CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

On the 45th President of the United States

Jan 21, 2017

Anyone who has read the many dozens of posts on the US presidential elections I have penned over the past year should know full well my thoughts on Trump and the future of America. So there is not much to be said here. Indeed, this could be my shortest article ever if I simply started and concluded with these words:

Because I am a conservative:
-I am grateful that Obama is now history
-I am grateful that Hillary is not taking his place
-I am grateful that a new face is in the White House
Because I am a Christian:
-I know that no one (not even Trump) will make America great again
-I know that only Jesus Christ can solve the problems that plague America and the world
-I know that until America repents and turns to God, it is living on borrowed time

I think those 85 words not only fully sum up my thoughts on all this, but they should be a good assessment which hopefully many other conservatives and Christians could run with. But now that the inauguration is underway, a few more things can be said.

trump 126One obvious point is that instead of uniting America, eight years of Obama may have done more to divide the nation than perhaps anything else. Americans today are really at each other’s throats, and we are witnessing a new civil war erupting. The protests and demos during the weekend is simply one indication of this, as is the no-show of seventy House Democrats for the inauguration.

BTW, we often speak about the rent-a-crowds that show up for these kinds of things. Well, that certainly has been the case here, with heaps of money flooding in so that we can have paid protestors roll up and cause maximum havoc. See there two helpful links for all the shameful details:
pamelageller.com/2017/01/left-wing-paying-people-huge-amounts-protest-trump.html/ www.christianvoice.org.uk/index.php/who-is-behind-trump-inauguration-disruption/

As Ann Coulter tweeted: “Left offering ppl $2500 to protest Trump’s inaugural. So liberals are resorting to capitalism to protest capitalism.” Yep, that’s about it.

Another point is that Americans in general and far too many Christians in particular put far too much faith and hope in a new political regime, be it Democrat or Republican. After many decades now of watching American elections and changes of office, I have come to see that often there is not much of substance that can be or is changed.

Related to this is the rather sad fact that we witnessed as much brainless gushing over the new Prez as we did with Obama. Countless crazed fans were swooning over Trump’s every word, fully expecting him to actually be able to do everything he promised. I thought wild-eyed fanaticism was mainly the domain of the loony left.

Indeed, while this sycophantic idol worship is expected of secular lefties with someone like Obama, it is all rather off-putting to behold when done by conservative Christians with someone like Trump. Watching Fox News on Trump recently seems identical to watching CNN on Obama eight and four years ago. The same hero worship and ballooned belief that this new POTUS will somehow come in like the messiah and make everything great again is a mark of delusion, not rationality.

Even in the last 24 hours I heard so many of his fans say that Trump is Trump and he will not change – as if that were a good thing. But unless he does change – primarily by humbling himself and repenting and getting right with God – this is a bad thing, not a good thing. A person who will not change when change is desperately needed is not someone we should celebrate, adore and promote.

A last point – a point I have made repeatedly now – is that character counts. The foolishness about “we are not electing a pastor” is the stuff a pagan or an unbiblical Christian would regurgitate. There is nothing more vital for any leader than the content of his character.

Note that I did not say a leader has to be a Christian. As I have said time and time again, I would rather have a principled non-believer as a leader than an unprincipled believer. Questions about Trump’s questionable character remain, despite what all his over-zealous fans say. Christians of all people should not minimise or downplay the importance of character.

But plenty of Trump’s supporters will have none of this. This was nowhere more apparent than on Fox News on inauguration eve. For example, one of Trump’s biggest groupies was gushing about how great the man is, and she actually said this: “He is a great family man; I’ve known two of his wives”! I let out a loud laugh at this. But she said all this with a completely straight face, the irony obviously being completely lost on her.

Thankfully plenty of other Christian leaders have also been rightly concerned about such matters. One of them is John Piper who wrote about this just hours ago. Let me share some of the thoughts from his article, “How to Live Under an Unqualified President”.

