Last week I decided to take a substantial risk and share some of my personal thoughts about Donald Trump. After I posted it, I was blown away by both the positive and negative response. I don’t intend to keep blogging on this topic, but I felt it appropriate to at least attempt to summarize some of my thoughts regarding the massive response to last week’s post. Before you read the following list you should read the original post first (see: An Appeal to Christians).
- Many people confuse support with forgiveness. The nature of the debate on Donald Trump is not whether he can or should be forgiven for the mistakes he’s made. We all need forgiveness for our mistakes. Instead, we are considering him as a presidential candidate to run the United States. Here’s a question I was asked this week: “Can pastors and religious leaders call out Trump without publicly admitting their own sins and shortcomings?” (This is a reference to John 8:1-11). Yes, and here’s why: I’m not calling for anyone to harm Trump in any way, and I’m not calling for anyone to ban him from receiving forgiveness. I tried to make that clear in the post. What we are discussing is not whether he can or should be forgiven by God, but whether we should give him our support to become the most “powerful” man in our country. And related to that…
- Yes, God can use lots of people, even someone like Trump. God can use anyone He wants. He used the pagan King Nebuchadnezzar in a major way with the Israelites in the Old Testament. But just because God can use anyone doesn’t mean we shouldn’t desire to manifest the Kingdom of God as far as it depends on us. All Christians should want to be used by God, but I don’t think we should be as unChristlike as possible to make that happen. The goal for the Israelites was never to be more like Nebuchadnezzar or to condone many of his actions. The challenge with this argument is that it applies equally to Trump or Hillary (or anyone) and therefore doesn’t help us navigate which is the better option.
- If pro-life is the only (or primary) reason you will vote Trump or vote Republican, can I suggest a powerful way to channel that passion? I heard consistently that the pro-life issue is the reason many Christians could not vote for Hillary and plan to vote for Trump. Voting for someone who supports pro-life is one way to act on this passion, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Getting involved in the foster care system is a tangible way each of us can get involved personally, and that goes far beyond the election. I love that most Christians are pro-life, but I also dream about what could happen if everyone with that conviction personally welcomed these displaced kids into their home in addition to how they voted? I don’t think we’d have 19,000 orphans in Arizona anymore. Few things tangibly allow you to live out the essence of pro-life more than giving a home to a child.
- It’s hard for most people to talk about Trump without getting emotionally charged and changing the subject. I get it, there are lots of opinions about Hillary. But I’m not writing a similar post on her for the precise reason I explained my post on Trump wasn’t political. I’m not telling you who to vote for, and I’m not writing an evaluation of each candidate. I’m merely speaking to the spiritual effects on the Church when it comes to the “Trump phenomenon.” Trump is the assumed Christian candidate, Hillary is not. That’s why it’s worth talking through his candidacy as Christians.
- This conversation grows legs. I was a bit surprised by how quickly the comments turned into: “what does Cal think about this?” Or, “is this Central’s stance?” What? You’re reading my blog. Yes, I am employed by Central and I have a dad named Cal. But the views I share on my blog are not an extension of them by default. I’m a grown man and the father of five children. I’m willing to stand by my comments without it needing to be blamed on anyone else. Since many of you did ask, here is a response my dad shared with a person who suggested he somehow silence me by “putting a lid” on my voice: “I am going to ask you to take a moment, step back from this and catch your breath. Does Jeremy not have a right to express his thoughts? Do you have freedom to express your thoughts about this but he doesn’t? And how exactly would you like me to ‘put a lid on it?’ Ground him? Write a defense of Trump? Shut down the Internet? Those are his thoughts he expressed in his way, not mine and not Central’s. If this were to destroy our church we can only then conclude we have a very fragile and weak church. God is FAR bigger than this. The ideas need to stand or fall on their own merit. We are not into censorship and we do not live in fear.”
- Church leaders should share whatever God prompts them to share. I repeatedly heard that I shouldn’t speak on politics, and there’s a great post that puts this in perspective on Central’s teaching blog (see: On Mixing Faith and Politics). What about Max Lucado, Beth Moore, Wayne Grudem, or even Christianity Today? All these and more have decided to use their very public spiritual platform to speak out on Trump. The story of Esther ran through my mind as I read through the comments on my post. Did I know it could cost me to share these ideas? Absolutely. But what is the point of having influence if we cower from using it “for such a time as this” (see: Esther 4:9-16)?
- We need to get better at disagreeing with each other. I’m not surprised that some people did not agree with me. I am surprised with the venom that came from them. Here are a few things said about me or my blog from last week: “hypocritical; anti-American; this article is sh** [I’m not going to repeat it exactly how he said it]; his comments were disparaging; very disappointing; intolerant rant; inappropriate; SO slanted; spiritually condemning; he says a whole lot without saying much; short sided and uneducated; tone of arrogance; condescending; God or religion has no place in politics; stepped way out of bounds; plain wrong and should withdraw his blog; he broke the law; Jeremy has spent many years infecting people; he repeatedly lands on the opposite side of scripture; endorses people who wandered far away from the flock; rejoices in those who contradict God’s word; He is the main reason we stopped attending Central; Jeremy is the one who is repeatedly wrong.” Click here to read the Facebook comments and see them in context. It actually made me physically ill to process through it. Is this how the church works through opinions together? However, I am impressed by those of you who are still voting for Trump but were able to have a civil conversation with me about the post. The beauty of the Church is not that we agree on every sub-point that could be argued but rather how we unite together around Jesus despite our differences of opinion on numerous other things.
- There’s a growing group of Christians hungry for something else. Despite some of the vocally negative comments I received, many people showed support for these ideas and were grateful I was willing to say it. That encouragement showed me that although most of these people weren’t as loud as some of the detractors, they are out there and looking to step forward in their faith boldly. The point is not to direct us to a particular candidate or party, but rather to invite us all to live out our faith as best we can.
- We need dramatically more love in the Church. I’ll start. I love those who agree with me, and I love those who don’t. I’d gladly gather at a communion table in unity with any Christian who after following the Holy Spirit felt led to vote for Trump. I’m grateful to those of you who see things differently than me but still read my blog so that you can grow from other perspectives.
- We would all benefit from taking a deep breath. God is still sovereign, and He’ll still be in control no matter what happens in November. And we can still be friends no matter who we vote for. After all, come November we will need to find a way to move forward in love despite any differences of opinion. God is bigger than all of this, even our fears of the worst that could happen.
“The beauty of the Church is not that we agree on everything but how we unite around Jesus despite differences.”Click to tweet