11th January 2021

Among the banners carried by the rioters in Washington DC last Wednesday was one saying ‘Jesus be my Savior, Trump be my President’.

One of the most unedifying aspects of those events and of the last four years has been how some in the Christian church have regarded Donald Trump as someone ordained and called by God to ‘save America’.

The rational explanation for much of this is that Donald Trump promised to ‘deliver’ for sections of the Christian Church. To the extent that he did they rejoiced. The cynical view is that he gave them what they wanted in order to cement their support.

Rationalism only goes so far, though. Before vast congregations highly respected leaders – the son of Billy Graham! – preached and prayed passionate support. Individual Christians declared – and still declare –absolute allegiance to a man who is as flawed as he is charismatic. As disgust spreads after last Wednesday still many – including many Christians – maintain unflinching devotion.

Human behaviour sometimes goes beyond what can be rationally explained. We are emotional, spiritual creatures. Discussion of Church/State relationships, problematic forms of ecclesiology, skewed biblical interpretation is important, but limited. As someone said, ‘everything is politics but politics is not everything’.

The Bible’s supernatural elements are easily misused, as many Trump supporters are apt to do. Yet sometimes we are bound to look at the way human beings behave and turn to words such as idolatry and sin. Pauls speaks of  ‘the cosmic powers of this present darkness’. The gospel proceeds from such language. It is not America that needs saving. It is us.

Michael Docker