He repeats the many obvious problems and shortcomings with Trump and his character, and then goes on to speak about some biblical guidelines for leadership. The five he lists (and goes on to elaborate about) are these:

1. A leader should lead. That is, he should set the pace, define the path, embody the vision, and inspire emulation.
2. A leader should be dependable, trustworthy, reliable.
3. A leader should be a good example for our young people in matters of character and moral uprightness and civility.
4. A leader should not model the success of immoral behavior, and thus further destigmatize and normalize evil.
5. A leader should be known for the virtues that make a republican form of government possible.

On the last point he says this: “Virtually all the founding fathers agreed that without a virtuous people, the rule of law and of representative self-government will not survive. Donald Trump’s character is not what they had in mind by ‘virtue.’ It is, in significant ways, the opposite, and therefore his example contributes to the undermining of the republic.”

But all this and more I and others have warned about for many months now. At this point we have a new president and a chance for new beginnings. We will have to wait and see how it all pans out. We need to pray for the new POTUS and his team. We need to pray for America.

And we need to pray for American Christians that they rise up during these dark days and become all that they are meant to be for Christ and the Kingdom. While politics is important, politics cannot save anyone. Only Jesus Christ can do that, and we are called to make that good news known far and wide.

www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-to-live-under-an-unqualified-president

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20 Responses to On the 45th President of the United States

  • We can’t disagree with John Piper’s leadership principles and I acknowledge Trumps history as reality… but God often chooses people outside of our parameters for his purposes. In the case of Cyrus it was to preserve Israel, something Trump is committed to do (Isaiah 45:1-7).

    God chose Moses as a murderer, Nebuchednezar, Cyrus, David after his adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah, Constantine and John Newton even though they do not fit our ideals.

    In Trumps inauguration we saw the new leaders of the United States submit themselves and the nation under Jesus Christ as the highest authority. Let us be grateful and pray for them per Romans 13:1 and Isaiah 45.

  • Thank you for this nice blog about the US President’s inauguration, I trust it was worth staying up until 4 am to watch and write about. Americans can certainly do with becoming more Godly, even just a little more respectful of their President, yesterday I unsubscribed from Avaaz for their hateful stance against Trump’s hate as they put it, when they were arranging to protest at the ceremony seems they have more respect for animals than humans like many other misguided people.

    Having recently learned that Rupert Murdoch was a member of Saddleback Church while still airing pornography on his Sky channel, I am sure that the Lord can even turn Donald Trump’s life around even when he has had numerous wives, I pray at least not at the same time, that by God’s grace, mercy and love, he will do it soon for the sake of the country. Actually I seem to remember that during the election campaign, one young lady prayed with Trump and he gave his life to Jesus, Is it not wonderful news that around a dozen Planned Parenthood abortion clinics have reportedly closed their doors already and people quit the business?

    Thanks again for sharing your views Bill, I hope you’re now having some shut-eye, I think the turmoil has just begun and I trust we will see more wonderful things happening in America over the next four years at least. God bless America and mostly you Bill. blessings and love from yours in Christ, Sandra

    Shalom

  • Very balanced and biblical article

  • Lots of good points here, unfortunately.
    I have been thinking on this: with the extreme backlash put on by the left over the democratic protest, I think the next election could actually signal the end of democracy in America.
    Unfortunately, this backlash will be led by the “Public Christians” wanting to instill their concept of equality on everyone.
    What has happened to the concept of working for God?

  • I agree the only way America (and the world) will become “great again” is if she repents. To Trump’s credit, he has appointed some great people to the administration:

    – Steve Bannon, chief strategist. Bannon is a practicing Catholic, great defender of Western civilisation, and extreme hater of the left;

    – KellyAnne Conway, chief adviser to the President. Practising Catholic, 100% pro-life, great foe to godless feminism;

    – Mike Pompeo, director of CIA, 100% pro-life

    – Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services. 100% pro-life, anti-Obamacare and planned genocide (parenthood);

    – Mike Pence, VP. Although I note to his caving and in to the sodomties over the RFRA in Indiana.

    -Sean Spicer, press secretary, practising Catholic, 100% pro-life.

    – Reince Priebus, chief of staff, 100% pro-life and devout Greek Orthodox.

    There is also Paul Ryan, speaker of the House and 100% pro-life and practising Catholic.

