This morning President Trump made remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast, which made me wonder if he somehow misunderstood this to be a campaign rally? The President’s relationship with the Christian community is an odd combination of televangelism and opportunistic pietism. Or perhaps I’m just being redundant?
Trump seemed to center the breakfast around himself, missing the point that God is the object of prayer and praise and not ourselves. It seems that some in the Christian community are consequently missing this point as well, conflating Trump’s survival with Messiah like tropes and reducing his political opponents to the Devil himself.
With the election of Donald Trump as the 45thPresident of the United States, and now, what many view as a providential salvation of his presidency, many are attempting to make sense of this controversial and polarizing leader. One author has gone so far as to suggest that a Trump Presidency is a quasi-prophetic return of biblical kings in the tradition of Cyrus or Nebuchadnezzar. In one popular article the author writes, “unfortunately, inside the Body of Christ, we are not in agreement on our views due to a lack of biblical understanding of who exactly God uses.We tend to come through a Western religious mind-set where we prefer our presidents to be Holy pastor-types, but that is not reality. Sometimes God will take a person who is a real mess, put them in place, change them, and then ultimately use them.” While I agree that God is capable of using anyone or anything for His purposes, (Balaam’s donkey certainly demonstrates this) I am not ready embrace Trump as prophetic royalty no more than I was ready to declare Obama the Anti-Christ.
Through various versions of linguistic and hermeneutical creativity some in the Christian community are interpreting Trump’s electoral victory and subsequent political survival, a fulfillment of “the last trumpet”, and the summation of numerical significance in alignment with the Jewish calendar. This irresponsible speculation that looks more like numerology than Christianity, serves to undermine genuine faith in the biblical God, reducing him to dependency on fickle voters. God is greater than the pendulum swings of American politics. The temptation for every generation is to put themselves at the center of God’s prophetic perspective, resulting in a kind of ethnocentric idolatry. This desire to be the generation, “upon whom the ends of the world are come”, may lead to unhealthy distraction and unfounded loyalty to human leaders and institutions.
A Trump presidency may indeed yield policies favorable to Christian people, it may not. History has yet to render a verdict. However, it is evident that the Trump Presidency will hinder the Christian witness for years to come. Regardless, Christ is still king.
If Trump is to be measured by the kings of the bible, perhaps Cyrus nor Nebuchadnezzar are the most obvious choices. There was a New Testament king who was highly polarizing, had a reputation for putting his name on the side of his numerous colossal building projects, and was so insecure that he was threatened by news of a baby king. But perhaps even with all the similarities, it is unfair for me to compare Trump to Herod the great. The most appropriate comparison, indeed the only one that matters, is the comparison to the one true King Jesus. And I can confidently say that by this standard a Trump presidency will fall short, as will all earthly leaders. In comparison to The Christ, all fall short of His perfection, including you and me.
May we embrace the wisdom of our Lord as He shared it with that first generation of end time speculators in Matthew 24:23-26. “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.”
The true King, that all of us should be concerned with, will never be found in the White House. But may He forever be at home in ours.