Posted Dec 11, 2019 by Michael L. Brown

Dr. Chris Thurman is a Christian psychologist who claims that President Trump has no strengths and that any evangelical who supports Trump is a fool. Personally, I was not familiar with Dr. Thurman or his work before last week, but his article, “You Foolish Evangelicals, Trump Has Bewitched You,” got my attention, prompting me to write a  response. Now, he has challenged my response with a follow-up article, issuing a direct challenge to me. I’m quite happy to respond.

In my rebuttal to his first article, I claimed that Thurman was as guilty as the hyper-zealous Trump supporters. He completely demonized the President while his over-zealous supporters make him into a saint. Now, in his second article, he has laid out a challenge: “I would like to challenge Brown and the others who criticized the op-ed I wrote to come up with one positive character trait Trump possesses. Just one.”

Consider it done!

Before taking up his challenge, let me first review Thurman’s evaluation of Trump as well as respond to some of his other direct questions.

According to Thurman, Trump has no “characterological” strengths, meaning, there is not one single good thing about his character. Not one.

Not only so, but Thurman speaks of “the fact that he is a deeply mentally and morally disturbed person.” Yes, this is a “fact”!

Thurman also speaks of Trump’s “malignant narcissism” (referring to him in these terms 4 times in the article). And he quotes Peter Wehner, who said that Trump is “a terribly damaged person, a broken man, a person with a disordered mind.”

In short, according to Thurman, “Trump is evil and [is] doing the best he can to tear our country down for selfish and malevolent reasons.” Therefore, “we should have nothing to do with him, remove him from office as quickly as possible, press the reset button, and get someone elected to the presidency who truly shares our core values as Christians.”

Oddly, Thurman wrote, “What is Brown’s beef with what I wrote?  The best I could come up with is when he says, ‘Thurman seems blind to his (Trump’s) strengths and his potential to help America greatly.’ I assume this is Brown’s main problem with what I wrote — that I’m blind to what’s good about Trump.”

His response was stark and simple: there is nothing good about Trump. Nothing at all.

Thurman also wonders aloud as to why I felt the need to respond to him, since, by evangelicals who support Trump, he was referring to “evangelicals who foolishly support Trump in spite of the fact that he is a deeply mentally and morally disturbed person?”

Once again, I responded: 1) because Dr. Thurman so overstates his case, using every negative term in the book to describe Trump (include sociopath); and 2) because he urges evangelicals to distance themselves from Trump and not vote for him in 2020.

Clearly, I am not one who overlooks Trump’s glaring weaknesses. I never have and I do not plan to.

And, had Thurman simply suggested that we should look for another Republican candidate to run in 2020, I would not have responded. My good friend and colleague Darrell Bock, a respected New Testament scholar, was on my radio show, advocating for evangelicals to call for another Republican candidate to replace Trump. And I had no problem giving him air time.

But the fact that Thurman painted with such a broad, exaggerated brush called for a response, especially his branding any evangelical who planned to vote for Trump in 2020 a “fool.” Why then should he be upset that he has become the focus on my response (along with the responses of others he mentions)?

Dr. Thurman, with all respect, if you attack fellow-believers as “fools” who have been “bewitched,” you can expect some pushback from those believers. This is hardly shifting the issues or attacking the messenger rather than the message, as you wrongly allege. The sword cuts both ways, my brother.

And while you directed your critique to evangelicals who defended Trump at all costs, ignoring his errors and faults, you extended your critique to those who would vote for him in 2020. Again, that prompted my response, since I fall into the latter category.

But now for your challenge to name one single good character quality of President Trump.

First, he has kept his word to evangelical leaders, showing consistency and faithfulness. Surely these are good character qualities.

He promised to fight for our religious liberties, and he is doing so. He promised to appoint conservative, pro-life justices, and he is doing so – by the scores. He promised to move the embassy to Jerusalem, and he did it.

This is called integrity: sticking with your promises and commitments.

Second, despite his playboy past and his narcissistic ways, he seems devoted to his wife and children. Friends of mine who have gotten to know him personally, also spending many hours with his adult kids, tell me how deeply they respect and love him.

Third, he is determined to do everything in his power as president to “rescue the perishing,” to borrow a phrase from Proverbs 24, applied here to the unborn. And once again, people who have walked with him closely assure me that he really believes abortion is wrong. Is not that a positive character quality as well?

Fourth, his heart for prison reform and rehabilitating our inner-cities also seems genuine. Bear in mind that when Jared Kushner’s father was in prison, Jared saw the tremendous inequities of the prison system, and his concerns have now become his father-in-law’s concerns. Minority leaders have also attested to his genuine concern about impoverished Americans.

This too is a positive character quality in God’s sight.

Of course, I can hear the retort already, namely, “None of this is genuine! The man is a sociopathic narcissist whose goal is to destroy America.” To quote Dr. Thurman directly, he is “doing the best he can to tear our country down for selfish and malevolent reasons.”

My response is simple: Dr. Thurman, you know the man from a distance and you have judged him severely, going over and above the righteous judgment God calls for.

And so, again, with all respect, I say this: Let’s all do our best to remove the plank from our own eyes before we try to remove the speck from the eyes of others.

The words of Jesus are sobering in this regard: “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matt 7:2).

Finally, let us not forget that for many of us, a vote for Trump, with all his flaws and shortcomings, is a vote against an extremely dangerous, radical leftist agenda.

