Today I was signed up to do a series of eight Bible studies at my church (Providence Baptist) starting next Wednesday 8pm. The title of the series will be “the kings of the Bible”. Given my interest in the more obscure parts of the Old Testament, the folk in charge felt it would be appropriate for me to tackle this subject 🙂
- Overview and significance
- Rehoboam and Jeroboam
- More Kings of Israel
- Kings of Persia
I suppose “kings” are in modern parlance, the rulers of nations, a few of who may take the title king. It has been much in my mind of late because of their impact on world events. Some, maybe most, have been democratically elected (supposedly) and a few would be regarded as dictators. As I survey the array of “kings” in my lifetime, few I would regard highly and many have been horrible. In Bible times democracy was a largely alien concept, although in the case of Israel this had some relationship to theocracy, although it changed one way or another over time. As for nations outside Israel, while some had enlightened rulers, most if not all were autocrats, and had power over life. Many were wicked and cruel. While the Bible called on people to obey God, it also encouraged submission to them under authority, who should be treated respectfully. It also urges us to pray for all in authority regardless of whether they are good or bad. Pertinent to this post, I noted men of God in the Bible who dealt with authority, doing so deferentially, but also the likes of Hebrew prophets not being afraid to speak truth to power when it was needed, and often it was. Kings usually had their inner circle of trusted advisors, which had a huge effect on the common good.
This brings me nicely onto King Trump and an article that got me stirred up titled: “What Does It Profit …? The Faustian Bargain in Full Display at Trump’s Evangelical Dinner”, followed while producing this article by another: “The Irony of Evangelical Idolatry in the White House”. The key event and common complaint of each article was a recent gathering of prominent Evangelical leaders (and also right leaning and Trump sympathizing) to a dinner hosted by the President, where the authors criticized the guests for going soft on Trump and glossing over his many faults. Even as I survey exchanges I have had with Christian friends over the past day, they have been critical on Trump’s sexual improprieties and that he regularly lies – and that is just for starters. Some like the author’s of these articles have expressed bewilderment that Christians can and do support Trump. I don’t know enough about the details of this dinner, what was on the invitees minds, and what they said or didn’t say, should or shouldn’t have said, to comment. I would want to give them the benefit of the doubt and say how I might respond if I were invited.
As people who read my blog know, I am on balance a fan of Trump, although I am a long way off from giving him a free pass. If you want to know more then read my “Donald J. Trump – bad, mad or good” e-book. I have also gone on record as saying, and criticized for doing so, that Trump coming to power was an answer to prayer and it could be for Christians their finest hour, given his support for issues Christians like me care about, including religious freedom and his respect people of faith. Disagreement on these matters by some of my fellow Christians, and often strongly so, though might lead one to question where the balance lies. Some would say, no doubt including the two authors I refer to and my two friends who had taken me to task, that the close and cosy coming together of Trump and Evangelical Christians on the right is an unholy alliance and they would be best advised to call Trump out for being a bad person. Moreover, it may be argued, Trump is merely courting Evangelical voters, who he sees as natural supporters, and his overtures to them are in order to get power. While he did politicize, Trump’s speech did make imho good points, pertaining to faith.
If I had been invited, I would have been inclined to accept, as I might with any President. In Trump’s case I would thank him for the good things he had done and express appreciation that he has addressed some of my concerns on faith related matters and has sought the counsel of Christians and has listened. If in the unlikely event I were pressed on the matter, I would take him to task on issues that he has done less well on and if it got onto the question of faith I might be tempted to remind him of the story of Zacchaeus who as a sign of his genuine repentance (something required of all of us) gave half his money to the poor and restored four fold to those he had cheated, after he had his meeting with the King of all kings, the only one worthy of our unqualified adulation. I would certainly not be telling my congregation (if I had one) to vote for Trump but rather I would tell him if pressed on the matter that I would say no more than urge them to vote and do so as responsible citizens.