Trump won. Now what?

I woke up this morning at 4:30 with a sinus headache. After medicating, I made the mistake of checking my phone notifications, so I’m now writing a blog at the earliest time of day ever, ever.

It seems Donald Trump won the election. That surprised me.

I'm just as confused as anybody right now.
I’m just as confused as anybody right now.

But you know what didn’t surprise me? Liberty definitely didn’t win. Instead, our president-elect has campaigned against the First, Fourth, Eighth and 14th Amendments. I honestly don’t know how anyone can expect him to keep a campaign promise when he can’t even keep a promise to a wife.

However, I’m going to make good on my word when Trump is officially installed as POTUS: Honor the emperor (which, ironically enough, some have actually called him that). The main question is how we move forward from this, particularly when he didn’t exactly win a landslide and the age demographics skewed heavily toward older people voting for Trump. We’re currently just as divided as before.

That said, here are some basic pointers for Trump supporters, particularly Christian Trump supporters, in the wake of the election.

  1. Don’t gloat. – Seriously. Don’t do it. You’ll only make things worse.
  2. Be consistent. – The fact that Republicans have a majority in all of the federal government shouldn’t mean that you buy whole hog into everything they do.
  3. Don’t expect the government to improve your life or spread the Gospel. – I hope I don’t have to elaborate further.

I still feel the need to elaborate on the third point. Governments don’t improve lives, pretty much ever. I fully expect that after Trump’s first term, abortion will still be legal, we’ll still be in perpetual, illegal, undeclared warfare; and that our civil liberties will be even worse off than they are now, mainly because the Religious Right has bought into the notion that all is well as long as the GOP is in charge. This should not be. If we were in a post-Christian culture literally yesterday, that didn’t change overnight.

Honestly, I hope that Trump implements policies that benefit the entirety of our populace. I’ll support him when he does, but I’ll also – with gentleness and respect – strongly oppose him and speak up against bad policies. I challenge and invite you to do the same.

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Regardless of the election results, honor the emperor

Tomorrow, the United States of America will finally have an election in what has to have been the nastiest, most vilifying campaign ever.

Come January, we’ll likely install as our chief executive a criminally dishonest woman who basically leads the death cult known as the pro-abortion movement, would throw us into a pointless war with Russia and helped her husband turn the White House into a brothel.

hillary-clinton-laughing

Or we’ll swear in an unrepentant serial adulterer who can’t keep a promise to a wife, a man who brags about sexual assault, who says he’d force the military to commit war crimes, makes fun of disabled people, might be pro-life or pro-choice (literally depending on what hour it is), and would engage in economic protectionism that would result in almost everything costing more. Whoever is elected is sure to implement liberty destroying authoritarian policies that will likely leave the United States in a worse place than before.

nbc-fires-donald-trump-after-he-calls-mexicans-rapists-and-drug-runners

So what should Christians do about it?

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” – Romans 13:1

But Hillary murders babies, and Trump is practically Hitler.

“Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” – 1 Peter 2:17

Over and over again, the Bible tells us to basically not freak out over earthly governments. People are depraved. Governments are comprised of people. Therefore, governments will be corrupt. At the same time, God uses governments to render punishment for evil in the world, to promote good and to accomplish his own purposes. Keep in mind that that these biblical passages were written while nearly every Christian was under the subjugation of the Roman empire, and Rome wasn’t always so nice to the church.

They had a bad time.
They had a bad time.

That doesn’t mean that biblical writers never have criticisms of those in authorities. Jesus called the Pharisees snakes and sons of the devil. Paul called the Pharisees a bunch of “whitewashed walls.” Depending on your eschatology, John may have called Nero “the Great Beast.” So, yes, there’s a time for blunt truth.

At the same time, 1 Peter 3 tells us to make our defense of the Gospel “with gentleness and respect,” and Colossians 4 says our words should “always be gracious, seasoned with salt.” 2 Timothy 2 commands us to not be quarrelsome, and 2 Thessalonians 2 tells us not to be easily alarmed. I have absolutely failed at living up to those commands.

But commands with no root are ultimately self-help with a little Jesus added. The foundation of all these is the Gospel itself. In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul is adamant about his rights (which, yes, we have as Christians) but that giving up those rights in order to save some to the Gospel is far more important. Paul invoked his rights as a Roman citizen when necessary and used his Jewish heritage as an example, but his focus wasn’t to Make Jerusalem Great Again or to change the empire through political means. Check out how respectful he was in Acts 26. He knew that the only meaningful change in the world is when hearts are changed via the Gospel. When we call out national sin or governmental corruption, we should do so with their salvific interests in mind. It’s not so much about us being awesome and them being wrong and fixing it but about seeking their repentance and ultimate faith in God.

