If you’re old enough to never wear skinny jeans or Birkenstocks to work, you might remember the lyrics to “American Pie” (the song, not the movie) by Don McLean.
And the three men I admire most,
Father, Son and the Holy Ghost;
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died.
The Christian teacher I admire most (still living) is Dr. Michael L. Brown. Dr. Brown was on the platform at my own baptism in 1999. He earned a Ph.D. (not honorary) in Near Eastern languages from New York University. He studies the Torah and the New Testament in the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek; he is a Jew who follows Jesus, converted at seventeen in the early 1970’s out of a life of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.
To say I’m a close follower of Dr. Brown is severely understating his impact on my life. The few times I’ve met him in person, the power of God was manifest in his presence, in his prayer, and in his knowledge of God’s Word. There are few people on the planet in whose wisdom regarding God’s plans and purposes I trust as much as Dr. Brown.
That being said, I was beyond shocked to read Brown’s latest article: “Why I’m Actually Rooting for Donald Trump.” The subhead was even more a sucker punch for me: “Maybe, just maybe, the words of the godly Christian leaders Trump surrounded himself with will sink in, even just a little bit.”
I thought: It’s over. This is the end. The fact that Brown began his essay by asking the reader not to overreact to the title did nothing to cure my involuntary gasp and heart palpitations. If someone of Brown’s stature has succumbed to the “maybe Trump is inevitable” virus, then surely evangelicals have thrown in the towel on #NeverTrump.
Nonetheless, when I say that I’m actually rooting for him, what I mean is that I could not possibly vote for Hillary Clinton, and with Trump surrounding himself with so many godly Christian leaders, I’m hopeful that something will sink in and that God will deal with him in a radical way. Perhaps he is listening to some of the solid evangelical leaders who have become close to him?
That failing, I’m hoping that even in his Christian ignorance, even with his glaring character faults, even with his waffling on major positions, he still desires to be a champion of Christianity and genuinely desires to see America turned around and will therefore make the right decisions if elected.
I feel like how Jonah Goldberg felt when Newt Gingrich went all-in for Trump. First it was political conservatives, then it was political evangelical Christians, and now it’s solid-as-a-rock evangelical scholars moving to the argument that Trump is inevitable for the GOP.
I feel an air of inevitability building among many strong, church-going Christians and Christian leaders. These are not the ones to whom Erick was referring in his warning “You Are Not Daniel.” Brown similarly rebuked those charlatans and milquetoasts. No, this is a different air–one of resignation.
These are Christians who pray for nations to repent, who commission missionaries to go into Muslim nations and preach the Gospel only for the reward of hopefully returning alive (many do not); who pray for revival in America and miracles, signs and wonders demonstrating the power of the Holy Spirit, and for the breaking of our hearts over the scourge of abortion.
But when faced with the certainty of Hillary Clinton as president, they throw in the towel. They cite words of prophetic vision about Trump’s being raised up as King Cyrus, which Erick correctly equated to idol worship. Dr. Brown admitted he asked himself if that specific prophecy could be true–without endorsing it. Before Trump, these holy people stand gob smacked and scratching their heads in puzzlement.
The fact is that Trump’s popularity against all wisdom seems preternatural. It’s either ordained of God as our national salvation, or it’s ordained of God as our national judgment, or it’s as Don McLean wrote and God has uprooted His standard from America and left the lights on for us to see what happens in His absence.
The latest Rasmussen Reports poll shows Trump has rebounded nationally, leading Clinton 43 to 39 percent, with 12 percent going for another candidate (Gary Johnson?) and 5 percent undecided. Granted, the RCP average shows Clinton with a 4.8 percent lead head-to-head and a 4.9 percent lead with Johnson polling at 8 percent. But Clinton’s lead has indeed narrowed since last week.
Dr. Brown’s capitulation to the inevitability of Trump is troubling, even though he tempers it with honest, heartfelt prayer for Trump’s soul.
But as the one real alternative we have to Hillary, I’m hoping for the impossible and praying for God to do something radical in the life of Donald Trump for the good of the nation of the Church.
Stranger things than this have happened in history, and given the bizarre nature of the current presidential elections — more importantly, given the nature of God — all things are possible.
I also pray fervently for Trump, but I’m truly disheartened that evangelical leaders have abandoned what should be the focus of their prayer.
Going into the GOP Convention in Cleveland, church-going, solid evangelicals will have an outsized representation on the floor, with plenty of Cruz supporters in attendance. These are the people who have within their power to deny Trump the prize he seeks and avoid the nightmare scenario of having to embrace Trump as God’s choice (for good or ill).
Why not pray for the delegates to have supernatural strength and resolve? Why not pray for that group to see the presence of God manifest in Cleveland?
Let’s assume that we are faced with an oncoming train driven by a blind engineer as we are stalled on a one-track bridge. Do we pray that the oncoming train engineer would suddenly see us and stop; or do we pray for our own engine to start to move out of the way? Or do we pray for the bridge to open up before us so the oncoming train plunges into the chasm below?
Hillary is the chasm, Trump is the blind engineer, and the GOP is stalled on the tracks. I think praying for the blind engineer’s eyes might just be as useful as praying for bridge failure. But the blind engineer is surrounded by Godly people, so maybe, just maybe, God will heal him.
Evangelical leaders have lost their faith in God stopping Trump, so now they pray he won’t discard Christians if we help him win the presidency. As one trusted pastor has said, and I’ve quoted many times: “if we elect this man to the White House, the first time Christians disagree with Trump, we will get everything that is coming to us.”