The Politics of Jesus and the Politics of Donald Trump – II

The Politics of Jesus and the Politics of Donald Trump – II January 23, 2024

The Politics of Jesus and the Politics of Trump – II

Perhaps no political conversation bears a great similarity to our current malaise than Jesus speaking with Pilate. After a lengthy discussion about kings (an obvious political category), Pilate asks the question that dominates American politics? “What is truth?”

Donald Trump’s definition of what passes for truth fails the Jesus truth test. In The Art of the Deal, he calls truthful hyperbole “an innocent form of exaggeration—and a very effective form of promotion” that plays to normal people’s grandest fantasies.

Hyperbole Not Truth

Trump: “I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration—and a very effective form of promotion.”

John 18 may help us understand why a man of lies can’t be partners with Jesus’ followers: Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

Jesus Is Truth

Jesus stakes his claim to the truth. “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:1).

The truth, of course, is that the Father has sent his Son so that we—that is, the church—might be an alternative politics, a politics of truth, to that of the world. The world’s politics is based on violence: kill or be killed. That is the politics that has been overwhelmed in Christ’s death and resurrection. A people have been created through the work of the Spirit to be an alternative politics to the politics of the lie—lies so blatant that we believe they must be true as otherwise they are so absurd. Lies that lead us to believe that peace can be achieved through war.

Stanley Hauerwas makes clear: “The gospel is the proclamation of a new age begun through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That gospel, moreover, has a form, a political form. It is embodied in a church that is required to be always ready to give hospitality to the stranger. The gospel is a society in which difference is not denied but used for the discovery of goods in common. It is, as Yoder observes, a society called into being by Jesus who gave them a new way to live: He gave them a new way to deal with offenders—by forgiving them. He gave them a new way to deal with violence—by suffering. He gave them a new way to deal with money—by sharing it. He gave them a new way to deal with problems of leadership—by drawing on the gift of every member, even the most humble. He gave them a new way to deal with a corrupt society—by building a new order, not smashing the old. He gave them a new pattern of relationships between man and woman, between parent and child, between master and slave, in which was made concrete a radical new vision of what it means to be a human person. He gave them a new attitude toward the state and toward the “enemy nation.” That is the politics begun in Christ. That is the “good news”—we have been freed from the presumed necessities that we inflict on ourselves in the name of “peace.” A peace that too often turns out to be an order established and continued through violence. Is it any wonder that Jesus was despised and rejected? Is it any wonder when the church is faithful to Christ that she finds herself persecuted and condemned? Yet if such a church does not exist, the world has no alternative to the violence hidden in our fear of one another.”

Compare the truthful politics of Jesus with the politics of the lie:

The Politics of Jesus                                      The Politics of Trump

forgiveness.                                                     revenge.
suffering.                                                         violence.

sharing money.                                              making as much money by any means possible

a leadership of humility.                              an authoritarian bullying leadership.

diversity and inclusion.                                exclusion and “Americans only.”

building a new society of peace.                 demolishing the old system.

Let those who have eyes to see, see the truth.


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