Donald J Trump gave a typical fire and brimstone sermon for his acceptance speech. His theological perspective was on display in the sermon, though the theological bent was less Christian and more Manichean in nature. Last month when Christianity Today look at Mr. Trump’s theology, they made an understandable mistake in casting it in structure of Christian theology. His theology is more basic in common human theology than Christian in nature. His speech laid out his theology quite clearly. The contrast to traditional Christian theology was stark and clear.
First, he laid out how bad he sees the current American situation. Crime has risen. Threats dance as common as YouTube videos before our screens. In short, he see us as living in a fallen world. Here, Mr. Trump shares a view with Christian theology. We too understand that we live in a fallen world, the only difference is that Christians think we were born into a fallen world, while Mr. Trump seems to think the fallen part is recent.
Second, in major departure from Christian thought. Mr Trump clearly identifies the fallen nature to the other. In his case, the other is defined by President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Mexicans, Mexican-Americans (like me) and Muslims. Rather than the Christian understanding of the problem residing in our own dark hearts and in our own selfish desires that places a stumbling block to love, Mr Trump points to the other as the problem. Here starts the divide between Trump’s theology and orthodoxy Christian theology. Rather than sin in ourselves being the problem, it is the other who is the problem. If the problem is not within our own hearts and it lays with the others, then its Mythical Walls and Deportations make sense. Get rid of the bad people and all will be fine. We are the good guys and the others are the bad guys, Trump tells his supporters as they chant, “Build the wall. build the wall.”
The solution to the fallen world is the last of his brimstone and fire sermon. Here he makes the greatest departure from Christian thought and faith. Yes, there is a need for a savior and a messiah to save us from the fallen world. For Christians, it is Christ Jesus who takes on weakness and reveals the nature of forgiveness and always for the transformation our our sinful nature. For Trump, the messiah and savior is none other than himself. Like other false messiahs from the past, he claims to be the one who will straighten out what is wrong and if we trust him, we will solve the problem of the fallen world by dealing with the other who has caused the mess. He, as messiah, will not solve it out of weakness and service, for the is for “losers” but through strength and power. Give him the levels of power and he will save us from the fallen world. That is his promise … to be like a caring father and a savior. Who will save us from the the false messiah, he does not say.
The promise he says to make America great again, reveals the hole of his vow and theology. It forms a wide a canyon with traditional Christian thought. His message has found a home in the hearts of many people because of its resemblance to Christian faith. Yet the differences between his theology and Christian faith can simply be airbrushed. Without a sense of the cross, the understanding of the prevalent sin within ourselves as well in others.
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