by Alexander Venter
I have come across people who prophesy that Trump is a modern-day Nehemiah, a godly leader over God’s covenant people. This is biblically problematic. Trump is a leader with seriously flawed moral character and is not godly in any form or fashion (certainly not a follower of Jesus) according to the fruit of his life and business practices… he is clearly a “post-truth” person and leader (fruit does not lie, as John Piper shows in his blog).
America is not a Christian nation – like all nations today the US is a deep mix of all sorts of faiths, idol-worship, corrupted values, etc… although it has a strong Christian heritage. Only President Jesus will establish a (truly biblical) ‘Christian’ nation when he returns to rule the earth… until then we live in a deeply compromised world of right and wrong, good and evil, living and operating side-by-side in spiritual warfare (including social, economic, political, ecological battle).
To be biblically consistent, we must equate Trump either to the pagan Cyrus (whom God raised up to bless God’s covenant people, not only in decreeing their return, but helping them to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple), OR to Nebuchadnezzar (whom God raised up an instrument of judgement on Israel and other nations… he caused war all over to extend his nationalistic empire).
THE QUESTION IS: for what purpose has God put this unscrupulous leader in power in the US at this time? For blessing or for judgement? And/or for a mix of the two in varying degrees of weight in different spheres of life in the US and the world… through which the God of the nations fulfils certain sovereign purposes?
The answer to the question – the fruit – will become clear for all to see over the years. I pray for the best, and I do pray for President Trump… But I was left deeply disturbed in my spirit listening to his 15 minute inaugural speech the other day. His…
1) ego-centric populism thinly disguised as “it is all for you, forgotten Americans”, and
2) lamenting the “American carnage” at the hands of previous Presidents (castigating them in their presence as “the Washington government” that has ruined America), and
3) calling for a new inward looking nationalistic patriotism of empire building, a “Great America”… perhaps a projection of his own narcissism? It’s the very opposite of President Jesus’ values of his Kingdom, in whose Name president Trump was sworn in by five Christian leaders and one Jewish leader, who taught “if you cling to and save your life/nation for your own sake, you will lose it, but if you give your life/nation in serving Me (righteousness/justice) and others, then you will find the real life/nation”.
Most of all I was disturbed by the clear implication in his speech: presumptuously and arrogantly presenting himself as the one who will save America starting from today… and he referred to the world too… is he a new Messiah?
I do not presume to prophecy on this (US and world) situation. I have no clear unequivocal word from the Lord. Others can (and history will) test what I sense and say, if it’s prophetic or not, truth or error. What I fear is that those who claim to prophesy that Trump is a great man of God prophesy falsely, just as the Old Testament ‘court prophets’ who prophesied what the Kings of Israel wanted to hear: “peace, peace, prosperity, prosperity”, when there was no peace, but rather judgement.
In summary let me assure everyone that:
1. I pray for Trump and the US as I pray for my own (seriously corrupt) political leaders and nation of South Africa, as Paul taught us to do in 1 Timothy 2.
2. I pray that Trump becomes or has become a Christian (as some say), and that God will evidence it by us all seeing the fruit of change in his attitude and character. It will be good for the US and the nations and bring glory to God.
3. God can use anyone he wishes to accomplish any of his sovereign purposes – from a “chief of sinners” like Paul the apostle, to hardening Pharaoh’s heart for Israel’s Exodus out Egypt, to speaking through a donkey… the question is: for what purpose has God brought Trump to power? I pray for the best, but I’m realistic and prepared if it’s not.
4. Hillary Clinton has been mentioned a few times in the debate… just to be clear: I’m no supporter of her due to her stance on numerous socio-ethical issues that are seriously opposed to Jesus’ core Kingdom values.
5. All prophecies done in the name of Jesus must be ‘judged’ – evaluated and discerned and held accountable – as Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 14, otherwise Jesus’ name can be shamed.
6. As followers of Jesus, and especially Christian leaders, we need to see things (life and the socio-political arena) from a Jesus’ worldview, a “Kingdom of God mindset”, and less through our ideological lenses and conditioning by our context, culture, class, political persuasions, etc. The Church is held captive, and is seriously and sadly divided, along ideological lines (political, class, race, gender), more than being united as one in answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17. We are first Christ-followers under President Jesus living out His Kingdom government, values and mission, way before we are Americans or South Africans, republicans or democrats, whites or blacks, rich or poor, male or female. How can our minds and hearts genuinely be renewed to view what’s going on in reality through the lenses of God’s Kingdom, The Mind of Christ?
7. Lastly (it’s always good to stop at number 7!), we need a correct biblical theology of Jesus and The Kingdom in order to have a right view of, and engagement with, the Church and State. The era of “Christendom” (also called “Constantianism”: confusion and marriage of Church and State where Christians govern through political power structures, the State) still strongly governs the thinking of many Christians, which is far from the view of Jesus and the Early Church, who took the role of God’s Suffering Servant in society for the sake of sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors, the sick, poor, oppressed, etc, over against the power structures. I won’t elaborate, but this is at the heart of this entire debate that we’ve been enjoying together as Christians…
My dear brothers and sisters, I pray with all my heart: God have mercy on us all, God have mercy on Donald J. Trump and America and the nations of the world. Come Lord Jesus, come quickly!
Alexander F. Venter is a South African Vineyard pastor, church planter and author. Ordained with the Assembly of God in 1975, he migrated to the Vineyard movement to work with John Wimber in southern California in 1982, and was part of the first Vineyard church plant in Johannesburg. He has planted & pastored churches in Zimbabwe, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Soweto. Alexander is married to Gill and they have two adult children, Zander and Misha-Joy. The Venter’s have lived in intentional Christian community for 23 years, and in 2013 relocated back to Johannesburg in response to a call for Alexander to pastor a Vineyard church called Following Jesus.