By In Politics

Scholars Speak on Trump’s Nomination

Ted Cruz’s departure from the Republican race, and most recently, John Kasich’s, catapulted long-time front-runner, Donald Trump, to become the national representative of the GOP in this election cycle. Trump’s remarkable rise has shocked the media and many of the conservative voices of our day. Many of these conservative voices have made it abundantly clear that voting for Donald Trump will precipitate the end of the party and the end of the conservative ethos of the party of Ronald Reagan.

This entire process has left conservative evangelicals asking the question: “How shall we then think?” Kuyperian Commentary asked several Christian scholars to offer their answers to such a profound question.

Andrew Sandlin
Founder and President, Center for Cultural Leadership

More troubling than Trump the candidate are the cultural forces that have propelled his success. That long list is topped by the erosion of classical liberalism ( = modern conservatism). Its chief features include the dignity of the individual, the separation of powers, the priority of reasoned discourse, the protection of private property, and the universality of moral standards. The cultural Marxism that gradually captured the Democratic Party since the late 1960’s undermines every tenet of classical liberalism. The truly shocking development has been the more recent and swift adoption of  Trump’s populism, which also abandons classical liberalism:

He champions his own form of identity politics that mirrors cultural Marxism.

He considers Congress an obstructionist institution that should be bypassed.

He shouts down thoughtful opposition, just like campus neo-Marxists.

He disdains reasoned discussion in favor of ad hominem denunciations.

He advocates trade policies that raid the wallets of middle-class American consumers.

He employs almost any gangbanger tactic — just like the neo-Marxists — as long as it accomplishes his sordid political objectives.

The most ominous aspect of this development is that classical liberalism, the political theory of the Founding and rooted in Christianity, is no longer represented by a major American political party.

This development is unprecedented in American history.

Brian Mattson
Senior Scholar of Public Theology, Center For Cultural Leadership

Vote your conscience. Some musings:

My loyalty and obligations are to the truth, not a political party. The GOP electorate has decided it will no longer be a welcome home for classical liberalism, and therefore it is no longer my home. Political realignment is now a full-scale reality, whether I realize it, like it, or even participate in it.

One approach: vote for Donald Trump and hope for the best. Stack a final, tiny, leaky sandbag on the pile, hoping and praying it stops the torrent of radical leftism while not producing something even worse. But with the distance between two evils so slight (in my view), I think subsidizing this ideological decline with our votes might be the real abdication of our civic responsibilities.

Another approach: Reject Donald Trump. Energetically participate in the political realignment. Congress is the levee wall: support solid down-ballot candidates. Bolster institutions that stand for the truth, strengthen alliances, and plant long-term seeds that will flourish when (if) our national nightmare recedes. I am sitting here looking at my daughters, and I owe them better than a sandbag and a wish.

Maybe you can do both. But I can’t and won’t.

Peter Leithart
President of the Theopolis Institute

Andrew Sullivan has determined that the Donald’s candidacy is a blast from the last trump, announcing the end of democracy. Sullivan underestimates the federal government’s blessed capacity for gridlock, and Trump’s capacity for compromise, change, and moderation.

The real worry is less that, if elected, Trump will make good on his promises; he won’t. The real worry lies elsewhere. Trump’s campaign has been a masterpiece of scapegoating, blaming our economic stagnation on China and Mexico and our decline in global prestige on feckless political and media elites. You can be morally certain he won’t accept responsibility for his failure. And then who will the Trump tribe find to blame?

If Trump isn’t the end of the world or American democracy, he may be the end of the GOP as we know it. To that, we can say a hearty Good riddance. It’s become difficult to see what the conservative party still conserves, other than the wealth of its donors and the lifestyle of its Beltway elites.

What we’re hearing is not the last trump, but Trump may be an agent of divine judgment against the Party that has been most promiscuous in invoking God’s name. Here’s hoping He shakes the GOP down to the foundations, and keeps shaking until only permanent things are left standing.

Thomas S. Kidd
Distinguished professor of history, Baylor University

I’ve said for months that I could never vote for Donald Trump for president. Trump becoming the presumptive GOP nominee has not changed that. I will not vote for either Trump or Hillary Clinton, assuming she becomes the Democrats’ nominee. Christians will argue about which of these two options is worse, and I’m honestly not sure how I would distinguish between the two. In any case, I can’t vote for either of them.

What to do in November, then? I will wait to see if there is a reasonable choice for a third party or write-in candidate. If not, I won’t cast a vote for president. I do believe that we have a civic obligation to participate, however, so I will vote for the down-ballot offices. I generally won’t vote for Democrats, but this time, I also won’t vote for GOP candidates who actively support Trump. I may have a relatively incomplete ballot!

