Rethinking Trump and Faith

I was not at all sure how to write this, and I’m still not a hundred percent comfortable with it, but I believe it needs to be written. I need to rethink my position on President Trump and faith.

By “faith,” I do not mean faith in Donald Trump. As the president himself said in May to an audience at Liberty University and tweeted on Friday, “we do not worship government, we worship God.”

By “faith,” I also do not mean Donald Trump’s personal faith in God. That’s between him and his Maker. Far be it from me, or anyone, to stand in the middle between a man or woman and God.

Then, what do I mean? I mean what effect has President Trump, for all his faith talk, having on our country, and is that something people of faith in God (I’m mostly talking about Christians here, but it also applies to any faith group) should applaud?

First, my misgivings.

Trump is not, by his public actions and persona, a pious or God-fearing man. He has publicly stated that he doesn’t need to repent, for in his eyes, apparently he believes he hasn’t sinned. The Bible calls such a person a liar, or a fool. That doesn’t mean that privately, Trump hasn’t sought God’s mercy–again, this is not intended to be a faith inventory for our president. His public statements and actions stand for themselves before humanity and God.

Therefore, I have many general and specific misgivings about Trump’s value to people of faith. I’ve written warnings several times about not giving scorpions a ride across the river. But now the scorpion has ridden on the backs of evangelical Christian voters, and we can only pray and hope that we don’t get the stinger.

I have my own personal doubts about whether, and when, that will happen. I have many reasons to believe it will, at some point when Christians disagree with Trump.

Or worse, to avoid the stinger, many God-fearing Christians may malign their own faith and betray their own consciences.

My main misgiving is that Donald Trump may weaken American Christianity more than it already is weakened. And much of American Christianity is already lukewarm, uninspired, dead to sin, entranced by idolatry, and weak as a newborn kitten.

But that doesn’t mean God can’t use Trump.

Actions > Words

On Monday, the Trump Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (sans Secretary) released its strategic plan document for the years 2018-2022, including this language:

HHS accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving Americans at every stage of life, beginning at conception.

Scientifically, biologically, and medically, that phrase is indisputable. Politically, it’s the third rail, charged by lightning bolts and covered with burning lava. To say that “health care begins at conception” puts the conceived human being’s health care at the same plane as the adult woman who carries the conceived human being.

And we know, politically, that goes against the “women’s health” movement, which survives only on the premise that the conceived human being is entitled to nothing until its maternal host decides to grant it life, at which point they call it a baby. This benighted atrocity allows mothers to assuage their consciences when they kill the baby (but in reality, most experience a horrifying mental trauma).

Trump has also ended the Obamacare birth control mandate, and has successfully nominated and sworn Justice Neil Gorsuch on to the Supreme Court to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. That wasn’t a “win” but it certainly was no loss either, to the cause of unborn life.

The Trump Administration’s (and the president’s) words from the bully pulpit give Christians reason to have hope that the slow and quickening erosion of religious rights in the U.S. would stem a bit.

But Trump has trashed the First Amendment when it suits him. Any erosion of the First Amendment puts religious freedom in danger. So when Trump threatens NBC or the New York Times, he is indirectly threatening your church pastor, who relies on the same Amendment, separated by a few mere words, for an unrestricted right to speak.

Should we celebrate? Not yet.

God is good

One point that came up in discussion of this topic is the Biblical and unchangeable nature of God as Good. If God uses Donald Trump, it is for good. It can be no other way. God is not responsible for evil, and is not a tempter of man to sin (James 1:13).

That raises the question: What is “Good?”

Good to us is our comfort, our freedom, our financial success, our health, our children, our nation. Matthew 6:31-33 tells Christians not to seek those things, but “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.” Therefore, it’s “Good” when God withholds some of the things we of little faith crave in order to give us greater righteousness and His kingdom.

If God used Trump to humble Christians who have misplaced their faith, that, to God, would be “Good.” To those who are humbled, or humiliated, or persecuted, it would not seem good.

