Bible Based Concerns for a Biden Administration or Any Other

I was recently reflecting on the issues that need much prayer if Joe Biden is finally confirmed as president, issues for which we need to pray much and in which we need a righteous stand.  Here are a few.  I call them Bible-based concerns or Torah based concerns.

  1. The abortion issue is #1.  While the greater saving of lives may be more by promotion and witness than by law, a law giving abortion rights to the end of the 9th month can and will bring terrible judgments on the nation.  A Biden administration will return to the policy of full funding for abortion re: Planned Parenthood.  Biden has said he will try to repeal the Hyde amendment which prevents taxes from direct use for abortion, thus giving a conscience respect to pro-life people.  Also, they would want to return to the policies of the Obama era seeking to strong-arm other nations to have abortion rights.
  2. The LGBTQ agenda which seeks to cancel all who morally opposes this agenda as haters and their views as hate speech.  This agenda includes forcing private creative art businesses to give their services to support gay marriages and other celebrations making the believer violate conscience.  It also requires biological men to be given access to women’s dressing rooms, or in schools to the shower rooms of the girls.  It may destroy women’s sports by allowing biological men to compete with girls.  It will require the military to accommodate transgenders as well.  There could be pressure for other nations to embrace the full scope of the LGBT agenda. 
  3. Religious freedom.  On this, there may be opposition to the non-profit status of organizations that do not do gay weddings and support the gay lifestyle.  Also, there may be a return to the Johnson amendment which restricts the free speech of churches.  Trump removed this restriction.   On other religious freedom, issues see #3 above.  We also need to be aware of the freedom of the team at the public school to pray publicly or the coach to pray without it being official.  Also, people have been fired for their public profession of their views on marriage, etc.  There is boycott and cancel culture pressure. 
  4. Defending persecuted Christians in other countries though American policy pressure may be weakened.  
  5. Censorship by social media and big tech of Christian/Messianic Jewish and conservative views may increase.  Paypal, banks, and other services can block accounts for organizations that support traditional values.  Tremendous pressure could be brought to bear on those who hold to traditional values. 
  6. The continued oppression of the black community by removing vouchers for private schools is possible.  In my view of biblical justice, every person has a right to educate their children in a world view context in which they believe and where they can succeed.    One of the keys to elevating the black poor is private vouchers to escape the cycle of failure and poverty.  
  7. Enterprise zones and opportunities for blacks by business incentives are important.  This includes apprenticing and training.  We need to pray these efforts developed by President Trump, Senator Tim Scott, and HUD Secretary Ben Carson continue. 
  8. The issue of prosecuting those who violated the law in bringing FISA spying applications against Trump officials and taking us through almost 4 years of investigations that were political and unjust may become moot.  We as Bible people do want justice. 
  9. Dealing with Antifa and the violent left and their destruction of businesses and cities may be very weak.  Will a Biden administration deal with the criminal acts of such people?  Biden will not be radical enough for these groups. 
  10. Support for Israel.  Will a Biden administration roll back the progress made on recognizing Jewish rights in Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and their rights to the Golan and to settlements in Judea and Samaria?  Or will they go so pro-Palestinian that the progress will be lost?
  11.  The Iran situation is a major issue for Bible believers.  It is our desire that Israel is protected, and that Iran never gets a nuclear bomb. They even profess that they would drop it on Tel Aviv.  Leaving the Iran deal and pushing hard on Iran in sanctions has been a key to the new alliances between Israel and Sunni Arab nations.   This is another crucial Israel issue. 

Let us pray much on these biblical issues, but first of all that we can share the Gospel with full freedom.  That Gospel includes content that some will now say is hate speech since the Gospel is good news in the light of our violation of the Law. The Law includes standards that are rejected by our society and warn people about sin and hell including sexual sin.  Without the Law, people do not see that they are in danger of Hell before a holy God.  See the book by Ray Comfort, Hell’s best Secret.  Do note that the Gospel preached as classically presented will be called hate speech.  We cannot stop that, but in the cancel culture, will the government seek to prevent such preaching and presentation? 

 

Social-Political Action and the Antichrist

Some Christians have criticized other Christians for being too political.  Can we clarify what too political means?  

As a student of Wheaton College in the 1960s anti-war years, the Evangelical faculty held up the examples of the great reformers of the 19th Century.  We were inspired by the examples of ministers of the Gospel who also engaged fully in the political and social issues of their day.  The great revivalist Charles Finney and his fight against slavery is an example.  So also, Jonathan Blanchard, the founder of Wheaton who stated as written on his memorial plaque in the old main tower, Blanchard Tower, that his purpose and motivation was to see, “The Law of God become the law of the Land.”  This orientation continued until the end of the century when the Evangelicals fought against child labor and got child labor protection laws passed, also anti-prostitution laws.  The driving motivation was those matters that were foundational in Biblical law, morality, and ethics. Then what happened?  A theology developed in England under a teacher who taught that working to improve this world was a diversion from our effort to get people into heaven. This theology was marginal until World War I.  Two things then happened.  First, many of the large denominations began to accept German critical theories of the Bible and undercut confidence in the Bible and the Word of God.  Evolutionary ideas were part of this.  Secondly, the war-shattered confidence that Christian efforts could improve society in any meaningful way.  It would be a very short term gain at best, so our efforts should be to get people into the lifeboat to go to heaven.  Of course, people had to make a living so there would be vocations for Christians, but this was a secondary matter.  The great philosopher Dr. Arthur Holmes of Wheaton used to say in our class, “We have lost a hundred years.”  The consensus of Wheaton was for prayer, revival, evangelism, and also passionate social involvement.  The idea of influencing the cultural formation centers of society was a common desire.  

How much is too much social/political action?  I think we understood that if evangelism and discipleship were not strong the other spheres of society could not be influenced for good over the long term.  Prayer and the power of God were necessary to all.  A strong Church was the center and church vocations were highly valued. Everyone has to know their calling and the proportion of their investments in time and energy in different spheres of society, but also to recognize the importance of the whole.  When I left Wheaton, I did come to realize that most of Evangelical Christianity did not share the passion of Wheaton for this comprehensive emphasis. 

