The Idolatry of Donald Trump


Now we are wondering about another possible reason why Donald Trump may have been chosen to help reveal your crazy love crisis.


For a start, the very category of idolatry has disappeared in much Christian thought, as have the categories of heresy and worldliness in some parts of the church. We tend to think of idols as something ‘over there’, the gods of wood and stone. We forget that in scripture, idolatry is any part of the human creation, even the very gifts of God, on which we rely in such a way that they become a substitute for God.  

Interview with Dr. Os Guinness, By Peter Hastie, Interact Magazine 1992, Volume 3 Number 1

And these two Christians in Hollywood caught our attention…


Modern readers of the Bible quickly skim past the ancient warnings against idol worship, thinking they have little relevance anymore. But should we so casually dismiss these verses? The sin of idolatry was that people created their own idols and imbued them with power. God railed against these imperfect, man-made, self-serving versions of Him. 
Sounds a lot like us. 

Phil Cooke and Jonathan Bock, The Way Back


And look what your Drollinger dude warned you about…


[I]dolatry was one of the main reasons God judged the nation. The parallel in a non-theocratic country is this: God will judge the nation due to the idolatry of the believers in the nation. One of the manifestations of idolatry is the distancing of one’s heart from the one true God who has revealed Himself in the Bible – and that void, resulting from the distancing, being filled with other things. Mind you, it is not the other things that fill one’s heart that are necessarily sinful in and of themselves, rather it is the distancing from God and the lack of obedience to His precepts that connote the sin.

The Book of Lamentations As It Applies to America, BY RALPH DROLLINGER, Capitol Ministries, MAY 1, 2014

So, consider again that Quest which the King of Kings wants human beings to pursue…


Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:34-40


But, if Christianity is the story we are in, instead of going that direction, we humans tend to head the opposite way…


The dominant theme of the biblical writers is that people are alienated from God owing to their rebellion against God. The rebellion consists primarily in selfish disobedience to God’s love commands: the command that we love God with all we are and have and the command that we love others as we love ourselves (Mark 12:28-31). We habitually live our lives as if we have no need of either these commands or the perfectly loving God who has given them for our own good. We thereby reject our God-given status as creatures, and we presume to know better than God regarding what is good for us. In willfully exalting ourselves, we demote God from His status as Lord of our lives.

Forgiveness, by Paul Moser, Idolaters Anonymous

And as we go that direction and focus on “exalting ourselves”, we end up making an idol of ourselves.

And here is an explanation from your Guinness guy, which then expands this…


We tend to think of idols as something ‘over there’, the gods of wood and stone. We forget that in scripture, idolatry is any part of the human creation, even the very gifts of God, on which we rely in such a way that they become a substitute for God.

Interview with Dr. Os Guinness, By Peter Hastie, Interact Magazine 1992, Volume 3 Number 1

What happens then is human beings prefer something else to God.

It’s a relational thing.


As the prophecy of Hosea illustrates beautifully, God intends his people to understand their relationship to him as that of a wife to her husband. Idolatry is depicted as adultery. And so God, as husband, requires fidelity and loyalty to him alone.

D.M. Baillie on the Person of Christ, By Arthur W. Klem, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Spring 1964

So, if Christianity is the story we are in, we are in effect telling the Empathetic Protagonist, the very one who created us in his image and likeness to give us the capacity for a love relationship with him, that we would prefer something else to that love relationship with him.

And look what you give up when you do that…


Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.

Jonah 2:8


But, if Christianity is the story we are in, when we tell God “forget you!” in that way, it looks like we may also be showing him the ultimate in relational disrespect.

Paula Wong noticed that in the Ten Commandments, the very first commandment shows you the importance of the idolatry issue in the unfolding story…


And God spoke all these words:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Exodus 20:1-6


The binary core value comes to the surface there.

And throughout the story in the Bible, we found it not only speaking out against idolatry, but also making the corresponding claim there is only one God.

Here is an illustration of this out of the Old Testament book of the prophet Isaiah…


I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.
….
Ignorant are those who carry about idols of wood, who pray to gods that cannot save. Declare what is to be, present it— let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me. Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.

Isaiah 45:5; 20-22


If there are no other gods, then idolatry is in essence saying to God, “Instead of you, I prefer nothing at all!”

That just might be the ultimate relational insult.

And think of how it connects with the idea that God is the “necessary being”.

Here’s how the American Christian philosopher Peter Kreeft explains it…


Every being that exists either exists by itself, by its own essence or nature, or it does not exist by itself. If it exists by its own essence, then it exists necessarily and eternally, and explains itself. It cannot not exist, as a triangle cannot not have three sides. If, on the other hand, a being exists but not by its own essence, then it needs a cause, a reason outside itself for its existence. Because it does not explain itself, something else must explain it. Beings whose essence does not contain the reason for their existence, beings that need causes, are called contingent, or dependent, beings. A being whose essence is to exist is called a necessary being. The universe contains only contingent beings. God would be the only necessary being—if God existed. Does he? Does a necessary being exist? Here is the proof that it does. Dependent beings cannot cause themselves. They are dependent on their causes. If there is no independent being, then the whole chain of dependent beings is dependent on nothing and could not exist. But they do exist. Therefore there is an independent being.