We Christians should remember that as we express dismay about election 2016, we are hardly without hope. American Christians have too often put too much importance on politics, anyway. It’s a great time for us to remind ourselves that our ultimate citizenship is in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

George Grant
Pastor of Parish Presbyterian

During that particularly distressing post-Nixon, pre-Reagan period in American history, Francis Schaeffer prophetically declared,

“This is our moment of history and our responsibility: not to just to write and talk of far-off ideals, but to struggle for Scriptural and practical means of doing what can be done in a fallen world to see people personally converted and also to see what our salt and light can bring forth in the personal life and the political and the cultural life of this moment of history.”

His exhortation is as apt today as it was then—and perhaps, even more so.

Faced with the prospects of a desultory presidential electoral cycle, many Christians today have given vent to handwringing jeremiads. In truth, this election affords us a tremendous opportunity:

We have the opportunity to stand courageously for Biblical truth severed from the compromises of political partisanship. The Republican Party has long disregarded us. Now, it has altogether discarded us. We are thus morally, culturally, and politically unencumbered by their half-measures, empty promises, and feeble entreaties.

We have the opportunity to mobilize a groundswell of support for principled and purposeful reformation at a time when the two major parties have little more to offer than revolutionary fantasies.

We have the opportunity to model ardent prayerfulness. It was John Bunyan who quipped, “You can do more than pray, after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.” We have acted as if the opposite were true. We no longer have the luxury of that foolhardy project.

Finally, we have the opportunity to display an unwavering confidence in the Gospel hope. When all about us are despairing, we can reaffirm that the throne room of the Most High has not been vacated, that the Ascended Christ still has His iron scepter and the earth remains His footstool. As Chuck Colson asserted, “Thankfully, hope doesn’t ride on Air Force One.” We need not set our hopes upon either Tweedledee or Tweedledum.

This is our moment. It is past time for us to roll up our sleeves and go to work. It is high time for the church to be the church.

, , , , ,

4 Responses to Scholars Speak on Trump’s Nomination

  1. C. R. Wiley says:

    While this is all sincerely believed, it’s less than helpful. It’s what’s missing that leaves me unmoved.

    I just had dinner at Red Robin two nights ago with a parishioner who confessed he voted for Trump.

    I have other people in my church who support the billionaire. I have Cruz supporters too, and even some Bernie people. (No Hillary people, thankfully.)

    Back to my conversation at Red Robin. The man is a high-end finish carpenter and custom furniture maker. He’s the foreman of a shop that makes furniture and finishes homes on the Connecticut “gold coast”.

    Here told me, “Trump will either be great or a total disaster if he wins.” I think that’s the clear-eyed view of many of his supporters here in the northeast. I don’t think people outside the northeast understand the non-ideological, more class and ethnic-group based character of northeastern social conservatism. I knew Trump would clean up in places like Southie in Boston or Yonkers in the New York City area. His straight-talk is cherished in those places.

    (The fact that the contributors here are blinkered by all this is precisely why the typical khaki wearing Presbyterian or Reformed Baptist guy is utterly fruitless among them.)

    My parishioner went on to say he liked Ben Carson, but thought he was too soft. He could never warm up to Cruz (I hear that a lot among believers here) because he came off as phony. (The nail in the coffin for my guy was when Cruz appeared wearing a hunting vest and hat and carrying a gun. My guy carries a 1911 all the time, he knows guns. He said, “The stuff was all new, I could tell that even over television,…someone bought the stuff and put it on him, He’s no hunter.” Whether or not that’s true, I don’t know, but that’s the impression Cruz made on him.)

    All the statements by our scholars above are very principled and bloodless. It’s the bloodless part that is the problem.

    Trump resonates with people who have voted they couldn’t really identify with for a long time. The last Republican who could appeal to Reagan Democrats was Reagan.

    I’m from Western Pennsylvania–it went big for Trump, as I knew it would. The whole Ohio River Valley is Trump country. Here in the industrial heart of Connecticut where guns and nuclear submarines are made, I see 10 Trump signs for every Cruz or Hillary sign. (This is the home of Pratt and Whitney, Colt, Mossberg, and Electric Boat as well as the place where the best tobacco for cigars in the US is grown.) Until our scholars (and our Kuyperians) can identify with a person like my furniture maker, you’ll not only misunderstand the Trump phenomenon, you’ll never reach these people for Christ.

    BTW, just so you know, my church is about 20% immigrant–mostly from Africa.

