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I Believe in Prophecy, I Don’t Believe in Trump

This past spring Christian speaker and writer Johnny Enlow released this justification for supporting Trump. Its basic premise is that God appointed Trump to be our President and that he is an ally to Christians and will fix broken political, economic, and social systems. This belief has persisted among charismatic and evangelical Christians despite all evidence to the contrary, so when a friend asked for my perspective I thought it worth writing a thorough breakdown of Enlow’s argument. I dragged my feet hoping that other voices from within Enlow’s subdivision of the church would start speaking out. Months went by and I heard nothing but silence or dogged support for Trump. So I kept writing.

If you’re not from a branch of the church that believes in such things, you’re going to discount outright anything that calls itself “a fiery word from the Lord.” Even if you do believe in prophecy, you should see some pretty big red flags at this point. How fiery can a word be that has to declare its own fieriness? When we are caught up in the culture of a church it’s easy to take pieces like this at face value but we are responsible to weigh them against God’s demonstrated character as well as the Bible. (I Jn. 4:1; I Th. 5:20–21) The rhetorical Nuclear Option of divine authority exonerates the author from the need to explain, justify, or even understand what he’s saying. It also undermines the value and credibility of the ways in which God really does speak. So let’s start by clarifying that Enlow’s work is not prophetic, but rather a sermon or opinion piece.

Enlow begins by encouraging us to disregard facts and circumstances. While it is true that God has a penchant for showing up in ways we aren’t expecting we need to remember that faith is not the denial of reality. The story of Jesus walking on the water (Mt. 14:22–32) begins with Jesus’ disciples struggling against a storm at sea. Jesus, in true Jesus fashion, walks up to them across the waves. He seems a little put off that they are freaked out by this. Peter, in true Peter fashion, gets out of the boat, begins walking toward Jesus, and immediately falls into the water. The storm, the waves, and gravity are real but they aren’t the reason Peter fell. He fell because he lost his focus on Jesus and the empowering words He had given him.

When Enlow talks about “storms” raging around Trump, keep in mind that they are largely of his own making. If I stop my car in the middle of a busy intersection, someone is going to hit me. This is not because of my lack of faith or because the other driver is attacking me. It is because I did something stupid.

Next Enlow expounds on the church marquee favorite, “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.” Catchy as it is, there is no biblical support for this turn of phrase and it would make God a really awful leader if this were His practice. If God chooses someone to play a certain role, it is because they already have the character and skills to succeed or because those qualities are latent within them. Christians often use the story of King David as an example of God calling the unqualified. It’s true that David was anointed king as a young boy, but he didn’t step into that role until he had the years of military, political, and life experience he would need to lead a nation.

In the next section Enlow veers into sermon mode and not much of it is relevant to Trump, but he makes an interesting choice in reminding us of God’s “heart for the poor.” Here he is trying to minimize the argument that God couldn’t possibly want Trump to be our President because he stands in such active

opposition to the teachings of Jesus and the Bible. Jesus demonstrates from His birth as a displaced immigrant to His death as a criminal, that we are to stand with, empower, and defend the weak, the sick, and the marginalized. Throughout the Old and New Testaments the Bible emphasizes the idea that caring for those who are overlooked and disadvantaged is integral to the way we are to conduct ourselves on a personal and a civic level. These ideas are central to the kind of people Christians are to be and to treat them as peripheral is to misrepresent God in a fundamental way. For anyone who is trying to conduct their life according to the teachings of the Bible, it is unjustifiable to shrug and say that Trump just has some rough edges. (Ja. 1:27; Mt 25:31–46; Ez. 16:49; Pr. 31:8–9)

It is difficult to imagine the particular set of skills to which Enlow is referring when he says Trump will repair our economy. It’s possible but unlikely that he read The Art of the Deal and mistakenly believed it to be either by Trump or about Trump. It’s even less likely that Enlow is unaware of Trump’s business career that has somehow managed to be both tumultuous and mediocre. Trump does have a knack for tricking people into believing in him. This skill is threefold: identify people he will be able to trick, intuit their emotional needs, then present them with vague, infallible solutions that only he can implement. This skill is a good fit for campaigning but does not translate well into governing. Trump has demonstrated again and again that he has little aptitude for the strategic communication, problem solving, and understanding of complex systems that would be needed to make real improvements to our economy.

