by Carol M. Swain
I first learned about Mark Galli’s Christianity Today editorial “Trump Should Be Removed from Office” from a text message sent by a former student of mine I’ll call Jared, a native New Yorker. He asked, What do you think of this article?
Galli argues that the grounds for impeachment are unambiguous. He says President Trump is morally unfit to hold public office because of the content of his tweets and his immoral behavior. His evangelical supporters, Galli proclaims, risk their Christian witness by standing behind a flawed and immoral man. However, he misinterprets the concluded impeachment hearings, omits the biblical requirements for political leadership, and ignores the interpretation of the Gospel that affords grace and forgiveness to every human being. That includes Donald Trump.
Here is Galli on impeachment:
But the facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents. That is not only a violation of the Constitution; more importantly, it is profoundly immoral.
What is shocking about Galli’s assertion, designed to persuade Christians to abandon the President, is the smugness of the unsupported assertions.
. . . President Trump has abused his authority for personal gain and betrayed his constitutional oath. The impeachment hearings have illuminated the president’s moral deficiencies for all to see. . . None of the president’s positives can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly immoral character.
Galli’s arguments and tortured reasoning make one wonder whether he watched the hearings or bothered to read the short transcript of President Trump’s telephone call to the Ukrainian leader this past July.
In the article, Galli becomes the accuser of the brethren. His goal is to shame the evangelical supporters of the President by questioning their faith. He writes:
To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve. Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior. Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to brush off Mr. Trump’s immoral words and behavior in the cause of political expediency. If we don’t reverse course now, will anyone take anything we say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for decades to come?
Galli’s attacks on Trump-loving evangelicals has made him the darling of the liberal Left. That is not a compliment. Galli invokes the stated goals of Christianity Today’s founding documents to help evangelical Christians “interpret the news in a manner that reflects their faith.” Yet, the article does not offer its Christian readers the scriptures or biblically-based guidance from which to evaluate the impeachment of the President or his moral failings. Instead, Galli just ‘wings it.’
A number of excellent responses to Galli’s article have been written, including from the likes of historian Jim Garlow, Franklin Graham, Pastor Jentezen Franklin, Everett Piper, Edward Bauer, and Dr. James Dobson. There is more to be said, though. Without repeating the main points of those respondents, I add a few scriptures and my take of the situation, which follow.
What do Evangelical Christians Believe?
Evangelical Christians believe the Judeo-Christian Bible is the inspired word of God and that it offers guidance for every situation facing mankind. In 2 Timothy 3:16, we read: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (KJV). They also believe in forgiveness for sins (Luke 7:47-50), the need for a savior (Romans 3:20-28), and a responsibility to share the good news of the Gospel. The good news is that Jesus Christ died on the cross for the past, present, and future sins of those who receive him as Lord and savior (John 3:16-18). Christians are admonished to share the good news (Matthew 28: 19-20).
If we examine the entire Bible as God’s history of dealing with mankind, we should be astonished by God’s use of flawed human beings.
In Daniel 2:20-21, we read that God is behind the rise and fall of world leaders – even the evil ones. “He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others.” In Isaiah 45, God raised-up Cyrus the Great, a pagan leader he referred to as his servant. Cyrus made possible the return of the exiles to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple. Romans 13:1-6 makes clear that God establishes governments and expects his servants to be submitted to their leaders. He also expects his people to pray for those who have authority over them (1 Timothy 2:1-2) and for the well-being of the nation (Jeremiah 29:7).
Throughout the Bible, God has never chosen the kinds of leaders or servants many modern-day purists would find acceptable as leaders. God choses nobodies to become somebodies. God used flawed human beings such as Abraham, who became the father of the Jewish nation. Abraham lied more than once about his wife being his sister, and he even allowed her to be taken into the home of another man to become that man’s wife. His son, Isaac, told the same lie about his wife. King David committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband killed. Nevertheless, God in his mercy found redeeming qualifications in each of these Old Testament people, including Rahab, the prostitute, who is in the direct lineage leading to Christ.
Christians who point to Trump’s marriages and divorces, private locker room conversations about women, his business dealings and Twitter feeds are on shaky biblical ground. Unlike the governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee, Donald Trump did not run for office expressly as a Christian candidate. He never presented himself as a choirboy.
God has never required perfection from any human being. When He reaches down and saves any one of us, he uses our personalities and our wiring to achieve His purposes. None of us is in a position to judge President Trump’s faith. Only God knows President Trump’s heart and the depth of his commitment to faith.
As the website MAGAPill documents, the President has a solid record of achievement despite the unprecedented opposition he has experienced. Some of the more admirable things about him are his patriotism, his promises to defend and protect the lives of the unborn, his support for the military, and his fondness for regular Americans. He has reached out to racial and ethnic minorities, and many blacks have begun to see the Republican Party as a viable alternative to the Democrats.
Galli seems dedicated to encouraging Christians to abandon the President by calling into question their Christianity. By doing this, he joins the ranks of the accusers of the brethren. His short-sighted approach overlooks the plight of Christians who were essentially ridiculed and disparaged during the years of the Barack Obama presidency. Many Bible-believing Christians were crying out for relief because of persecution and the downward spiraling of our culture. For many of us, a measure of relief came in the form of Donald J. Trump.
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Carol M. Swain is a former tenured professor at Vanderbilt and Princeton universities. Her Be The People News blog and podcast empower individuals to think independently, understand their responsibility, and make a difference in the world.