Therefore, God could have used Barack Obama for this purpose, or even Hillary Clinton. But God sovereignly allowed Trump to gain the presidency, and with it, Trump has the authority over this nation as the leader of the federal government.

Authority of leaders is from God

Another discussion point is that God appoints leaders and establishes governing authorities (Romans 13:1). Therefore, we must be subject to those authorities as citizens of the U.S. (or legal residents, or illegal residents who are not citizens, just the same).

Rebelling against “what God has instituted” brings judgment on those who rebel. This doesn’t mean we’re not allowed to disagree. It doesn’t even mean we cannot engage in constructive protest, or even civil disobedience. It does mean that–Christians, at least–cannot be anarchists.

So much for Antifa.

Let’s look at Trump’s economic achievements. There are really none we can directly attribute to him, but overall, those with the cash are sanguine about the economy. Therefore the stock market is bullish–very bullish. Investment is happily waiting for a place to profit, and corporations are gearing up to get a tax break.

If you’re rich, things are very good.

And that means if you are skilled in a job area where investment is going to hit, you’re also doing very well–or about to. If you’re not, you have the opportunity to move or retrain. If you’re counting on entitlements to make you happy, things may not be so good.

Either way, Christians should pray for President Trump, because he is in authority by God’s sovereign will (as Obama was), and we should not rebel against God.

Observations about opposition

The most interesting question for me is an observation about those opposing President Trump. On the whole, the greatest opposition to Trump and his administration comes from those who don’t simply lack faith in God, but from those who actively oppose God.

Those people who hate God and Christianity also hate Donald Trump, even if Trump did things that they would normally agree with. Trump says he has no problem with gay marriage (“law of the land”), but the LGBT community hates the fact that Vice President Pence is not a supporter of gay marriage. Even though the VP is essentially powerless to do–well, anything except break ties in the Senate, they still hate Trump.

They hate Trump because Trump is close to evangelical Christians. They say “white evangelicals” but that’s not true. A number of black evangelicals have also endorsed and become close to Trump–although one such minister, A.R. Bernard, resigned over Trump’s indefensible Charlottesville comments.

It really doesn’t matter, because Trump’s actions, such as they help any faithful Christians, help all faithful Christians, of any race. That being said, Trump’s words and actions, such as they hurt the cause of race relations, hurt all Christians, because racism is a sin, and God hates sin.

One thing we can observe is that Trump never attacked A.R. Bernard for his resignation. He made wry comments about those business leaders in his economic councils who resigned, but kept quiet about Bernard. And most evangelicals stuck with him. Faith and politics make terrible housemates, and many evangelical advisors wisely stayed out of the political fray.

Those who didn’t, compromised themselves and harmed the cause of Christ.

The Bible says to let the wheat and the tares grow up together. Not everyone who calls themselves “Christian” is in fact a follower of Jesus of Nazareth. And not everyone who appears to be aloof from faith is an unbeliever.

We must not divide everything into good and evil, day and night. There are surely satanic people and the demon-possessed who hate Trump because God may use Trump for good, and they oppose it. But there are others who, according to their conscience, cannot support Trump as an exemplar of Christian values, who are very serious disciples of the Christian faith. Both exist and do so without a paradox.

Conclusion

I had to go through this exercise because it was necessary to determine if I have misplaced my faith. Donald Trump may be a very powerful tool in God’s hands–as any POTUS could be. But if Christians or any with faith in God, misplace our faith in Trump, he can be damaging to that faith in the extreme.

For those evangelical leaders who pander themselves to Trump as he panders to them, you will meet your shame and humiliation. For those who rebel against God’s authority, you will meet your judgment.

But for those who rightly divide the truth–Biblical truth–we may find greater clarity with President Trump in office. We may find greater access to the Trump Administration, and great moral victories through its policies.

On the whole, I am much more pleased with Trump’s presidency that I expected to be at this point. Again, I’m not talking about Trump as a person–we could discuss his obvious flaws for tens of thousands of words. But as a person of faith in God, I am encouraged, for now.

My overriding prayer, as I recommend to everyone, is that Trump grow closer to God, and grow in wisdom, love, righteousness, humility, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. Against these, there is no law.