However, beyond this, there is another point.  When do we seek to mobilize the whole Church for political and social action in an unusual thrust of emphasis? Beyond normal responsibility.   History tells us that this is when the issues are foundational issues of Law and morality in the culture and matters of life and death.  The issue of slavery is a primary life and death struggle.  Those Evangelicals who believed this responded with great mobilization. This includes William Wilburforce at the beginning of the 19th century in England and those named above in America.  Of course, there were those of a more quietistic bent who criticized the involvement.  We at Wheaton were all in on the social involvement orientation and did not want to give the culture to the devil.  

There are issues that are matters of scientific-social study that do not rise to the level of primary life and death struggle.  For example, economic policy is a matter of what will produce the greatest good for the greatest number in the population.  Believers try to study the issues and take the best position they can.  We should be chastened by noting that there were Christian Socialists and not just anti-Christians socialists who wanted the state to control all and to shut down charities and churches.  Socialism is in my view is a wrong economic theory, but it is not inherently atheistic.  Christian socialists looked at the harsh individualism of unbridled capitalism as anti-Christian!  They certainly wanted robust Christian freedoms and human rights.  Many political issues are judgments about programs and policies that are debatable on an empirical basis. 

In the 20th century, two movements produced Christian mobilization for social and political action.  Sadly, both largely failed in the short term, but the witness they gave was important.  The two were the Christian resistance to Communism and Nazism.  Both were perceived as from the spirit of the Antichrist and had to be resisted at all costs.  It was a minority who made such resistance in martyrdom.  These resisters stood for human rights, conscience, and liberty. One great example is the Barman declaration which was signed in 1934.  This was early in Hitler’s reign before serious killings began.  However, they saw the tyranny of Hitler’s making the state dominant over the Church. Would that the greatest number of the churches would have been mobilized behind these courageous leaders.  History would have changed greatly for the good. They were criticized for their stand, but today we look back on this group of German pastors and theologians and see them as a bright testimony.  They saw the spirit of the antichrist and sought a mobilization of resistance.   However, most missed it and stayed submitted to the tyranny.  And most denied that things were so drastically bad.  This is one reason why the church in Germany is powerless today and constitutes a small minority. 

The spirit of the antichrist was also behind and is behind Marxist atheistic communism.  In Russia, the push back required small cells and underground action.  Many Christians were soon killed in the blood bath.  Yet, how many even in the west thought communism would be progress. Today we think of these resisters as heroes. 

The spirit of the antichrist coming into political control or potentially coming into political control justifies unusual mobilization for social and political involvement.  We need to resist the gathering storm and now wait until the full destruction comes upon us. If we perceive potentially life and death issues form an antichrist spirit gaining control in our nation, then an emphasis on mobilization, on promoting our cause, on information is justified.  We cannot shrink back at the cost of job loss or marginalization. We must speak out and live boldly.  No, those who do such are not overly political.  Yes, they have to always lead with the caveat of the centrality of prayer, evangelism, and discipleship wherever possible.  However, the mobilization is a fight of life and death.  When the great Detrick Bonhoeffer joined in the plot to kill Hitler, he did not have sufficient prayer support to bind the powers of darkness that protected Hitler. He was executed.  Today we see him as a hero.  

Christian survivors from Nazi and Communist oppression (some experienced both) warn us of the signs here.  Soft totalitarianism is here.  They argue that this is the time of resistance.  Christians often see it when it is too late.  They rationalize that it is not so bad.  Then great tragedy and death take place.  I would recommend Mike Brown’s great book Jezebel’s War on America.  He could have easily said Antichrist’s war on America.  There he gives an account of these life and death issues.  Cancel culture seeks to persecute Christians who preach God’s Law and traditional morality.  The issues of abortion to the 9th month, loss of religious freedom, cancel culture, and the loss of jobs for failure to salute to anti-Biblical agendas is a growing movement.  The LGBTQ agenda does not just foster basic freedom for their group but fosters shutting down those who have a different moral vision and accuse them (us) of hate speech.  Due to the cancel culture arising from this, people have lost jobs, low and high positions over the intimidation of these people.  It is life and death, not only in the matter of abortion, but the destruction of traditional norms in the society will lead to literal death.  The suicide rate of transgender people who do transition surgery commit suicide at a rate of more than 40% of the average.  See Mike Brown’s video, “In His Image,” on that.  The breakdown of sexual morality for relativistic sexual ideas leads to more criminality, violence, and death.  We can look at other issues that motivate.  Coddling Iran will lead to more death and indeed did so.  I believe that the anti-Israel orientation is of the antichrist spirit as is of course anti-Semitism.  More Christians will die in other lands from persecution without strong advocacy from the United States.  Then we have social media that has the ability to control buying and selling and communicating.  Pay Pal cancels accounts!  Banks refuse to lend. This is eerie and anticipates the mark of the beast as a requirement for buying and selling.   China has this down to a T.  My evaluation is that Christians did not become overly political.  Rather, they also bathed their involvement in prayer.  Were some carnal in their approach. Yes, maybe a large number but still a minority.  But I think the motive was an intuitive grasp, many unnamed, to rise up and push back against the antichrist.  One book I am loving that makes this so clear is by Rod Dreher, Live not by Lies.  The testimony of those who lived under antichrist oppression is key, and they are warning us that the country is drifting toward this.  Do I think our push back can succeed without revival?  No, but we must both seek revival and push back. Thank God for someone like Mike Brown who is so pushing and mobilizing others to resist.  So also Denis Prager, and Jorden Peterson.  Someone might ask about the radical right white supremacists.  Yes, this also is the spirit of the antichrist and must be resisted.  However, these folks do not control large corporations nor are they visible in legislatures and government leadership.  So, our battle has to be focused on where the problem is. With prayer, revival, and resistance, we can win.  If we don’t and we see more darkness and the tribulation is fully upon us, then our total victory is near. 

Seven Mountains and the Accusation of Being too Political

Some of my friends have argued that Trump lost the election because Evangelicals idolized Trump too much, and God was not pleased.  It is said that they were too much into politics and not enough emphasizing the Gospel and revival.  I really cannot judge this conclusion.  I know this was not true of most of my Facebook friends and others who supported Trump.  It may have been true of some, but no one has done an objective survey to prove this.  I have doubt that this is true.  I have seen some fall into this imbalance.  

