Posted Dec 06, 2019 by Michael L. Brown

In a lengthy op-ed piece for the Christian Post, Chris Thurman claims that “evangelicals who support Donald Trump are being both blind and foolish to do so.” Therefore “labeling them as such is not sinful but appropriate and necessary.” Is there any truth to his charge?

Thurman explains that in using the word “support” he “was not referring to evangelicals who voted for Trump in 2016,” even though he believes they erred in voting for him.

Rather, he wrote, “I’m referring to those evangelicals who continue to hold Trump up as a great leader, say he is God’s chosen one for the presidency, applaud his appalling words and actions, ignore his glaring moral defects, and enable his dangerous presidency to continue by giving him their time, talents, and treasures.”

In Thurman’s view, prominent evangelical leaders who fall into this category are Ralph Reed, Jerry Falwell, Jr., Franklin Graham, and Mike Pence.

According to Thurman, they are supporting a man who is “morally ill beyond normal standards of human decency.”

He writes, “Given how narcissistic and sociopathic Trump is, he fundamentally doesn’t believe that the rules of moral behavior or social norms apply to him.” And, whereas there was hope that, upon becoming president, he would change, “he has only grown more mentally and morally disturbed and defiant since assuming the powers of the presidency.”

Then, after raising a litany of serious accusations against Trump, Thurman quotes 2 Timothy 3:1-5, a dire passage indeed (do read it when you have a minute) and concludes: “I believe this passage is almost a word-for-word description of our current president and that it’s not in the Bible by accident. I believe this particular passage was written for the very times we live in. God, being all-knowing, knew ahead of time this godless individual would ascend to the presidency of our country. In light of what the passage says, could God be any clearer about who He doesn’t want Christians to support when it comes to choosing a leader?”

And so, he asks, “Given that Trump’s moral depravity has glaringly and dangerously been on display in public for three years now, how could any evangelical continue to support a man for president who is causing such great harm everywhere he goes?”

There is only one choice we have: “You foolish evangelicals, Trump has bewitched you. Stop calling him good when he is evil, light when he is darkness. Have nothing to do with him.”

My response to Thurman’s article is that he is just as guilty as the evangelicals he accuses, except from the opposite perspective. In short, while some evangelicals seem blind to his failings and his potential to hurt America deeply, Thurman seems blind to Trump’s strengths and his potential to help America greatly.

To be clear, I have frequently urged my fellow-evangelicals not to defend Trump when his words or actions are indefensible and not to sell our souls to him. And any reader of my columns knows of my book Donald Trump is Not My Savior: An Evangelical Leader Speaks His Mind About the Man He Supports as President.

These same readers will also remember how strenuously I opposed Trump during the primaries. And to this day, I have close and dear friends who would agree with many of the concerns raised by Thurman – and I’m speaking of committed evangelicals.

One respected friend insists that for evangelicals to preserve our testimony, we must find a conservative Republican to replace him. Another close friend who voted for Trump in 2016 plans not to vote at all in 2020.

So, I do understand the opposition to Trump and, to repeat, I was once part of it.

Yet as Trump defeated all his primary challengers, as unlikely as that seemed, and as solid Christian leaders began to support him, I said to myself, “I must be missing something.”

How is it, I wondered, that so many good people could be so duped? And what was it they saw in Trump, a man who was clearly not Christian in any serious sense of the word?

I felt like someone listening to a comedian telling poor jokes as the audience roared with laughter. At a certain point, you ask yourself, “Could it be that I’m not getting the jokes?”

To be sure, I cannot speak for Reed, Falwell, Graham, or Pence, nor do I want to. At times I have cringed at some evangelical defenses of the president, but I have no idea what these leaders say to him behind closed doors. I do not sit here as their judge.

At the same time, I’m looking at the bigger picture, and Trump really is engaged in some major, existential wars.

Never before in my memory have we seen the depths of the DC swamp. Or the bias and even dishonesty of the media (on both sides, actually, but especially on the left). Or the blood-thirsty nature of the pro-abortion camp. Or the extreme radicality of the left (including the new push for socialism and the attempt to silence opposing ideas, even violently). Or the danger of the internet giants suppressing conservative voices and influencing elections.

This is what Trump is fighting, and as flawed as he is, those of us who support him recognize that very few men would be able to withstand all this pressure without caving and compromising along the way.

Trump has also had a massive impact on the courts, to give just one important example of his major accomplishments. As RollingStone announced last month with some panic, “Trump’s Takeover of America’s Courts Just Hit a Terrifying New Milestone.

“Trump has now appointed one out of every four appeals-court judges — more than Obama did in eight years in office.”

This is already having a positive impact on some major, life and death rulings, with a potential impact that should positively affect the next generation.

