Lost In Trespasses and Sins

Lost In Trespasses and Sins September 1, 2016

Is she describing Donald Trump or President Obama?

I get Evangelicals, those hard-working, hard-loving, hard headed salt of the earth types across this country. They are my people and I love them. Yet, Donald J. Trump terrifies me. He is everything I was raised by these good people to stand against: Belittling, lover of self, boastful, unrepentant. He rejoices in exploiting weakness, in cheating the little guy, something the Bible condemns again and again. He lies constantly, lies easily disproven, lies with no purpose other than to puff himself up. He thirsts for power and disregards the checks against the executive written into the Constitution. “I alone will solve,” he claims, as if he were God himself.

We would know this if we remembered history, if we were informed by the great thinkers of the past. The essence of the Evangelical movement since the 70s has been to reject tradition, to sit alone with a Bible and figure things out for one’s self. While this can bring fresh insight and passion to the church, it can also be dangerous. When it’s just me and Jesus, it’s awfully tempting to believe Jesus agrees with me on everything.

So for some historical perspective, what about the observations of an apostle of Jesus Christian writing a long time ago?

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. (Romans 1:18-23 ESV)

That kind of historical perspective might prevent evangelicals from thinking too highly of any politician (or even themselves), and it seriously raises questions about any fallen person’s fitness for holding public office. Who among us is worthy (unless you want to say that only regenerate persons should hold public office)?

Then if human fallibility is a caution against thinking too highly of politicians, so is the inherently flawed system of democracy, as H. L. Mencken was keen to observe:

First scare the boobs out of their pants, and then rush up to save them. . . . It has been in the making, in fact for many years — at least since the Jackson era. Even in those remote days judicious men saw what was coming. They realized the essential weakness of democracy, and predictedsome of its worse excesses — now unhappy and inescapable realities. They warned that giving the vote to incompetent, despairing and envious people would breed demagogues to rouse and rally them, and that the whole democratic process would thus be converted into organized pillage and rapine. (“Triumph of Democracy,” 1940)

We have heard this stuff before. We shouldn’t be surprised by Trump.

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