Hammering a Screw





The most popular book in the world is also the most misused book. Here’s why.

One of the most underrated passages in the Bible is in Proverbs 4.

The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
(Proverbs 4:7)

King Solomon must have gone through a lot in his life to come to that conclusion. But one simple and profound revelation is that knowledge does not equal understanding. Understanding is the doing of something, while knowledge is simply knowing about it.

To illustrate this, one of my favorite YouTubers, Destin Sandlin, made a video about a bike he can ride, but you can’t. The Bible is no different. It’s a tool with a purpose, but some people have been using it wrong for millennia.

I’ll stick to some modern examples, because everyone trashes the Pharisees and the legalists. Today’s Biblical butchers are more on the Gnostic side–but they do what everyone with their own plan does: Come up with your own morality and use the Bible to justify it.

In 2012, Eliyahu Federman penned a HuffPo piece “Is Abortion Murder? A Biblical View Says ‘No’.”

Do those opposing abortion on religious grounds know that the Bible does not consider a fetus a full human life or the killing of a fetus murder?

If one flips through enough pages, conflates enough Scriptures from Genesis, Luke and Exodus, one can justify this view. And Federman did.

Of course he did.

In fact, I could easily justify slavery, prostitution, rape, bigamy, incest, and genocide using this method of Biblical exegesis. I could also use a hammer to pound in a screw and it might hold two pieces of wood together.

Matthew Vines wrote a whole book on how God blesses “gay Christians” using this method. Though many Biblical scholars debunked his arguments, many in the LGBT community applaud it, for obvious reasons. They are hammering screws.

The Bible has one purpose. It’s not a historical document, though it has history in it. It’s not a scientific document, although much of today’s science came from Bible scholars’ desire to understand Biblical principles. It’s not a treatise on botany, though many plants are described. It’s not a morality text, although much about morality is discussed. It’s not a financial plan, though money is one of its chief topics.

I could go on: marriage, child-rearing, war, oil recipes, and tent-making are also in the Bible.

But that is not the purpose of the book. It has one purpose: understanding God. And knowledge of the Bible does not equal understanding God any more than knowing how the gears of a bicycle work gives you understanding on how to ride it.

Understanding God comes one way, and one way only. It comes from knowing Him.

Let me illustrate this. If you’re married or have a boyfriend/girlfriend (or significant other, whatever), this applies to you. If you’ve got a brother or sister or parents it also applies, but I’ll use a wife as an example, since I have one.

If my wife wrote down the details of her life, her thoughts, her dreams, and her actions, all kind of mixed together, on a daily or weekly basis, and handed that to me, but I didn’t know her, I’d have lots of knowledge about my wife. But I’d have no understanding. In fact, I don’t think I could love her as a husband should having that knowledge.

If I did the same for her, and she didn’t know me, I think she’d run screaming from me. But she loves me because she knows me.

Why does God love us?

I think the answer there is clear. If God is God, then he knows us–you, me, my wife–intimately. He knows us and knows that we are worth loving. We are worth loving even as sinners. In this way, Matthew Vines is correct, and Federman is correct. God loves gay people, and God loves mothers who abort their children.

But that doesn’t mean sinners, including those who openly practice homosexuality, and abortionists understand God. The Bible says they don’t (Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6:9, Revelation 21:8 and 22:15, Ephesians 5:5, etc).

Understanding God means knowing Him. Knowing God means practicing ways to be more like God. Paul wrote “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Jesus Christ.” None of us win while we’re here on earth. We are practicing for a better kingdom where we know Him fully (1 Corinthians 13:12).

How do we become more like God? We love everyone the way He does, even when it’s hard because we can’t see other people like God sees them. But we can take it on faith that He loves them just like He loves us.

The Bible is a tool built for one purpose (a uni-tasker if there ever was one). Love God, love your neighbor, in that order. Love God and then understand God. Using the Bible for any other purpose, to justify ideals, goals, and “vain imaginations” made by people is nothing more than hammering screws.

Nancy Pelosi: GOP Health Care Bill Dishonors God

A shameless act of hypocrisy by the House minority leader.