However, it prompts me to again write on the 7 Mountains, that Christians are responsible to influence our society through the seven mountains that are the most important spheres in the cultural formation of a people.  The originators of this view, Bill Bright, head of Campus Crusade for Christ, and Loren Cunningham, the leader of Youth with a Mission, were not radical dominionists who believed that Christians were going to take over the whole world and rule before the return of Yeshua.   When I first heard this teaching in the charismatic world, my response was, “Well what do you know, the charismatic church is discovering Reformed theology.”  Calvin, Wesley, and many others taught that we were to work to see society submit to the Law of God; also Finny the revivalist and the founder of Wheaton, Jonathan Blanchard.  This is what motivated the anti-slave movement, and they were very involved in political actions.  Here is my take on the issue. 

Christians (and Messianic Jews) are responsible for engaging all the most important spheres of society (the seven mountains were called spheres by past thinkers).  However, the priorities have to be right.  One of the concerns I have had in the Seven Mountain teachers is that they present the issue as if all seven mountains are equal.  However, traditional sphere teaching from our forebears noted that the Church is the most important sphere, the largest mountain according to the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 16 on his establishing his Church where the gates of Hell would not prevail against it.   It is the Mount Everest of the mountains.  Unless the Church is revived, growing in evangelism and discipleship, and expanding its leadership, any hope for the other mountains or spheres to be conformed to the Law of God is not going to be successful.  Sometimes I think that the teaching on the seven mountains sees it as such a good thing that people go into the other mountains in vocations that we are not emphasizing raising sufficient numbers of leaders for the Church mountain.  The Church mountain disciples people for roles in all spheres. Then reformers taught that two other spheres are more central (two mountains are taller than all but the Church) than the others since everyone has to be involved in them. It is the family and civil government.  They did not single out education for they saw education as mostly in the family sphere and education as an extension of the Church and family.  One can see that these are the inescapable spheres.  They have a government which will affect our lives, and we have to be responsible for them.  So yes, it is true, before we look at education (the next most important) and media, arts, etc. we have to deal with the civil government. 

The way to frame the issue is not to say that Christians have become too political.  Many who say this really do not believe in the great importance of our civic responsibility. In normal times this is less a priority but still important. Each person and leader has to ask if the prosperity and success of the Church is our primary concern among the mountains even if our vocations are in the other spheres.  Unless this is in the right order, we will fail on our Kingdom of God extension and in our influence in the other mountains.  

In regard to the last election, then we some claim we were we too political.  I think that is a wrong way to ask it.  Rather it should be were believers giving too much emphasis to the importance of the direction of the civil sphere in their engaging this election.  It is difficult for me to generally agree with the critics on this, but I agree that this was true of some, but I don’t think most.  I think rather than the civic/political sphere can sometimes be life and death level issues for Christians/Messianic Jews.  If they see that the issues are at such a level, then to not fully engage in that season would be very irresponsible.  How can we judge being too engaged when we are talking about life and death.  

Let’s take an example.  When Hitler came to power, most German Churches either supported him while others disagreed but decided to be silent and not be political.  However, a group of Church leaders signed the Barman Declaration since they saw Hitler as superseding the place of God and his word and violating the sovereignty of God in the conscience of the Church and its members.  These leaders were accused of being too political by some.  Then they were persecuted by Hitler.  This was early in Hitler’s rule before it was clear to many that he would slaughter the Jewish people and engage in a world war.  Were they too political?  Most today now extol those leaders since they saw ahead on the issues of God’s sovereignty over both the state on the Church and the life and death issues that would follow. 

In the same way, we are dealing with the issues of the soft totalitarianism of the left that now have an influence in the Democratic party.  Some desire to limit religious freedom so that the baker and wedding planner are required to enable gay marriage.  Some have voiced the desire to remove the non-profit status of churches who do not approve of gay marriage.  There is clearly an attack on the sovereignty of God and the liberty of Christians.  Christian owned businesses are boycotted, denied concessions at airports, and more because the owner has Christian conviction.  Leaders are removed from their positions in companies because they have stood for Christian morality.  This is parallel to the issues of the Barman declaration.  They spoke out when they saw the state seeking to supersede the convictions of Christians based on the Scriptures and to assume a sovereignty only God could claim.  They became involved politically. Hence the Declaration of Independence notes that rights are God given, not granted by the State.  But the left does not believe this, and cancel culture seeks to destroy religious freedom rights by intimidation, firing and economic suppression. 

However, there are also life and death issue.   We are told that we are to “rescue those being led away to death.”  The abortion plague is one such life and death issue.  How can we be too political when our motive is life and death?  Then in addition, we know that open borders and loose policies dealing with undocumented immigrants who commit a crime will lead to death. It has already led to heinous deaths.  I am not against very open immigration policies, but we must filter out the criminal elements.  Open border policies and sanctuary policies are policies of death.  So also defunding the police policies will lead to much more death in minority communities. Reform, and better training yes, but a smaller police presence where gangs are shooting minorities?  Again, this will lead to death.  Note also the policies on religious persecution in other lands.  Not seeking to sanction those who persecute Christians will lead to more deaths. What else in policy will lead to more deaths?  Transgenderism will lead to much more suicide.  Those who have done the surgery have a 41% greater rate of suicide.  See the video by Michel L. Brown, The Image of God.  Also not supporting the family will lead to children without two parents leading to more delinquency and more gangs and drug dealing and death.  So also, destroying options to get out of the failing schools and to have vouchers and charters will lead to fewer escaping the treadmill of poverty. This also has an effect on crime and death.  

Never in my lifetime have I see the issues so much as life and death issues.  I think deep and concerned engagement is justified.  It is not being too political.  Having said that, I still think that the health of the Church, revival, evangelism, and discipleship should always be first in our hearts.  But how healthy is a church that does not engage then the issues are life and death issues?  

In the old days, the difference between the Democrats and Republicans was on the size of government programs, welfare programs, support for unions, etc.  The issues were not life and death. The Vietnam war was said to be Johnson’s war, a Democrat.  Civil rights were resisted by Southern Democrats and supported by the Republicans under Republican Everett Dirksen of Illinois.  It was in divide within the parties not between them.  Civil rights was a life and death issue, and it was right for the Church to fully engage.  Today we are dealing with historic life and death issues.  We may lose but we have to take a stand.  I don’t believe the Church was too politicized.  That young adults are said to have left the church over this is proof of the weakness of their relationships with Yeshua and their lack of discipleship in a biblical world view.  