Before Jesus left the earth, he told his disciples that all authority had been given to him. I don’t know about your exegetical methods, but I’m fairly sure that “all” there means “all.” As in, Jesus is sovereign over this election. Jesus is sovereign over whether or not you’ll make it to the polls safely tomorrow. Jesus is sovereign over those some who would be saved that Paul was talking about. Jesus is so sovereign that he shuts up those who criticize him and that every knee will bow at the simple mention of his name.

It doesn’t stop there, however, because when God adopted us into his family, we became heirs with Jesus, so the universe is already ours through Christ anyway. Why would we freak out over four piddly years worth of rule in a temporary nation, when our citizenship isn’t ultimately of this world in the first place?

Sure, vote tomorrow based on your conscience. Someone will win, and I have strong negative feelings about both likely candidates, but don’t put your faith in the office of the presidency or in power of the United States of America or in the very existence of the United States of America. Put your faith in Jesus, because he’s in control of the whole thing anyway.

A brief thought experiment for Donald Trump supporters

At this point in the election cycle, I’m operating under the assumption that Donald Trump will end up as President of the United States. I’ve made my resistance to that pretty well known on other outlets (and probably this one, but I’m too lazy to check), but I’d like to offer a thought experiment for Trump supporters, to see if they’ll reason with me.

I give it a solid "maybe."
I give it a solid “maybe.”

The vast majority of Trump supporters I’ve come across are quick to make the claim that, “America is the greatest country in the world.” Other than the fact that you can’t actually prove such a statement, that’s fine to have your opinion.

However, Trump’s entire campaign slogan is, “Make America great again.”

Visual proof.
Visual proof.

According to Trump, America is not currently great at all, so how can one claim that America is the greatest in the world when there currently isn’t any greatness? That would, by default, mean that another country is the greatest, assuming there’s enough greatness to go around or that a country not called the United States is allowed to be great.

I believe that illustrates the cognitive dissonance pretty well. Correct me if I’m wrong.

No, I’m not moving from Rand Paul to Ted Cruz

Rand Paul’s announcement regarding his freshly dead presidential bid officially killed any shred of liberty within the major two parties. Many have assumed and encouraged me to jump ship to Ted Cruz. While he’s more stomach-able than the likes of Marco Rubio, Donald Trump or Ben Carson, that will not happen.

Yes, Cruz is better than all three, but here are just some reasons I can’t justify a vote for Cruz, other than that he looks like Kevin Malone from The Office.

It can't be unseen.
It can’t be unseen.

Military – I don’t care if it was a joke, anyone who jests about bombing any area so much that the sand will glow in the dark has no business command our nation’s armed forces. We’ve spent over a decade building failed nations, meddling in affairs we don’t understand and intervening in civil wars.

And what do we have to show for it?

Benghazi’s attacks were the result of arms running to ISIS, and the reason that power vacuum happened was because we illegally intervened to remove Muammar Gaddafi. ISIS came to power partially because of the power vacuum in Iraq and partially because we armed the “Syrian rebels” (I’ll give Cruz for voting against arming the rebels, but his rhetoric doesn’t lend itself to explaining the root cause of the problem). Both of those were specifically United States actions.

So now, we’re supposed to throw more of our soldiers into the Middle East as cannon fodder because we can’t figure out not to get in the middle of civil unrest? I don’t think so. He hasn’t even mentioned anything regarding the fact that constitutionally, only the Congress can declare a war, which hasn’t happened since World War II.

On top of that, Cruz and every other Republican wants to increase military spend when we’re already trillions in the hole and we have a bigger military than the next 10 countries combined and we have 662 foreign military bases in 38 countries. We already can’t nationally pay our bills; it’s irresponsible to increase the biggest part of our budget when it’s already bigger than we need for it to do its real job – national defense.

#SorryNotSorry

Fourth Amendment – Yes, Cruz kinda came out against the PATRIOT Act, as he should have, and he called for NSA reform.

What he didn’t tell you at first was that when he voted for the USA Freedom Act, it actually gave the NSA more power to collect your phone records.

Now, to Cruz’s credit, he at least opposes the indefinite detention clause in the National Defense Authorization Act, but that’s what overreaching surveillance gets you. If you want to send me to war, get a congressional declaration; if you want to search me in any way, get a warrant.

Auditing the Fed – Cruz proved himself unreliable by missing the Audit the Fed vote – which he had previously said he supported – claiming he had a campaign event in New Hampshire scheduled at the same time as the vote. Of course, his wife works for Goldman Sachs, so we couldn’t have that, right?