Nancy Pelosi, who boasts a 100 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, chastised the GOP health care bill on Tuesday by saying it “dishonors God.” She went on to encourage her Republican colleagues not to dismantle Obamacare by seemingly referring to it as “God’s creation.”

“I know my colleagues are people of faith,”Pelosi said. “They tell us that all the time.”

“So, this is God’s creation, we have a real responsibility to it,” she continued. “To minister to the needs of God’s creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us.”

“So from our faith, from our responsibility and community in our country to acknowledging that we are all one family in our country, it is very important that our colleagues not only read the bill, but examine their consciences and look into their hearts, and maybe look into the eyes of these families, and maybe make a decision in favor of what is right,” she stated.

This isn’t the first time Pelosi has invoked religion when it’s suited her. In early June, she claimed President Trump was dishonoring God and the religious community by exiting from the Paris climate agreement. In an Inauguration Day interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” she again said Republicans dishonor God with their policies. She really likes that phrase.

Let me ask this to the self-described “devout Catholic” from San Francisco: where was this religious devotion when evangelical Christians were being sued into baking cakes for functions they didn’t believe in? Where was this devotion to God when she continually bashed religious freedom laws? Does she honor God when she makes it her life’s work to keep Planned Parenthood publicly funded and continually killing unborn children? Let’s not forget, Pelosi leads a party that, in its 2012 convention, removed reference to God in their platform. When leaders tried to add language pertaining to God in a last-minute voice vote, the crowd booed in overwhelming unison.

This is the person who is going to lecture Republicans on honoring God?

The insincerity in her tone when she invokes religion is so stark it’s almost laughable.

 

The Truth: Why Bad Things Happen to Good People

About every public poll or survey you’ll see asking why people reject Christianity, the answer is the same: the presence of evil.  It seems irrational to them that a loving God could or would ever allow such a reality in a world He created.

If God can prevent my friend from dying in the accident but doesn’t, He must be too cruel to worship. If He can’t prevent my friend from dying in the accident, He isn’t really a god.

Given that the age-old question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” separates so many from the arms of the Father, perhaps it’s time we have a better, more logical response to it.  Here’s my best effort.

Leftists Literally Boo God and Concept of God-Given Rights at GOP Rep. Dave Brat’s Town Hall

Representative Dave Brat – the conservative favorite who ousted House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary back in 2014 to represent Virginia’s 7th District – held a town hall on Tuesday night, and the media narrative coming out of the constituent meeting was essentially universal. Congressman Brat is one of the most prominent members of the Freedom Caucus, helping block the initial the deeply flawed AHCA Version 1.0 (successfully resisting the extreme political pressure to cave) and playing a crucial role in making the AHCA Version 2.0 palatable enough to conservatives & moderates alike that it was able to pass the House of Representatives. This was Representative Brat’s first town hall since the passage of the AHCA through the House chamber, and the media reporting from the event almost seemed copy & pasted from one article to the next, all attempting to emphasize that voters are ticked off at Brat. The headlines were all essentially exactly the same (as were the articles):

 

“Raucous, angry crowd grills Virginia Rep. Brat at town hall” (ABC); “Dave Brat Hears An Earful” (US News); Crowd grills Virginia Rep. Dave Brat over health care vote at town hall (USA Today); “House Freedom Caucus Member Gets Earful at Rowdy Virginia Townhall” (Independent Journal Review); “At raucous town hall, Rep. Dave Brat struggles to speak above the jeers” (Washington Post); “Rowdy crowd highlights town hall meeting with Rep. Dave Brat” (CBS6 / WTVR); “Rep. Dave Brat faces fury over health care, Russia at town hall” (CNN); “GOP Rep. Dave Brat faces rowdy crowd at town hall” (The Hill); “Dave Brat Faces Down Virginia Town-Hall Fury” (The Daily Beast); “Left Wing Activists Disrupt Rep. Dave Brat’s Town Hall — ‘You Lie!'” (Breitbart); “Sign-waving critics greet Brat town hall in Chesterfield” (WINA); “Dave Brat Town Hall Gets Heated” (Roll Call); “Dave Brat faces voter anger at town hall over healthcare vote” (Washington Examiner); and “Freedom Caucus’ Dave Brat Faces Angry Constitutents at AHCA-Themed Town Hall (Slate).