That’s why the Democrats have been talking about impeachment virtually since the day Trump was elected. As a Vanity Fair article from December 15, 2016 stated, “DEMOCRATS ARE PAVING THE WAY TO IMPEACH DONALD TRUMP.”

And as I write these words from India, I think of the significance of Trump standing with the protesters in Hong Kong and his willingness to face down the giant that is China. That is massive.

I also think of those evangelicals who are close to the president, appealing to him to urge India’s Prime Minister Modi to stand down in his persecution of Christians. (I’ll have more to say about this persecution in a forthcoming article.)

It is these same evangelicals who are in the president’s ear when it comes to a compassionate and righteous solution to the immigration crisis. They are also encouraging him to take further steps in prison reform. And they are applauding his economic policies that are helping millions of Americans, including minorities.

As noted in a November 6, 2019 article on Bloomberg.com (did I say Bloomberg?), “Despite his reputation for being racially divisive, President Donald Trump’s approval ratings have drifted upward among nonwhites in the last two years. While it’s impossible to say exactly why, one reasonable explanation is that the U.S.’s long economic expansion has been particularly beneficial for minority workers.”

And since Trump has surrounded himself with evangelicals, both in his administration and in his circle of counselors, why should they stop giving him input? Why on earth walk out when he has left the door wide open?

For many evangelicals, it is Trump’s very evident shortcomings that mark him as a man raised up by God, meaning that: 1) his election was beyond unlikely; and 2) God delights in using fallen and flawed vessels.

But this hardly means he is beyond criticism (although some evangelicals, unfortunately, do feel that way). It simply means we see God’s hand at work in very positive ways in the Trump presidency while we recognize the potential damage he can do.

Ironically, Thurman rejects any possible notion that Trump is foreshadowed in the Scriptures (say, as a Cyrus figure, meaning a pagan king who did not know the Lord yet was chosen by God to help Israel). Yet he claims that 2 Timothy 3:1-5 is written as a warning about Donald Trump.

That’s why I say that he is making the same mistake as those he criticizes, just from the exact opposite perspective.

In my view, there is healthy ground between these two extremes, and it is what I have advocated for many months. The president gets our vote but not our soul.

And while we pray for him and support him, he is not our savior or our example or our guide.

He is simply our president.

Those who hold this position are not bewitched in the least. Our eyes are wide open and our head screwed on rightly.

For those who are bewitched on the left or the right, either with Trump-hatred or Trump-mania, I repeat: there is healthy ground between these two extremes. (For an interesting liberal perspective, see here.)

