by John Ellis
Our President who has famously boasted that he doesn’t have any need to repent is now crowing that, “we have God on our side.” Presuming to speak for God, President Trump made his assertion to a crowd of his adoring worshipers at the inaugural “Evangelicals for Trump” event held at a megachurch in Miami. Considering that many of Trump’s evangelical supporters went googly-eyed over the “artist” Jon McNaughton’s depiction of Trump crushing the head of a serpent, it’s unclear whether those in attendance at the rally consider Donald Trump their Lord and Savior or not. In fact, taking into account Trump’s extreme hubris, his disdain for anyone who dares to disagree with him combined with his penchant for taking revenge (vengeance is his right as the Savior of evangelicals, after all), and his constant drumbeat that he gets to decide what’s lawful and what’s not, he may have been referring to himself with his statement.
Lost in all the cheering emanating from his supporters, President Trump’s boasting stands in stark contrast with one of my favorite passages in the Bible – Joshua 5:13-15.
In the passage, the Israelites are preparing to begin the siege of Jericho. While surveying the battlefield, Joshua sees a man with a drawn sword. Approaching the mysterious figure, Joshua asks, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?”
From a human perspective, especially on the eve of battle, that’s a legitimate question. It makes sense for Joshua to find out if this unknown man is an enemy or an ally. However, as the Bible constantly reveals, the human perspective is deeply flawed. Demonstrating this truth, the figure responds with the word, “No.”
From a human point of view, Joshua didn’t ask a yes or no question. With his “no,” the stranger rejects Joshua’s assumptions. Thankfully, the sword wielding figure explains, “I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.”
The correct perspective doesn’t ask whether God is on our side or not. The correct perspective seeks to submit to God and place ourselves under His authority. The correct question (always) is are we on God’s side?
The decisions and actions of President Trump are not in submission to God. Our immoral, deceitful, vindictive President isn’t concerned about the furtherance of Christ’s Kingdom; the Great Commission is not a part of his thought process. His actions and goals are designed to retain power and protect comfort. President Trump expects God (and everyone else) to submit to his will and desires. As long as God submits to Trump, our President is able to boast that the Creator of the universe is his ally. With his words at the rally, Donald Trump provided more evidence that he is unfit to serve in a position of leadership.
Shamefully and sinfully, though, Trump’s evangelical supporters will be characterized by not only a wholesale defense of Trump’s blasphemous braggadocio, they will actively own it and run with it. No doubt, on this Lord’s Day (Jan. 5), evangelical pulpits this country over regurgitated the contra Biblical claim that “we have God on our side” in order to laud the Great Evangelical Savior occupying this nation’s Holiest of Holies called the Oval Office while demonizing those who continue to refuse to bow before Trump.
Comfort and power are what we collectively worship, and President Trump has promised to be the bully/Savior that will protect our idols and save us from our enemies. In fact, the history of this country – the history of evangelicalism in this country – has been characterized by a defiant refusal to submit to God while deceitfully claiming that God is for us. President Trump is merely a logical point on the road leading to the completed conflation of God and country. It’s hard not to believe that we’re almost there.