Cyrus Trump?

In the wake of Donald Trump’s near-nomination, some Christian voices are now being heard telling us we should accept and/or rejoice over this development because God has always used leaders who don’t acknowledge Him. The prime example being pushed is Cyrus, king of the Persian Empire during the exile of the Jews in the Old Testament.

CyrusCyrus was prophesied by name by the prophet Isaiah. The account of Cyrus’s decree to allow the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple is found in the book of Ezra.

Trump, we are assured, is the new Cyrus. Even though he doesn’t believe he has to ask God for forgiveness for anything in his life, he will become the strong arm of the Lord as he takes down the false gods of political correctness, routs the denizens of the Washington, DC, swamp, and proclaims liberty once again throughout the land.

I would laugh if I didn’t feel more like crying.

Be careful with analogies. Cyrus was not exactly an elected ruler. The Jews had to deal with whatever whim entered the minds of both Babylonian and Persian kings. It wasn’t as if they said, “Look, there’s a pagan who is at least open to the possibility of allowing us to return to our land; let’s choose him.” Therein lies the difference.

Yes, God may work through evil rulers, accomplishing His purposes without them  even realizing they are carrying out His decree. It’s a whole other matter, though, for a people who have the privilege of choosing their political leaders to make a conscious decision to pick someone whose character and policies are at odds with God’s basic commands and requirements.

When choosing leaders in the church, we are given explicit instructions to focus on character. Just check out Paul’s first letter to Timothy sometime. So when it comes to advocating a political leader, are we to say, “Well, since the government is not a church, the character of the chosen leader doesn’t matter?”

Character always matters.

Suppose, just for a moment, you are responsible for choosing someone in an organization, business, community group, whatever, and you sit down with that person to gain some insight into the type of character he possesses.

Suppose, once more, that in the course of that interview, you discover that the candidate has openly mocked a disabled person by mimicking that person’s disability. Would that commend him to you as the right person for the job?

Again, what if, as you prod further, you find out that this candidate not only goes on Twitter rampages with rude, crude insults toward those he thinks have offended him, but he actually has posted pictures of spouses of those people, making fun of their looks.

Then, to top it off, the interviewee, apparently completely oblivious to his inane rantings, tells you that someone he doesn’t like might have been an accomplice in the assassination of a president?

If you could still want to continue that interview, you might ask about his fidelity to the beliefs and goals of your organization. If the response is “Look, I can be whatever you want me to be,” you might be excused for thinking the candidate isn’t really on board with what you want to accomplish.

Would you really recommend hiring such a person? Yet that’s what we are on the verge of doing in the Republican party right now.

Everyone is now talking about unity, but Trump doesn’t think it’s all that important; he can “win, win, win” without all those people who aren’t bowing down to his lordship:

King Trump

There’s another Biblical figure who didn’t acknowledge God, yet God used him to carry out a purpose. His name was Nebuchadnezzar. His purpose? To destroy Jerusalem and take the people into captivity.

If Trump resembles any ancient king, I see him more as a Nebuchadnezzar than a Cyrus. I just pray that our exile is shorter than the seventy years the Jews received.

The Trump-McCarthy Parallel

I admit to being amazed at the support Donald Trump seems to be getting, not only from what might be called “movement conservatives,” but more specifically, from evangelical Christians. One article indicates that he is the leading candidate among that latter group. I don’t know for sure if that’s true, but if it’s even close to the mark, it’s astonishing.

Donald Trump 2I won’t go into detail again (see a previous post) on why I do not support Trump’s candidacy, but I can offer a short summary: supreme arrogance (he says he’s never asked God for forgiveness for anything; constant boasting about how rich he is and how smart); other personal character traits (favorite words being “loser” and “stupid”; resorting to twitter jibes on an adolescent level toward those who criticize him); and his recent “conversion” to conservative policies.

On that last point, some have tried to compare his change to conservatism to Ronald Reagan’s. I’ve studied Reagan in some depth and know that his worldview changed over time as a result of intense study and grappling with foundational philosophical issues. I’m not convinced that is the case with Trump; neither do I trust him to remain true to what he now says he believes.

