When David French is good, he’s really good. He’s also a good man who honors his wife and his faith in bend-over-backwards ways.
But French has a blind spot when it comes to evangelical supporters of Donald Trump, and I’m talking specifically here about Trump supporters as distinct from Trump himself. French is a very moral man and a disciple of Jesus Christ who finds Trump’s moral character abysmal and finds much of his conduct as president unworthy of the office.
I cannot substantively disagree with any of that.
Where French has become obnoxious is in his condescending attitude toward fellow evangelicals who don’t share his need to constantly rag on the president. During the 2016 presidential campaign, French constantly lectured us hitching our wagons to Trump would be to compromise our Christian testimonies because of Trump’s moral failings. Those of us who recognized all that but still thought it better than putting the power of the presidency in Hillary’s hands were selling our souls for . . . whatever. Something French thought wasn’t worth it.
OK. Fine. We disagreed. Trump won, which I guess means far too many evangelicals disregarded French’s admonitions.
So now we find ourselves with Trump as president, supporting many of the policies favored by evangelical Christians even as we learn more daily about his past dalliances with porn stars and view his continued petty Twitter wars that we can safely assume Jesus would have avoided given the option in His day.
Pretty ironic. How could such a flawed man be doing the Christian-friendly things other presidents had refused to do? And even more challenging a question: Could such a flawed man actually be God’s chosen instrument to achieve these things?
Lance Wallnau thinks Trump is God’s wrecking ball in the tradition of King Cyrus, which is an argument I find compelling, but the far more common comparison is between Trump and King David, mainly because everyone knows the story of David’s adultery with Bathsheba.
French has decided that this comparison is comically ridiculous, and he’s become quite smug in his sneering mockery of it:
What if Trump’s Evangelicals were alive in King David’s time? I imagine it would have gone down a little like this . . .
Jerusalem News Channel, 1,000 B.C.
David’s Religious Allies Push Back Furiously Against Murder Charge
The David Regime, under fire for the king’s alleged affair with Bathsheba and the death of her husband, Uriah the Hittite, turned to his most loyal religious allies for public support. At a palace press conference yesterday, they hit back hard against claims of adultery and murder.
“Fake news,” said one priest. “The king was nowhere near the fighting. How can he kill a man from a distance? His Majesty is a mighty warrior, but not even his bow can reach that far.”
Others attributed the claims to “Saulite holdovers” in the regime. Still others noted that even if the claims were true, David was still far better than his predecessors.
“Remember, it wasn’t long ago that the King of Israel was consulting witches,” said a local prophet. “With Saul it was retreat and defeat. Now, I’m almost tired of winning.”
So is the comparison between Trump and King David really as ridiculous as French insists, and are those who offer it really as idiotic as French likes to make them sound?
It depends how and why one is making the citation. If you’re simply trying to excuse Trump’s behavior, obviously that’s absurd. There is no excusing Trump’s immorality, and if that’s how you want to play it, you should look a little more deeply into David’s entire life story and recognize how high a price he paid personally – not to mention all the things that happened within his family – as a result of his iniquity. His kids were a mess. His reign had many triumphs but also many failings that were of David’s own making.
But I don’t think that’s where most evangelicals are coming from in their willingness to a) support; and b) defend Trump. And even if some are, there’s a much more legitimate framework for referencing King David as a comparison to Trump.
In October 2016, French made the rather astonishing assertion that God did not want people to vote for Trump, based solely on Trump’s moral shortcomings. Surely, God couldn’t want such a flawed man to win!
Yet Scripture itself is replete with examples of God choosing very flawed vessels to accomplish His work. Not just David, but Paul, Cyrus, Peter, Levi the tax collector and many others. The argument is not that Trump is a particularly moral man – in his personal life, he clearly is not – but simply that this has never been a dealbreaker with God.
And while it’s true that Trump is at least publicly unrepentant for many of his sins, it’s also true that not all of God’s tainted vessels made 180-degree turns before God decided to use them.
This is usually where French sneers at the reference, and asks you something along the lines of: “Are you seriously suggesting Donald Trump is the equivalent of the King David, or the Apostle Paul?”