A Leftist Worldview Political Sign

A few years ago, we bought a house in Kansas City, Missouri.  It is our base for travel in the United States and South America.  The prices are the best, so inexpensive for a very nice neighborhood!  We have the basement for ourselves and rent the upstairs.  We noted that some have Biden/Harris signs.   There were no Trump/Pence signs.  It is too dangerous since the leftist (not all Democrats) will remove the signs, burn them or even vandalize the house.  You can see a few pro-Trump people, but their sign says, “Vote Life.”  However, there is another sign that has been put out by Democratic Voters.  It is a whole philosophy in a nutshell.  It says,  

Black Lives Matter

Love is Love

Women’s Rights are Human Rights

No human is illegal

Science is Real

Kindness is Everything 

Before my analysis, take a self-quiz and ask if you can interpret each phrase.  Here is my attempt.   

I can unabashedly say, Black Lives Matter.  And indeed, I can understand that saying “All lives matter” is not a fair response because the proponent is calling attention to black lives.  However, the majority of people in this movement do have a slant, and being really accepted in the movement is buying into the slant.  It is that the primary problem of the poor black community is police racism and brutality.  It is a significant problem with a minority of police and I supported black Senator Tim Scott’s reform bill.  But I don’t believe that systemic racism and the police are the primary problem.  I think the primary problem is that that many need the Gospel.  The other issue is policy, bad policy that does not end the killing of black on black crime and provide real education and jobs.  Yes, there is racism, but I disagree with how the issues are framed.  I follow great civil rights leaders like Robert Woodson on this. 

Love is Love is a pro-LGBTQ statement.  If you study the biblical term for love in Hebrew, Ahava, it is indeed true that this word is used for all kinds of love, both loving good, and loving evil.  All love is not good. Some love is good, and some love is bad.  We are commanded to only love what God loves and reject what God rejects.  The command for us to love is based on a biblical definition which I have summarized.  “Godly love is passionate identification with others that seeks their good guided by God’s Law.  Their good is God’s good intended destiny for them.” In this regard, we seek only to endorse love within the boundaries of God’s will.  No, not all love is legitimate.  

Women’s rights are Human Rights.  Amen to the statement but not their meaning.  Do I want to see women treated well, not abused, not treated as sex objects, and given equal wages for the same job?  Absolutely.  But underneath this statement is abortion as a human right.  Women’s rights do not extend to killing another pre-born human being.  This will coarsen the whole culture, leads to God’s judgment, and has a connection to future infanticide (this is being defended now by some), killing the old and those who are handicapped.  

No Human is Illegal.  Well, of course, every human is legal as created in the image of God, but not all immigrants are legal because they did not come legally.  So, there are legal and illegal immigrants.  There are various responses to this from people who believe in open borders, to legalizing the dreamers, children who grew up here, to legalizing people who are here, productive and long-term residents.  This can be argued while securing the border and controlling the number of immigrants in the future according to the absorption capacity of the country and not undercutting the jobs and wages of the lower-income people.  It is also important to keep out criminals, drug dealers, human trafficking, and violent gang members.  These people harm Hispanic immigrants the most.  This phrase, with some, is a call for open borders. 

Science is Real.  I am a student of the theory of knowledge, epistemology.  As part of that, we study the nature of science.  Scientific conclusions are rarely settled conclusions and new information is often changing the conclusions.  This statement is a call to bow to the prevailing opinions of science, sometimes propaganda masquerading as a science like the opining that transgender surgery is safe and good, or that children with gender dysphoria have enough of a clue to choose their gender (the great majority grow out of it if given the chance).  On COVID and how best to overcome it, and on global warming, there are credible scientists who disagree with prevailing opinions and how best to respond.  We need to hear them and not cancel them.  This statement is really an anti-science statement.  It is rather saying, completely support the prevailing public media opinion on what science is saying.  This would be the end of much scientific progress.  

Kindness is Everything.  No, kindness is not everything.  Loving God with all your heart, soul, and strength and mind is everything and then “loving your neighbor as yourself.”  Love is defined by my response to the “Love is love” statement above.  God tells us to not be kind to people who do capital crimes in the Torah.  Kindness to such criminals is cruel to the victims.  Kindness itself is usually very good and important but it also has to be exercised within the boundaries of the will of God. 

These statements probably indicate an anti-biblical anti-classical moral viewpoint. 

Today is the Election in the United States

As you read this post, it is Election Day in the United States. Due to the COVID pandemic and for other reasons, a very large percent of the population has voted, but there is still a very large number of people voting on election day.  There is great controversy over some states having extensions for counting votes by mail well after Election Day.  This is especially troubling in battleground states that can decide the election. Hence, in the midst of all this division in the United States, such a delay, which is very possible, could be a disaster.  I will not speak on my personal views and what I recommend for voting. I have laid out my reasons and the pros and cons very explicitly and in detail on this page in the past.  I want to comment on the present situation. 

Educated observers say that the United States is more divided today than at any other time since the Civil War.  There are many factors.  I think there are two major factors.  One is the President’s public persona.  Due to the testimony of many friends, people who have worked for him, and his family, I think the judgment that he is a narcissist sociopath by psychiatric standards is certainly not true.  Making such a judgment without direct psychoanalysis is unethical.  But his gruff persona, braggadocio, his stretching the truth, his lies, and his past life have his opponents in an uproar.  However, the division from the other side comes from the rise of the leftist influence in the Democratic party which pushes it from being a center leftist to potentially far-leftist.  Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the Black Lives Matter Protests.  When these protests began after the death of George Floyd, the country was quite supportive.  However, when the protesters were joined with violent agitators from Antifa and other anarchist and Marxist oriented groups, plus others who just saw that they could take stuff and loot, the protests for legitimate redress of problems lost much of the support.  It goes on month after month. People are deeply upset that the Democrat leaders did not condemn this strongly and then after months only tepidly. Other issues like abortion, religious freedom, and patriotism in general, feel more upset.  It appears that the Democrats are soft on Marxism but if not, certainly on socialism.  There is Alexander Ocasio Cortez. Ilhan Omer, and Ariana Presley (the squad) whose positions and influence strike fear into the voters who oppose them.  The country appears divided right down the middle.  It is a massive cultural divide. The Jerusalem Post today carries an editorial calling for prayer to heal America!  Riots are predicted after the election in the Post no matter who wins.  

