Rob Buckingham's Blog

Some Thoughts On President Elect Trump

Last week, on the morning of the US Elections, I put the following status on my Facebook page: “Well, after almost two years of Primaries and the race for the White House, Election Day has finally arrived for the US. There’s a part of me that would like to see what would happen if Trump got in. Maybe he is the bulldozer America needs right now to get the country back on track. Or maybe he’d be a total disaster that would see a decrease in the scary extreme right wing groups (with all their conspiracy theories) in the US. If he doesn’t get in, these groups will increase and the next candidate could make Donald Trump look like Prince Charming.”

As we know, Donald Trump is now President Elect and will be sworn into office as President of the United States at midday on Friday January 20, 2017. So the “part of me that would like to see what would happen if Trump got in” won’t have to wait long to find out. In the meantime there are protests (and some riots) happening in the US by people who don’t want to find out. I don’t doubt that Trump supporters would be protesting (rioting) if Hillary Clinton won. After all, the polls were rigged and Trump was possibly going to challenge the result if he lost.

There is no doubt that the USA has major problems. The country is in massive debt and it’s the divided, not the united, States when it comes to race – reaping what it’s sown from years of African slavery and oppression. Trump made some pretty concerning statements in the lead up to the election, but it is possible that he was just playing a part in order to gain votes. Even in the last week he seems to have toned down some of his threats. He’ll need to continue along this line to bring his policies more in line with the GOP and to get his policies through Congress.

According to the American Action Forum, if Trump fully enforced current immigration law, as he has suggested, it would cost the federal government from $400 billion to $600 billion, shrink the labour force by 11 million workers, reduce the real GDP by $1.6 trillion and take 20 years to complete (Trump has said he could do it in 18 months). It will ultimately harm the US economy, and of course, the economies of many other countries as well.

His talk on trade, health care, defense and taxation will also need to be carefully examined as to their ultimate effect on the nation and the world.

But maybe he is the right man for the job at this time. He’s promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington of the politicians and lobbyists who he railed against throughout the race. Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway said, “The gravy train is about to have its wheels blown off and its engine completely ripped from its bearings because there is just no reason to keep this consultant-lobbyist axis at such a level where people feel like their interests are not being served … Part of the rigged, corrupt system that he was giving voice to so often was the one we heard from voters.” Only time will tell if Trump actually does what he’s promised to do to “Make America Great Again” or maybe he’ll be a total disaster (ref: Conway Trump Swamp).

Of course making America great means different things to different people – and it should certainly mean something different to Christian people. Jesus defined greatness as serving others rather than reflecting the world’s self-interest and ladder climbing (Matthew 20:20-28). One of the saddest things I’ve observed during this election campaign is so much of the US Evangelical & Pentecostal church publicly taking sides with Donald Trump. Three things need to be clarified here:

Firstly, the church must be neutral when it comes to political parties. The church must not align itself with a particular party because the church’s FIRST priority is being obedient to Jesus’ LAST words (Matthew 28:18-20). For pastors to align their churches with one party over another means that the effectiveness of that pastor and church will be decreased in reaching people of other political persuasions. Read the book Unchristian by David Kinnaman for some excellent research on why and how politically aligned churches hinder the Gospel.

Secondly, the church must be consistent. For example, it’s one thing to talk about the President of the United States as God’s appointment because “there is no authority except that which God has established.” But why then did so many US church leaders endorse the war against Iraq? If “there is no authority except that which God has established” did that not include Saddam Hussein? What of the resulting mess from the unilateral offensive against Iraq? Why is there such hypocrisy in the US intervening in some situations and yet not in others (Rwanda, Bosnia, Ukraine and Sudan for example). Where is the church’s outcry against this hypocrisy and lack of justice?

Thirdly, the church must be involved in, and speak out about, issues of ethics and justice – the most important one being the relief of poverty (see Galatians 2:9-10). The church must shine it’s light bright so that people “may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Instead America sees the church in bed with the GOP and Donald Trump and simply can’t reconcile the Christian faith with the racism, misogyny, torture, violence, insults, hypocrisy and lewdness they hear from him.

This is where the contradictions come in. There are some church leaders in the US who have suggested that Donald Trump is like the Persian King Cyrus (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1-4). God anointed a pagan king to encourage the Jewish people to return to their homeland and rebuild their temple, also helping to finance the venture. But God did not call King Cyrus to rule over Israel, which is what these church leaders are “prophesying” about Donald Trump. And in any case, these same leaders also say that Trump is now a born again Christian (so is he a pagan king like Cyrus or a believer in Jesus?). I am not judging Donald Trump or his faith but you can’t have it both ways.

There has been so much Scripture twisting by church leaders who distort the Word of God for their own political agenda (2 Cor. 4:2). Consider the several self-styled “prophets” who suggested that, because it’s the 70th Year of Jubilee (which it isn’t) – the year the “trump” will sound and the year Donald Trump turns 70 – that it stands to reason that Trump is God’s choice to lead America. Others have suggested that Trump is God’s choice because he will hold back the Antichrist and the New World Order. This sort of doctrine, espoused by many in the evangelical and Pentecostal church world, is based on a relatively new understanding of end time events that was made popular by John Nelson Darby, founder of the Exclusive Brethren Cult. The fact is the Antichrist came and went in the first century AD and right now we’re not waiting for the devil’s kingdom – or the great tribulation – we’re waiting for the Kingdom of our God and of His Christ.

I hope and pray that Donald Trump does a good job for the next four or eight years as President of the United States. Whether you like him or not, we all have a God-given duty to pray for him and “all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Tim. 2:2; Romans 13:1-7). I also pray that my colleagues in the American church get a revelation of their priority of leading their churches to reach out with good works and good news to a world that God loves and for whom Jesus died, in order to build a kingdom that is not of this world!

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