Today I feature a guest post from my friend Sam Friedberg. He wrote a response and commentary on the following email which was sent out by the president to supporters, and which has fortunately found its way to others:
Sam Friedberg writes,
“I’ve been a PERFECT PRESIDENT”
I’d like some input from those who are more mature in their discipleship than I am please.
I fully understand that the majority of practicing Christians support Donald Trump, and I understand the reasons for liking him.
I’m having a hard time reconciling this letter – specifically the part with “I’ve been a PERFECT PRESIDENT” – with anything a Christian could approve of. Besides the obvious lack of humility (a vice/sin in itself), he places himself on a plane of *perfection* that should be occupied by no one other than Jesus.
I also get that we’re all sinners in need of grace and forgiveness. That’s the defense usually offered against accusations of “how can you support a thrice-married serial adulterer who bangs porn stars while his pregnant wife is at home?” That defense puts those sins in the past, and forgives them — and I can accept that.
But this letter is CURRENT. It’s soliciting campaign contributions *in the process* of blasphemy.
It’s comparable to a Christian baker not wanting to design a cake for a gay wedding (which, by the way, I don’t think they should be forced to do), because it involves participating in *current* behavior that’s against their values.
This letter looks un-Christian to me, in a bad way.
And I’d appreciate help in seeing another angle.
How would you respond to my friend, who is trying to make sense of what he sees happening in the political arena and in the church? For myself, my instinct is to push back and try to say that the majority of conservative Evangelicals, rather than the majority of practicing Christians, is where the problem lies. But if I did so, I’d be wrong. The Pew Research Center has released numerous studies which show that mainline Protestants have also supported Trump, even if not to the same extent.
Sam’s question is all the more pressing now that the effort to impeach Trump has failed, and some who voted along party lines to leave him in office said they hope he’s learned his lesson from this. The email Sam shared suggests that Trump has clearly learned nothing other than that he can get away with things and claim to be perfect in the process. The lack of humility and claim to perfection are at odds with Christian teaching in general, but probably most of all with the conservative Evangelical understanding of what it means to be a Christian. Isn’t gloating inherently at odds with throwing oneself entirely on the mercy and grace of God, for instance?
But enough from me. If you’re a Christian of any sort, how would you respond to what Sam wrote? I think he raises important issues, and I think his questions deserve a response. I hope he’ll hear from lots of readers of this blog and others who find their way here through the Patheos network.
There’s more to be said, however, before I conclude this post. After Sam shared the above with me, I watched the news and learned of what transpired at a prayer breakfast the president attended, along with Nancy Pelosi. The news report said something that I think would have cost any other president the support of Evangelicals. They said that the president attended a prayer breakfast in the morning, and then used profanity on live TV. I can imagine other presidents having the same thing reported about them. But I cannot imagine them retaining the support of conservative Evangelicals after that.
Let me conclude by sharing something else that came my way via social media related to the subject of Nancy Pelosi saying she prays for the president. Donald Trump Jr. tweeted the following:
Donald Trump Jr. doesn’t seem to have learned the scriptures, since the Gospels of Matthew and Luke depict Satan doing precisely what he seems to assume Satan would never do. But then we weren’t under the illusion that this family is steeped in knowledge of the Bible, were we?