However, I want to point to a phenomenon at a level we have never seen before.  That is the amazing enthusiasm of a good number of the Trump voters shown in the Trump rallies.  I have never seen anything like it.  It is in my view beyond Obama’s rallies.  In the midst of the pandemic and with amazing passion, despite the dangers, the crowds come and cheer and sit for long but entertaining speeches by the President.  He is loved by these crowds.  Some point to the idolatry of Trump and say it is a Hitler like phenomenon.  I don’t think so.  I recently connected by Facebook to a woman who was a high school classmate. She went to a rally and reported an atmosphere of warmth, love, and excitement.  She said there were whites, blacks, Jews, Hispanic,s and Asians.  They were peaceful and happy in the mix of peoples.   Why this enthusiasm?  Idolatry of a man?  Maybe for some, but I don’t think this is the case for most.  Rather I think it is rather explained by a population that was in despair over the politically correct culture and perceiving a coming darkness and loss of American values and freedoms, sees a champion who gets them and champions them.  It is about the whole culture for many.  We have never seen such energy on the stump.  Trump flies to several states and does rally after rally in the last days before Election Day.  The people?  They have hope, but it could be a hope that is crushed.  Let us look at how these people see it.  There are blue-collar workers who saw the decline in high paying jobs due, they believe, to them being shipped to China and other low wage destinations.  Finally, someone is speaking up for them.  They may be too simplistic in analysis, but they feel in their hearts, finally.  There are the anti-abortion pro-life people who were given lip service and limited action from George W. Bush, but now they believe they have a champion.  There are the Evangelicals who believe their religious liberty is in jeopardy and that they are being required to bow at the altar of the LGBTQ agenda, which is not just about civil rights, but about cancel culture and shaming all who stand for traditional morality as though they were promoting hate speech. (Read the story of the firing of Mazilla leader Brenden Eich who was removed for supporting a petition against gay marriage.  Note the football coaches fired for praying).  The son of the famous Bobby Beathard of the Washington Redskins was fired for supporting the phrase All Lives Matter on his door at his college.  There is really a great offense at the cancel culture.   There should be legislation to protect free speck and religious moral convictions.  These folks need equal civil rights to minority groups.  I have recommended the amazing book on the growing totalitarian power of the left by Rod Dreher, Live Not By Lies.  This is a very justified concern. These people see how the campus has gone left and embraced cancel culture. 

Then there are the pro-Israel people who see the Embassy move to Jerusalem, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital, the recognition of the strategic territory of the Golan Heights as belonging to Israel.  Then there are the peace treaties with Muslim countries.  The pro-Israel people feel there has never been such support.  

Amazingly there are black and Hispanics who believe that Trump has delivered for them in wage growth and economic efforts for the marginalized.  Together they make up this group that my high school friend reported on. Trump is polling higher percentages in these groups. 

Finally, there is a great consensus of prophetic people that are for Trump’s re-election.  This spans from Mark Taylor’s prophecy in 2011 that Trump will be elected. The prophetic movement is of two presentations.  One is that Trump can be re-elected if we pray.  They are obviously are pro-Trump.  The others have gone out on that limb and predicted a Trump victory.  See also the 10 prophets interviewed by Sid Roth.  Then there is the scholarly book by James Beverley from Tyndale Seminary in Toronto who is only reporting not taking a position. But the catalogue is amazing in his God’s Man in the White House.  Right now, Trump’s election by the polls looks very unlikely.  However, these folks are not shaken.  

If Donald Trump loses, one of my biggest concerns is how devastating it will be to the number of these prophets’ voices.  Some are seasoned and in their older years.  How will it affect them and those who believed their words?  But if Trump wins, imagine their credibility.  Some have been very specific with regard to what Trump will do in his second term and even predicted that he would have a transforming encounter with God.  

I do not believe Trump’s loss will produce riots, but it will produce despair. We have to remember that our progress for the Gospel does not depend on a political outcome.  God can advance his people under all kinds of situations.  Look at China. This would be our radical foundational conviction and confidence. No matter the outcome, we will win.  However, there will be looting, rioting, burning, and maybe death if Trump wins.  We are glad to many are praying.  Revive Israel, one of our key ministries is hosting an international prayer meeting on-line on election day.  We are now in Kansas City where IHOP has a day of prayer on Election Day.  We pray for the will of God and not are not making an endorsement in these prayer meetings.  Many others have had days of prayer and fasting with large participation.  So, let us double down in prayer above all else that this season fraught with danger and possibilities. 

For Whom to Vote

I hold to a position on the separation of Church and State that was very common until the Supreme Court decision against school prayer in 1962.  It was the consensus in the 19th century.  In that interpretation, the separation of Church and State meant that the two spheres were independent, and neither was to exercise any legal control over the other.  It also meant that there would not be an official State Church such as Anglicanism in Britain or Judaism in Israel.  However, the State was responsible to submit to the Law of God for its sphere of responsibility.  Civil Law was to show agreement with the Bible.  This agreement with the Law of God was codified under Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian in the Justinian Code.  To the extent that a state, a people, and its government, violated the foundational truths of Biblical Law, to that extent the nation or people would come under God’s judgment.  One sees such prophetic announcement of judgment as applying to all nations in the early chapters of Amos, the middle chapters of Isaiah, in Ezekiel, and more.  It was a mistake, in my view, that the Constitution did not say that the United States would be accountable to God and his Law.  I think most at that time assumed that it would be so.  Statements by Washington, Adams, and Madison indicate this clearly.  This is the view expressed by the founder of Wheaton College, the great anti-slavery fighter Jonathan Blanchard who said that Wheaton existed for the purpose that the Law of God would become the Law of the Land.  The great revivalist Charles Finney held the same view.  Abraham Kuyper, Prime Minister of Holland 120 years ago, expressed the same view and governed accordingly.  Two Arminians and a Calvinist here agree. 

