festered in the decay of sexual immorality and bloodlust. The Herodians became Roman tetrarchs, while Pharisees and Sadducees vied for spiritual power within a political context that smiled down at their struggle with something like parental condescension.
Our claim to the truth within America’s political context may be a joke that deserves more than a condescending smile. But, thank the God of Heaven, none of us have to get what we deserve.
God has become man and thus has gathered all of humanity into his kinship. This is the Gospel we preach. Any other gospel is from the evil one—this is what I meant earlier when I said these so-called prophets and their followers had partnered with the demonic. Any gospel that does not point toward the lordship of Christ, the utmost Human, is a false and nonhuman gospel, and any pretender prophet who propels such a message is, by extension, equally false.
And so, I believe it’s time for the Body of Christ to turn away from America’s so-called prophets and instead read the Bible for themselves, allowing it to speak on its own terms, in its own context.
Test and approve…
At this point, some may ask if I have given up on prophecy or prophetic ministry altogether. The short answer is: No, I have not. The longer answer is: We have a responsibility to ourselves and one another to qualify all prophecy in the light of the Gospel.
In Romans, Paul offers the oft-quoted axiom:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (12:2, NIV).
Let’s break that down, shall we?
- Don’t conform to this world’s pattern.
- Renew your perspective and thoughts instead.
- Then, test and approve God’s will.
Test… and approve. This is the language of scientific methodology. So, let’s get scientific.
- Prophecy is the conveying of God’s will to individuals.
- You cannot claim to be a prophet and shy away from the burden that comes with it—that what God tells you to speak, you speak, e.g., “Thus, sayeth the Lord.”
- You can, however, claim to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and avoid that burden altogether, which I believe is the preferable way to live.
- But whatever your choice, Paul advises the rest of us to test and approve God’s will.
- Therefore, it stands to reason that we should test and approve anything claiming to be prophecy.
God knows prophecy is wasted on the cult of American politics. Even so, the majority of self-proclaimed charismatic prophets spend the bulk of their efforts here because confirmation bias sells. They offer up profane prophecies in which a 50/50 outcome will determine whether they are true or false prophets. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take those odds to Vegas any day of the week. Had I known prophecy was as simple as flipping a coin to determine which of two primary candidates might win the Oval Office, I might have enrolled in Hogwarts, er, I mean Prophetic Training Ministry, years ago.
But all jabbing aside, recall that it was the prophet Isaiah who wrote:
“They say to the seers, ‘See no more visions!’ and to the prophets, ‘Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions'” (30:10, NIV).
For too long, many Christians have looked to America to be a Christian nation, appealing to a bygone time and claiming we have strayed from our Godly roots, ever oblivious to the watchful, Deist Eye of Providence lurking in plain sight on our nation’s currency, ever ignoring the phallic obelisk erected as a monument to ancient Egyptian demons.
Despite our best intentions, we cannot pour new wine into an old wineskin. For that reason alone, I can imagine very few things more to be dreaded than the idea of a Christian nation.
Per Kierkegaard, such an institution would be self-defeating—for the New Testament identifies the follower of Christ by his being opposed to “he that is in the world.” Hence, Kierkegaard’s paradox: a Christian nation ceases to be Christian when it takes that title for its own. Instead, it becomes something more like, well, a great prostitute… if I may be so bold.
My aim here is not to become cynical about America’s future; rather, I want to remain sober about its past (a subject whereon I do not claim to be an expert). But more than this, I want to see a people in whom Christ, not politicized Christianity, has become the focal point. I want to see a people in whom perfect love has driven out fear, including the fear of woke politics, postmodernism, Marxism, hedonism, angry Twitter mobs, and whatever else the media puppeteers, from their obscure vantage on Mount Olympus, demand we acknowledge.
The time has come for God’s people to stop playing the world at its own game.
The so-called prophets who stood behind Donald Trump, who prayed for and proclaimed his victory in the 2020 U.S. election, now have the precarious task of covering their asses and securing new seats of influence, assuming any are left to snag. They have taken up the mantle of Balaam (whose ass tried to save him) and at great personal peril. Perhaps many of them can still read your mail or tell you what you ate for breakfast two weeks ago. What of it? Pharaoh’s conjurers could transmute wooden staves into writhing serpents along with the very best (or worst) of their ilk.
But in these last days…
To vote for a presidential candidate according to my conscience is my right as an American citizen. But if I am a believer—specifically, a believer in Christ, firstborn from among the dead—my true loyalties must lie with the government that is not from this world. And so should yours, if Christian you claim to be. Vote according to conscience, then, but more importantly, live as if you truly believe the hope in which you have been saved. Live as if you know that to hope in anything or anyone except the One whom God sent is idolatry on par with Baal worship.
But above all, live as if you believe the following to be a reality:
“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” (Hebrews 1:1-2, NIV).
Test and approve. Think, consider, and welcome Logos upon all occasions. Both the Bible and the Son speak for themselves.