Evangelical leaders met this week to politically baptize Donald Trump as the Republican nominee. Because of his many transgressions, doing so has required employing sophistry—plausible, but misleading, arguments—to justify their support.
Here’s an example of the lengths one must go to in order to pull this off. As Terry Schilling, who attended the conclave, told the Christian Post,
“Franklin Graham started off his speech by talking about the flaws of Moses and how Moses disobeyed God and was punished, and how David committed adultery and killed a man, and several biblical leaders and people throughout the bible that have sinned…”
If one accepts a Christian theological doctrine (and also cares about logic and consistency), there are big problems with this.
First, of course, is the fact that this sort of grace wasn’t extended to Bill Clinton. Instead, some of the very same people now serving as apologists for Donald Trump were telling us that character mattered greatly when the offender was a Democrat. What changed?
Second, King David repented. Trump has famously said that he hasn’t sought forgiveness. Redemption is a beautiful thing, but it usually requires repentance—and at least an attempt to change one’s behavior. There are no signs that this has occurred.
And third, Graham’s is an argument that covers a multitude of sins. In fact, citing King David’s sins could literally be used to justify ignoring any misdeed by any villain.
…Stalin killed people? So did King David. Who are we to judge?
…Larry Flint was a pornographer? Well, King David lusted after women, too.
You get the point. Graham’s argument is selectively nihilistic. What he’s really saying is that nothing matters (at least, not when it comes to Donald Trump).
The problem is that electing the most powerful person in the world is a huge responsibility. It’s fair to look at a person’s personal and professional track record—and then to make judgments based on that. Now, I suppose you could say “Judge not…” or “For all have sinned…,” but life is largely about making (hopefully, wise) choices.
Once again, Donald Trump has created or exposed serious flaws in the conservative world. Whether it’s because of nepotism or gradual corruption or simply the fact that power corrupts, Trump’s success couldn’t happen in a healthy movement with strong leaders. Billy Graham was arguably the most respected preacher of the 20th century. And now, we get this? I continue to be amazed at how Donald Trump is able to tarnish so many legacies and reputations on his long march to the nomination.