A few weeks back, I was lucky enough to have an article of mine published at The Culture Crush digital and print magazine. It was called Under The Influence. Alongside my piece, another article was published by Jerry Gramckow entitled Against Interpretation. While mine dealt with how snake oil salesman have been wreaking havoc in our society for generations, Jerry’s went deep into the mind of the modern day evangelical. He should know, because he’s been in that community for 47 years. Today, I’m proud to publish a provocative post from Jerry that dives into Trumpworld from his own unique perspective.
Jerry graduated from Multnomah University, a conservative evangelical institution, and served as an editor at two prominent evangelical Christian ministries.
Thank You Jerry!
When The Right Thing To Do Is Wrong
By Jerry Gramckow
“There’s nothin’ you can do to turn me away, Nothin’ anyone can say. You’re with me now and as long as you stay, Lovin’ you’s the right thing to do.” – Carly Simon, “The Right Thing to Do”
At least once a week or so, I see a headline or a teaser for an article or a YouTube video proclaiming that President Trump has finally gone too far; he’s said or done something so egregious that even his supporters will turn on him. Sure.
I admit that—after I recovered from the shock—when Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, I assumed it would take only days—weeks at most—for even his most ardent supporters to finally see he was grossly unqualified for the job. Boy, was I wrong. I completely underestimated the devotion, the Mariana Trench-depth of loyalty he’d gained among more than a third of the nation’s population.
Three years later—after multiplied hundreds of gaffes, lies, blunders, and scandals that would have doomed any previous president—Trump’s support among his base has only solidified. He really could murder someone on Fifth Avenue and maintain his stable core of diehard followers. Nothing will turn away the true Trumpists. Nothing.
So when I see those End-of-the-Trump-Era headlines, I chuckle. Whoever writes them is still making political calculations based on the pre-Trump era (from September 17, 1787, until January 20, 2017). On that cold, rainy Friday in January 2017, when Donald Trump took the oath of office—which he has violated repeatedly since—the nation changed. America’s 230 years of Constitutional rules and norms began to descend from revered to relegated rapidly.
America is moving away from being “a nation of laws, not of men” to an autocracy. Why? Because white evangelicals—the majority of Trump’s base—is utterly convinced God chose this thrice-married, incorrigible liar to rule this nation and return it to their vision of what America should be. It is not unprecedented, they say, for God to choose an ungodly man to save His people.
Almost universally, white American evangelicals have bought into the bizarre notion that the current American President is a modern-day Nebuchadnezzar or Cyrus. For those unfamiliar with those names or the biblical stories surrounding them, I’ll explain.
Numerous prominent evangelical leaders have proclaimed—and their followers have mindlessly accepted—that Donald Trump, much like the two pagan kings listed above, is God’s choice to lead His people back into the Promised Land of “Christian America.” Like those two kings, Trump was—some of us would say is—a pagan having no relationship with the true God. But, as the narrative continues, despite Trump’s patently ungodly past, God chose him to battle Satan’s evil progressives and return America to its Christian roots.
Who Were Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus?
Following the Israelites’ initial entry into their Promised Land, it didn’t take long for the nation to go astray, eventually leading to a national split between northern and southern kingdoms. The southern kingdom had a few good kings and many bad ones. The northern kingdom went zero for 19. So, not too surprisingly, the northern kingdom was the first to be conquered—by the Assyrians, in around 740 B.C. The southern kingdom held on until the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar conquered them in approximately 586 B.C. Those southern kingdom inhabitants who survived through the conquest were hauled off to captivity in Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon.
Biblical accounts—as well as other historical records—reveal Nebuchadnezzar to have been an arrogant, boastful, cruel king. Yes, the Bible does say that, notwithstanding Nebuchadnezzar’s less-than-stellar character traits, God chose him to work His will in world affairs. The Bible also reveals that, after God put the king through a profound humbling experience, Nebuchadnezzar came to believe in Yahweh. But, despite his change of heart, Nebuchadnezzar did not allow the captive Israelites to return to their Promised Land.
It wasn’t until after the Persians, under King Cyrus, conquered the Babylonians that the prospect of the long-desired return to the Promised Land would again warm Israeli hearts. By most accounts, Cyrus differed from Nebuchadnezzar in that he was more pragmatic and diplomatic than the ruthless Babylonian king. But, while Nebuchadnezzar eventually came to believe in Yahweh as the one true God, Cyrus apparently never did.
Which Is Trump?
Is Donald Trump a ruthless Nebuchadnezzar humbled by God into submission, or is he a wise but unbelieving Cyrus? For those who claim he’s the former, please show me some evidence of his conversion experience, of his humble submission. For those who claim he’s the latter, please provide some proof of his tact and diplomatic acumen. Anyone not blinded by misinterpretations and misapplications of the Bible can see Donald Trump for the opportunistic huckster he is and always has been, not a messiah.
But tens of millions of Americans cannot or will not see beyond their thinly-veiled desire for a theocratic kingdom ruled by God’s anointed One. And Donald Trump—oh, what irony—is that Chosen One. It necessarily follows, then, that the Chosen One, because of that Divine anointing, cannot do wrong. In the Constitutional Republic, Lex Rex. But when the true King is anointed, Lex must, like John the Baptist, decrease so Rex can increase.
With tens of millions of “conservatives” eager to bow before their monarch—and then to His familial successors—who needs laws? The King is the law, and the law is whatever the King declares it to be.
And this, of course, is what those upbeat prophets who predict Trump’s imminent demise have failed to include in their analyses. It’s why America faces a no-win scenario in the coming months. If Trump wins re-election, the nation will increasingly fall under the tyranny of a mad man—and perhaps see that reckless despotism extend through several Trump presidencies. If Trump loses the 2020 election, many of his followers will refuse to accept his loss. Those faithful followers will likely claim that their leader’s failure was a Satanic plot carried out by the devil’s evil liberal cabal, so they must fight to overthrow the usurper and restore the throne to their Messiah.
If you’ve at times found solace in the notion that, one way or another, soon the Trump era will end and America will return to sanity, don’t be happy; worry. For millions of Americans, “There’s nothin’ [he] can do to turn [them] away, nothin’ anyone can say. … Lovin’ [him’s] the right thing to do.”
When the shooting begins—on Fifth Avenue in New York, Main Street in French Lick, Indiana, or your street—the bullets won’t be from King Donald’s gun; they’ll be from the millions of Second Amendment-loving Trump loyalists who will never turn away from their monarch. And that’s why Trumpism is an even more significant threat than Trump himself.