He Cannot Save You

I was driving through rural Georgia recently. The land is beautiful. The people are friendly. The sky is blue. Lots of people have flag poles with the American flag on them. Increasingly, I see Trump 2020 flags underneath the American flag. It actually is noticeably new and something happening in rural areas across the country.

I do not recall flags for other candidates in the past. This is something new and different. Trump voters are Trump voters, even more so than Obama voters were Obama voters. There is no real allegiance to the GOP, just to Trump. Republican candidates are forced to go through bizarre rituals to prove who is the most loyal. Some privately grumble. They know these voters will come for them if they are not loyal enough.

There are others who stand with President Trump reluctantly. Frankly, for many evangelicals, the only person they can stand with is Trump even if they resent it. I imagine if he loses in November there’ll be a bit of a scene in some corners, not just among Senate Republicans, like the Witch of the West melting. Once Dorothy threw the bucket of water on her, the loyal soldiers were not so loyal. The flying monkeys might have been, but the soldiers definitely were not.

We will see that among many in Washington who even now ostentatiously hump the President’s leg with reckless abandon. A number of begrudging Trump voters will be sad to see him lose because of the policies and appointments of Joe Biden, but even many of them will privately sigh some level of relief that perhaps the chaos and constant rage and rage tweets will subside. The President’s most hardcore voters will have dozens of would-be Trump poseurs to choose from for 2024 arguing over who best humped Trump’s leg or has the most Trumpian policies.

The purges will happen with fights over loyalty in one corner of the right and fights over ever actually voting for the man in the other corner.

If the President wins in 2020, take the last three paragraphs and just push them to 2024. It will happen. I do not recall in my lifetime seeing a President with so much public loyalty and private revulsion among the same people. The loyalty from the President’s base is premised on him being with them. They have his back because he has theirs and they have been terribly put upon by so many politicians of all stripes. The loyalty from the politicos is premised on him winning and he will either lose or be term-limited.

Americans are in this strange world. Those who fly the Trump flag hate anyone who is not sufficiently Trump. They will turn on John Bolton like Ramsay Bolton’s dogs after years of cheering him on as soon as his book comes out. They will turn on anyone not sufficiently loyal.

Others will stand with Trump because he is the only candidate who isn’t aligned with those who’d defund the police. They’ll stand with Trump because he has been arguably the most pro-life President. They’ll stand with Trump because his Administration declared a truce in the Obama Administration’s war against churches. Lest any of you forget, and if you are in the media and reading this you might not have ever noticed, President Obama’s administration actually argued there is not a freedom to exercise one’s religion. Instead, his administration argued there was only a freedom of worship. The Supreme Court rejected his position 9-0, but the administration’s antagonism toward faith-based voters continued. Obama’s Solicitor General argued faith-based institutions could see their tax-exempt status go away if they did not embrace gay marriage. Then they went after Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor to demand they fund murdering children.

You want to understand why so many evangelicals are loyal to President Trump? That is why. They expected Clinton would deliver even more and now presume Biden, as the Democrats go further left, will do the same with gusto.

But I have to say something to my evangelical friends — Donald Trump will not save you. He cannot save you. In the rhetoric, tone, tenor, and levels of support for President Trump, I am struck by how many people still view him as some defense against the left.

True, he is to an extent. But Christians are dealing with spiritual problems, not political problems. They are dealing with the things unseen, not the things seen. Donald Trump is, like the forces they are fighting, of the world. The world cannot protect you from the world.

If you are a Christian voting for Donald Trump because he is pro-life, not at war with Christians through public policy, has great judicial picks, and will defend the police, I’m with you.

But I continue to harbor a great belief that too many Christians are using Trump as a political savior for a spiritual problem both in their own lives and in the life of this country. Trump cannot stop the culture from turning against the faith and, if anything, more and more data shows Trump is a catalyst for the cultural turn. He is increasing the left’s turn against the faith at a more rapid pace as so many evangelical leaders constantly beclown themselves to hump his leg. He is also increasing the right’s turn against the faith at a more rapid pace as more political apparatchiks on the right do what is expedient for political victory, including tossing grace, truth, and love for neighbors to the wind.

I think we are in a great sorting. It is not a sorting of the world, but a sorting of the church. Those of us within the church are being sorted between those of us who truly believe Jesus is the answer and those of us who think we can find stopgaps on the road to glory. I don’t advocate for escalation or to bring on the persecution. But I do worry a lot of Christians have harmed their own witness in how they are engaging in the world and politics. Many younger evangelicals are abandoning even a passing interest in politics and voting

Too many people, regardless of party, think they can and should behave like the President. They see him as a fighter, so they fight too. They have chosen to divide the world between us and them. They see the political fight of the day as a struggle between their way of life and something anathema to it. To a degree, they are right. But to a greater degree, they are so busy clinging to a way of life they identify as American or American Jesus that they cannot let go to cling to actual Jesus. Too many Americans on both sides of the aisle cling to the sovereignty of the presidency instead of to the sovereignty of God and fight accordingly.

We all get so worked up these days and I keep hearing Republicans say we need to fight like the other side or be like the other side or something else. Democrats, for what it is worth, always think the GOP fights nastier, dirtier, and is more united.

I’d just say we cannot do that. We are bound by a book with key lines carved in stone by the immortal Creator of all things who then carved those lines on our hearts. As we engage the culture, the world, and the politics of the age, we cannot be like those who are not bound by the Word. We shouldn’t even try. “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” (Rom 12:9)

We are in a period of sorting and trying for the church. Stand for what is true and good, not for any man. If you’re on the right, Donald Trump cannot save you from what is coming. If you’re on the left, Joe Biden cannot save you either. But you and I can all love our neighbors as we go through this turbulent time — including the ones with whom we disagree on politics, policy, and the future.

I just had that on my mind this morning. That’s all. This will be my last public post for a while. I’m going behind the firewall for subscribers. If you aren’t a paid subscriber, it is $7.00 a month or $70.00 for the year. If you aren’t too outraged by what’s on my mind this morning, you can subscribe by clicking the button below.