What should Christians make of Donald Trump’s impeachment?
- Is Christianity Today right to condemn him as unfit for office, that he “should be removed … not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments”?
- Is Franklin Graham right to keep supporting him, claiming “No President has done more for the Evangelical community”?
Do Christians have a moral responsibility to stand up for righteousness? Or should Christians stay out of politics? What’s our role?
A democracy expects its people to take responsibility for the leaders. It’s a freedom not everyone has: in a totalitarian system, opposing a ruler may cost you your life.
But don’t confuse your democratic rights with your Christian faith. Allegiance to Jesus has nothing to do with allegiance to a political party, or to democracy.
Christians believe that Jesus is God’s appointed ruler (the Christ). A person becomes a Christian by giving allegiance to Jesus as our ruler (confessing Jesus as Lord). The world is saved when these two declarations coincide, when humans gladly give allegiance to the ruler God anointed (Jesus Christ our Lord).
Given the tyranny we’re accustomed to, this is good news. In the world we know, people in power prefer to crucify God’s anointed rather than make way for him. But the good news is that God raised him out of death, seated him at the right hand of the majesty on high, and gave him all authority in heaven and on earth. Jesus became our Lord not by forcing himself on anyone, but by giving his life for his people. He’s the only ruler worthy of the name.
Trump can’t save us. Democracy can’t. Political leaders make some difference in the short term, but they aren’t the Messiah and they can’t change the world. Supporting them or decrying their wickedness — neither option is what God called us to do.
The problem with Franklin Graham is that he does not understand the gospel as the salvation of the world into the reign of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. He thinks the gospel is telling people they’re sinners, so they’ll feel their personal guilt and seek forgiveness. Because he’s missing the corporate dimension of the world restored to be the global community under God’s reign (the kingdom of God), he has wasted countless hours in promoting a false gospel, a false Messiah, a false way to save America. A false prophet is one who promotes the beast (i.e. the earthly power that is not the Lamb appointed by God).
Neither Franklin Graham nor Mark Galli (editor of Christianity Today) speak as private citizens. They speak as spokesmen for Christianity (or segments of it). When Galli condemns the President as a lawbreaker unfit to rule (appealing to the Ten Commandments), he is heard as another judgemental voice. The world is sick of Christians who think their role is enforcing Christian values on society.
God never called his people to be judges, to pass sentence on presidents or sinners. The whole business of condemning sinners (right-wing) or systemic injustice (left-wing) assumes our role is one of condemnation. The world doesn’t need judgemental Christians; it needs people who believe and embody the good news that Jesus rescues the world from every form of evil.
Trump is just a man who ruled 2% of earth for a few years. His impeachment will come and go. It’s not the end of the world. It’s not the end of evil in high places.
Let’s get the Christian voice back on-message. We’re not avoiding politics. This is our politics:
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12).