Our primary orientation then as citizens who are submitted to the Bible should be the same as that view historically expressed, that the Law of God would become the Law of the Land.  Yes, that Law has to be interpreted and applied for the New Covenant Age and for our contemporary realities.  However, as much as possible, we should seek to see the Law established and to stave off the judgment of God.  As a citizen of both Israel and America, I want to see my nations more in conformity to God’s Law.   The primary determination of my vote for candidates and for parties is which will move us closer to conformity to the Law of God and which will not.  This question is one that should take into account a more long term view.  

I have Christian and Messianic Jewish friends who are both pro-Trump and anti-Trump.  Some of my relatives and friends, seniors like me, who have lived godly and consistent lives look at the present circumstances and will vote for Donald Trump.  Some young people I know as well have come to the same conclusion. I wish my anti-Trump friends would be sympathetic to them rather than to claim that they are morally compromised by voting for Trump.  They look at the Democratic platform on abortion, the LGBTQ agenda that has religious restriction aspects, religious freedom, Israel, and more and will vote for Donald Trump.  They look at the number of committed Christians in the Trump administration.  They may not have a worked-out philosophy of Church and State, but they believe that the alternative to Donald Trump will be destructive, socialist-oriented, and anti-Christian.  The Little Sisters of the Poor will be required to cover contraceptives.  Private school vouchers will end, and this will hurt the poor and especially poor blacks.  Christian adoption agencies will no longer be able to choose married heterosexual couples as their priority for adoptions. Charter schools will be restricted, again hurting the poor.  And I can go on and on with the reasons.  The fact that Joe Biden wants to repeal the Hyde Amendment means that against conscience, they will have to pay for abortions through their taxes.  These issues to them far transcend issues with Donald Trump’s character and offensive tweeting or exaggerating.  His past behavior does not matter compared to the present issues. The Supreme Court appointments give some hope for restricting abortion. That is one great hope for so many. Some argue that Trump has changed, and his character deficits are now greatly exaggerated.  Trump has been amazingly consistent in doing what he promised to do. 

However, some of my Messianic Jewish and Christian Friends believe that voting for Donald Trump is wrong.  They believe that his public character is so terrible that an Evangelical alignment with him will greatly hinder the progress of the Gospel because it ruins our witness.   In my view, most of these friends, but not all, do not hold to the idea of the Law of God and the Law of the Land that I explained.  They may look for a more pluralistic society that can support freedom for gays, homosexual marriage, LGBTQ rights, etc.  This does not mean that they want to see Christians and Messianic Jews forced against their conscience to use their artistic creativity to serve gay weddings (the cake baker and wedding planner).  However, in their view, the best way to make progress in society is to see a grassroots growth of the Gospel.  Abortion numbers do not best decline by the force of law, but by evangelism and the promotion of information.  In addition, if we hinder the credibility of the Gospel by support for a person whose character is so grossly deficient, progress in the society through Gospel advance will be set back that any temporary political victories in the agenda of conservative Christians will be at a steep price.   In addition, they argue that Trump has been erratic in his governing, and this has been very damaging to our standing in the larger world.  One very dear and godly pastor friend of over 40 years holds to this position.  We can live with Joe Biden for four years and then elect a credible conservative with a good character.  Otherwise, we can no longer argue that character counts in those who are to receive our support. 

I think that we both can agree that the best way to see society more in conformity to the way of God is by the progress of the Gospel.  In my view, revival is such reset that these questions of for whom to vote will pale in the glory of such an outpouring.  The evaluation of who one should vote for and how this affects our credibility and enhance or damage our progress in the Gospel is based on our rational reflections can all be swept aside as God shows himself in signs and wonders and sweeps millions into the Kingdom.  In this, we will see the greatest advance.  However, in the interim, we still have to vote (that is if we choose to vote) for the party and candidate that in our best and prayerful understanding is most likely to stave off the judgment of God and lead to greater conformity to the Law of God. In addition, we are not locked into the limits of our own reasoning but can hear the Holy Spirit speak to us. I think there has been so much rational argument and not enough listening to the Holy Spirit.  I do still think that when one weighs up the policies on religious liberty, conservative judges, abortion, Israel, and more, the choice is clear.  However, I do not dismiss the perspective of friends who disagree.  Let us all stop with the claims that you cannot be a believer if you . . .  or if you vote for so and so, you are a compromised believer.  Both sides have made these accusations.

Revealing the Hearts of Many

I write this just a few days before I am to fly to the United States.  Our trip was delayed and was to have taken place in mid-May but our flight was finally scheduled by El Al for Thursday night. As I was praying today, the words spoken about John the Baptist were given to me, “So that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.”  I saw immediately the application to Donald Trump and this election season.  Facebook now is a great revealer of those thoughts.  I am only speaking of professed believers.  

Read this as a phrase introducing each point.  The thoughts of many show . . . 

  1. disdain for their fellow believers who do not agree with them about voting for Donald Trump.  That is troubling.  They belittle others.  
  2. that they really have succumbed to a humanistic spirit and have gone soft on the LGBT agenda and its danger to religious freedom.  
  3. that they really have gone soft on abortion and are willing to support those who have a radical abortion agenda.
  4. that they really do not see the centrality of Israel and the progress that has been made with Iran, the new peace agreements and moving the embassy to Jerusalem.
  5. that they almost idolize Donald Trump and will take any criticism of him as illegitimate. 
  6. that they are narrow in partisanship and do not see that some ideas from the Democrats are important and right.
  7. that they are narrow in partisanship and do not see that some ideas form Republicans are right. 
  8. that they are weak in defending the importance of law and order when parts of the U. S. cities are burning. 
  9. that they are weak in their passion for civil rights for all and making more progress against racism. 
  10.  that they will accommodate radicals and their agenda or ignore that agenda to show they support black lives. 
  11.  that they dismiss evidence with a back of the hand brush off without seriously looking into the evidence. 
  12.  they have fallen into the partisanship of those who deal with the COVID crisis and dismiss either the consensus or those who are credible and disagree. 
  13.  that they live in information bubbles and do not fairly take into account narratives and evidence that disagree with their favored narrative.      
  14. that there is backsliding form Biblical Law as the norming norm that should determine our orientation to everything in life, including political and social issues. 
  15. That they really want acceptance from the mainstream society; to look reasonable and with it. 