Um . . . yes, David. In many important ways, he is. And the most important way has to do with the key distinction between David and his predecessor Saul. Saul was the kind of guy the Israelites wanted in an earthly king, and remember the request that God give them a king was over God’s own objection. Why did they want a king, he wondered, when the had God as their king? But the Israelites wanted a human power figure like other nations had, and Saul fit the bill. He was tall, handsome and strong. He was also a very moral man in his personal life, not unlike Jimmy Carter. There would be no sex scandals originating with the throne of Israel as long as Saul was sitting on it.
The problem with Saul was that he wouldn’t follow God’s instructions. When God told Saul to do something, Saul hemmed and hawed. He lacked the boldness that should have come from the knowledge that God would have his back and keep the promises He made to Israel.
Saul was a good moral man, and a failure as king because he wasn’t willing to trust God and do what he said.
David was exactly the opposite. David has serious issues in his personal life, and God would make David suffer consequences for that. But David would obey God’s commands, which is why Paul told us in Acts 13:22: “After removing Saul,he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’”
The value of David was that God could use him. That didn’t make his moral failings OK, and he suffered mightily for them even after he received God’s calling (just as Paul suffered mightily for his, and he knew full well that he deserved it). It simply meant that God confounded many who figured he could only use a good moral man, and chose to use a very different kind of man to accomplish His purposes.
So that brings us to Donald Trump. He is different from those mentioned here in that he seems mostly unrepentant – at least publicly – but he is similar in that he’s making decisions that really do advance the efforts of God’s people, even if Trump himself doesn’t seem too interested in the grace of Christ for himself.
Why is the comparison ridiculous? If we’re supposed to look to Scripture to guide our decisions in modern-day life, why would we then be dismissive of every application by claiming modern people can’t be compared to Bible figures? Of course they’re not the same, but what God told us about in His word is what we’re supposed to apply to our actions today.
If it’s always ridiculous to cite a Bible event and apply it to people of today, because you can’t seriously believe they’re the same, you rubes, then the Word of God is useless to us.
I think French is especially indignant with high-profile evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell Jr., who have gotten close to the president and don’t offer much in the way of public condemnation of Trump’s worst behavior. I guess French thinks we all need to hear these men declare how much they disapprove of adultery with porn stars.
Now, I don’t really know the nature of the relationships involved here, but let me ask you this: If you’re a minister of the Gospel, and you’ve got the ear of a secular president – he’s listening to you, he trusts you – would you publicly berate him rather than privately counsel him? Everyone else is lighting into Trump for the things he’s done. If I had worked my way into Trump’s inner circle and he was listening to me about Jesus, I wouldn’t publicly attack him either. That might destroy any chance I had to influence him for the kingdom. I guess it’s too bad if it denies David French the pound of Trump’s flesh he seems to want so badly, but God might have decided how to use Graham and Falwell without checking with David French.
The bottom line is that we have a very flawed president who nevertheless seems willing to do some pretty good things that are consistent with Kingdom objectives. We could attack him for the sense of our own moral vanity, or we could recognize his flaws and try to influence him in positive ways – perhaps even in eternal ways.
Those who have chosen the latter approach don’t need David French wagging his finger at them. We’re all very impressed by his moral righteousness. Some of us have decided to get our hands dirty to try to make the best of this, especially if God really did outsmart us and choose the type of vessel most of us would have rejected.
Because yeah . . . it wouldn’t be the first time.
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Powers and Principalities (2009): Twenty years ago, Clay Bender saw the face of spiritual evil with the naked eye while attending a party. Now, Clay’s terrifying spiritual gift returns, showing him that a supernatural threat is looming – one that could threaten everyone in Royal Oak. As the community grapples with bizarre electrical disturbances and a horrible train derailment, only Clay can recognize the true nature of the strange events, and he and his two closest friends have little time to battle the city’s demons – even as all three are forced to face their own. (Buy Now button for signed hard copy: $15.99. Amazon button for digital download: $2.99)
Pharmakeia (2010): Kyla Spears is being warned – in terrifying dreams – of grisly and violent tragedies looming for young people in Royal Oak. But her spiritually gifted friend Clay Bender is reluctant to help, and her feelings for one charming young man threaten her newfound spiritual integrity and her ability to face the truth about what’s really behind the threat. (Buy Now button for signed hard copy: $15.99. Amazon button for digital download: $2.99)