Faith

Are We Over-Spiritualizing This Election?

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It’s starting to become a weekly feature: some evangelical Christian publishes an article or gives an interview trying to make a biblical, spiritual, or moral case for voting for Donald Trump. From Robert Jeffress and Jerry Falwell, Jr’s early support for the Donald to poor James Dobson having to go out and vouch for Trump’s Christianity to Eric Metaxas going so far as to say that Christians should vote for Trump, the phenomenon is happening more and more often.

The latest two examples involve a professor and theologian with an impressive pedigree and a pastor’s wife who is so sold out for the GOP that she chooses to remain anonymous. Theologian Wayne Grudem wrote a lengthy piece for Townhall last week making a case for voting for Trump on moral grounds. Here’s a sample:

“But are you saying that character doesn’t matter?” someone might ask. I believe that character does matter, but I think Trump’s character is far better than what is portrayed by much current political mud-slinging, and far better than his opponent’s character.

[…]

When I look at it this way, my conscience, and my considered moral judgment tell me that I must vote for Donald Trump as the candidate who is most likely to do the most good for the United States of America.

The blogger at a site called Last Chance America who professes to being “dedicated to restoring Biblical principles and common sense to the voting people of America” published a post titled “To The “Never Trumper”- A Biblical Case For Trump.” The author writes:

In Luke 9, we find the disciples recovering from a serious blow to their pride. Despite their best combined efforts, they had been unable to drive a demon out of a troubled young man, and had been reprimanded by Christ for their lack of faith. Just a few verses later, we find the dejected 12 incensed that another man, an outsider, was able to do what they had not. I believe Jesus’ surprising answer to their protests has great ramifications for today’s political conundrum.

Verses 49-50 read, “ ‘Master,‘ said John, ‘we saw a man driving out demons in Your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.’ ‘Do not stop him,’ Jesus said, ‘for whoever is not against you is for you.’” 

I can sense your hackles immediately rising from across the screen. “But Trump is NOT for us!” you object, “his essence oozes the opposite of Christian values!” I would first ask you to remember that we are NOT electing Trump to a sacred or ecclesiastical office. We are electing him to a political office…

I am simply stating that in this specific office, as President, he has gone to great lengths to demonstrate that he will protect and champion the rights of the American evangelical if he were to be elected, even if he does not personally embrace those values. [emphasis in the original]

Grudem’s argument boils down to a more thorough, more cerebral take on “but he’s not Hillary,” while Last-Chance-America-Lady makes the same case trying to use scripture with the flimsiest of applications.

The most important thing about these latest two attempts to tie moral and biblical import to the 2016 American presidential election — along with all the other examples along the path before this one — is that too many Christians are trying to over-spiritualize this election.

I have written before on the dangers of making idols of patriotism and America, yet, as important as we can argue this election is, the tendency to see Donald Trump as some sort of transformative figure who is an answer to prophecy is the hallmark of the sort of idolatry into which Americans tend to fall.

Here’s a news flash: there are no prophecies in scripture that mention Donald Trump, or Hillary Clinton—or American politics at all, for that matter. As much as we love our country and care about the outcome of elections, it’s dangerous and arrogant to try to apply too many Bible verses to one candidate or another.

(Don’t think it’s only happening for Republicans. The crowd at the Democratic National Convention booed Dr. Cynthia Hale when she mentioned Hillary Clinton during the convention’s opening prayer. As terrible as that sounds, Dr. Hale was in pretty tacky form herself, turning the prayer into a sort of gloat over Clinton’s impending nomination.)

Don’t get me wrong: God’s will is sure to be done, and one party or another will not like the outcome. His will may not always jibe with the “good of the country.” But God is sovereign, His ways are far greater than our ways, and we have to trust Him nonetheless.

The only way any of us will do the moral, biblical, and spiritual thing this election season is if we pray and seek God’s guidance before going to the polls. Then, we must trust the Holy Spirit’s leading when we choose a candidate.

If you’ve reconciled in your mind and heart that your only option is to vote for Donald Trump, then good for you. If you believe that it’s your duty to convince voters who aren’t sold on Trump, more power to you. But don’t try to mold God’s will around a Trump presidency — only the Lord can do that. Don’t try to make a biblical case for Trump, either. Because there simply isn’t one.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com / Mark Hayes