    On the other hand, Trump has picked this Anthony Scaramucci as an adviser who is pro-sodomite and picked Rex Tillerson, another pro-sodomite.

    Trump is also against the godless NWO and reportedly did ask Ted Cruz if he wanted to be nominated to the Supreme Court. Anyway, all we can do is pray for him as exhorted by 1 Timothy 2 and other parts of Sacred Scripture. Since God desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth, maybe God in His great wisdom allowed Trump to be President for this reason. Or God allowed him to be President so God could promote the great men and women I mentioned above who may never have been promoted (even under a Ted Cruz presidency).

    On a final note, LifeSiteNews is reporting that Trump is to end Obama funding on foreign abortions by Sunday.

  • Further to my previous comment, Trump also appointed Jeff Sessions as Attorney-General, devout Methodist and 100% pro-life and has these evangelical and Catholic advisory boards (who comprise real evangelicals and Catholics, not liberals) advising him. So there is some early hope.

  • Further to Peter Kentley’s comments, Isaiah 55:8 may also be applicable to Trump. Trump does hate Islam and has been very consistent in his comments on Islamic terrorism, including in his inauguration speech. I have always believed since hearing Trump’s comments on Islam that at this moment in history, with the threat that Islam once again poses to Western civilisation, God has allowed Trump to ascend to the presidency to combat it

  • Thanks guys, especially Peter and Pierre. Of course now we are going over old ground, ground that I dealt with dozens of times during the past year. That God can use anyone for his purposes is not the issue – of course he can. How someone or something is used is the important point. God could use Balaam’s ass, the horrible Assyrians, and Judas to accomplish his will. So the fact that God can use Trump tells us nothing about how he might be used – eg., for a blessing or a curse. We can pray for the former of course, but all we can wisely say now is we will have to wait and see. He promised the world in his inauguration speech – that was the easy part. Being able to deliver is a whole different matter. Time will tell.

    The only difference from what I said all throughout the past year and now is this: before we were dealing with candidate Trump. Now we are dealing with president Trump. And just as the Old Testament prophets had a holy calling to keep the kings to very close account and make sure they did that which is right, Christians today must do exactly the same. That does not mean cozying up to the Prez and being his buddy and fawning over him or making excuses for him, but being a prophetic voice to keep him to account. That I will continue to do.

    We all must pray for him and we hope he does well. If he can pull off even a quarter of what he promised in his speech he will be doing well.

    But I take you back to what I said in my article above. And I take you back to Scripture, eg., Psalm 146:3: “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save.” And it is not the mesmerising corridors of power and the razzle-dazzle of White House gala inaugural balls that we must look to and put our hope in, but spiritual realities as found in 2 Chronicles 7:14. I will keep reminding God’s people of these basic biblical truths for as long as I am able. Blessings guys.

  • Dear Bill, I agree with your comments. My problem was John Piper’s article. Trump’s immoral character has been commented on ad nauseum and doesn’t add anything at this moment in time. He is now president and as you say, we must look to the future. That was the reason why I mentioned some of the great appointments he has made to his administration to show early signs of hope and not to keep revisiting the past.

    Looking forward to your critiques of the Trump presidency

  • Thanks again, Bill, for another article that promotes and explains the importance of character in a leader. What President Trump will do and how God in His infinite wisdom will use the new President remain to be seen. However, I would not give Former President Obama the credit for dividing people. If people now are bigoted and racially divided, it very well may be that they were bigoted and prejudiced to begin with and that seeing an African-American man in the White House brought out the hatred, bigotry, and hostility. I have a dear friend from Georgia who describes her late father as “the kindest, sweetest man UNTIL Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., appeared on the political scene.” Dear as she is, she cannot understand that her father’s hatred and bigotry had been lying dormant for years and that Dr. King’s push for racial justice brought the negative qualities into the open. I also remember so well a passage in the play, “The Crucible,” by Arthur Miller. In the passage the Puritan leader proclaims, “We have chased the Devil out of Salem.” In actuality, the Devil was very much alive, well, and active, in the hearts of the self-righteous, self-serving Puritans. I believe this is what has transpired during President Obama’s two terms in office and that a lot of white people need to examine themselves.

