I discussed this very briefly a week ago Sunday, but not everyone was present, so I thought I would mention it here, and perhaps elaborate a little more.
I don’t spend a lot of time on politics in the meetings of our church. Our God calls us to apply the Scriptures to every part of our lives, including our approach to political questions. But the instruction to “put not your trust in princes” (Psalm 146:3) is particularly relevant when every political party has rejected Biblical truth and morality, and Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world. There are many more pressing issues in the life of believers than political questions.
Even less do I spend time on American political questions. For believers in this country, American politics may be of interest, but there is little they can or should do about matters across the pond. The British press and the BBC give such an incomplete and biased picture that many Christians here may not have well-formed views on American politics, but it doesn’t matter to faith and godliness. Jesus did not commission His disciples to go into all the world and preach the truth about American politics to every creature. 🙂
As I said when I discussed this last Sunday, I had no wish to discuss Donald Trump’s political policies. Anyone who really wants to can evaluate them in light of Scripture, and I would be happy to help with that (if asked) by pointing out some Scriptural principles. That is not how I want to spend our time together when we meet as a church, but I did say this:
If anyone ever tries to use the pulpit of our church to twist the Scriptures the way Donald Trump twisted them, he would not be allowed to finish what he was saying, and would be asked to leave the pulpit.
Donald Trump was asked about his favourite Bible verse:
“Well, I think many. I mean, when we get into the Bible, I think many, so many. And some people, look, an eye for an eye, you can almost say that. That’s not a particularly nice thing. But you know, if you look at what’s happening to our country, I mean, when you see what’s going on with our country, how people are taking advantage of us, and how they scoff at us and laugh at us. And they laugh at our face, and they’re taking our jobs, they’re taking our money, they’re taking the health of our country. And we have to be very firm and have to be very strong. And we can learn a lot from the Bible, that I can tell you.”
The Bible does indeed say, “an eye for an eye.” But it is NOT an incitement to a vengeful attitude towards those who take advantage of you, scoff and laugh at you.
The instruction was given as part of the legal code for Israel in the Old Testament. It was not meant to be vengeful, but to actually prevent vengeance greater in measure than the harm that was done. In property crimes, restitution was to be made, in some cases double in value, sometimes four times the value. But in personal injury crimes, the penalty was limited to the injury inflicted.
You could not kill a man’s whole family because he had murdered your relative. The penalty was limited to his life for the one that was taken, a life for a life. You could not kill him, or put out both of his eyes, if he put out one of yours.
The punishment was to be done judicially, and after witnesses had testified to the crime. If the punishment was to be strictly limited to equal the harm done by the criminal, then it could NOT be done in a melee where the victim or his family were “getting back” at the perpetrator. In open conflict, the injury was likely to be either greater or less than the original injury. For there to be an equality, it had to be done judicially.
This was not to be carried out with an attitude of vengeance, as was made clear elsewhere in the same law of Moses, when God declares that vengeance belongs to Him alone (Deuteronomy 32:35). That principle is repeated in Psalms, in the prophets, and in the New Testament.
Furthermore, the Lord Jesus instructed His disciples that in conflict they were to be peacemaking, not justice-seeking:
38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Jesus was not invalidating the Old Testament Law. He was telling His disciples that their first response should not be vengeful, but peaceable, when they were the victims.
He did not tell them that the Law was wrong, and He did not teach that government should fail to provide justice for victims. Rather, He taught that when His followers are the victims, and are able to do so, they should seek peace rather than complete justice or vengeance. Nor did He tell His followers to deprive other victims of justice under law — He simply told them to choose conciliation, when they themselves were the victims.
Christians may make themselves experts about their legal rights and be quick to assert those rights fully, but this is incompatible with the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, the Apostle Paul, elaborating on the principle our Lord stated, said, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). A vengeful attitude is completely incompatible with Christianity.
Donald Trump may have quoted Scripture, but he blasphemously twisted it into something far different from the true message of our Lord. He was abusing Scripture to attempt to reinforce a politics of wrath, envy, and vengeance.