 

(It’s worth nothing that the ABC article, US News article, and USA Today article were even all literally exactly the same – all using the exact same Associated Press original story – but it was nice of the three of them to at least come up with unique titles even if regurgitating the same narrative.)

 

But if you read through all fourteen articles (which I did), you’ll find that every single one misses or just willfully skips over the most newsworthy part of the entire town hall: leftist members of the audience actually loudly booing the very mention of God and God-given rights. It was an occurrence reminiscent of the embarrassing moments for the Left at the 2012 Democratic National Convention where delegates to the DNC loudly booed the inclusion of “God” and “Jerusalem” in their party platform as well as recently at the 2016 Democratic National Convention where Bernie Sanders supporters interrupted the opening prayer to loudly boo Hillary Clinton.

 

I went ahead and transcribed the entire exchange between Dave Brat and some members of the audience. The relevant portion of the video (posted online by Rep. Brat’s office earlier today) can be seen below:

Audience Member: As a seminary graduate, do you believe in the separation of church and state, and would it be acceptable to you for churches to support specific candidates?

Representative Brat: Now that’s a loaded question. Alright, so it’s in the Constitution. They got it pretty good — that politics should not establish any religion, right? Everyone good with that one?

[Some Audience Applause]

Representative Brat: But, you should all under the First Amendment have the free expression thereof. Right? So the Founders nailed this pretty good. And now, going one step deeper: Do you want a total separation of church and state?”

Audience Members: Yes!

Representative Brat: Let me check you on that a bit. I don’t think you do. Some of you believe health care is a right. In the Western tradition, rights come from God.

[Audience Begins Loudly Shouting Over Him and BOOING]

Representative Brat: The role of government is to protect those rights. The job of the government is to protect those God-given rights.

[Audience Members Continue Sustained BOOING]

 

The video is very clear — this was not your typical crowd and there were reports that some members of the audience just gave up and left the town hall entirely, frustrated by the antics of the leftist protesters. The loudest voices — the ones angrily booing — were booing a very basic American principle that still holds broad sway in this nation except for on the extreme Left. And the loudest voices in that audience didn’t strike me as terribly representative of the people of Virginia’s 7th District nor of the country at large. The idea that our rights come from God and that government exists to protect these rights is not a terribly controversial concept (or at least it shouldn’t be), as it is forms the very bedrock of our nation’s founding. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson penned the following words that every American should really know by heart (and that many if not most probably already do): “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” This is what our Founders believed and this is what our nation was founded on. So, it would seem that Representative Brat had it absolutely correct. Our rights do come from God. And government does exist to protect those God-given rights. That’s something worth affirming, not booing.

 

So let this be a message to the news media: Try harder. A loud & angry town hall makes for a simple story and an easy narrative, but please get beyond the simplistic headlines and pay attention to what is actually being said in these town halls. You might even find something newsworthy.

 

And let this also be a message to the Left: Stop booing God, you guys. It isn’t a great look for you.

 

When I reached out to Representative Dave Brat’s office for a comment, the Congressman’s response was unequivocal:

I have never seen such rudeness displayed in public as what I experienced at my town hall this week.

A sizable group of people in the audience mocked the pastor’s invocation prayer, mocked the mention of church, and mocked the idea that in the Western tradition our rights come from God.

This is not the classical liberal tradition of the Democratic party we all grew up knowing. Something new and toxic is brewing. I don’t think many of my Democratic friends are happy about this new debasement of their tradition. Even Democrats left my town hall early because they were upset and wanted nothing to do with the behavior they witnessed firsthand. It will be very interesting to see who emerges as the next spokesperson for the Democratic Party.