Peter Kreeft, The First Cause Argument

So, the idolater is saying to the one necessary being in the universe, the one on whose existence the idolater depends, “Instead of you, I prefer nothing at all!”

And that verbal action creates a self-destructive gap…


Left untreated, our idols empty our lives of peacejoy, and unselfish loveIdolatry begins as theft from God, the gift Giver, as we value something or someone in a way that hinders the love and trust we owe to God. Idolatry turns back on us, however, to keep us from having what we need for true, lasting satisfaction in life. In the end, the greatest human tragedy is idolatry. It diminishes and even severs friendship with God, the only Giver of lasting life and satisfaction. Out of the tragedy of idolatry come all other human woes, including addictions, worries, selfish fears, resentments, jealousies, hatreds, and so on.

Paul Moser, Stealing God’s Glory, Idolaters Anonymous

In the biblical model, what stops us from being genuine humans (bearing the divine image, acting as the “royal priesthood”) is not only sin, but the idolatry that underlies it. The idols have gained power, the power humans ought to be exercising in God’s World; idolatrous humans have handed it over to them. What is required, for God’s new world and for renewed humans within it is for the power of the idols to be broken. Since sin, the consequence of idolatry, is what keeps humans in thrall to the nongods of the world, dealing with sin has a more profound effect than simply releasing humans to go to heaven. It releases humans from the grip of the idols, so they can worship the living God and be renewed according to his image. 

N.T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion

So, now let’s think about how your embrace of Donald Trump revealed your avoidance of dealing with this idolatry issue.

Donald Trump is clearly a person who has pushed away the Quest which the King of Kings has commanded him to pursue and has substituted a Quest which ultimately is about self-love.

It’s idolatry, plain and simple…


The essence of idolatry is self-worship….

The Shack — The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment, by Albert Mohler, AlbertMohler.com, March 6, 2017

Self is the great idol that all the world worships, in contempt of God and his sovereignty.

Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible

But it looks like focusing on yourself will open up a gap…


God corrects those who disregard His plan and pursue lives of self-gratification, often using talionic justice (i.e., punishment exactly the same as the crime) in His discipline.

Thomas Constable, Dr. Constable’s Notes on Genesis


And what if Donald was chosen to be a reflector?


In a world where many habitually broadcast photographs of their sandwiches just before they are eaten, we no longer agree that intense self-regard is a sign that something is wrong. It may, instead, be a reasonable reaction to life in a society where extension of the self, through media, is an accepted way to escape feeling insignificant. Donald Trump is not a man apart. He is, instead, merely one of us writ large.

Michael D’Antonio, Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success

The idolatry of the Donald doesn’t end with his self-obsession.

You see, your New Testament connects greed to idolatry…


Therefore, put to death what belongs to your worldly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry.

Colossians 3:5


And Donald Trump is a very greedy person…


Republican primary front-runner Donald Trump on Saturday described himself as a “very greedy person,” but also said he wants to be “greedy for our country.”

“Now, I’ll tell you, I’m good at that – so, you know, I’ve always taken in money,” he said at a rally in Iowa. “I like money. I’m very greedy. I’m a greedy person. I shouldn’t tell you that, I’m a greedy – I’ve always been greedy. I love money, right?

“But, you know what? I want to be greedy for our country. I want to be greedy. I want to be so greedy for our country. I want to take back money,” he added.

Trump: ‘I’m very greedy’, By Bradford Richardson, The Hill, January 09, 2016

In his counter-rally to Thursday’s Fox News debate, real estate mogul Donald Trump said that greed is a good thing.

“My whole life I’ve been greedy, greedy, greedy,” Trump said. “I’ve grabbed all the money I could get. I’m so greedy.But now I want to be greedy for the United States. I want to grab all that money. I’m going to be greedy for the United States.”

Donald Trump Says Greed Is Good, by Aaron Bandler, The Daily Wire, January 29, 2016

Republican front-runner Donald Trump has spent his career being greedy and trying to make money, but “now I’m going to be greedy for the United States and take and take and take,” he told a cheering crowd here Monday night, on the eve of Super Tuesday primaries being held across much of the South and elsewhere.

Trump Promises to Be ‘Greedy for the United States’ in Georgia Speech, by Cameron McWhirter, Wall Street Journal, February 29, 2016

And this connection between greed and idolatry caught our attention because of the changes which have taken place in America…


Well, if anything’s changed, it’s that we regard greed as less of a sin than we used to. So in the Middle Ages you had the Seven Deadly Sins and they went in the order of pride, greed, et cetera. But after awhile, greed went to the top and Martin Luther preached against greed repeatedly and said that the petition in the Lord’s Prayer “Give us our daily bread” is really a petition against greed. But I think with the advent of capitalism and free market economies and so on, the opportunity for wealth creation was much more prevalent and people began to think that there’s nothing wrong with greed because having more and more is a good thing for everyone.

Brian Rosner

Money, Greed, and Generosity, Darrell L. