So What's This All About?

In case you didn't know, I'm in the multi-year-long process of posting a Christian devotional at the TAWG Blog. The TAWG Blog is, and always will be, mostly apolitical. For the most part, Bible-believing Christians will find little to disagree with there. But I also firmly believe that God's word can--and should--inform everything in life, and this should include politics and popular culture. How should we vote? How should we respond to hot topics such as abortion, capital punishment, taxes, and other issues? Which party, if either, is closer to the Biblical ideal? Tony Campolo and Ron Sider, Evangelicals whose political leanings are on the Left, have made the case in several of their writings that God wants his followers to vote politically on the Left more than on the Right. At times, some of them have gone so far as to equate voting on the Left with obedience to Christ, either subtly or not-so-subtly contending that the converse is true as well: If you vote Republican, you're sinning against the Savior.
I don't agree. I think that to the degree they actually resort to the Bible, they're misinterpreting it. With a whole bunch of caveats, I think politically conservative positions are a lot more compatible with the Scriptures than the Leftist positions.
Just to clarify, I would never accuse people who disagree with me--especially siblings in Christ--of what they accuse me of. I don't judge my own heart, much less anyone else's, and I don't equate political disagreement with theological fidelity to God. I have no reason to doubt their love for the Lord and "for the least of these," but I believe that they're sincerely wrong.
So there are two main purposes for this blog. One is to make a case for my political beliefs based on Scripture. The other is a bit more vague, basically to work out my political beliefs and figure out what's based on Scripture and what's based on my own biases. I certainly don't have all the answers. Some of this stuff I'm still figuring out. And I'm certainly open to correction. As long as you make your case civilly and based on Scripture, feel free to make a comment, and I promise I'll post it and consider your arguments thoughtfully and prayerfully. Who knows? Maybe we'll learn a little something from each other.
May God bless our common striving together towards both the "little t" truth and "Big T" Truth. Our watchword here is a line from C. S. Lewis's The Last Battle: "Further up and further in!"

P.S. -- Below on the left is "Topics I've Covered" which lists everything I've posted topically. It's come to my attention that some people would like to see everything just listed for them. If that's you, you can get it here. Thanks to my friend Stephen Young for the tip!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Still #NeverTrump? Well, not exactly. . .

Like a lot of NeverTrumpers, I need to issue a Mea Culpa or two. Never let it be said that I can’t admit when I’m wrong. So here’s where I was wrong and willing to own up to it, and here’s where I don’t think I was (or am)

Like a lot of people (in fact, just about every pundit out there), I was wrong that Trump could never win the presidency. I thought he had too high negatives, too many people who were disgusted by him, and too few conservatives who were willing to hold their noses in the voting booth.

Like some NeverTrumpers, I used this as an argument as to why not to nominate him or even support him in the general election. My reasoning: If there’s no chance that he’s going to win, then you’re going to abandon your principles for nothing. Jesus said that it’s a pretty poor exchange for even the whole world for your eternal soul, and to a much lesser degree, I thought the same principle applied here.

In retrospect, I shouldn’t have made that argument. I’m not going back to my original post on this topic (in which I did make it) and try to rewrite history or anything. I made a poor judgment on that, and I’ll own up to it and not try to pretend I didn’t. Even if he did have a shot at winning, that didn’t justify supporting him. Either he was fit to be President, or he wasn’t. In my mind, he wasn’t.

So I was wrong that he couldn’t get elected, and I was wrong to use his supposed unelectability as a reason not to support him. What else?

Well, so far, as of this writing, he hasn’t taken office, so the only things we have to go on are his cabinet appointments and his public statements since the election. It’s been a mixed bag as far as I’m concerned. Above all else, the fact that he’s chosen Steve Bannon—a moral degenerate who’s encouraged his worst possible instincts—is really bad. I have on the authority of Ben Shapiro—who’s worked with Bannon and who has every reason to say the worst about him—that Bannon isn’t racist per se, but he’s certainly willing to play footsie with the worst of the worst. Bannon made his site Breitbart into a haven for the absolutely disgusting Alt-Right movement, which is racist at its core. Like Trump at his worst, Bannon might not be a racist himself but he’s willing to flirt with them and normalize them.

But he’s made some good picks as well. Betsy Devos and Nikki Haley, while not perfect, are wonderful choices. Others are at least questionable if not immediately disqualifying.

So are these picks as bad as I feared? No. I expected the worst from him, picking only sycophants who’d only flatter him and encourage his worst instincts. A lot of evidence seems to indicate that he can be highly influenced by people who suck up to him, which is bad, but if he’s surrounded with the right people, maybe he won’t be bad, or even surpass my expectations by a mile.