War on Drugs/Criminal Justice Reform – Cruz currently says marijuana is a state issue, but there’s no telling what he’ll say tomorrow. At the same time, he’s on record for saying the War on Drugs, which has led to Merica having the largest prison population in the world, is the “law of the land” and just needs happen. He also seems to be cool with the militarization of police and won’t really address the whole police brutality thing. That’s kind of become a big deal lately.

Problematic theology – Look, I get that we’re kinda international buddies with Israel, but they’re far from perfect and do some jacked up things sometimes. That didn’t stop Cruz from extolling Israel’s virtues at a conference that was supposed to be aiding Iraqi Christians in their plight with ISIS, as he started ripping on Hamas because we Americans LOVE ripping Bible verses out of context. Cruz has even said that placing an embassy in Cuba as part of our re-engagement with our neighbors to the south was a “slap in the face to Israel,” because we won’t move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I mean, at least we didn’t have a trade embargo with Israel for over half a century.

Sorry, Cuba.
Sorry, Cuba.

In short, I don’t trust Ted Cruz to support the entire Bill of Rights, nor do I trust that he won’t get us entangled in yet another asinine, pointless armed conflict, nor do I trust how he views the role of government in economics or its role in his theology.

Am I off base here? Let me know in the comments.

Changing the Conversation: The nature of social media

I must say, the last three weeks have been pretty nice. My church started 2016 with a social media fast to unplug from technology and reconnect with real people. I had to modify said fast because I kind of make my living using it, so I abstained (with two exceptions) from personal posting. That ends today.

Boy howdy.
Boy howdy.

After having time to evaluate pretty much everything regarding social media, I’ve come up with three very basic principles I think we can all get on board with while posting, even if you’re not on the Jesus train with me. This isn’t addressing any potential Facebook debates, which is an entirely different can of worms.

Clarity – Does this post accurately and clearly reflect all sides represented on an issue? It’s easy to misrepresent an opposing opinion, but it does no one any good.

Community – How does the tone of this post affect those who will read it? Too many Christians feel like bludgeoning the world with their take on things. Satire and sarcasm have their places, and I do believe positive changes can come via snark, but there does come a point when it can cut too deep and bleed out your entire point.

Donald Trump – Anything goes. He’s an ass.

That's the whole ballgame.
That’s the whole ballgame.

I also plan on proper blogging more, particularly with an idea that struck me during this fast. I’m starting a new blog series called Changing the Conversation, where I examine myriad issues and see if there’s a third, more valid option than the two traditional views presented. Subscribe to email updates on the right side of your screen to get all of those.

Stop freaking out about how America does Christmas

Just like all the decorations, we couldn’t even get to Thanksgiving before Christians started losing it over how American companies are treating Christmas.

Like clockwork, professional douche rocket Joshua Feuerstein needed to be angry about something, so he naturally went to Starbucks and “pranked” (Read: told them his name was something stupid. Don’t ever do that to food service employees.) them into writing “Merry Christmas” on his coffee cup.

Have a watch, if you must.

Other than the fact that he’s a Oneness heretic (see here), Feuerstein is only hurting the Christian cause when he posts these things. Instead of encouraging loving our neighbor as ourselves, we have to get pissed off because an overpriced coffee shop won’t specifically mention our holiday.

Except they totally do.

XmasBlend
Oops.

On top of that, if they’re not celebrating Jesus, they’re not actually celebrating Christmas in the first place, so why do you care if they greet you with that?

All things done without faith are sin, so even if they do wish us a happy Christmas or Easter or whatever, they’re actually still sinning because they’re not doing that to the glory of God (It’s interesting what happens when you take the Bible seriously.). Maybe we should be more interested in the state of their souls and share the news about Jesus with them instead of whether they give some vacuous lip service. Why do you even give half a shit if someone “Keeps the Christ in Christmas” if they’re going straight to hell anyway (Side note: If you care more that I used a certain word than the fact that it’s true, we have an even bigger problem.)?

While we’re at it and being super blunt, if you’re more concerned with whether someone gives props to your holiday than if they’re cool with God, how am I to know that you’re not going straight to hell? Jesus told us to go make disciples and that people would know us by our love for one another and the world. In a culture that continually validates these types of PR stunts, I’m tempted to think that American Christianity is leaving out the whole Jesus part of Christianity.

Seriously, if we need a coffee chain or a government or a school board or a sports team or a fast food employee with a neck beard to be our ambassadors for Christ and to validate our beliefs, we need to reevaluate our relationship with God.

So, what do we do instead?

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled…” – Hebrews 12:14-15

We’ve already been defiled by becoming culturally bitter and being intentionally pissed off at everything, but that’s what grace is for. It’s on us (while relying on God) to be peace to the world.

Also, look at the enormity of verse 15.

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God.

