We are living in one of the most critical times in American history, and I write these words with a real sense of urgency. Please give me your best ear for the next few minutes as you read.
But before you dismiss me as being “disloyal” or lacking in faith or not understanding the issues, please remember that I voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020. That I much prefer a Trump-Pence presidency to a Biden-Harris presidency. That I have gone on countless media outlets, both Christian and secular, explaining how we can vote for Trump without compromising our witness. (See here for a recent example.)
Be assured that I understand the many excellent, even exceptional things he has done as our president.
I understand why protesters against Communist China in Hong Kong look to him as a hero and why they are terrified at the prospect of a Biden victory.
I understand why he has such largescale support in Israel and how disastrous it would be for Biden to renew the Iranian nuclear agreement.
I understand the significance of his judicial appointments, from SCOTUS through the federal courts.
I could list his bona fides as well as anyone. I get it. I really do.
I also understand how he has been demonized by the left as a racist, a misogynist, a xenophobe, and more.
I understand that he has suffered more attacks from more sides than any president in our lifetimes.
I really do get it. I do.
And it is that person writing to you. Please hear my appeal.
I am deeply concerned that many of us have lost our perspective. I am deeply concerned that we have, in fact, put our trust in a man rather than in God. I am deeply concerned that, whether we recognize it or not, we have allowed our standards to be corrupted by our constant defense of Trump. The truth be told, we have even corrupted our souls.
On June 30, 2017, I wrote, “I’m all for defending our president when he’s the subject of unjust attacks. And as a follower of Jesus, I voted for him, despite my misgivings. I’m also happy to point out the many good things he’s already done as president. But I won’t sacrifice my ethics and demean my faith to defend his wrongful words. To do that is to lose all credibility before a watching world.”
And I added, “when we find it necessary to defend his every word, we discredit ourselves and tarnish our witness.” And, “for us to defend his every tweet is to make ourselves into stooges more than supporters, helping no one in the end.”
Yes, “the reminder for us is that loyalty does not require blind allegiance.”
In my 2018 book Donald Trump Is Not My Savior: An Evangelical Leader Speaks His Mind About the Man He Supports As President, I asked whether our relationship with Trump was a match made in heaven or a marriage with hell.
The answer to that question is entirely up to us. Have we sold our souls for a seat at the table? Have we compromised our convictions because of the ugliness of the alternatives? Have we looked the other way at dangerous and reckless behavior because there is an alleged, greater good?
That, to me, is part of passing the Trump test: Can we cast our vote for him without losing our moral authority? Can we support his many fine policies without tarnishing our testimony?
To date, I would say that, by and large, we have not passed the test.
Thankfully, if Trump is, in fact, reelected, we will have four more years to get it right.
God help us if we do not.
Many Christian Trump supporters will say to me (often with anger), “None of us believe that Trump is our Savior! You insult us by saying that.”
Then they turn around and tell me I’m speaking against God’s anointed.
Something does not line up. And shouldn’t every God-fearing person on the planet shout from the rooftops that Trump (or any other human being) is not our Savior? Doesn’t that proclamation help Trump rather than hurt him? Doesn’t that ground us in reality?
But we have become almost hysterical in our support of the president, branding all opposition to him as “fake” while welcoming every conspiratorial theory that comes down the pike. This not only discredits us, but it also dishonors the Lord we serve.
When it comes to concerns about electoral fraud, by all means, we should use every means available to ensure a fair outcome to the election. May every ballot be counted if it was cast legally and properly. And may the candidate that the American people voted for be our next president.
But there is no reason for hysteria. As I tweeted, “Regarding the concerns of election fraud, I am confident that, between much prayer for God's intervention and Trump's army of lawyers, the truth will come to light, whatever that truth may be. Personally, I am NOT concerned that the election will be stolen by either side.”
Christians around the world are fasting and praying for the outcome of this election. Urgent prayer meetings are being called for throughout America even as I write. And an army of powerful lawyers, backed by the president himself, has sprung into action.
Surely as children of God we cannot believe that the devil or a corrupt political system or anything or anyone else will “steal” this election. Surely, at times like this, God expects confident faith (along with appropriate action being taken). Let us be fervent and passionate. But let us not be hysterical.
To say it once more, I absolutely understand the importance of this election. But I believe there is something even more important, and that is the state of God’s Church.
Are we representing His Son here in America? Do our words and deeds reflect His character and will? Is our focus where it should be, or have Trump and the elections become the dominating theme of our lives – not just not for this week, but for the last few years?
The last chapter of my 2020 book Evangelicals at the Crossroads: Will We Pass the Trump Test? ends with these 10 directives. If we live by these, we will pass the test with flying colors.
The fate of our nation depends on it.
Here’s the list.
1) We must clearly and emphatically put the cross before the flag.
2) We must proclaim that Donald Trump is our president, not our Savior.
3) We must put greater emphasis on spiritual activity than on political activity.
4) We must not get caught up with election fever.
5) We must not justify carnality and unchristian behavior.
6) We must regain our prophetic voice.
7) We must be holistic Christians, truly pursuing justice and righteousness for all.
8) We must walk in love towards those who vilify us and oppose us.
9) We must unite around Jesus rather than divide over Trump.
10) We must lead the nation in repentance, knowing that repentance prepares the way of the Lord, opening a path for revival, visitation, and awakening.
Please consider what I have written, test every word by the Scriptures, and examine your own soul before God. The stakes are very high and our calling is very high.
By God’s grace, we must pass the test, and that means starting now.