 

The More You Realize This…

An American friend of mine in England participated in a Palm Sunday event where participants walk down the street following a man representing Jesus. At the head of the procession, someone carries a silver cross, and they all walk down the street to recreate the Triumphal Entry. He thought such a procession might attract a few hundred people in the university city in which he lives. It attracted less than 50–mostly clergy.

That wasn’t so much what shocked him. He said people watching the procession looked at the participants like they had three heads. “Look at those religious kooks,” were some of the bemused overheard comments. Some others sneered at these weird Christians doing weird inscrutable things. In a country where under 10 percent of the population is committed churchgoing Christians, there is no cultural connection to anything he was doing. Sadly, he emailed, this is where America is headed.

What Erick wrote about tribal politics is more than just an admonishment and rebuke to those involved in politics. You see, those people were elected by voters. And when politicians care more about their partisan issues than doing the right thing (many times not even understanding that there is an objective “right thing” to do), it’s because those who elected those politicians have lost their connection with the transcendent, eternal, moral law. Eventually, America will become like England.

Christianity and its moral structure are counter-cultural in every human culture. They run counter to the “me first” values people are born with and follow without supernatural intervention. That’s not to say there aren’t truly moral, kind and well-meaning people outside of Christianity–of course there are. Those people are acting out of a heart God gave them, whether they know Him in a personal way or not. But as systems of belief go, Christianity is counter-cultural and difficult–really impossible without God’s help.

The more we realize when, as a culture, we abandon a connection to God and His moral law, the more we will slide into humanism, relativism, and political tribalism, the more we can understand just how fragile the form of government our founders established is without God.

The more we realize that “In God We Trust” isn’t just a motto on coins, the more we understand that without truly trusting God as a moral lawgiver, our government and culture will decline. It’s not if, it’s when and how fast. It’s starting even now, and accelerating.

There’s a reason in 2016 America ended up with a race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. While I’m personally glad Clinton didn’t win–in the end, without a moral and cultural change of direction, it really wouldn’t matter if she had. The country is headed in the same direction with Trump in office as it would have been with Hillary, from a moral standpoint. Having a few Supreme Court justices just delays the inevitable.

In fact, with Trump, having Christians abandon their faith in God to support a man whose ungodliness is manifest and publicly celebrated, our country may not even miss a beat on the path to a humanist future. Whether it’s the government or the church leading us to this dim future, America could easily find ourselves, sooner rather than later, exactly where England is now.

“Look at those silly Christians doing their silly incantations.” I grieve for our nation if we don’t realize what we’re doing.

Stalin vs. Jezebel. We Have Forgotten God

A reader reminded me that I wrote this gem back in May.

Donald Trump is at the pinnacle of confidence in every category of Making America Great Again™, and expert in only one: Making Donald Trump Look Great*. We could have a great deal of confidence that he will take the controls of American governance and do only one thing: crash it.

I’ve also written this, this, this, and this. Among other things about Trump. I’ve called him “America’s Stalin.”

As a cult leader, Trump will do more damage to America than any leader in our history. I think the best option at this point is to hope Americans come to our senses take enough electoral votes away from both candidates to prevent a majority of 270 by either, then the House of Representatives can step back from the precipice.

This race has so boggled my mind and driven me nearly to tears (and Peggy Noonan to actual tears). My kids invent games in the back seat of my car: rock, scissors, paper, Donald Trump. Trump loses to everything. I’m not making that up. No, I didn’t ask them what hand symbol they used for Trump (I’m afraid of the answer).

I don’t need to be reminded who Hillary Clinton is. Like the Sturgill Simpson song, don’t waste your mind trying to put her words together: It’s Clinton all the way down. She lies like fish swim. Reflexively, intuitively, totally immersed in lies and breathing them in through her lie gills. The only more accomplished liar in her family is her husband Bill, who can answer the door bent over an intern and use her back to sign for the package.

As a Christian, I write that rather vivid image because it’s true. You need only visit the Oval Office and look for the place they should affix a plaque “this is where the dress was sullied” to forever remind us how Clinton tainted the office.