  2. Paul Korb says:

    Can someone please explain to me in plain English what is so horrible about Donald Trump? He has named two Scalia-like justices. He wants to keep us out of unnecessary wars. He will demand reciprocity for access to the American market. And he will enforce our immigration laws. Why all the hysteria? Why vilify the guy?

    • Pam says:

      Paul, I will try in a very simple, living, kind way about your question about Trump. If you are an authentic Christian, I will assume you are, then when we as Christians use the bible as our guide in all ways of our faith and walk. it is my source. So. In the right hand is the decision to be made and in the left hand is our bible. ( This is just an illustration.) I try personally to decide what I do with what is in scripture. You may or may not do this, but I do. I read the bible often and all throughout scripture, as you may also., God has given us guidelines for leaders. It is just everywhere. Amazingly so. In the OT and in the NT, to the Israelites, as well to th Gentiles in the NT. No one is a perfect leader, but if you put the characteristics of trump in one hand and the bible in the other, you will see how poor he is as a leader, no where near a godly-type leader. Proverbs is packed with moral, godly-type leaders.God calls many a fool who hold the characteristics that Trump possesses . I did not say this. God did. If you review these characteristics in proverbs, for example, and take a look at trump, you will see that God does not condone such a person. It is pretty blatant, in fact. God has given us warnings and general guidelines, and for this major reason I cannot go against what He has clearly put in scripture. There are many other reasons, of course, but I cannot vote for trump as the Christian I am and vote for this ungodly-type man. I will give account to God for how I vote. I do not know what I will do yet, but I do know I cannot vote for trump.

  3. Butch says:

    I’m going to vent and I’m no scholar.

    Every time I read opinions like these they all say the same thing. I’m paraphrasing here but they go something like this; We as good Christians cannot vote for Donald Trump because he is not a real Christian, a real conservative, he’s for Planned Parenthood (PP), and on and on. Have you been paying attention to the “Republican Party”? There is no difference in Trump and the GOP. They have funded PP, they are not conservative, most of them have had more that one wife, many have cheated on their wives, and on and on. They say, Trump will be the death of the GOP! Really? It’s already dead! It has been dead for awhile now.

    All the scholars, denomination leaders, GOP leaders, and others are saying, you better not vote for Trump. Well from my vantage point I don’t see much that these groups have gotten right with regard to political outcomes. I think if these groups would have been holding on to their core principles for the last thirty to forty years that we as a nation would not be in our current situation.The opinions also say that we must as good Christians stand up for what is good and right. To stand for biblical principles, to be the salt and light, etc. When was the last time you saw the collective church come together and take up stand for ideas? I don’t recall anything in recent history.

    Eight years ago many people stayed home because they could not vote for a Mormon. That gave us Obama which has lead to a decay in morals unseen in my lifetime, (I’m 55). So if these people say home again…. Hillary is far worse that Trump and here is why. The GOP congress will be much harder on Trump than Hillary just as we have seen with Obama. The GOP has handed Obama everything he has wanted and more. They will again give Hillary everything she wants and the moral decay will continue at warp speed.

    I so wish that the church would come together and stick to the biblical principles as stated in most of the opinion articles. But many churches have weak leaders, pastors, elders, and deacons. Many are spineless, don’t teach the full truth, and rank right up next to the lawyers. For example, I watched in Alabama this year where local churches declined to hear a Christian GOP conservative candidate because a TV commercial was too controversial. It showed an incumbent GOP congressman saying he would not fund PP, then showing him actually voting to fund PP. The ad was factual. Really!! Another example, I’m currently watching Church leaders, Institute leaders, and others not supporting a Christian Chief Justice Judge as opposition is running him out of office. He’s too controversial… because, he is standing for marriage. Hello, truth can be offensive to the sinner. The Left does not leave their LGBT and other nuts out to dry, they fight with them. If the truth be known, the Left likely tells the nuts to go a stir up trouble so as to shove it down the Christian’s throat. Christians can’t even stand together on basic tenets. Our great leaders and thinkers stand by, do nothing – but don’t vote for Trump!

    So, you want change? Where does the philosophy and the reality meet at this moment? I say vote for Trump, save us from Hillary, unless you want men in the bathroom with your wife’s and daughters. Unless you want Hillary to sell all of our special warfare equipment to terrorists. Unless, you want a few more Benghazi’s, lies as to what happened, and who killed our heroes . Unless you want Hillary to appoint maybe two or three Justices on the Supreme Court. Unless, you want a 3rd and possibly a 4th term of a Obama type administration. You probably get it from here… I hope.

    I remind myself to take comfort in the fact that God is on His throne and He appoints kings. We as Christians must act as wise stewards of his blessings and imparted wisdom. No matter how much we want a commander and priest, we elect a commander and chief.

Leave a Reply