I recently went to a lunch that is more or less quarterly. About a dozen of us go. It is a lunch held in honor of a retired professor of religion and philosophy. I have been one of his acquaintances for more than 40 years. In his tenure as professor, he hosted many luminaries who visited my town and the university campus, which included Alvin Plantinga on numerous occasions, Nicholas Walterstorff, William Alston, Phillip Johnson, and my friend, James Jordan.
It is always a genial gathering, and I enjoy these gentlemen much. But there are only two evangelicals in a gathering otherwise composed of one atheist (but most genial), and many right-thinking theologians, historians, philosophers, and retired pastors. We mostly like each other.
But on that day at the big round table, in the room in the restaurant in which we gather, the table was dripping with anxiety, and there was more than a touch of “political correctness.” It was the overwhelming majority opinion that Donald Trump is “frightening.” I mentioned an article about Trump by the renowned British historian Paul Johnson to my evangelical friend sitting next to me, and he blew my cover by mentioning it to everyone, and asked me to explain.
Until then, I had been dutifully silent, perhaps not daring to break the table’s consensus. Now, I was exposed, and I had to speak. The conversation then somehow leaped, in a few minutes (who can follow the chaos and tumble of such conversation?) to what a flawed book the Bible is, beginning with a God who would command someone to murder his own son (Abraham), and a God who commanded genocide (the book of Joshua). All that was missing from the “flawed book” diatribe, was the part about how the Apostle Paul subjugates women and demands submission. So, we were off, and I got to be on one of my favorite spiels from my Old Testament professor days. I have no idea how successful I was, but I was certainly appalling. Here was my defence of this very offensive, “politically incorrect” God of the Old Testament:
“Abraham lived in a world of human sacrifice,” I said. “If it weren’t for the cornerstone of what God did with him, bringing him to the precipice of sacrificing his son, and then giving a substitute at the last moment, we would still be living in a similar world. It was meant to be dramatically propaedeutic.” And then my best thrusts: “So you think some nice progressive should have just waltzed in and given ‘the speech,’ and told them all to be nice, and start being self-evidently normal like you, and it all would have been fine?”
Similarly on Holy War. “The time of Joshua through the monarchy of David is the era of God’s Holy War, when the land was cleared from Canaanite `sex and death’ religion and religionists. Their religion was a religion of child and human sacrifice, and God righteously declared a death sentence on that culture. After that, Jehovah had a toe hold in the world, and the Temple was established. That was world changing and from then on, there is only normal warfare, and Holy War is replaced by spiritual warfare from the Temple which proceeds with the exorcism of the world. The book of Joshua is the beginning of a clearing so there can be a Temple, and that is why in the West, we no longer live in a world in which Jihad is an ideal.” (Ephesians 6:10-20 now means we are all Levitical priests waging worldwide spiritual warfare.)
And again, “You think a nice liberal should have just gone in and told everyone to be nice, and they all would have become normal progressives like modern Democrats? Islam is stuck in a pre-Solomaic world, and they are incapable of moving beyond it.” There is no “Prince of Peace” in Islam (the meaning of the name “Solomon,” – Shalom-mo). Liberals owe Solomon, the Levitical Priesthood, and the following Christian Church, a lot, if they are against Jihad and human sacrifice, and they do not know what it was that changed the world. It was not a matter of natural human evolution.
However it got from Trump to Joshua, there was apparently some connection in their minds. I doubt I convinced anyone, and everyone was still persuaded that Donald Trump is “scary.”
On a related front, I recently had breakfast with two of my politically liberal friends who are very admirable on a local level, but (in my conservative opinion) are not so reliable as you move toward the federal level. After complaining that Republicans have done everything they can to obstruct everything Obama has done, and of how Republicans rely on constant scare tactics, one of them then said that Trump was “just like Stalin or Hitler.” That was right after saying that Republicans always rely on scare tactics.
Now Trump may be “vulgar, abusive, nasty, rude, boorish and outrageous,” as Paul Johnson said. But Stalin or Hitler? I don’t think so.
So, what is the meaning of Donald Trump in the providence of God? He is certainly one of the strangest, and most un-Establishment figures in American presidential politics. He is not a pious man. He is not a David or Josiah. At best biblically, he is perhaps a kind of Jehu or maybe has kinship with the riddler, Sampson. He is only barely, or only lately, even a conservative. What is he? Who is he?
Let’s think about this; Pentecost is the answer to the Tower of Babel, and herein lay a clue. The implication of Genesis 11, is that when “God comes down” (v. 5), He almost has to squint to see this “enormous” tower built up to the heavens. To Him, it is barely a matchbox, almost invisible in its tiny-ness, and He laughs at the absurdity of the “great project.” God’s laughter often has the implication of confusing and scattering his enemies. (See Deuteronomy 28:64, Ps. 59:8-11, by implication, Luke 10:21, and Ps. 2:4.) Yes, God laughed at the silly, pretentious project of the Tower of Babel by confusing their language, and scattering them.
Trump’s enemies say, “He is a fool, a buffoon, a joke.” Yes. Perhaps he is. I have heard a number of serious Christians posit that Donald Trump is a judgment from God. That seems self-evident to them. Why is it also not self-evident that any and all of our possible candidates are judgments from God? It does not take any great discernment to know that our country and our civilization are ripe for judgment. How can this joke be a judgment? Maybe he is, but he is perhaps not just any kind of judgment, but one of a particular kind.
A unified language on the part of God’s enemies is the most dangerous thing there is. If they have “one lip,” (as Genesis says in the Hebrew) there is nothing they cannot achieve against God’s people, and God’s Kingdom (Genesis 11:6). But the power of the unified language is only an absurd project to God. He laughs at them and scatters them, by confusing their tongues (v. 7).
Political Correctness is a language. It is the language spoken by “the self-anointed” (to quote Thomas Sowell). It is a language of censorship, a language whose sole purpose is the silencing of opponents in the face of what is often questionable or even transparently evil from a Biblical point of view. It is a totalitarian language designed to stifle all debate and opposition. It is “the Queen’s English” of the Left. It is the dialect of that great tower in Genesis 11.
Trump appears to be the one man who has been given the ability to defy, laugh at, spurn, and overturn the unified lip of the American Left. He is the one man who has the ability to laugh at the language of “political correctness.” When he speaks, his opponents on a regular basis have the tables turned on them, and they are silenced, or cast into a Babel of confusion. His ability to do this is so extraordinary, that it almost has the qualities of, and maybe actually is, a gift of the Spirit. God can temporarily gift even those who do not know Him with gifts of the Spirit.
Is he God’s unstoppable laughter and joke to scatter God’s enemies? That would be no small thing.
Personally, I think it may be so.
Richard Bledsoe ministers in Boulder, Colorado.