As we brace for the battle that is sure to come as vaccination becomes available to the general population, I thought some Kingdom history might provide perspective on the issue.
Small pox epidemics had occurred approximately every 12 years in New England in the late 1600s and early 1700s. Smallpox was a merciless killer and disfigurer, particularly of children. In the early 1700s the disease missed a cycle but then appeared again in Boston in 1721. This time, however, there was a man, a learned man, a learned, Kingdom man named Cotton Mather.
Mather was a polymath. He was the youngest student ever accepted at Harvard (11 1/2 years old). He published over 350 titles during his lifetime on subjects as diverse as the Bible, history, medicine, politics, and the demonic. He could write in seven languages. Mather was also the first American to be inducted as a Fellow of the the Royal Society in London, the most famous scientific society in the world. Mather set up schools for Indians and African Americans. He was also a Puritan and minister of the largest church in New England.
I was in a relatively small group of people in September 2016 before the election when a prominent Evangelical leader and author told us God had told him He had raised up Donald Trump to be a Cyrus. I thought his remarks inappropriate before a group who had assembled to hear about the kingdom of God, and I expressed my concerns to the host of the meeting, whom I deeply respect. We both said something to the effect of “Well, we will see.”
I have been an admirer of Cyrus the Great as a leader, not only because of the Biblical account but also because of Xenophon’s biography and Herodotus’s history, all of which describe a good, generous, and magnanimous ruler. I even named my Persian cat after Cyrus.
Here’s where we ended up with Trump in the final year of his presidency: (i) an out-of-control pandemic that while not his fault has to date killed 450,000 Americans (25% of those who have died worldwide) and was made worse because of Trump’s politicization of the issue; (ii) a racial uprising and riots like we have not seen since the late 1960s, not only because of a video of police killing black Americans but because of Trump’s pandering to white nationalists; and (iii) an insurrection which I doubt was intended by Trump but am convinced was caused by him.
Even if one accepts the Trump spin on all three of these crises, any one of them is sufficient to stain any president’s four year term; Trump had them all in one year. He is now the only American President to be impeached twice. Members of his own party have voted for his impeachment, and judges appointed by him have voted against his lawsuits alleging a fraudulent election. Was Donald Trump a Cyrus, or is there another Biblical character who Trump more closely resembles?
If you have followed this blog long enough you know I try to stay out of politics. I have described my attitude toward politics as an “engaged indifference.” I believe modern Christians put too much hope in politics and have been too willing to compromise their integrity and witness to grasp for political power. I believe Christians should partake in politics as with alcohol, in moderation.
But I am obviously not much of an influence. I watched Evangelicals, including friends and family, run after Trump like a dog in heat. Never mind that Trump openly mocked the disabled, paid off paramours, bragged about sexually assaulting women, supported white nationalists, and retaliated against anyone who crossed him. Evangelicals endorsed Trump because of what he promised to give them. It wasn’t about integrity or principle; it was about what Evangelicals could get from this candidate. With politics it always is.
As a result, Evangelicals said to hell with their witness, just give us our piece of pork like every other interest group. And Evangelicals got what they wanted. Trump delivered on three Supreme Court justices, he moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and he protected churches. And let’s not be naive; Trump didn’t do it because he loves Jesus or Christians–in fact, he reportedly referred to Evangelical pastors laying hands on him and praying for him as “bulls**t“–Trump did it because he loves Donald Trump, and he wanted to stay in office.
Yesterday in Washington D.C. there was apparently a prayer march.
I must have missed the memo, or the GSB research team was asleep at the wheel and failed to inform me.
Not that I would have gone mind you. I think you have to be out of your mind to march in a largely maskless crowd in the midst of a pandemic, and with the Proud Boys on top of that. To say the optics were bad is like saying Harvey Weinstein needs to be more respectful of women.
Everything about this march was wrong. Let’s start with the cause.
It is not enough that evangelicals marched with the Proud Boys, but they continue to squander their credibility by embracing the “Stop the Steal” campaign, a quest with the remarkable record of 1 modest win and 55 losses in federal courts, which are staffed by a mix of Republicans and Democrats, two factions that in recent years have not been able to agree on anything, yet have set aside their partisanship to become united in one voice to say this: “The President has no case.”
I live downtown in one of the largest cities in America.
My wife and I have watched from our home some of the protests and arrests that have occurred following the killing of George Floyd.
I’ve also observed the initial sympathy expressed by my caucasian friends be replaced by anger when the looting and violence began. I’ve heard some pundits try to explain the looting and violence, and I’ve heard others even try to justify it.