 

I think it is the intention of God that all will check their hearts and repent where they have fallen into sub biblical orientations.  I again note Mike Brown’s book on Will Evangelicals Pass the Trump Test.  As a revivalist, you can imagine that Mike is very good on many of these points.  I hope and pray that many are seeing these points; I know several who are. May it lead to deeper prayer and the revival we all seek.

Foreign Policy

President Trump’s statement America First does not mean America only.  Foreign policy is a very difficult area of challenge for American leaders and Israeli leaders.  We deal with what is in the national interest of the United States or Israel.  When one studies foreign policy, altruism is rarely front and center. President Jimmy Carter professed a commitment to put the furtherance of human rights in the nations as a top priority, and that the United States would favor relationships with those making progress in human rights.  At that time there was criticism of past policies that engaged in partnerships with authoritarian regimes in South America for the purpose of resisting communism when these regimes tortured political opponents.  Others would see such policies as Carter’s as not realistic and that we have to live on the basis of national self-interest, and if this means working in unity with harsh authoritarian regimes, then so be it.  One historic figure stated that nations do not really have friends but common interests. Then the pendulum swings again.  George W. Bush and the neo-conservatives promoted the idea of seeking to bring democracy and its transformation to the nations.  His first experiment in this was in Iraq.  Some of us observing the Iraq war (Bush and others really did believe there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq) did not think that Bush’s plan was realistic.  I thought that he could remove Saddam but should leave the Baathists in power.  Their removal and the attempt at elections would lead to a Shiite majority, and the Shiite Muslims would then turn around and persecute the now Sunni minority that previously that had oppressed them.  (That led to ISIS.)  It would also give power to Iran in Iraq.  Previously a Sunni ruled Iraq was a buffer against Iran.  Bush argued that promoting democracy in the nations was a matter of national self-interest since democracies do not attack their fellow democracies and this would lead to a safer world.  Looking at all this history, President Trump now seeks to withdraw from foreign adventures and rejects the neo-conservative views of military involvement, nation-building, and fostering democracies thereby.  Under President Obama, there was hope for democratic progress in the Arab Spring uprisings.  Again, others of us observing this concluded that this would lead to a radical take over since they had the weapons and motivation to turn these revolutions for freedom toward the furtherance of radical Islam. 

Generally, nations will enter into trade and military alliances for their mutual benefit.  Tyrants will seek power and sometimes like in China and Turkey to dominate and take over other nations. 

Are there some guidelines that come from the Bible that can be a guide to foreign policy?  The Bible does not promote a democratic governmental ideal (democratic republic).  It is skeptical to a centralized monarchy in the book of I Samuel.  The Bible does hold national governments accountable for basic law, justice, and treating their citizens well.  The first chapters of Amos make this very clear.  All nations are accountable to God.   However, I do argue that fostering human rights and movement toward democratic norms is valuable but has to be done with realism. 

The first thing is to recognize the sad truth taught by Mao of China that authority comes from the barrel of a gun.  If this power is held by tyrants and they are willing to use it to slaughter their opponents (for example, Tiananmen Square, China), the movements for democracy will fail.  What is to be done? 

  1. We can work with the leaders of the nations who want a relationship with the United States or Israel to encourage them to move toward greater freedoms and human rights.  Maybe it will be a long slow process after their leaders become convinced of the values of human rights and checks and balances.  But it would take decades to really attain the education of a populace and to change a culture to move forward.  I recently studied a large tom on the history of China.  The idea of regimental order is not foreign to Chinese culture and partially explains how the control by the Communist party is accepted by the population. 
  2. We can give greater favor to nations that really seek mutual cooperation and mutual benefit. 
  3. We can also give greater favor to nations that make steps toward greater human rights.  We can show them greater favor in free trade, development help, and more.
  4. We can distance ourselves from nations that are cruel and belligerent.  It is not necessary to act in ways that empower them.

In all this, we have to realistically access the possibilities of revolutionary change when those seeking massive change do not have the guns to bring about their take over and those with the guns are willing to liberally use them.  Those seeking to overthrow tyrants can also succeed if the tyrants are not willing to use their full power to defend their regimes or if they do not have the full power to do so.   So, some say that the U. S. should have supported the Iranian protests during the Obama administration, but it is difficult to think that it could have succeeded when the regime is so fanatical, ruthless, and responds with no reservation.  However, we can always speak out for freedom.

I am not in favor of using military power to overthrow evil regimes unless there is really good potential for good results and sufficient power in new leadership to come forth to really attain the leadership of the nation.  We saw this in Granada in Reagan’s time and might see it again in Venezuela. 

We do want to foster freer societies but only when it is realistic.  We have to stop thinking that deep down everyone in the world is a Jeffersonian democrat and would prefer to live under our values. This is just not true. It will be a long educational process for many decades for many people of the world to embrace those values.

However, there is one text that is a mandate for us. Proverbs 24:11, 12 says,

Rescue those being led away to death;
    hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
12 If you say, But we knew nothing about this,
    does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it?
    Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?

I apply this to genocide. When a nation or nations together have the power with little risk to themselves to stop a wholesale genocide and then do not act, I think this brings the judgment of God. I here give three examples of this.  The first is the failure of President Roosevelt to order the bombing of the trains to the Auschwitz death camp and maybe other camps.  This could have saved countless Jewish lives.  Then when the Clinton administration failed to use air power to stop the horrid genocide of the Tutsis by the Hutus in Rwanda, it was a terrible failure of responsibility.  One of President Obama’s foreign policy team said that the Rwanda failure was a terrible failure that should not be repeated.  Finally, and yet the President failed in Syria when gas attacks and military genocide was being practiced against the Sunnis by Bahir Assad in Syria.  500,000 are estimated to have been killed, innocent civilians!  I think President Trump could have had a more rigorous policy to rid Syria of this criminal. 

Also, one more thing is important.  That is that we do not betray partners who sacrifice with us in that partnership.  I think the Kurds are now being abandoned and that is really very painful. 

So, here are some thoughts on foreign policy.