It may work politically, at least in the short term, to stir up proud and vengeful attitudes in your hearers — certainly, many people throughout history have used this method to some effect, though it might be hard to find any who did so and ruled well. But whatever one thinks of the politics or the person involved, Christians must not be drawn into this way of thinking.
While American politics may be of minimal importance in a Scottish church, when our media reports a well-known politician abusing Scripture for his own ends, Christians can and should reject his false claims and the attitudes behind them. That IS relevant to our faith and godliness, and we do not accept his characterisation of the Scriptures we believe and teach. It is blasphemous.
(Please note my comment policy.)
Followup: Evangelicals, Donald Trump, and Making America Great
And as an a child of God foremost, and also an American citizen, I say — AMEN!!
I hope he is not Satan, but I think he is based on scriptures about the anti-Christ, like Revelation 13:5 “The beast was allowed to speak arrogant and blasphemous things, and it was given authority for forty-two months”. Or one term of being President. Trump is the most arrogant person, I have ever seen in 65 years, and when he called himself chosen, he was completely blasphemous. In Daniel 9:27 “He breaks one treaty after another and makes one promise after another, breaking them all. It is obvious that his power comes from the father of lies, the Devil.” This is totally the Devil Trump! Do not believe my opinion, believe the Word of God, and ask His Holy Spirit to help you break down the power and principalities that hold Trump supporters in bondage to his dark spirit and spells. The word Maga in Nigerian Pidgin means “extremely foolish idiots. It also means wizard. Here is a whole list of scriptures identifying Trump as the anti-Christ. See if the scriptures and traits of the anti-Christ match Trump as described in the Bible.
Hello, Pat. I’m not going to post your other comments. I’ll respond to some of it, though.
1. Donald Trump is not Satan. Satan would never say that Jesus is the Savior, that “our country needs a Savior right now. And our country has a Savior, and it’s not me.” Trump said that a few days ago, to a large audience.
2. Donald Trump is not the man of perdition. The man of perdition will persecute Christians, including killing them. Trump is not the one who has tried to ban public worship.
3. Donald Trump is not the anti-christ. He is a deeply flawed individual but he is not hostile to Christianity.
4. Hillary Clinton was not a “flawed but excellent candidate.” She actively supports the murder of millions of babies, among other things.
5. No, not everyone who supported Trump is a terrorist. Shame on you.
6. No, Obama, Hillary, and Biden do NOT exhibit all the fruit of the Holy Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23. I don’t even have to give examples, they are there for anyone to see.
7. You are a false teacher advocating a false salvation. You make politics a measure of salvation when you say this: “You will be left behind and refused Heaven, if you still support the Devil Trump.” That means that you have instituted a false test of salvation, one that the Scriptures do not teach, which means, according to Galatians 1, that you are accursed. That would be true even if your assessment of Trump was right, rather than gross exaggerations.
I will not clear any more of your comments. This blog is for those who want to be more Christ-like and those who are interested in learning more of Him, not for those who wish to spread a false Gospel.
Your comments are welcome in this election cycle we are experiencing. I have lived through some elections during the cold war that were very difficult, but this is so different and also the most disturbing of them all. Praying for wisdom for God’s people and God’s mercy upon these United States.
Yes agree, yet despite Trumps obvious lack of understanding or deliberate misquoting of the holy scriptures ( I can think of a few US presidents who have done that ! ) many christians both conservative and even evangelical in the US support Trumps ideals to make America great again.
One prominent evangelical /conspiracy theorist Texe Marrs commented that Trump is being used of God to stop the new world order ! Anyhow lets pray for America.
(1Tim 2:1) I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for ALL MEN.
Hello, Rod, thanks for the comment and for citing a particularly apt Scripture.
I’ll try to respond in more depth later.