In fact, he’s rather mixed up on some things: he claims to be for repealing Obamacare, yet says a universal, government-run healthcare system is workable in some countries. He doesn’t quite say why he considers it unworkable here. Perhaps he really doesn’t. Perhaps, were he to attain the presidency, we might be subject to another failed promise from a politician.

Joe McCarthyI’m also seeing a historical parallel with another situation. Back in the early 1950s, Sen. Joe McCarthy made a big splash as a crusader against communism. He was bold and brash and developed a large following. Many in conservatism at the time saw him as the leader against the establishment and flocked to his bandwagon. Yet he was little more than an opportunist, seizing on a hot topic that he did not really grasp clearly.

As evidence for this conclusion, I turn to Whittaker Chambers, a genuine champion of liberty who left the communist underground, gave his witness to Congress, and suffered publicly for doing so. Yet he succeeded in unmasking the underground movement, with the climax being the conviction of Alger Hiss—who had been his compatriot in the underground and then became a top State Department official—for perjury.

McCarthy wanted to tie his crusade to Chambers. They met. Chambers came away with some rather pointed comments about the senator. In a letter to William F. Buckley, Chambers summarized McCarthy’s approach in this way: “Senator McCarthy’s notion of tactics is to break the rules, saturate the enemy with poison gas, and then charge through the contaminated area, shouting Comanche war cries.”

Chambers at DeskThese heavy-handed tactics were of deep concern to Chambers, who wrote:

I know he thinks this is a superior technique that the rest of us are too far behind to appreciate. But it is repetitious and unartful, and, with time, the repeated dull thud of the low blow may prove to be the real factor in his undoing. Not necessarily because the blow is low, or because he lacks heart and purpose, but because he lacks variety, and, in the end, simply puts the audience to sleep.

He tried not to come to a rash judgment, but concluded, “It is more and more my reluctant opinion that he is a tactician, rather than a strategist; that he continually, by reflex rather than calculation, sacrifices the long view for the short pull.”

What worried him the most was the damage McCarthy would do over time:

In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that we live in terror that Senator McCarthy will one day make some irreparable blunder which will play directly into the hands of our common enemy and discredit the whole anti-Communist effort for a long while to come.

Chambers was correct: McCarthy stumbled on his own arrogance and ignorance; his actions discredited anti-communist efforts to this day.

Personally, I have those same fears about Donald Trump. Everything Chambers said about McCarthy looms in my mind when I hear Trump speak, and I am concerned that his nomination, let alone his possible election as president, may be the death knell for true conservatism, and Christians who currently look past his character failings will one day regret their willful blindness.

There are some who say that God doesn’t need a committed Christian to accomplish his purposes, that He can use someone who is terribly flawed and not in touch with Him to carry out His will.

I understand that position. God does work in all situations. He did use Nebuchadnezzar to carry out His judgments on His people of Israel. But that was for the purpose of punishment for sin. Frankly, He has a lot of politicians to choose from if He is ready to unleash His judgment on America. Trump is not unique in that sense.

Since when do we deliberately choose a spiritual renegade over a committed Christian man or woman who is seeking to do His will? Those men and women do exist, and some are running for president right now. Why would we throw our support behind someone who is more egocentric than anyone else in the political realm?

I don’t want to have to defend myself before God after making a choice like that. I’m going to give my vote to someone who at least has a heart for righteousness and the God who defines what is and is not righteous.

If Trump is the Republican nominee, we may be destroying whatever remains of principle in that party. If he should ever be elected president, we may see in that office someone who is a combination of Nebuchadnezzar and Joe McCarthy. He may be the channel for God’s judgment, but I will not willingly go that route. I still want to help save America.

My musings in this post will not be accepted by all, I know. But I hope you will, at the very least, avoid being caught up in an emotional appeal and will take some time to reflect on the concerns I have expressed here. May the Lord have mercy on us all.