But I think at this point it’d be good to address where I don’t need to issue a mea culpa. A lot of Trump supporters seem to worship power above all else. Like him, they judge leaders not by moral character or how they inspire the best in us but by how powerful they are and how ruthlessly they use that power. Trump has shown admiration for the Chinese Communist leadership which ruthlessly crushed the demonstrators at Tiananmen Square. He’s shown admiration for Saddam Hussein. Worst of all, he’s shown respect for Putin. And like him, a lot of his supporters seem to think that the bare fact that he’s won the presidency validates and vindicates everything he was/is and did.

Um, no. The fact that he won—as far as I’m concerned--doesn’t justify in the slightest anything he did or said during the campaign. The fact that a lot of Americans not only reluctantly supported him (as the only alternative to Hillary) but wholeheartedly got behind him says something about them more than about him. As Jonah Goldberg put it so beautifully, I can understand a reluctant supporter of Trump, and I can understand a reluctant supporter of Hillary, but I can’t understand anyone enthusiastically supporting either of them.

Why would the fact that he won mean that I now have to admit I was wrong not to support him? President Obama won two elections. So did Bill Clinton. In each of those four elections I voted for their opponents. Was I wrong to do so? Since when—in anything remotely resembling a conservative viewpoint—does the bare fact that someone wins an election mean that they were right in their stated positions or that their character flaws are now ok?

His cabinet appointments haven’t been nearly as bad as I thought. For the most part, so far, he’s avoided mouthing off at those who stated opposition. To my knowledge, he’s made one or two tweets which could be counted as embarrassing to a person who was actually capable of embarrassment.

But guys, he’s a pathological liar who has absolutely zero integrity. There’s absolutely no relationship between what he says and the truth at any time. He will literally say whatever he thinks will give him the advantage in front of whatever audience he has at a given moment. He’s shown a lifelong pattern of this. He was like this all during the nomination process, then during the campaign, and now he’s already stepping back from promises he made, like pursuing Hillary thru the legal system. Why is he doing this? Why is he already backtracking on his promises? If you don’t know the answer to that, then you need to read (or reread) the story of the frog and the scorpion. He’s a pathological liar. That’s what he does.

If you're balking at that last paragraph, then please read (or reread) this article by Peter Wehner, who worked in the Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush administrations. Please read it and show me one word of it which is no longer true. I ask again, other than the fact that--defying virtually all the professional political prognosticators out there--he won the election, what's changed? 

Please forgive as I quote myself. Out of all the books of the Old Testament, my favorite by far is Proverbs. Here’s what I said on my TAWG Blog about 12:17:

12:17, at first glance, looks like a tautology (like “A man who is lost does not know where he's going”). And I puzzled over the point that Solomon is trying to make here, and then someone explained it to me. After spending some time with someone, you get to know what type of person they are, and you can assess how much they value the truth. Once you catch them in a lie, then that tells you what you need to know. Later on, if they're telling you something that’s counterintuitive, you can evaluate their credibility, whether they’re a “truthful witness” or a “false” one.

He showed us by a series of lifelong patterns what type of man he was before the election. What’s changed?

Look, I was really wrong about the outcome of the election. But I haven’t been proven wrong in my assessment of the man, which hasn’t changed at all.

I’ll echo what I’ve heard from multiple NeverTrumpers since the election, like Mona Charen, Kevin D. Williamson, Charles C. W. Cooke, Jonah Goldberg, and others. Like them, I no longer call myself NeverTrump. That ended on Election Day. The die is cast, he’s going to be our next president. I want him to succeed in bringing about economic prosperity and international peace and security and liberty. And so I really hope he proves me wrong over and over and over. If a couple of years from now I have to write once again that I was wrong about him, that he surpassed all my expectations, then no one will be happier about it than I will.

And I’ll pray for him, just like I’m commanded to. Paul’s not giving a suggestion here:

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

I’ll pray for Mr. Trump. I’ll pray for wisdom for him, that he’ll be surrounded by advisors who’ll tell him what he needs to hear, and that he’ll listen (not something he’s shown a propensity for). I’ll pray that he’ll be truthful and have a sense of humility. I pray that he’ll respect the law, especially the separation of powers found in our Constitution. I’ll pray that he will truly surrender his life to Christ, but failing that, that he’ll know a sense of accountability not just to his “legacy” or even to the American people, but to the Judge before whom we all must answer.

Will you join me in this? 

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