Hello, Rod. Thanks again for this excellent comment. I began to reply, and decided to reply with an article on the main page.
and what is the alternative, pastor? vote for hillary, a psychopathic liar, a career white collar criminal, a racist against whites, a misandrist, and a heretic against the true christian religion? not to vote? to not vote or vote for a write in is the same as to cast a vote for her. sometimes, christians must swallow hard, plug their noses, and as concerned american patriots, vote against the greater of two evils. the only thing i resent more than having to do this, is for unctious and judgmental fellow christians to say or behave as if for me to choose this course is to deny my faith.
Hello, James. Several comments.
1. I didn’t say how to vote in this article, nor say that choosing to vote for this man is to deny your faith. It is possible to find his statement reprehensible without endorsing Mrs Clinton.
2. Our loyalty is to our Lord. Trump spoke blasphemy and the vengeance he pushes is ungodly. Those who vote for him MUST be honest about his words and deeds, and guard their hearts against the evil attitudes he is stirring.
3. Yes, sometimes we may vote against the greater evil, but sometimes we must decide that all choices are too vile. We all answer to the Lord for how we choose.
4. Because we stand before the Lord, we evaluate the candidates’ character, actions, and statements in light of Scripture. Then, we make the decision, based on Biblical evaluations, but never on the emotional appeals the candidates make.
5. We must consider the character of all the candidates. You described Hillary Clinton’s evil character, and more could be said. But Trump’s character is abhorrent, too. A serial adulterer and blatant liar, he tried to use government power to steal a widow’s property and used bankruptcy laws to defraud people. Both these ungodly people twist Scripture and abuse government for their own purposes rather than use it as God intended.
It is an extremely unpleasant choice. Thankfully, one day our Lord will return and cast down all these corrupt human governments. And whoever wins the election, that person can do nothing beyond what God allows.
Good point! Go Trump!
This post is quite old, but to be clear, James did not really have a good point. To say that one believes one must vote in a certain way because the alternative is worse is a valid point to make, but it is not valid to act as if the evil of the alternative in some way cancels the evil of this man.
I have little doubt that America would have been worse off if Mrs Clinton had been elected, and will probably be significantly worse off if one of the current Democratic contenders is elected next year. That fact in no way excuses what I’ve described in this article, nor does it mean any serious Christian should do anything but grieve over it, even if they find it necessary to vote for him. “Go Trump” is not a godly response to someone who twists Scripture, even if one supports his political views.
No offense intended, but I think most people reading your blog would know that these things about Trump are bad. Maybe I’m wrong, and they don’t know that. They are obvious. I understand someone giving equal time to him compared to President Obama, for instance, who twists scripture as bad or worse. It might seem like something else is at stake if you were not at least as hard on President Obama (I just did a search and you haven’t done the same with him — Trump is all). People are compelled to hit Trump to show that it is principled in their outrage against immorality.
However, the net effect, I believe, would be (1) to discourage folks from voting, (2) lead people to vote for a third party, or (3) vote for Hillary. I’m saying your post lacks in important perspective. You can say you aren’t arguing for Hillary by arguing against Trump, but that’s how elections work in the United States. Anyone who does not get out and vote and then vote for Trump is helping Hillary win. I haven’t written a post about this and I will, but people, I believe, need to come to the polls with great urgency to vote for Trump as a vote against Hillary and for many reasons. A comparison of the two, which is how voting works for Presidential elections, results in voting for Trump. Voting for Trump does not mean you support evil or are choosing the lesser of two evils. You are not choosing evil. You are voting for Supreme Court nominees among a large number of other important issues that are far more closely aligned with a Christian worldview.
I’m not saying Trump isn’t evil. I’m saying that between two evil people, he’s the better candidate. I’m saying anti-Trump activity is pro-Hillary activity at this juncture. You have far more good, biblical reasons for voting for Trump than voting for Hillary. Voting for a third party is voting for Hillary. Not voting for Trump is voting for Hillary. Voting for Hillary should be unacceptable.
