Normally, my little blog here serves primarily as a spring board for discussion between close friends and family. I don’t usually garner a whole lot of traffic or attention, but yesterday’s post produced dozens of views. Given that my primary audience comes from people who have at least met me once or twice and that yesterday’s post got a lot of attention, I wanted to probe the subject a little deeper and clarify my intentions.
First, between the time I originally wrote the post and what you find there now, I changed one word in a sentence that originally stated that Jerry Falwell’s comments “revealed” his idolatry of a political party or candidate to the lesser claim that his comments merely “suggested” that perhaps such idolatry has taken place. Without more information and personal interaction, I cannot legitimately pass such judgement, and I was wrong to do so.
My main concerns about what went down at Liberty yesterday center not on the fact that Falwell spoke well of Donald Trump. I wouldn’t even care if Falwell had openly endorsed Trump. Though I probably would not agree with such an endorsement, he is certainly free to speak his mind about this or that candidate. What bothered me about Falwell’s remarks is that he couched his statements in biblical/theological language.
Saying that Trump has “borne fruit” within an Evangelical setting (which Liberty certainly is) relates to a specific frame of reference. The concept of “bearing fruit” has a set connotation within Christianity (and Evangelical Christianity in particular) of describing a person who is a faithful follower of Christ. Just by listening to Donald Trump’s speech yesterday, we can readily see that that’s not the case.
Of course, that alone doesn’t mean that he should be disqualified from consideration by Evangelicals as a candidate for President, but describing Trump using language often reserved for followers of Christ seems, at best, extremely unwise (read Matthew 5:13-23 where the phrase is found and consider what the “at worst” scenario might be). I worry that Christian conservatives have so ardently tied themselves to a political party that we may blindly start to follow leaders even when they start spouting statements in their political speeches that are antithetical to Christian values, namely humility in the case of Donald Trump.
That’s something that breaks my heart because such an event would turn Christians into pharisaical older brothers rather than children of God imitating their Father in proclaiming “come ye sinners, poor and needy, weak and wounded, sick and sore. Jesus ready stands to save you.”
Donald Trump is one who is extremely far away from such an attitude, and to hear him described as one who “bears fruit” made me sick. For the fruit of the Spirit is not wealth, fame, power, and arrogance. But instead it’s “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control” (Gal. 5:22-23).