Hillary Clinton would have everyone believe that everything she has ever done in public life is just a myth–like she holds the Bible to be a myth. These are all cautionary tales: I messed up when I used a private email server. It wasn’t because I wanted to hide anything or capitalize on my cabinet position for personal influence, wealth and power. No that’s just the moral of the parable.

She sees herself as Jesus in a pantsuit, but she’s really a different Biblical “J”–Jezebel.

We’ve got a presidential race between Stalin and Jezebel. This is what it’s come down to. Thinking about it raises up an irrepressible urge to drive to the nearest open liquor store and max out my credit card on inventory. Preferably a good Bourbon, but fortified wine will do and get me there faster.

So I don’t think about it too much. I remain clinical, like a pathologist looking for the pathogen that killed the patient. The patient is America, and I happen to live here, so it strikes a bit personal to plan the autopsy while the patient still breathes.

Fortunately–and without apology–I know the answer.

There is one who can bring life from the dead, and we know this because He did. Hundreds of witnesses saw Him. Many died for the testimony of this truth. We have a solid line of first-person witnesses from John the Revelator to Polycarp and Thomas who took the Gospel to India.

Apologist and author Ravi Zacharias related this story of Dr. Billy Graham:

Dr. Billy Graham told of an occasion when German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer was in conversation with him. Mr. Adenauer asked Dr. Graham, “Do you believe in the resurrection of Jesus Chris from the dead?” When Dr. Graham immediately answered that indeed he did, there was a long silence from the Chancellor, and then he said, “Outside of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I know of no other hope for mankind.”

This is an extraordinary and yet most meaningful statement, made by one of the great statesmen of the twentieth century. It is highly significant because it spoke volumes, coming from a man who had to pick up the ruins after Hitler had left the world mangled.

In 1978, Harvard University invited Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Soviet dissident and Nobel Prize laureate, to speak at its commencement. He was booed by the student body.

Two hundred or even fifty years ago, it would have seemed quite impossible, in America, that an individual could be granted boundless freedom simply for the satisfaction of his instincts or whims. Subsequently, however, all such limitations were discarded everywhere in the West; a total liberation occurred from the moral heritage of Christian centuries with their great reserves of mercy and sacrifice. State systems were becoming increasingly and totally materialistic. The West ended up by truly enforcing human rights, sometimes even excessively, but man’s sense of responsibility to God and society grew dimmer and dimmer. In the past decades, the legalistically selfish aspect of Western approach and thinking has reached its final dimension and the world wound up in a harsh spiritual crisis and a political impasse. All the glorified technological achievements of Progress, including the conquest of outer space, do not redeem the Twentieth century’s moral poverty which no one could imagine even as late as in the Nineteenth Century.

Solzhenitsyn pushed this point further in his speech accepting the Templeton Freedom Award in 1983.

More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.

Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened. 

What is more, the events of the Russian Revolution can only be understood now, at the end of the century, against the background of what has since occurred in the rest of the world. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God.

The best that politics and American democracy can produce in 2016 is Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The distillation of America’s wants, needs, hopes and dreams has produced Stalin vs. Jezebel. One of them will win the inhabit the White House for the next four years.

If there ever was proof writ large across the sky in the indelible ink of God’s heavens that men have forgotten God, look no further than your ballot on Tuesday.

Then repent.

Could Donald Trump Save a Bifurcated Faith and Country?

I get this a lot: “We’re not electing a pastor-in-chief.” I also have to live with Ted Cruz’s flip-flop on Trump, after holding him up as an example of a principled Christian. I still believe Cruz is a principled Christian, but politics bifurcates faith, as it also bifurcates the country.

To me, the primary reason we’ve got two candidates as morally flawed (the most charitable word I can use) as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, is that people have cut off their faith in God from application in our country.

Trump, however, might be the only hope to turn bifurcated Christians to the truth. It will truly take a miracle.