  • Agree fully with your sentiments in the article, Bill.
    Some excellent comments also, here above.
    What concerns me are the many so-called prophecies going around, all false in my view, that elevate Trump to about the status of Moses leading the Lord’s people out of Egypt.
    It is misleading & creating false hope on the level of frenzy.
    Trump is a fallible man with severe character flaws that the power he now has, might aggravate.
    We must pray that the good people he appointed will hold him accountable & on the moral path.
    May he be God’s instrument to make America great again, not as an economy in the first place, but as a spiritual people truly under God.
    Satan certainly has his sights set on this new Prez & he (Satan) is wily.

  • …“pagan or an unbiblical Christians”

    OK I’ll bite…

    Firstly, you know I greatly appreciate you and your ministry in highlighting cultural issues of today to discuss them from blog and pulpit from a biblical standpoint, and believe it is important. And you know that on almost all topics I agree with your assessment. And secondly, I agree there is nothing more vital for *any* leader than the content of his character. But overall the purpose or feeling behind this post seems to me to be most confused. Yet again, I highlight that the intensity of discussion and feeling about the US election, Trump and the ultimate outcome, is also revealing in itself. And probably, off point.

    I guess it all boils down to whether you believe that post-OT *rulers* are supposed to effectively be both practical and spiritual leaders of their nations. I look around the world and see that there are, effectively, none that are also spiritual leaders. I read of Jesus who came to make a new Kingdom of God (to the disappointment of those who were expecting an overthrow of Rome and ungodly leadership from the Messiah), and in doing so declare His followers to be in the world (salt and light) but no longer of the world (ambassadors of His Kingdom which resides in the heart of man).

    So, in light of that, as one of the “pagan or an unbiblical Christians” who has reminded people that, ultimately, they were voting for a political leader, not a spiritual leader, I find this article is disconnected, largely unhelpful and a bit confusing, particularly given the (notably OT) reference in your comment Ps 146:3 (backed up by many other similar references throughout both OT & NT), which is all the more fitting and appropriate today given we live under this New Covenant and it is this train of belief which seems to contradict the fanaticism I have seen toward the election outcome from so many Christian pundits. Also embarrassing the amount of Christians who fawn over supposedly Christian politicians – Howard, Abbott, Baird, George Bush and Obama all ran on Christian platforms – given some of the disastrous and horrible stances they took or legislation they did or didn’t enact, and things they were complicit with while in power… but that’s a whole other discussion. Where they stand before Him, only God knows. God placed Obama, God placed Trump – He has His reasons and His plan. Yes we are to be salt and light and accordingly stand for truth. But ultimately, it’s our personal job to know God, know His plan, get on board with it and do our part in the establishment of the Kingdom of God which is not of this world. To pray for His will; to point people toward Christ. It’s up to Almighty God to direct the rest.

    There’s one thing we can all agree on – that all of this should be used to point people to Jesus Christ as The One and Only Answer. If that’s the intent then I’m right behind you.

  • Thanks Garth. But to be honest I find nothing all that confusing about my post! (I could be biased of course!) Since I have dealt with similar objections so often before, I do not want to belabour all this here. Suffice it to say that God never changes, and he is always concerned about our character and moral condition, whether or not we are leaders, and regardless of which Testament we find ourselves in. And if you read my piece carefully, you will see that I in good measure already dealt with a key concern of yours when I said this: “Note that I did not say a leader has to be a Christian. As I have said time and time again, I would rather have a principled non-believer as a leader than an unprincipled believer”. But thanks for your thoughts.

