One pleasant surprise as I spend time with family in India and do some Bible teaching, including on King Josiah, who I will get to presently, is that every pastor I have met who has volunteered (not forced to give) a view, and all sound doctrinally and knowledgeable of the Bible, like Donald Trump and support his presidency. Reasons given include his bringing prayer back to the White House, encouraging people to say Merry Christmas and at least attempting to show respect for the Bible and to govern by its teaching.
This is in marked contrast with my experience in the UK when for every pastor I meet who might offer an opinion there will be as many anti Trump as pro. This does give rise to conflict and not a few have ostracised me for expressing the view in my “Donald J Trump – bad, mad or good?” e-book – Trump is more good than bad / mad, and when it comes to reasons I give several, while noting obvious flaws, in my “Trump evil!? nah, on the contrary …” article. It works both ways and I have to confess I have lost some respect for some who are meant to be shepherding the flock, yet who focus on Trump’s faults and ignore the evils he is having to confront despite horrendous opposition and often is countering. And that is true in the India situation too. One pastor told me about a British missionary who died that bequeathed some property he owned to Indian pastors, but his executor on learning that one of the pastors was a Trump supporter decided for that reason she would not allow the property to be so transferred.
This brings me to a Trump hit piece, pointed out to me by a friend as something I should check out, which is one of many that has come my way in the past three years, and which I tend to ignore these days as adding little that is new and regurgitating arguments, most of which in my opinion are spurious, why Trump is to be viewed negatively. The title of this one was “The Belief That Trump Is a Messiah Is Rampant and Dangerous” and one of its points “He is regarded as something of a messiah, sent by God to protect a Christian nation” has, sadly, some measure of validity. While I disagree on some of the other points made, like Trump playing on people’s fears and beguiling the gullible that he is out to serve their best interests, its conclusion, if true, is a salutary one not to be dismissed: “When you believe that someone is truly a godsend, you can excuse anything. It all becomes “for the greater good.” And when that happens, it is a slippery slope to gross abuses of power that continuously increase in magnitude”.
I should make it clear that Trump is no Messiah to be beholden to without question and when he does wrong, and he does, he should be called out for doing so, and I do. But I am inclined to a view when surveying history, there are more bad kings than good ones but God in his sovereignty raises up and puts down kings according to his divine providence. I do believe though that like King Cyrus, mentioned in Isaiah 45, that Trump has been raised up for a special purpose and what we are seeing now and will see a lot more of in the future is evidence of this, as I argued in my e-book. Unlike King Josiah who ruled over Judah, America is not a special covenanted people. However, it has been much blessed by God as a nation because many of its citizens feared God and as a nation it has in many ways subscribed to Christian principles. Right now it stands at a crossroads – it can reject godly ways altogether and continue of a slippery slope or it can return to God. I am inclined to a view that Trump has been raised up against all human odds for a special purpose to encourage America to return to God’s ways. I think too he has led a global reaction against globalism and reawakening the notion of the nation state. As I argue elsewhere, while globalization is a reality to be embraced, globalism is a godless ideology to reject.
King Josiah reigned over Judah 640 – 608 BC. Judah was the name given to the two southern tribes of Israel when the twelve tribes divided following the death of Solomon 930BC. Israel (10 tribes) and Judah (2 tribes) followed different paths thereafter even though sharing historical, cultural and religious links. Israel was taken into Assyrian captivity in 722BC. All its kings were bad. Josiah was the last of the good kings, having been preceded by two bad kings and would be superseded by four bad kings. Soon after his death Judah was overcome by Egypt and not long after that by Babylon. Many in Judah would be taken into exile in Babylon and although some would return 70 years later it was henceforth a nation under occupation. Josiah was known as a reforming king who restored worship of God to the nation and did away with Baal worship. Sadly, he met his end fighting a battle he need not have fought and this led to eventually the kingdom conquered by Egypt and later Babylon.
Those who know their Bibles may think it strange that I mention both Donald Trump and King Josiah in the title. I do so because Josiah was probably Israel’s last hope to maintain national sovereignty and escape divine judgement after being rebuked for their sin many times previously by the Hebrew prophets, and I see certain parallels with Trump. Getting rid of Baal worship was a significant step toward responding as they ought. The tragedy was that while Josiah made the way possible, it was not enough as the people refused to respond in a substantial way. One of the wickednesses seen in America is abortion and there has been a move in recent days to allow this right up to birth. I see equivalence to the child sacrifices made under Baal worship. For all his faults, resisting this is one of the ways in which Trump has led the way, but as my Indian pastor friends note it is one way in which Trump has stood for righteousness as opposed to wickedness, even though some anti-Trumpers will give examples of the opposite being the case. My point is Trump has facilitated the unthinkable – an attack on Baal worship and other wickedness that we had long suspected was there but considered impossible to challenge. But the sobering thought is what has begun as a temporary reprieve may be just that, for if people’s hearts do not change America will sink into even deeper darkness which was evident before Trump took over and some felt would intensify under someone other than Trump.
As for what is happening in America and elsewhere in the world come to that, our own part is largely that of a spectator knowing less than half of the facts. But I can only pass on the words of Jesus, to watch and pray and be on God’s side. It is regrettable that at a time more than any when Christians ought to be united they are often divided, with Trump happening to be a catalyst for such division, where simply agreeing to disagree appears not to be enough. In a way that is God’s problem primarily and our part is to take Jesus command seriously – to love one another. I recognise there will be some Christians feeling discomfort at my seeking to draw parallels between Donald Trump and King Josiah, but then we are told that all scripture is meant to be instructive for the days we live in. The salutary lesson for this Trump watcher is while many of the things happening under Trump that would not have happened if #whatabout had come to power are steps in the right direction. Some may not be of course and should be opposed and is why the writer of the above mentioned Trump hit piece makes a valid point.
There is no keeping Trump out of the news. As I catch up with news snippets from afar, the world waits anxiously to learn of his next steps regarding the “Iran crisis” and, closer to home, the fuss over his calling out (rightly in my view) London mayor Sadiq Khan for his woeful failure in tackling crime in the city. While not excusing the inexcusable, we need to be careful not to oppose what God is doing as some of my anti Trump pastor friends are doing, sometimes in favour of the bad guys whose wickedness needs to be called out and, more importantly, NOT to leave it to Trump to do what needs to be done and ignore the challenge that lies before the Church (those who truly follow Christ), which is to faithfully preach the gospel and make a stand for righteousness, or the lesson of Josiah that reforms made will be short lived without a change in peoples’ hearts.