Apparently Donald Trump’s aggressive and irresponsible threats to North Korea, after the world learned of its miniature nuclear weapon, were rather impulsive and not necessarily thought through. That might be the least surprising headline of the year. Nevertheless, North Korea’s ability to use nuclear has been a concern of the United States for a long time. David Frum’s Axis of Evil speech delivered by George W. Bush is evidence of that, to be sure. The U.S. has consistently been hostile to foreign powers that threaten its hegemony and North Korea knows the best way to ward off U.S. intervention is to threaten nuclear war, the Lybians had a similar strategy. So far, Trump’s neoliberal predecessors have not been nearly as irresponsible as he has with his near threat of nuclear war against North Korea. Now North Korea is talking about bombing Guam.
Despite my personal interest in geopolitics, I am not writing an analysis piece here, I’m thinking about the theology of war and why so many Evangelicals are prepared to beat the war drum. Trump, a few months ago, was heralded as sounding “presidential” when he blew up a Syrian runway after the U.S. thought that Syria’s brutal dictator was using chemical weapons on his own people. Americans, and American Christians are no exception, seem to think good leadership means violent leadership. A shame really that the least popular president in history gains stature when he starts bombing brown countries.
But I am grateful that more and more voices are coming out in opposition of war. But that doesn’t stop Trump’s Evangelical adviser from misappropriating Romans 14 to justify what could be a species-ending war. This of course was Robert Jeffress, of First Baptist Dallas, whose congregation was singing Make American Great Again just a few weeks ago. It is a crying shame that this rhetoric is still thought of as Christian, but make no mistake, Christians justifying war as if God has empowered them to use the sword, didn’t just begin with Trump. But now that we have a president that is very unpopular, it seems much more egregious.
It was the same story with George W. Bush too. He’s much cuter than Trump, so we are quick to forgive his sins (heck, all he has to do is paint some cats).
But it’s true, the Trump Administration has given many of us that chance to call out the toxic influence of the right-wing-hijacked Evangelical wing of Christianity. It seems that support of Donald Trump is so hypocritical, that that consistent voting bloc—which lived and died, forfeited its own soul you could say, for one Supreme Court pick—is falling apart. And I think the angels in heaven are singing.
Unfortunately that doesn’t stop the loudest Evangelicals, the ones still holding on to their embarrassing president, from shouting form the rooftops about making America great. There is a deep-seated idolatry in wanting to make the United States great and powerful. Trump’s tweet about being the most powerful nation in the world sent shivers down my spine, and had me crying to God for mercy.
…Hopefully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 9, 2017
The sin is so transparent, I am concerned about the “little ones” it keeps from the faith. God have mercy on those keeping them from getting into the flock (alternatively, get your millstone ready). Whether it’s Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell, or Robert Jeffress, those are the loud voices making headlines. The quieter ones, like this one from South Korea, are seldom heard.
The main reason I bring this up is that for many people what they’ll know about Christians in the U.S. is that they support Trump, nuclear war, and think God may have ordained it. I’m not anywhere near Dallas, so I’m not prepared to say that that brutal rhetoric doesn’t work on some folks, but I do question the kind of disciples it makes. Nevertheless, most of the people that I know would fail to be impressed by it, and furthermore, it actually might be a turn off to them about the whole faith.
Trump tweeting disastrous things that may culminate in nuclear war is demonstrably evil, but God have mercy on this who claim the name of Jesus, but still support his impulsive hawkishness.
I’m here to stand firmly against war in North Korea, against Donald Trump’s inflammatory calls for it, and against the Evangelicals that consider God to have ordained such recklessness. I hope others will join me in opposition and resist making our faith increasingly inaccessible. There is a cosmic consequence to this, and it isn’t just about the world ending via nuclear weapons.
Another way is possible. It’s the way of Jesus. It’s not new or novel, it’s just the same message that worked 2,000 years ago applied today. The Sermon on the Mount contains it all. We try to mimic it as best as we can in Circle of Hope. If you’re looking for Christians opposed to war, and not so ready to impress the top boss, give us a try. Peace matters and fighting the empire’s addiction to violence is crucial.