  • Hmmm – I think it is a bit confusing to use the terms “left” and “right”, especially post-Obama. Originally, “right” was conservative in that it supported the established political power (supporting the king during the French revolution). “Left” was progressive, in that it promoted change, usually through grass roots popularity with the common folk, and opposing the political elites (supporting the French revolution).
    Politically, what has happened (over a long period but culminating in Obama’s reign) is that the left (progressives) have now taken the position of being the political elites, where Obam and Hillary were the ultimate examples of political elite-ness. This meant that backing Hillary was a right wing activity, and voting for the outsider (Trump), was a left wing action.
    That is probably why Trump used “left wing” techniques like sloganism (Make Amercia great again) and his supporters swoon after him and treat him like some sort of saviour.
    We are seeing left wing traits in the Republican camp because the old left wing has morphed into the right wing of established political, media and legal elites – who regard themselves as untouchable and not answerable to the masses – e.g. Hillary.
    P.S. Oddly, Christianity has been labelled as right wing and conservative. Yet the movement established by Jesus was very definitely left wing – a people movement promoting a progressive agenda that re-wrote the established system of the Pharisees, and locked horns with the politically dictated views of the pagan Romans.
    Real Christianity will always be progressive and truly left wing, not this socialist was-left-but-now-right wing run by the power elites.

  • Thanks Tim. No political and/or ideological classification system is perfect of course, but there are always risks in seeking to redefine things mid-stream as you are doing here. In my eyes it becomes quite unhelpful and counterproductive, even if I know where you are coming from. For the great majority of folks (at least those who frequent my pages) right means conservative and left means liberal progressive. Thus when I and almost all of my readers speak of the political left, we of course have in mind certain particular things such as big government, socialism, the group over the individual, radical secular social policies, a redefinition of the family, and so on. The political right would be defined in terms of limited government, the free market, individual freedoms, traditional Christian moral values, pro-family sentiment, and so on.

    So in the older, more traditional and popular understanding of the terms, it would be utterly ludicrous to call Christianity “truly left wing”. So I will stick to the more typical definitions to avoid unnecessarily muddying the waters and causing undo confusion. When we converted from traditional measurements to a metric system, the end result may have been good, but the intervening transition period was chaotic indeed! The same here: when we suggest that centuries of understanding of how we think about such matters are no longer adequate, and want to almost turn things on their head, I see that as too troublesome. So I will stick to the normal terminology here for the time being!

  • The left wing progressives are now behind the curve.

  • A lot of people will be holding Trump to account, including some of the cabinet picks, but in the past week I’ve had my libertarian friends and foes going to the opposite extreme. Attacking everything unreasonably without putting up a single valid alternative. It’s as bad as the Trump supporters.

  • A couple of reflections on Trump. First, concerning his character and his Christian faith. I remember him being asked some months ago if he prayed to God for forgiveness of his sins. His response was revealing.He essentially indicated that he did make ‘mistakes’, but as long as he made full restitution for those ‘errors’, then he really had no reason to repent and did not consider it important to do so or seek forgiveness. After all, he simply fixes his own boo-boos. This surely is pelagian or at the very least semi-pelagian thinking. In other words, ‘If I strive to be good and become a better person then that is all that God requires of me’. This is the world’s road to “salvation”.

    Second; while it is very early days, Trump seems to want to pull America out of its manifold problems by looking inward and to some extent withdrawing from the world (already in evidence under Obama’s past 8 years). But the POTUS must consider the wider world and the geopolitical dangers that lurk there as well. Trump is surely going to need a lot of expert advice here, because simply relying on his gut feelings will have very dangerous consequences for America and the free world. I am especially concerned over the ‘friendship’ he has with Putin the ‘Prince of Rosh’. Trump needs to realize that here he is dealing with someone he has probably had little or no experience with previously. This goes beyond cutting deals. Putin is a nasty piece of work who frankly reminds us of the fanaticism and cunning of a Hitler or a Stalin.
    If he is not carefully handled by this new US administration, he is perfectly capable, one would think, of manipulating Trump by exploiting his naivety, possibly to the extent of pulling off a betrayal that would unnecessarily expose America to external threats, despite its massive military strength. Putin (and Xi who now has central control over China) are no friends of the West. Putin in particular has a carefully concealed animus toward America, because he believes it is the key reason for the break-up of the old Soviet Union, which he described as “The greatest geopolitical disaster of the twentieth century”.

  • Excellent post, Bill. Much enhanced by thoughtful & insightful pro & con comments.

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