Look around. It’s easy to see many who identify as Christians hold beliefs like:

Christ is God but…

  • It’s okay to curse and cuss because that’s just expression (Ephesians 5:4).
  • It’s okay to watch movies or TV or play video games filled with sex, violence, vengeance and robbery (Matthew 5:29).
  • Its okay to play worship music and give glory to God as a UFC fighter pummels an opponent senseless (Galatians 5:23, Philippians 4:5, Colossians 3:12, 1 Timothy 6:11).
  • It’s okay to make as much money as possible and give out of my excess (Mark 12:44).
  • Preachers only want your money (Philippians 1:15-18).
  • It’s not up to me to be a perfect Christian or preach Christ (Romans 1:16, Mark 8:38, Luke 9:26).
  • I don’t have to go to church (Hebrews 10:24-25).
  • I have to fight back against enemies of my faith and country (Matthew 5:44, Romans 12:17-19).
  • I can cheat on my taxes because “render unto God…” (Romans 13:1, Titus 3:1).
  • My employer treats me badly so I don’t have to do a good job (Colossians 3:23).
  • God helps those who help themselves (John 15:5, Romans 5:8, John 3:16).
  • It’s not my job to help the poor (Matthew 25:44-46).
  • God is great, but we must support our country first (Psalm 20:7).

The Bible is not a buffet. You don’t get to take some and leave some. It’s God’s one–and only–love letter to humanity. I can see those who don’t believe in the Bible or the God who inspired it accepting belief in anything (Nobel Prize winner Francis Crick, co-discoverer of DNA, believes that aliens may have seeded earth with life), but Christians have a faith supported by history.

Those who support Trump have a bifurcated faith, which is a form of cognitive dissonance. Inside the church (if they go at all) it’s all Hallelujah and thank you Jesus, but outside the church, we must do things like the world. To those people, I suggest they read James chapter 1. Read it every day. And then read chapters 2-5.

Our country will not be blessed by God unless its people are obedient to God. Those who cleave to a man who says he speaks for them, yet does just about everything in life in contradiction to Biblical teaching, are deceiving themselves.

Those who vote for this man because he appears to be the only person who can stop a potentially worse secular progressive moral busybody are misplacing their trust.

That’s not a new thing. They’ve been misplacing their trust for many years. When confronted with Biblical truth, they held their hands over their ears.

“You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”

When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.  But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:51-60)

One cannot bifurcate faith in God. There’s no “work/life/God” balance. Either one commits his or her life to the Lord, placing all hopes and faith in Him, or one does not.

That being the case, if someone has done that and still believes voting for Donald Trump is the best course for America–knowing there’s a coming judgment–then that’s their privilege as a citizen of the United States.

Honestly, unless God performs some electoral miracle with Evan McMullin (who currently has my vote), I hope Trump wins. I know that’s selfish, as Jonah Goldberg wrote. Part of me wants it to show everyone how right we Never Trumpers are, that he’ll be a truly awful president. But the greater part of me wants him to face his own shortcomings and put his trust in the Lord.

Can you imagine the national revival that could happen if Trump became a committed Christian? That’s the one–only–reason worth casting a vote for the man. If Hillary Clinton was sworn in on a Friday and committed her life to Christ in her inauguration speech, the Democrats would be preparing impeachment charges by Monday. They don’t want a Christian leading the nation.

I’ve previously mocked Trump. I’ve attacked him on every issue imaginable. I’ve concluded that he will turn on Christians who disagree with him. I’ve given him no benefit of the doubt on many issues. And I repent of that. God demands that I forgive. I ask for forgiveness for the mocking, sarcasm, and rooting for Trump to step on every rake he sees.

Instead I commit myself to pray for Trump. I am not going to support him politically. I am not going to agree with his Godless attacks on people, or his suggestion to check out sex tapes. I am not going to claim Trump is a conservative of any stripe. But I will pray God does a miracle with his soul before November 8.

Our country is in deep trouble. The church has lost its salt and light in most cities–even in the so-called Bible Belt–and it’s quickly losing everywhere else.

Bifurcated Christians need someone to lead them to the truth. A Christian Trump may be the only one who can.

My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins. (James 5:19-20)

If Trump were ever to receive my vote, it would be in response to prayer and fasting, and for the sake of that passage from the book of James. Right now, I can’t do it (for reasons Erick Erickson very aptly explained). But I am praying for a miracle. I urge you do the same.