New York Times Gets Serious About Christianity -- to Attack Trump
It's no secret that Donald Trump is no choir boy. Twice divorced and remarried to mistresses, the philandering swindler has tried to use eminent domain to steal property from widows, and drew attention early in this cycle by mocking former prisoners of war and disabled reporters. Nevertheless, he seems to know just the right things to say to American evangelicals.
At the same time, the New York Times is no deep theological rag. As The Federalist's Mollie Hemingway has pointed out numerous times, the paper proves surprisingly illiterate about matters of Christianity. No, Jesus isn't buried in a tomb. No, Easter is not about Jesus' ascension into heaven. No, the book of Romans doesn't call for the execution of gay people.
But on Tuesday, the paper published an article which oozes a fundamental understanding of Christianity. In "The Theology of Donald Trump," Peter Wehner of the Ethics and Public Policy Center points out the fundamental reason why Christians should have trouble supporting such a man: his fundamental values are more Nietzschean than Christian. It is rather ironic that this article dropped on the same day Hillary Clinton got away with breaking the law and putting national security at risk, but I digress.
Trump admires strength more than humility, power more than sacrifice, achievement in himself more than reliance on God. This ironically makes him a fitting contrast to Jesus Christ -- a man The Donald once essentially described as an egomaniac. In his speech to evangelicals last month, Trump emphasized power more than anything else.
"And I say to you folks, because you have such power, such influence. Unfortunately the government has weeded it away from you pretty strongly. But you're going to get it back. Remember this: if you ever add up, the men and women here are the most important, powerful lobbyists. You're more powerful," Trump declared. "Because you have men and women, you probably have something like 75, 80 percent of the country believing. But you don't use your power. You don't use your power."
There are so many problems with this, it's laughable. Not only is there not one Christian church which can excerise "power" in the way Trump describes, but Christianity and the Church aren't about power -- they are about surrendering it. As Wehner write in the Times, Christians follow Jesus, who declared, "Blessed are the poor in spirit," "Blessed are the meek," and who emphasized, "My strength is made perfect in weakness."
Wehner knows his Bible, and he knows that Jesus was not about power, but about sacrifice, forgiveness, and love. After all, this is a savior who was humiliated and crucified by the powerful -- and is worshipped FOR DYING and later rising from the dead. Jesus never held political power, he never told the Jews to revolt against their oppressors, and he explicitly said, "My kingdom is not of this world." You don't get much more of a "loser" -- in Trump's estimation -- than that.
But there are even better reasons to doubt Trump's identity as a Christian. The Donald has testified, on numerous occasions, that he does not remember asking God for forgiveness for his sins. Jesus constantly taught repentance, and even told his followers to pray to God, saying "forgive us our sins." Trump cannot even remember praying The Lord's Prayer sincerely once -- and that should cast huge asperions on whether Trump is a true believer.
If Trump doesn't really believe in the values of Jesus Christ, what values does he believe in? Wehner has a deep theological answer for that, as well (emphasis added).
To better understand Mr. Trump's approach to life, ethics and politics, we should not look to Christ but to Friedrich Nietzsche, who was repulsed by Christianity and Christ. "What is good?" Nietzsche asks in "The Anti-Christ": "Whatever augments the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself in man. What is evil? Whatever springs from weakness. What is happiness? The feeling that power increases - that resistance is overcome."
Whether or not he has read a word of Nietzsche (I'm guessing not), Mr. Trump embodies a Nietzschean morality rather than a Christian one. It is characterized by indifference to objective truth (there are no facts, only interpretations), the repudiation of Christian concern for the poor and the weak, and disdain for the powerless. It celebrates the “Übermensch,” or Superman, who rejects Christian Morality in favor of his own. For Nietzsche, strength was intrinsically good and weakness was intrinsically bad. So, too, for Donald Trump.
Next Page: Why many Christians still back Trump. Did he really just get baptized?!