Hello, Kent. Thanks for the comment. I never covered any of Obama’s Scripture-twisting because he’s not had any twisted references to Scripture since this blog started that was covered as widely in the British media as Trump’s. Perhaps you might have searched for David Cameron instead? 🙂 I’d certainly do a comparable one on Hillary, but she probably doesn’t even mention Scripture these days. For her, I’d consider that an improvement, I’d much rather rank unbelievers don’t pretend the Bible is on their side.
Christians need to make thorough and honest Biblical evaluations of the goods and evils, the weaknesses and strengths, of all candidates. If having done that examination they decide to vote, being honest about a candidate will not discourage them. If they haven’t done that kind of examination, they shouldn’t be voting at all.
I DO want Christians to think Biblically about how they vote, but that is NOT the purpose of this article. The purpose of this article is to respond to a very well-known individual making a false statement about Scripture which had a lot of play in the media here.
I would suggest if you write the kind of article you mentioned that you directly address the kinds of issues I’ve raised here and in the followup article. You’ll not have much credibility, in claiming Trump is better than Clinton, if you gloss this stuff over. His evil is so blatant that you’ll need to make a strong case.
I think they’re both evil but I think he has the potential for some good and I see her as almost exclusively evil. I don’t see any potential for good from her except not on purpose. She will be as evil as it comes. I wish I could just talk about how I think they would be different as president, but I have to earn my bonafides by spending a lot of time talking about how evil Trump is. Obama wanted babies killed on the abortion table. He appointed a homosexual Secretary of the Army. I want Trump to win over Hillary. I think what I’d rather do is just say they’re both evil, she’s worse, and here’s why he’d be a better president.
Thanks, Kent. If you readily acknowledge his evil, I’m surprised you found this article objectionable. But perhaps that is in part because you are looking at it from the other side of the Atlantic, and not from the perspective of those who are being informed and misinformed by British media. Certainly, I agree with your evaluation of Mrs Clinton, she will only do good if forced to, or by accident.
Trump has changed around so much and his track record is such that I don’t really think anyone can be sure what kind of president he would be. There is some reason to hope he would be better than Clinton in some ways. There are also ways in which he might be worse. Thankfully, God ordains the powers that will be. We use the wisdom He gives to make the best decision we can in light of Scripture, but trust Him with the outcome.
At some point, I’ll write about this at my blog, but I’m trying to time it so I won’t have to repeat myself, so I’m going to wait until after the conventions later this year, and we have two actual nominees. I don’t find what you wrote objectionable, just that equal time isn’t given to Hillary and Obama, which means that people will vote for them, because you’ve told them Trump is so bad. That’s it. Maybe that won’t happen, because people are much smarter, but through the years, I’m afraid I don’t think so. Thanks though. I don’t find what you write objectionable. You write well, substantive, and in an interesting way. I should be reading you more.
Ok, I understand. Perhaps you overrate the size of my American readership and my influence on those readers. 🙂 I doubt I’ll swing the election. In fact, I know I won’t.
Thanks for the kind words. I’ve not been writing as much the last year or two. Maybe I can pick it up a little more in a couple months when the current work project is over. It’s a ministry I enjoy, but it can’t be high on my priority list right now, too much that is pressing.
I look at Trump as being a modern Jehu sent to slay Ahab and Jezebel. Jehu was no more righteous than was Sampson or some of the other judges. Yet God used them for good. The degree of evil pushed and lauded by Obama and Hillary is second only to the coming antichrist.
I believe in the sovereignty of God to work all this after the council of His will. Trump by no means is Gods anointed but perhaps a tool.
History tells me that Obama and Hillary may not actually deserve the title of second to the antichrist. 🙂 But they’ve certainly been bad enough.
Yes, it could well be that Trump will be used by God. There are those who think he cannot be elected, but I am not so sure.
A society that kills millions of innocent babies, worships pleasure, exalts immorality, and spreads blasphemy over the airwaves cannot expect to be blessed by God with good leaders.