This implies that your life should be so peaceful and holy and soaked with grace that every action should be directed toward pointing people to the cross. Feuerstein points people to himself; that’s exactly what makes him such an asshole. He doesn’t understand that the war isn’t with flesh and blood and political stances.

feuerstein-pastor-guns
He also looks like Kevin James and Fred Durst made a baby together.

I feel like I’m turning this into a DirecTV commercial, but don’t be like this guy. Don’t share his videos. He’s an antichrist and a wolf in sheep’s clothing who doesn’t know the grace of God.

Turn this guy’s Internet popularity on its head by proclaiming the real Gospel about how God sent Jesus to atone for our idiocy.

Dear North Greenville University, it’s time to come clean

Note: I’ve been approached by several people regarding the legality and liability surrounding the situation. I get that. There are so many regulations that it’s pretty tough to keep track of them, particularly when you approach any kind of moral decision. I believe, however, that this has gone far beyond legality and is a Gospel issue at its heart. If NGU had simply said, “Epting is gone,” and then this came out, I honestly wouldn’t care. Instead, as far as I can tell, they fabricated a story to make themselves look better. I still have all the respect in the world for my old professors and friends at NGU, and I realize that there are multiple stances and sides to the story. This is just my take on what has come out so far.

Note 2: I’ve been approached with details alleging that Epting actually didn’t have an affair with the woman in the below video, and that this is actually the result of sexual harassment and led to a lawsuit. In the interest of not jumbling my entire blog, I’ve left the original text intact, so keep in mind that while we may be looking at a victim of sin as opposed to two people in mutual sin, the dishonesty involved at the institutional level is still the same. The school could still have been forthright with what actually happened while protecting the identity of the victim.

Dear North Greenville University,

Please come clean.

This isn’t the first time that’s needed to happen.

I graduated from NGU in 2009, was the sports editor for the Skyliner for three years and pissed off a lot of people. I’ve come clean with many. I know I get a little too edgy sometimes.

But this is beyond a personality flaw. You lied to us for months.

You told us Dr. Jimmy Epting was taking a sabbatical for the Spring 2015 semester and retiring due to health issues. Unfortunately, this is the reality.

And instead of actually owning up to a cover up, we were treated to a sidestepping press release:

North Greenville University’s leaders are expected to lead Christ-centered lives and abide by all campus policies and procedures. The administration and faculty on campus today reflect our legal, moral and ethical expectations. We take our responsibilities as leaders of a Christian institution seriously and hold each member of our community to the highest of standards.  

As an institution, our promise is to combine an academic environment with a Christ-like lifestyle and provide students with opportunities for spiritual growth, academic training and Christian service. 

We will continue to focus our efforts on celebrating the start of the academic year with our students and ask that we be allowed to focus on the traditions of our campus and our bright future as a community.

There’s still no acknowledgement of the institutional dishonesty that’s gone on for at least eight months now. There’s no acknowledgement of the black eye you just gave the church.

That. Is. Garbage.

But here’s the good news. Jesus died for that.

Jesus died for your lies. Jesus died for Dr. Epting’s adultery. Jesus died for your taking his name in vain when you say that “Christ makes the difference” while living like a clean perception and donors actually make the difference.

ngu2_header
It makes for a sweet flannelgraph though.

It would have sucked for your PR to admit that your president had an extramarital affair and got the boot, but what sucks more is that you covered it up for nearly a year and told everyone that Dr. Jimmy, fried chicken and grits and hugs and all, was sick. What you didn’t tell us was that this was a spiritual sickness.

Understand, I’m not trying to damn you all to hell on the spot. I deserve that just as much as you. It’s actually not even about you.

It’s about the Gospel.

You claim to represent the God of the Universe, the one who chose to save us before the foundation of said Universe because he knew we were too jacked up to do it ourselves.

This means that, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

This also means that if you confess and repent, God is faithful and will forgive you, since this is covered by Jesus’ atoning work on the cross.

Even further, that would mean God would be using this to conform you to the image of Jesus. Those whom God predestined to be conformed to Jesus, he also called and justified and glorified.

It keeps getting better, because I know that you’re terrified of looking like crappy Christians, particularly in the rigidity so many associate with Southern Baptist Convention. That whole Good News thing you talk about in chapel twice a week has that covered.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,

‘For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

For your own sake, for the sake of your students, for the sake of your alumni and (most importantly) for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Come clean with this. If you don’t, this will haunt you and fracture your trust with most everybody forever.

But if you do, sure, you might lose some donors, but they aren’t the ones who justify you or intercede at the right hand of God for you, nor can they separate you from the love of God. All they do is give you money, and you can’t serve two masters.

God has your back. Please just come clean.