Policy Positions List

My Facebook friends are in the thick of the political debate.  My son and daughter have spoken their concern to me to not be too politically involved.  However, so many of the Facebook posts I receive are responding to the present battle between the Republicans under President Trump and the Democratic leaders with Joe Biden.  I think the intensity of the present political situation is such that this will continue with both sides among my friends until after the election.   I have found that many do not deal with the policy issues, which to me is crucial. What are the policies professed and what is the likelihood that the professed policies will be pursued and implemented?  Though our primary thrust is the power of the Gospel to change lives and societies, we do have an important civic responsibility, especially in a democratic republic.  Many only debate about how bad a person President Trump is or that he is not such a bad person or does do the right things in policy. For those who think he is terrible, it seems to supersede concern for policy issues.  

The place to find the policy is in the Democratic policy platform. One should also look up the agreement between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.  Some are denying that this has any weight for what a President Biden would do.  But if not, then he has been lying about his intentions with Bernie Sanders and his followers. 

The place for the Republican policy is the 2016 platform and the professions of Trump and the Republican leaders on their plans, though there is no platform. 

My greatest issues are:  1.  abortion policy including the appointment of judges.  2.  Israel issues.  3.  Lifting the black underclass and overcoming the intergenerational poverty and underclass situation.  4. Religious liberty and liberty for educational choice for religious reasons would be the fourth.  

Test yourself.  Do you know what the parties’ views are on these issues below?  Do you know what the issues are and where you stand?  I do not favor one party or the other on all of these. 

 

Domestic 

  1. Abortion restrictions 
  2. Appointment of Federal and Supreme Court Judges
  3. Religious liberty and education 
  4. Education including Private school vouchers and charter schools
  5. Environmental issues including Global Warming/Climate change and the Green New Deal.  The use of fossil fuels, renewal energy tec.  International accords. 
  6. Medical and hospitalization system; coverage and costs, disclosure of hospital and doctor information, pre-existing conditions. Socialized medicine (Medicare for all or something else?)
  7. Police reform and funding
  8. Tax policy and economic growth and job growth (connects to international and trade policy). 
  9. International trade policy, free trade, tariffs, and fair trade etc. 
  10. NATO and commitments and contributions
  11. International Anti-Semitism concerns. 
  12. Overcoming the intergenerational underclass situation of the black community. Welfare policy and the underclass. 
  13. Dealing with crime in the black community and the drug wars
  14. MS-13 type gangs, drugs and crime
  15. Immigration policy: Legal immigration and illegal policy, sanctuary cities etc. Border wall and v-verify, dreamers policy.
  16. Hi-Tech monopolistic corporations 
  17. Levels of wealth and influence from super-rich
  18. Monopoly and information domination from a few tech companies 
  19. The politicization of the universities and colleges. 
  20. The media and control by liberals etc.
  21. Criminal justice reform
  22. Drugs and legalization and fighting organized crime
  23. Surveillance of citizens and privacy concerns   
  24. Military policy and spending

 

Foreign 

  1. China policy, military, trade, and espionage and domination issues. 
  2. Iran, terrorism, and nuclear danger.  
  3. Russia and responses to their actions.
  4. Israel and the peace process. Jerusalem, settlements, and the Land.  
  5. Turkey and its new thrust for domination in the Eastern Med and the Middle East. Her involvement in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Northern Cyprus. 
  6. Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Kurds
  7. Africa policy
  8. Latin America policy and Venezuela 
  9. Religious freedom and American responses to oppressive regimes 

Is Donald Trump a Narcissist?

Some of my Trump-supporting friends concede that President Trump is a narcissist.  Just about all of my anti-Trump friends argue that he is a dangerous narcissist.  And that is the issue of issues for them.  This presses me to Scripture for how to approach those in power and government and the biblical teaching on how to deal with those in government power.  But first, there are real problems in this claim.  It also shows an arrogance that can bring us into disfavor with God.

1.  If one is to claim this on the grounds of professional psychology, then one should know that it is not ethical to make a diagnosis from afar, without a clinical evaluation in a clinical setting.

2. There are too many people close to Trump that remain friends after many years for this to be true.  Some behavior indeed may be like such a person, but how do I account for his wife, what his x wife says, his children and friends. These friends of decades and include the great black football player Herschel Walker and the social justice warrior Geraldo Rivera.  And so many more can be named.  It includes men and women.

So it seems to me that the issue is that humans have amazing ability to compartmentalize in mind and behavior One part can be good and compassionate and another part may be immediately violent and vengeful.  One part may be generous and the other part so defensive when criticized.  As a pastor, I have seen this so much fo so many years in people.  We have to address the whole person and see every thought come into conformity to Yeshua. We are to pray for our President to come into all that God would desire. I so prayed for Obama and do also for Trump, and regularly. 

However, according to the standard of the New Covenant, we are warned consistently to not vilify and rail against leaders.  Unless a leader is fostering genocide or terrible crimes, we are to pray and be humble in speaking correction.   I think it is valid in to raise character questions, and to raise policy and voting records and even conclude that policies are radial.  But cursing the personhood of the leader or vilifying can bring judgment to the person who does this.   Here are the texts that should guide us.

I Tim. 2:1   “First of all, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made on behalf of all people–for kings and all who are in authority–so that we may live a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and respectfulness.  This is good and pleasing to God our Savior.” 

Acts 23:5   “Paul said, I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest  for it has been written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a rule of your people.”

Judah (Jude) “But when Michael the archangel, disputing with the devil, was arguing about the body of Moses, he did not dare to render a judgment against him for slander, but said, “May the LORD rebuke you.”  But these people slander whatever they do not understand.”

How does this apply?  We can strongly disagree with policy and should try to represent the policies we criticize fairly.  We can point to behavior that shows character issues.  However, we should not curse the identity of the person.  We must avoid arrogance and cursing the person, “He is a narcissist, he is an evil predator, She is a Jezebel, etc. etc. ”    There has been way too much arrogance in the debates and way too much lack of understanding the positions of the other, way too little engaging.  Do we understand the position of the other to their satisfaction?

And finally, for those on this page who follow Yeshua, do we really believe that the future depends on this election, or do we believe that repentance and revival are the only things that can turn things around, yielding the spirit of love and compassion as the motive for seeking justice?   As the U. S. spins out of control in our cities, I still am looking from Israel and waiting for that great contingent of spiritual leaders of all colors and ethnicities to stand together with thousands and thousands calling for love and reconciliation, who will preach the Good News of reconciliation.