Marlene Winnell has taken a cold hard look at Donald Trump. Not surprisingly, she is not keen about what she sees.
But, perhaps surprisingly, Winnell attributes much of what she sees in Donald Trump to Christian faith. In a piece at alternet.org titled, “Trump’s Worldview Mirrors the Most Archaic and Apocalyptic of Christian Beliefs”, Winnell suggests that Trump represents
the set of deep-seated assumptions in orthodox Christianity, whether explicit or implicit, conscious or unconscious, that are held most clearly by fundamentalist believers but are also embedded in Christianity of all stripes
Winnell labels these “deep-seated assumptions” “deep Christianity.” In fact, reading the assumptions she lists and the way Trump applies them, I would suggest that they could be more accurately described as a shallow superficial trivialization of Christian faith.
Winnell lists ten assumptions she sees embedded in the Trumpian version of Christianity.
1.The world is a bad and dangerous place.
There is no doubt Donald Trump plays on the fears of his audience. He is a professional and highly accomplished fear-monger who uses vicious and incendiary rhetoric in a pitiful attempt to generate support for his pathetic campaign. He will shy away from no outrageous claim to stoke the fires of terror in his followers. He majors in drama, paranoia, and ugly enemy formation. He divides the world into “good guys” and “bad guys” and wants everyone to know that he alone can protect us from the “bad guys.”
But to argue, as Winnell claims, that this fear is “taught in the Bible” is a stretch way beyond any Christian formulation that seeks to be faithful to Scripture. In fact if there is one injunction that is repeated most consistently throughout the Bible it might well be the instruction to
Be not afraid – see: https://inaspaciousplace.wordpress.com/2016/10/19/fear-in-the-bible/
Te passages Winnell cites (I Peter 5:8, II Timothy 3:1, Ephesians 6:12, I John 5:19) to back up her allegation that “The implication of these verses and Trump’s words is the same: it is right to be very afraid,” do not come close to outweighing the consistent witness of Scripture that the kind of fear Trump peddles has no place in the lives of those who put their faith in God.
The biblical verses Winnell summons to defend her case are not fear-mongering. They are an attempt to encourage the reader to be aware that there are forces at work in the world that seek to undermine the power of love and the goodness for which human beings are created. Many people may well view Donald Trump as an embodiment of this anti-life force.
It may not be foolish to have some healthy degree of caution in the face of the potential chaos, violence, and hatred Trump seems determined to unleash. It is not inappropriate to fear the forces with which Trump is playing. But Trump’s use of fear, and the Bible’s encouragement to have a healthy awareness of the deadly forces that at times are afoot in the world, come from two completely different visions of life.
In fact the First Letter of John, a verse from which Winnell offers as inciting fear, says,
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. (I John 4:18)
The kind of fear Trump peddles has absolutely no place in Christian faith.
In the biblical vision, the world God created is “good” (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). The world God created is not something to be feared. The people God created are not to be demonized.
Jesus was clear, there is only one response to anyone we might be tempted to identify as an enemy:
But I say to you, Love your enemies. (Matthew 5:44)
When you love someone, that person is no longer your enemy. Jesus called an end to all enemy-formation. We are all one, children created in the image of God. No aspect of the fear-mongering upon which Donald Trump seeks to be elected finds any support in the Bible I have read.