God Will Not Be Mocked; His Purpose Will Be Accomplished Among Us

I have no doubt God is accomplishing His purpose, but what role we play may surprise us

21 February 2016: Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to several thousand supporters at a rally in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Washington Examiner was the first news source to report that Republican senator, Ben Sasse, said in a “campaign telephone town hall call that went to about 17,000 Nebraskans”, among other things, that President Donald Trump trash-talks evangelicals behind their backs”. After briefly citing some points of agreement with Trump, Sasse “began to unload” on the President.

Sasse identified a litany of issues he has with Trump – careening “from curb to curb” on COVID (first ignoring it, then going “into full economic shutdown mode”), selling out allies, “the way he treats women”, spending “like a drunken sailor” and flirting with white supremacists – but the issue I want to focus on is the charge that Trump “mocks evangelicals behind closed doors”.

Sasse commented, “I think the overwhelming reason that President Trump won in 2016 was simply because Hillary Clinton was literally the most unpopular candidate in the history of polling.” It’s true, and most evangelicals I know said they were voting “only” for Trump as “the lesser of two evils”. They couldn’t stomach another Clinton presidency, perpetuating that inbred political machine in Washington that is openly hostile to concerns of evangelicals.

So, where along the timeline did Donald Trump become our champion? When did he stop being an evil? (Albeit an ostensibly lesser one)

A little googling reveals (for those who’s memory is short) that “long before” Donald Trump ran for President of the United States, he was a Democrat. Donald was registered as a Democrat from 2001-2009. Have we forgotten the criticism leveled against The Donald by Jeb Bush? “He was a Democrat longer than he was a Republican. He’s given more money to Democrats than he has to Republicans.” (Including Hillary Clinton)

To be completely accurate, Donald Trump changed his party affiliation at least five times since 1987, when he registered as a Republican. He changed to Independent in 1999, to Democrat in 2001, to Republican in 2009, to Independent in 2011, to Republican again in 2012. (See Political positions of Donald Trump at Wikipedia) But should that give us comfort?

On the issue that has been historically most influential on the Evangelical vote, abortion, Donald Trump has been described as shifting “from pro-choice to pro-life only as he planned a presidential run”. Robb Ryerse, a pastor at Vintage Fellowship in Fayetteville, AR, said earlier this year, “I personally believe that the President is cynically using pro-life voters for his own electoral purposes and doesn’t actually care about protecting innocent life at all.”

The LA Times was less skeptical in its description of Trump’s turnabout recently, calling him “a late convert” to the pro-life cause. Noting Trump’s position in 1999 (“pro-choice in every respect”), Trump told the March For Life crowd in Washington this year that “every life is worth protecting”.

The Times added: “Trump is counting on the support of his base of conservative activists to help bring him across the finish line.” While I don’t share the Times’ anti-pro-life stance, that’s what concerns me – that Trump is saying simply what a large block of his constituents want to hear. (To be fair, my skepticism runs deep with all politicians, especially in campaign mode.)

After all, moderates aren’t tolerated by voters anymore. Both political parties have “taken harder-line positions for and against abortion rights”. Trump had to choose sides. As former White House Press Secretary, Ari Fleischer, said recently, “There used to be a middle”, but now candidates must choose sides in an increasingly polarizing political environment.

Digging deeper, Trump’s political views have shifted from moderate populist (2003) to liberal-leaning populist to moderate populist (2003-2011) to moderate populist conservative (2011-12), to Libertarian leaning conservative (2012-15) to “hard-core conservative” just before the 2016 election. Interestingly, he back-stepped to Libertarian-leaning conservative, then moderate conservative after the election, but he may now (again) be described as “hard-core conservative” now that he campaigns for re-election. (See Political positions of Donald Trump ibid.)

I can’t help noticing that his hard-core conservativism seems to be timed with election campaigning, and that’s the thing that troubles me about him. So, I began wondering today: what are his long-standing convictions? From my reading, I would say populism, authoritarianism, and nationalism. Let’s take a closer look at those threads of Donald Trump’s political life.

Continue reading “God Will Not Be Mocked; His Purpose Will Be Accomplished Among Us”

Voting Christian: What Does Your Faith Allow?


I have to admit that I don’t look forward to the days ahead: the “election season”. I likely be “snoozing” quite a few people in the coming months. Voting, of course, is a protected right and a privilege in a free society, as is the freedom to speak our minds.

