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It's all about the (R)

For those who are not aware, I am very politically conservative. Small government, strong defense, pro-life, etc. I have also been very vocal that I do not think Donald Trump was a wise choice to be president. It's led to a lot of good conversations with my pro-Trump friends and those who are not. One very good friend, who I admire greatly and who has been an excellent example to me in many ways, is a Trump defender and asked me to read the text of Dr Robert Jeffress' inaugural address. Here is my email to my friend. 

I read the Robert Jeffress inaugural message you sent me at , and I have these thoughts. 

1. The Wall
Dr. Jeffress points point that God enabled Nehemiah to build a wall to protect His people from their enemies. Although many of Trump's critics have opposed the idea of a wall, I have not commented on this myself, because in truth, I am torn. I agree that it's the role of a nation's leaders to protect her citizens from enemies. If illegal immigration is a problem, and if America's enemies are able to exploit weaknesses in our borders and do harm, then something should be done.

On the other hand, I also know that America is a beacon for Christianity. No, we are not a chosen people like Israel. But for some unknown and undeserved reason, God has chosen to use the United States to spread the good news of Jesus to people throughout the world. We should see each person who comes here --legally or not -- as someone who is made in God's image and who might not hear and accept the Gospel if they never came here. This might be their only opportunity to hear about, and then know, Jesus. 

So when it comes to the wall, I am torn. I am a Christian before I am an American or a Republican, and therefore I should care quite a bit about people coming to Christ, and what better way to do that than for them to come into a nation where Jesus is openly embraced?

2. Nehemiah acknowledged his sin
In Nehemiah 1:6, we see Nehemiah pray this:
“I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. "
Not only has Trump never publicly uttered this, he has specifically denied needing forgiveness of sin, just a few months ago while on the campaign trail. 

3. Nehemiah's humility
Since Dr Jeffress made Nehemiah the focus on the message, then let's look at what Scripture tells us about Nehemiah's humility:
Chapter 1, verse 11:
"Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” I was cupbearer to the king."

Here we see that Nehemiah wasn't just humble when it came to God; he knew that he had to be humble before the current king. That king is just another man, not God. But Nehemiah asked God to give him favor with the king. Then he went to the king in humility. This becomes even more evident as we read how Nehemiah approaches the king in the next chapter.

Have we seen this kind of humility in Trump? Do we see anything in him that looks like he'd be willing to submit to any other man's authority, let alone God?

Since I first heard of Trump in the late 80's, he has never shown any tendencies to be humble. He continually brags about himself, his business success, his TV show ratings, his inaugural attendance, etc. Many have pointed out that some of his purported facts are not based in truth. I would go a step further and point out that from a Christian standpoint, it doesn't matter: Trump shouldn't be boasting, whether those numbers are accurate or not.

I want to be very clear about this
: if there is one prevailing theme throughout Scripture of how God's people should be, humility is at the top of the list. All through the bible, we see the dire consequences when someone, particularly someone given an important position by God, loves themselves and places their own agenda above God's agenda.
From Lucifer's fall because he wanted to keep God's praises for himself, to Moses being denied entrance to the Holy Land because he relied upon a rock for water, to Jesus admonishing Peter for denying him to save his own reputation in the eyes of a young girl, to Herod and Pharoah killing little babies because they were threatened by the thought of losing power to a chosen little boy, to God admonishing Eli because Eli was afraid to hold his own sons accountable for their sins -- humility (not focusing on yourself) is God's highest priority.  

To those who regard the bible as the Word of God, there is no denying that humility is central to pleasing God. He takes our lack of humbleness very seriously. While we conservative evangelicals have convinced ourselves that homosexuality is at the top of God's agenda, we have voted in a man whose every word is at odds with what God has clearly regarded as most important. 

This isn't just about how comparing Trump to Nehemiah is inaccurate; this is much much bigger. Nothing about Trump has been in line with God's character, nor the characteristics He has said that He demands of His people.  

I do appreciate Dr Jeffress devoting the last few paragraphs of his address to the need for Trump to call on God, as Nehemiah did. I hope Trump will listen. As of now, I haven't seen any evidence that he has done so.

Beyond that, I will repeat what I have said many times before during the campaign. I am frustrated with evangelical voters more than I am with Trump. We had 9 or 10 better-qualified candidates. While Trump seemed to embody all the traits we used to slam when Bill Clinton was president, we chose him while we had Rubio, Cruz, Fiorna, Carson, Jeb, and other, better candidates to choose from. I cannot fathom why, of all the ones running for the Republican nomination, our voters chose Trump. And then, once nominated, our voters chose to make things up about Trump's humility and godliness, and we spread these untruths on Facebook.

Evangelical voters who lift Trump us as an example of godliness are being dishonest.

It's not surprising that we have done this, of course, because back in the 90's, we cheered on adulterous Newt even as we slammed Clinton for his adultery. Even today, we invite Ollie North into Christian bookstores to sell his books, praising him for his illegal covert activities in the 80's even as we slam Obama for a lack of transparency in more recent years.

We evangelicals have proven that we will forgive any sin in any leader, as long as that leader has an (R) besides his name. Because God, being Republican, has appointed any and all Republicans into office. We fail to acknowledge that God who puts all leaders in place must have put Obama into the White House, and Hillary into the role of Secretary of State. We refute that idea, because they have a (D) besides their name, not an (R). And it's all about the (R).

I will pray for Donald Trump, as Scripture commands me, just as I prayed for Obama and others before him. I also happen to agree with him when it comes to Israel and Obamcare and some other things. But do I see any reason to regard Trump as an answer to prayer, as the one we Christians have been praying for for 8 years? I do not. 

Since you asked me to read that Jeffress piece, I will ask you to read this, by theological conservative pastor John Piper. He puts it all in perspective: 

Note: comments are welcome, but only on the topic of Jefferss' words about Trump and Nehemiah. Any unrelated comments about Spicer's lies, the attendance at the inauguration, "grab them by the p____", abortion, making cakes for gay weddings, global warming, police shootings, racism, etc, will not be approved. 


Emily Timbol said…
James, you know how diametrically opposite we are on many (most) political issues, but I really appreciated this, and am glad I read it. It's truly broken my heart to see how the American church, and evangelicals as a group have embraced Trump, twisting themselves into impossible positions to do so. Ironically, it's gotten me so despondent, so broken, it's driven me to start attending church again for the first time in five years, my having left initially because of Christians making homosexuality the main agenda, like you said. I found a church though that is just starting and is seeking to be "anti" the "Anti" that the American Christian church has become, and I am hoping that there will be other churches like it that break from evangelicalism and conservatism and the "R" in the next 4 years, and follow suit.
James said…
Emily, I love your heart even as I disagree with your politics :)
Thanks so much for this. I will pray that God puts Christians all around you in this new church who will build you up, support you, and be all that a church should be.

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