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Comments

B.W. posted a comment · Dec 09, 2019
I agree with Dr Brown as he wrote in this article: “And while we pray for him and support him, he is not our savior or our example or our guide. He is simply our president. Those who hold this position are not bewitched in the least. Our eyes are wide open and our head screwed on rightly.” Until he is otherwise removed or voted out in 2020 he is the president of the United States Would you rather have had Hillary win so she could continue and build on the Obama years! Any Christian who would knowingly vote for democratic candidates with known policy bents ...would in fact be considered favoring darkness over light! To cast dispersions ( foolish) on individuals for their civic participation , it is difficult enough to discern who a candidate is and how the will conduct themselves!
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A._catholic posted a comment · Dec 09, 2019
I am in much agreement with Kenneth Greifer's post ("People who support Trump..." 8 Dec. 2019), although I would not go so far as to say Trump supporters don't "understand" the issues. Pres. Trump has acted positively on a number of evangelical issues such as abortion- HOWEVER, evangelical Trump supporters seem blind to Trump's abuse of power, obstruction of justice, trying to turn communications media into his own personal propagandists, lying/failing to get his facts straight, his lack of charity in dealing with opponents, and his greed and servitude to mammon/wealth/profit. It is the latter alone that should disqualify him from Christian support- his greed and servitude to wealth are hurting the poor and elderly, creating further income disparities, and destroying the creation/environment on which ALL biological life depends.
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Kenneth Greifer posted a comment · Dec 08, 2019
I think the people who support Trump don't understand the issues. He is violating the Constitution and Conservatives are letting him do it. He is doing this by declaring national emergencies, claiming national security as an excuse, and claiming executive privilege for everything. Congress sets the budget, but he is claiming national emergencies to take money from the military and homeland security to spend how he wants. Congress sets tariffs, but he says a good economy is important for national security, so he is setting tariffs illegally and unconstitutionally. Congress is supposed to be allowed to know what the executive branch is doing, but he won't tell them anything or let his people talk to them, claiming executive privilege, even for people who never even worked for the executive branch. Even if you ignore many other issues, people should at least want the president to uphold the Constitution. I could go on listing cruel and bad policies, but if you don't care about the Constitution, you are not going to care about anything he does wrong.
B.W. posted a comment · Dec 06, 2019
I have to admit that on more than one occasion I have cringed while listening to and reading the news of the day! Yes President Trumps is not polished! He is not a politician. He is an American citizen that saw what was going wrong in our country and decided to run for president! Trump is a man who is flawed and in need of guidance for sure . I was struck by something he said when it was announced he had won “ I will be everyone’s president! “ and of course we all know how long it took the political elites to draw their swords! And I said to the Lord “this has to be who you wanted “ and so I began to pray for our president! Our Country was hemorrhaging socially after the Obama years ! All that Obama did I felt it could not be undone! To all the educated elite I’m sure Trump is the cause of head scratching everywhere ! And tears in Brooklyn! God is good! BW
B.W. posted a comment · Dec 06, 2019
I have to admit that on more than one occasion I have cringed while listening to and reading the news of the day! Yes President Trumps is not polished! He is not a politician. He is an American citizen that saw what was going wrong in our country and decided to run for president! Trump is a man who flawed and in need of guidance for sure . I was struck by something he said when it was announced he had won “ I will be everyone’s president! “ and of course we all know how long it took the political elites to draw their swords! And I said to the Lord “this has to be who you wanted “ and so I began to pray for our president! Our Country was hemorrhaging socially after the Obama years ! All that Obama did I felt it could not be undone! To all the educated elite I’m sure Trump is the cause of head scratching everywhere ! And tears in Brooklyn! God is good! BW
B.W. posted a comment · Dec 06, 2019
People who call others foolish makes you wonder! God told you to pray for leaders and those in authority ! foolish?
B.W. posted a comment · Dec 06, 2019
Romans 13:1 Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.
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words2yz posted a comment · Dec 06, 2019
Trump is everything JESUS warned you about;. a wolf in sheep's clothing--ruled by his own ego who serves Mammon !!
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Swkh310 posted a comment · Dec 06, 2019
Better question: "Are Evangelicals Who Support Trump Christians?"
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neptune posted a comment · Dec 06, 2019
This is kind of funny. I went to Thurman's Web site, and at the very top of the main page, he prominently displays this text: "DR CHRIS THURMAN, PH.D." I don't think I've ever seen anyone use *both* the prefix and suffix like that before. Even if he weren't a Christian, this would still seem very arrogant, but all the more so in light of Matthew 23:10. It's as if he's milking every possible opportunity to say, "Hey, I'm a DOCTOR, and don't you ever forget it!!!!!" And Thurman has the nerve to call Trump arrogant?? Perhaps he should consider getting the beam out of his own eye first. ;)
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neptune posted a comment · Dec 06, 2019
Well said. The key, as you pointed out, is *balance*. Mr. Thurman seems just as unbalanced as some of those he criticizes. In fact, I believe that he is (unconsciously) projecting many of his own flaws onto Trump and others. He talks about how Trump is arrogant (and there is certainly some truth to that), but in his rant, he comes as quite arrogant himself. His whole article seems to have a smug, Judge Judy-style "I'm smarter than you!!!!!" vibe. Sadly, I think he's completely blind to all this. I've always felt that "Never Trumpers" are more dangerous than Democrats, and this latest piece just underscores that. Typically, "Never Trumpers" seem to act like professional cult-hunters. In fact, they're a lot like ravenous wolves. They seem to have no positive ministry of their own—only that of criticizing and tearing down Trump. And they throw out both the good and the bad together. In short, I think they suffer from black-and-white thinking, which is not a sign of a mature, sophisticated mind. Furthermore, I believe that Thurman—if he had lived back when Jesus was on earth—would likely have been one of those who said so dismissively of Jesus, "He eats with SINNERS." Thurman seems to display many of those same disturbing attitudes that the Pharisees showed. Finally, back in 2015, minister Jeremiah Johnson claimed that God spoke the following message to him about Trump. And given how true it rings, I believe the message actually did come from God: "Trump shall become My trumpet to the American people, for he possesses qualities that are even hard to find in My people these days. Trump does not fear man nor will he allow deception and lies to go unnoticed. I am going to use him to expose darkness and perversion in America like never before, but you must understand that he is like a bull in a china closet. Many will want to throw him away because he will disturb their sense of peace and tranquillity, but you must listen through the bantering to discover the truth that I will speak through him. I will use the wealth that I have given him to expose and launch investigations searching for the truth. Just as I raised up Cyrus to fulfill My purposes and plans, so have I raised up Trump to fulfill my purposes and plans prior to the 2016 election. You must listen to the trumpet very closely for he will sound the alarm and many will be blessed because of his compassion and mercy. Though many see the outward pride and arrogance, I have given him the tender heart of a father that wants to lend a helping hand to the poor and the needy, to the foreigner and the stranger."