That’s a big reason I plan to vote for him again in 2020, as things now stand. Throwing around the “fool” word in this context is not wise. As fellow-evangelicals, we can do better.


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Elijah posted a comment · Dec 23, 2019
I think this is a classic example of listening to lying liberals on mainstream media, and not hearing the other side, which often exposes their lies. I would also add: exposing darkness (good trait), peacemaking (Korea, for example, good trait), stopping bad trade deals (good trait), among others. And I will also add that Jesus said: "But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." Matthew 5:22
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aspendougy posted a comment · Dec 17, 2019
When Jesus said, "Judge not" he meant that when we are in a position where we need to evaluate a person's character, we must not elevate our own opinion to some sort of absolute truth. This is what Thurman does. How many reprehensible acts has Donald Trump committed in his life? How many kind and helpful things? Only God knows. But can someone claim for certain that he has never done anything kind? I would stay clear of any psychologist who makes such a claim about anyone.
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words2yz posted a comment · Dec 15, 2019
I really can't think of any one thing Trump has done that wasn't purely self- interest!!! An innocent man would not continue to deny, evade, and obscure the truth !!
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gerald a posted a comment · Dec 14, 2019
If President Trump actually was disturbed as Mr. Thurman claims, it logically would be evident in his policies. When we look at various dictators of the past who are thought by many to have been insane, we see that their policies looked very insane. Pres. Trump's policies look very sane indeed. <!--break-->I cannot say the same about his predecessor, Obama. For example Obama's very bizarre Iran agreement, in which we gave the world's leading sponsor of terrorism $1.5 billion and access to global financial systems. Some of the provisions of the deal were kept secret and only came out later. That deal looks literally insane to me. <!--break-->We see this pattern in certain critics of President Trump like Thurman, where they attack Pres. Trump continually on a personal level and have zippo to say about his policies, which I find very strange. <!--break-->It may be true that Pres Trump exhibits some narcissism, but that seems to be something we find in many politicians. Clinton appears to many to be very narcissistic. Narcissism is FAR more evident in Obama, who seems to be totally off the charts in that respect, than in Trump. Samuel Vaknin, Ph.D., who has written extensively about narcissism, states: “Barack Obama appears to be a narcissist.” Vaknin says that Obama’s language, posture and demeanor, and the testimonies of his closest, dearest and nearest suggest that the Senator is either a narcissist or he may have narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). Narcissists project a grandiose but false image of themselves. <!--break-->We never see anything like this coming from Pres. Trump: 'Former President Barack Obama's recent talk in Berlin Saturday was touted as focusing on “community leadership and civic engagement.” But his speech seemed to focus mainly on another topic: himself. The 392 references in one speech is believed to be a new record for self-referencing by Obama beating a previous record back in 2016 when he referred to himself 171 times.' <!--break-->Did Thurman ever say anything about Obama having mental problems? I don't know, but my guess is that he didn't. Actually when I see the kinds of things people like Thurman say I start wondering if they're disturbed. His claim Trump is "tearing the country down" seems mentally disturbed. What exactly does he mean by that? If he was "tearing the country down" we would be able to observe some tangible evidence of such (one would think). As I said, I cannot identify anything in Pres. Trump's actual policies that seem to be evidence of mental illness, unlike Obama. <!--break-->Maybe Thurman has absorbed the Democrats' fabrications that he is violating the Constitution in some massive way. It is very apparent at this time that people such as Schiff are pathological liars. I have a feeling Thurman believes whatever Schiff says, which would also call into question Thurman's mental state.
Melchizedek posted a comment · Dec 13, 2019
Why, pray tell me, all ye Progressive and Liberal folks out there in Clown World, does Orange Man have to be absolutely perfect, without spot or blemish, like he was The Lord Jesus Christ Himself? The sad and pathetic truth is that you are 100% POLITICAL in your critique of Orange Man's morality. IF Orange Man was a Demonic Rat, THEN you would love him and you'd be telling us he was the greatest thing to come along for America since Barak Hussein Obama. You can hate Orange Man all you want; I say that Orange Man Is Not So Bad. If you don't like it, you can lump it.
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Swkh310 posted a comment · Dec 11, 2019
No one "makes" trump a monster. He does it all by himself.
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neptune posted a comment · Dec 11, 2019
Oh, here's a relevant quote from Christine Carter, another psychologist—well, actually a sociologist. What she has to say describes Thurman's behavior very well, I think. In a nutshell, I believe that Thurman is actually projecting his own shortcomings onto Trump. Anyway, here are Ms. Carter's wise words: "Although many Freudian theories have not stood the test of time, projection is still considered a textbook human behavior. I see projection at work all around me, in myself, in my friends and children, and in my clients. That doesn’t mean that we are *always* projecting when we see other people’s flaws, or when we see the ways that others can learn and improve. But when we feel particularly emotional about a situation? When we feel hooked and irrational or harshly judgmental about someone else’s shortcomings, rather than empathetic or compassionate? We are probably projecting."
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neptune posted a comment · Dec 11, 2019
Mr. Thurman sounds more like an armchair psychologist than a real one. I believe it violates professional standards to try to "evaluate" someone at a distance like he's attempting. Not only that, his black-and-white "analytical" reasoning is almost laughable. If anyone out there needs to see a psychologist, I'd definitely recommend steering clear of this egotistical quack. In addition, it appears that Thurman has already gotten his 15 minutes of fame this past week—please don't give him any more, Mr. Brown. ;)