How Evangelicals Got Hooked by Donald Trump
Atlantic Magazine, April, 2018
Mr. Gerson’s assessment that Evangelicals are feeling besieged by unsympathetic ideologies seems correct. It also seems to be a reasonable explanation for their turning to Donald Trump, as a kind of necessary evil for combatting the invasion.
As a fellow Evangelical, I agree with Gerson that, whatever the bond between Trump and Evangelicals, it is inappropriate. Mr. Trump made it his mission to “drain the swamp” in Washington. Apparently he is not mechanic enough to realize that such a task calls for a pump designed for liquids. The tools he has employed, instead of draining the swamp, have created a moral and intellectual vacuum in the Executive Branch, while driving moderate Republicans legislators out of politics, altogether. Whatever Trump’s views may be, they are disconnected from any philosophy or structure. He is the Chameleon Commander, in charge of a disoriented rent-a-staff.
Evangelicals do not bear the full blame for electing Donald Trump. But they, of all people, should have known better. When Jesus walked the roads of Judea, the Jewish people looked for a Messiah who would deliver them from the Roman oppressors, and who would return Israel to the glory days of King David. But Jesus had no interest in political power. Instead, he gave himself up to be crucified. His approach seemed to be the worst of all possible strategies. And it was, unless he rose again from the dead to become Lord over all of creation. Most people consider the resurrection a fable, but for Evangelicals, it is the central and controlling event of human history.
Does America benefit when Evangelical ideas influence its politics? Generally, yes. Is it necessary for Evangelicals to practice ends-justify-the-means-politics? No. Never. Satan himself tempted Jesus by saying, “Lookie, here, Jesus. All you have to do is worship me, and you can have the planet for yourself.” Jesus responded, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Evangelicals, by definition, must follow Jesus, which means they may not make deals with the devil.
America is well worth preserving, which is why, with all (legal and proper) haste it needs to remove Mr. Trump from the Presidency. But that being said, I am not overly concerned about the future of America. It will come to the end of its road, as is the destiny of all earthy nations. I am concerned about Evangelicals, though. What is the great fear that makes them bedfellows with a man like Donald Trump? Is Jesus Lord of the universe, or not? If Evangelicals do not think so, then they should (please) change their label to some other club, such as Materialists for Capitalism, or The Red Society Rights. But if he is Lord, then they should join the chorus of “Be gone, Satan,” and get an Evangelical spine.