For reasons that I can't quite fathom, we have begun the 2016 Presidential election a full 15 months early. While the J-Blog is not so much a political venue, there will be times during this race where faith and politics will intersect. While I certainly have a political mind and voice and set of opinions, and while those certainly may show up from time to time in this series, I'd like to focus in on the faith aspects that happen in our public sphere. Of course, healthy and respectful debate and discourse are welcome in the comments.
Donald Trump is winning...
We could spend forever on why that is, and probably still never get close to the actual reason. Experts and pundants have been trying to sort him out from the beginning with no avail, and the J-Blog probably won't make any headway on that front. The easy, obviously, and sadly probably closest to correct reason Trump is hitting it big right now is that he says whatever is coming to his mind without any sort of filter whatsoever. Voters, particularly Republican voters, seem to like guts. Trump has guts in abundance, no matter who he might alienate or offend along the way.
But here's one that I can't quite wrap my head around. Check out this interview Trump gave just a few weeks ago. I couldn't find just the clip I was looking for, so while you should feel free to watch the entire thing, pay specific attention to the 7:00 mark.
(Incidentally, we could have a whole post on his comments about John McCain, but we're going to again focus in on faith and politics here)
He hasn't asked God for forgiveness? I have a wide angle lens on who qualifies as Christian in my view. Catholics are Christians. Liberals can be Christians. Conservatives can be Christians. I'm ok with Christians who see the world differently than me, who voice a different viewpoint than I might, who affirm a different set of creeds than I do. If you believe in the saving power of Jesus Christ, then you are my sister and my brother.
But what kind of Christianity recognizes the God of the universe, God's loving act of sending God's Son to redeem a sinful, fallen humanity, but refuses to ask for forgiveness? I don't want to judge, lest all my theological inconsistencies get thrown in my face. But I will ask the question: Is Donald Trump a Christian if he doesn't feel the need to ask for forgiveness?
You see, this is where faith and politics mixing can be rather difficult. Of course Donald Trump doesn't want to admit he's asked for forgiveness! To ask for forgiveness is to admit weakness and to admit weakness does not win elections. But to be a Christian is to recognize that not only are we indeed weak beings, but that Christ's power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) and so of course we would come to Christ to ask for forgiveness, because that's when we get front row seats to God's incredible action in the world.
Now I'm not crazy about throwing mud at somebody and running. I do believe that Mr. Trump has some pretty seriously misguided theology, and (if he has absolutely nothing better to do and is reading this blog) would love to get together with him to discuss it (over pizza. He's buying. He's a billionaire). But this hits close to home for each and every one of us on the ground. Have you asked God for forgiveness lately? Have you humbled yourself in the act of confessing before God and your community of faith the places where you have stumbled? Have you owned up to your weaknesses, so that you can see the power of Christ at work in your life? I'm no political expert, but I don't think Donald Trump will be on the scene much longer. That kind of brash "say-whatever" attitude is charming right up until one too many lines are crossed, and Trump is getting close. But the theology he is advocating isn't going anywhere anytime soon. The mixture of a feel-good Christian faith and an American "I don't need anyone's help, I'm fine!" attitude is something we in the church need to deal with, and fast. As always, it starts in our own hearts.
So today, take a moment, and ask God for forgiveness. Who knows, you may even see God's power perfected in your life!