Still, I approach the inevitable increase in exercise of that freedom that will certainly escalate as we get closer to November with no small amount of angst. Daily reminders of the polarized, schizophrenic nature of our society with so many voices, each speaking with near absolute certainty, their diametrically opposing opinions is not my idea of fun or meaningful discourse.

That our voices in the church, the body of Christ collective, is no less disparate is downright disconcerting.

Of course, it’s always been that way. Even in the New Testament, even among the apostles, we find disagreement: Paul and Apollos, Peter and Paul, the Jewish and gentile converts, Gnostics and others. Having spent an entire Sunday exploring the early church fathers in North Africa last week, I waded through one example of disagreement after another.

Many of those disagreements at that time led to the formation and establishment of the fundamentals of orthodox belief: original sin, the Trinity, the nature of Jesus, how the church should deal with “lapsed” believers in times of persecution and the authority of the church.

Some, like Cyprian and Augustine, were sainted by the established church for their positions that became the accepted stance of a majority of the church leaders at the time. Others, like Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Tertullian, despite their significant contribution to early Christian thought, were not because they took positions that did not line up exactly with the majority (even if many of their other positions did).

We tend to view church history in the west through a decidedly western lens. We forget that those early expressions of Christianity took different tracks: Eastern Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Coptic and others. Some of those early leaders are viewed as saints by some of those “churches” and not by others.

Western Christianity has had its own splinters: Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, Anabaptist and others. I found the Charismatic movement in the early 1900’s fascinating as a young Christian for the way it moved through the various denominations at once and brought people together through the collective experience of the Holy Spirit. It too, though, resulted in new divisions: the Pentecostal and “independent” charismatic churches.

Thus, when I think about how Christians should vote in the next election, I find no solace in a clear direction. Christians are torn and divided. Continue reading “Voting Christian: What Does Your Faith Allow?”

An Open Letter to My Fellow Christians

 (c) Can Stock Photo / ishook
(c) Can Stock Photo / ishook

Dear Fellow Christians,

We won the election, but, it’s no time to celebrate. We won, but we also lost our credibility in the process. We helped to vote into office a man that people almost universally dislike for his brash, harsh, insensitive comments. It is the first time in history that xenophobe, racist and misogynist are words used to describe the President of the United States.

I understand why it happened. Trump sought us out. He promised protection for our decaying religious freedoms. He listened to us and courted us. Hillary Clinton vowed to continue the course of this country down a road that we have dreaded, and Trump promised us he would stop that momentum.

Hillary vowed to work to change religious beliefs to conform to official government postures. She gave no inch to the unborn. She portrays a private and public persona, two faces that could not be trusted. She represented the entrenched political machine that has shown us no favors for decades.

But now we need to face the stark reality of our success. Continue reading “An Open Letter to My Fellow Christians”

What Have We Gained?

While we won the battle for the presidency, I am afraid we may have lost the message of the Gospel.

 (c) Can Stock Photo / FotoVika
(c) Can Stock Photo / FotoVika

I have so many mixed emotions and mixed thoughts following the election that appears to have established Donald Trump as the President elect of the United States of America. As an evangelical, I feel that we won; our voice was heard. But did we?

We elected a man that none of us can trust and most of us can’t stand. We hope that he has changed and is changing, but we don’t know that. There was a rumor that he made a profession of faith back in the spring, and that he is a new Christian, born again and now one of us.

Is that really true? We simply don’t know.

To be fair, we can all relate to the fact that new Christians often continue to struggle with open sin and sinful ways of thinking, acting and talking. When God gets a hold of someone, though, He begins to transform the mind and the heart and the fruit begins to show in the outward life.

I hope that is what has happened and is happening with Donald Trump.

But that aside, while we won the battle for the presidency, I am afraid we may have lost the message of the Gospel.   Continue reading “What Have We Gained?”

Voting As Sojourners and Exhiles

canstockphoto14916221
(c) Can Stock Photo

How much of our political motivation is rooted in our desire for an easy life, for familiar things, for things that are friendly to our faith? We need to search our hearts on a regular basis to be sure that we are not following after our own, human purposes and not God’s purposes.

What if God doesn’t see things the way we do?

What if God can be most effective and make the most change in the world and in people’s lives when circumstances are not favorable to the motivations and desires of Christians? What if God light shines most where darkness is greatest?

These are rhetorical questions, of course, and the answers are not often what we want them to be. Continue reading “Voting As Sojourners and Exhiles”