In 2016, I signed the “Never Trump” pledge and did my part, as a “keyboard warrior,” especially on the Facebook posts of The Christian Post, to persuade fellow Christians not to support Donald Trump.
I have a Ph.D. in church history studying the Puritans and am the pastor of a Reformed church and Mr. Trump struck me as a decline from the kinds of leaders Puritans would expect. Many CP readers may remember my incessant campaigning against Trump four years ago. I argued that he had a checkered past, that he was unlikely to support the causes which Christians should be most committed to (namely, life — including for the unborn — and religious liberty) and that he was likely going to lose in the general election. Being wrong about the latter gave me the opportunity to consider that I was wrong about my other arguments against him.
It’s true that Mr. Trump has things in his past that he should be ashamed of. I cringe at Christians who exalt him as if he’s a godly champion. However, when voting for a leader’s re-election, we vote based on what he’s done in office, not what they’ve done before.
Mr. Trump’s record has been surprisingly good on Christian issues, especially the sanctity of life. He’s nominated consistently pro-life judges, done what he can do to defund Planned Parenthood, and spoken up more loudly on the issue than any president in history. Since pro-life issues are the leading issues guiding Christians today, Mr. Trump has earned the support of Christians.
Further, since 2016 the left, which I used to call “liberalism,” has metastasized into an illiberal movement that I now believe is a serious threat to the liberties of all Americans, especially Christians. They have no humility or sense of reserve or respect for American traditions that would restrain them from using their power to crush those who would dare oppose them, including Christians, if they were given power. That is, if they were to win this upcoming election, we could see the unleashing of a wave of persecution in America that most of us never dreamed was possible, all of it justified in the name of “social justice” or “public health.”
So, now is not the time to quibble over Mr. Trump’s antics on Twitter, to pronounce him “wicked” for insulting his critics, because we’re holding him to the standards of a by-gone era of political civility or even, perhaps, because we’re too watered-down ourselves by the gentility of “moralistic, therapeutic deism” that rejects Mr. Trump for not being a soothing Mr. Rogers.
I rejected the “Flight 93,” “binary choice,” “critical election” rhetoric in 2016 people used to force me to choose him as the “lesser of two evils.” I no longer reject it. I would urge you not to reject those arguments either and vote like your liberty depends on it. Because it might.
John B. Carpenter (M.Div. Fuller Theological Seminary, Th.M., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Ph.D. Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago) is pastor of Covenant Reformed Baptist Church in Danville, VA. www.covenantcaswell.org.