In a very Trump-like move, the author takes a moment to literally demonize the news media. I don’t need to point out the irony that at the time of writing this, Enlow’s “in house fires” have been Fox News exclusives.

The last third of the essay is devoted to making sure we understand the consequences of questioning the reliability and authenticity of Enlow’s fiery word from the Lord. In it the author discredits, corrects, and tries to scare anyone who would call into doubt what he is saying and what Trump is doing. It’s very important to Enlow’s God that we don’t forget how great and powerful He is and how puny we are, and that if we don’t fall in line with Enlow’s ideology we’re going to miss out big time. There are shadowy global conspiracies involved and the author, of course, is part of an elite, prophetic counter-Illuminati force. The clever part about this section is that Enlow knows the vast majority of his readers are already on board with his line of thinking. In the guise of tough love and admonition, what he accomplishes is to reassure his audience that they are the insiders, they’re the spiritually discerning on the cutting edge of what God is doing, they’re part of the elite right along with him. He calls their gullibility humility and tells them that their unwillingness to entertain differing viewpoints is godly and wise. Echoing Mark Twain’s famous NOTICE (minus the ironic intent), the author concludes with instructions to avoid looking too closely at or thinking too objectively about what he has just told us.

I’d like to spend some time with Enlow’s “Trump the Wrecking Ball” line of thought. Before we go any further, please take a moment to envision Trump in that that Miley Cyrus video. This is the point on which I come closest to agreeing with Enlow. If there is any higher purpose to Trump, it is to disrupt and divide. If God has any intention at all in Trump, it is to use him as judgment. Where Enlow and other Christian Trump supporters miss the point is by making it about someone other than themselves. That’s where

most of us miss the point. Enlow is railing against a decrepit political system and demonic strongholds in the same way others are shaking their fists at “those people” who are taking our jobs or corrupting our voting process or thinking about the world in a way we don’t understand. The same way everyone else looks on with a rush of shame and morbid delight at each new grotesquery that is paraded through our news feed.

The truth is, we all made Trump and we all put him in power. Trump the thin-skinned, Trump the reactionary, Trump the self-blind narcissist. Trump the rapey, entitled misanthrope. If we are to come out of these next 3 1⁄2 years a better people, and I do believe that is possible, we have to have the will to look at Trump as neither shabby savior nor boorish assailant, but as a mirror. We have put a bigot and a sexual predator at the head of our country, and look what is being exposed. We should be glad that we’re beginning to see the first slivers of justice peeking through and we should stand against wrong wherever we can, but we also have to make room for the possibility that Trump represents the worst in us, not the worst in them .

I have a hard time understanding why pro-Trump Christians seem to be going out of their way to avoid this line of thinking. Granted, “Vote Judgment Upon Yourselves” is a tough sell even for evangelicals, but there isn’t any other spin to put on Trump that even remotely fits with the Gospel. How is it that Rolling Stone has a better theology of Trump than many like Enlow who call themselves prophets? As I was putting this together a verse from Isaiah kept coming to mind in which the prophet warns of a time in which people call evil good and darkness light. (Is. 5:20) Looking at the rest of this passage I was struck by a fiery word from the Lord. Just kidding. I was however struck by the fact that it begins with the rebuke of cutthroat real estate moguls (v.8–9) and runs the gamut from the highballing socialite to the arrogant to the just plain wicked. Many of the “Trump is God’s man” crowd like to point to King Cyrus as described in Isaiah 45 as a prophetic picture of Trump (because he’s our 45th President. Get it?) Is this is a case of right book, wrong chapter?

I’ve also been thinking of the book of Micah. There’s a beautiful verse that reads “…this is what the Lord requires: to act justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with your God.” (Mi. 6:8) Like the passage in Isaiah 5, Micah describes a familiar scene. In Chapter 2 we have exploitative land grabbing, in Chapter 3 we have prophets for hire cozying up to the powerful and filling their ears with whatever they want to hear, we have governments run on self service and bribery. Micah’s culture is careening into oblivion, his country is under constant threat of annihilation, his religion has all but forgotten its God. And what is the deliverance? What is the remedy? Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.

If you are strong, stand with those who don’t have power. If you have been deceived, start thinking for yourself. If you have been victimized, may love and justice find you.

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