Yesterday I posted the first half of the first draft of the first chapter of a book I’m working on. I’ve given the book the title “End This Wicked Marriage.” Here now is the second half of that first chapter. Again, please send any constructive criticisms.
The Nebuchadnezzar/Cyrus Fallacy
Triggered by their failure to heed the three guardrails listed above, white American evangelicals have, almost universally, bought into the bizarre narrative that portrays Donald Trump as a modern-day Nebuchadnezzar or Cyrus. That belief—promoted by the evangelical leaders listed earlier, and many more—is that Donald Trump, much like these two pagan kings, is God’s choice to lead His people, white evangelicals, back into their Promised Land. 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.
After four years in the brightest of spotlights—during the campaign and beyond—Trump has evidenced little to no behavioral changes. His words and deeds show him to be the same self-centered, arrogant, ignorant, mean-spirited man he’s always been. Yet white evangelicals continue to cling to the savior-king analogies. Does their belief have any merit?
Who Were Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus?
Following the Israelites’ initial entry into the biblical 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 around 586 B.C. Those southern kingdom inhabitants left alive 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 Medo-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 tactful but unbelieving Cyrus? For those who claim he’s the former, may we be given some evidence of his conversion experience, of his humble submission? For those who claim he’s the latter, please provide some evidence of his tact and diplomatic acumen.
Real Godly Leadership or Trumpism?
Yes, at times, the Bible claims that God chose to raise up pagan leaders to do His bidding. But the stories reveal that He did so not as His first choice; He did so because His people had gone so far astray that He had to do something dramatic to regain their attention. But, ideally, those Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus eras never should have happened. Instead, the Israelites should have paid attention to these directives about leaders God gave them through Moses:
When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,” be sure to appoint over you a king the LORD your God chooses. He must be from among your fellow Israelites. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not an Israelite. The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the LORD has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.” He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel. – Deuteronomy 17:14-20
What do we see of Donald Trump in that description of what a king (leader) should and should not do? A good king was not to focus on personal wealth or to have “many wives.” Instead, he needed to be attentive to Scripture. Donald Trump—a man who has frequently bragged of his greed, his wealth, and his many sexual conquests—was unable, under questioning, to name a favorite book of the Bible. On another occasion, he referred to Second Corinthians as “Two Corinthians.” Donald Trump courts evangelicals by making promises to champion their causes, but he has no love for the God they claim to worship. He cares not at all for the Scriptures evangelicals claim to hold dear.
“Can You Believe That Bullshit?”
In his book Disloyal, Trump’s former personal attorney and “fixer,” Michael Cohen, removes all doubt about Donald Trump’s pious pretenses. Cohen—who often accompanied his client to various functions, from profane to sacred—reveals numerous accounts of Trump’s behind-the-scenes disdain for the people most responsible for putting him in office. Cohen wrote that he recognized Trump’s remarkable manipulative abilities when he saw that his client “could lie directly to the faces of some of the most powerful religious leaders in the country, and they believed him.” Following one infamous religious gathering in which a group of evangelicals “laid hands” on the presidential candidate and prayed for him, Trump asked Cohen, “Can you believe that bullshit?”
Cohen could not. But tens of millions of white evangelicals did—and still do, unwaveringly. Such is the power of 21st-century celebrity, and the gullibility of 21st-century white evangelicals.