Through an article by Peter Leithart at First Things, I recently became aware of Complicity with the Holocaust, a haunting book about how religious and academic leaders praised the rise of the Nazis. The book by Robert Erickson cites statements of support for the Nazis made by clergy during and after the rise of Hitler’s regime. The reason I bring this up is because some of these statements are quite similar to the glowing statements which have been made about current political figures.
Now, I must hasten to note that I have in mind a time frame beyond this week. In 2012, several candidates were presented to Christians as God’s choice for president (e.g., Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry). This time around Ted Cruz was picked by both the Christian and Latter Day Saint gods as being the anointed one. Now, especially after Tuesday meeting involving Donald Trump and his evangelical friends, more religious leaders are coming out with religious imagery to describe the rise of Trump.
Case in point is an article at Charisma News describing the meeting by Barb Heki. She summarizes the tone of the meeting by the words “amazing grace.” Her summary points are what reminded me of the Erickson book:
Franklin Graham echoed similar sentiments when, after telling the group that Donald Trump offers substantial hope for America whereas Hillary Clinton offers no hope whatsoever, Rev. Graham did this: He acknowledged that we will never have a perfect candidate, and he compared Trump to great biblical leaders who had fallen into sin at various points in their lives, like Moses and King David, yet were used mightily by God to protect and lead the nation He had chosen them to lead.
It made me wonder, as I’ve watched Donald Trump inexplicably winning state after state by record numbers: Are we watching the hand of God upon Donald Trump at this moment in history? I’m not alone in my wondering, and if the sentiment at this meeting was any indication, I have a lot of godly company in my assessment that we have got to vote for Donald Trump in order to defeat Hillary Clinton because the freedoms we will lose with her at the helm will obliterate our ability to accomplish the very thing that is our mission in life—to preach the gospel of Christ and make disciples.
“Are we watching the hand of God upon Donald Trump at this moment in history?”
Consider this quote from Erickson’s book (via Leithart) from a German Lutheran newspaper in April 1933:
We get no further if we get stuck on little things that might displease us, failing to value the great things God has done for our Volk through them [the Nazis]. Or was it perhaps not God but ‘the old, evil enemy?’ For humans alone have not done this, an entire Volk , or at least its largest part, raising itself up into a storm, breaking the spiritual chains of many years, wanting once again to be a free, honest, clean Volk . There are higher powers at work here. The ‘evil enemy’ does not want a clean Volk , he wants no religion, no church, no Christian schools; he wants to destroy all of that. But the National Socialist movement wants to build all this up, they have written it into their program. Is that not God at work?
Heightening concern is the observation that Trump has called for war crimes, singling out and banning Muslims, deporting 11 million illegal immigrants, stigma against children of immigrants, and limitations on the press. He also told religious leaders that he wanted to make Christianity more powerful and somehow coerce businesses to say Merry Christmas. Even the impulse to take power in this manner should be questioned by the church. Instead, religious leaders are telling us that Trump “gets it.”
By now, shouldn’t we question boldly the political declarations of religious leaders? History shows us multiple illustrations of religion being used and abused for political benefit. To be candid, I fear this in the present day. Religious leaders have had a full year to study Trump and become knowledgeable about him. However, after one meeting, many come out declaring him God’s man for the hour. I just can’t get there and in fact their reassurances worry me all the more.