This is a guest post from Doug. In it he looks at the issue of the fruit of the spirit and evangelicals supporting President Trump. This is a look about evangelicals and politics in the context of the culture wars.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 NIV
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Matthew 7:21-23 NIV
This is a guest post from Doug in the the Northeast United States. He wanted to share some thoughts about Christians and fruit of the spirit in the context of the upcoming election. This is his perspective on binary thinking and how some evangelicals wrapped up in the culture wars looks at good vs. evil. This is also Doug’s explanation as to how some evangelicals welcome President Trump as their champion.
I have spent the weekend wrestling with a posting that I read from an old friend who depicted the upcoming election as, essentially, a life/death struggle between the forces of good and the forces of evil. In her view Biden and the Democrats stand for all things evil. I fully understand how she gets to where she is in her thinking. As far as the struggle itself, I can agree that it is a life or death struggle. Where we disagree is over what the evil is, and where it is. A separate post that she made is, I think, telling: “There are good people, and there are bad people”.
It is this binary thinking that can easily lead devout Christians down what I think is a very wrong path. If I wanted to be a literalist about it I would remind her that her Bible states that all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). From a fundamentalist perspective there is only one kind of people: They are all bad. It is from that point that I begin.
From my faith position I must start by saying that all of us are flawed. Call it sinful. Call it ‘less than perfect’. Joe Biden is flawed. I am flawed. Donald Trump is flawed. Add to that the fact that we are not supposed to pass judgment on people. Add to that the fact that “only God knows the heart”. It is very easy to come to a point of spiritual paralysis. Rather – it is very easy to try to impose spiritual paralysis on anyone who disagrees with our particular position. I know. I have had all these arguments used against me – particularly the one about only God being able to truly know the heart. We use these passages as catch-phrases, and then stick our fingers in our ears so we don’t have to hear the other side, and then we say they have no argument.
I will argue that we can know what is in the heart. Jesus also said “By their fruit shall you know them” (Matt 7:16). In this passage he was speaking about false prophets.
At the top I listed the “fruit of the Spirit”. This was a list of attributes that Paul used to instruct the Galatians in the true Demonstration of Gods love. These are the things that the Spirit of a loving God produces in those who belong to him. I don’t think I demonstrate all of these attributes, and I will leave it to the people who know me to say which ones I do demonstrate. But Donald Trump does not demonstrate ANY of them in any capacity. We may not know what IS in his heart, but we do know what is not. The Spirit of God is simply not there. If you were to take that list and create a list of opposites, you find all of them in him.
I will not go so far as to say that he is the Anti-Christ (for those waiting for a literal fulfillment of the Book of the Revelation to John), but I will say that Donald Trump is AN anti-Christ. His policies and practices are the opposite of what Jesus has taught his followers. Where Jesus taught love, Trump practices lust – “You can do anything – grab them by the pussy. When you’re a star they let you do it”. Where Jesus taught turning the other cheek, Trump practices “when I get hit I hit back ten times as hard”. Where Jesus taught us to welcome and love our neighbor Trump places children in cages for having the temerity of wanting to live in a better place. Where Jesus taught charity, Trump diverts money given to his trusts for charitable purposes to himself. These are all well documented and not fake news, despite his complaints to the contrary.
How did he manage to get so many people who claim Jesus as their savior to welcome him as their champion? Three ways:
1. He wrapped himself in the flag. Christians have conflated patriotism for spirituality. Jesus said that his Kingdom is not of this world, but Christians have persuaded themselves that they can help him most by establishing his kingdom in the USA.
2. He promised to appoint conservative judges. These judges will, it is assumed, return the Country to its Christian roots. Jesus told his disciples to go out and spread the good news of the gospel: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free”. No where did Jesus command his followers to go out and force the world to live like Christians. Even the original apostles could not agree on what living like Christians meant – as is evidenced by the many conflicts between Paul and James. The salvation of God is an invitation. It does not come at the business end of a gun.
3. He identified an enemy. “Them”. And he promised to protect “us” from “them”. His greatest appeal is to fear. Fear of homosexuals. Fear of Mexican rapists and drug dealers. Fear of feminists. Fear of those who are different. Fear of the very people that Jesus commanded us to love. The love of God casts out fear. (1 John 4:18) This is, perhaps, the easiest gospel truth to forget. TV preachers make a fortune out of telling us who to fear. Many believe that God will remove them from this world before he unloads with his wrath, as the popular “Left Behind” series has portrayed in book and film. He also will protect us from socialism, although I doubt seriously that most people know what that is. Taking money from the state to send your children to college is a kind of socialism. Socialism is not communism. Neither is it a stepping stone to it. These are simple triggers that people have a Pavlovian reaction to. The apostolic church was anything but capitalist. It was far closer to true socialism than most Christians want to believe.
Donald Trump is in it for Power, and the only person he is trying to protect is himself. The conservative judges are more about protecting his business practices than they are about making this a Christian nation.
Yes. This election is about good and evil. But Donald Trump is an evil man to the core. He is not, and is incapable of being, a champion for the poor and the oppressed. He is an anti-Christ. “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” (Matt 24:24) And who would have thought that all he would need to do to deceive the church was to wrap himself in the flag and hold up a Bible?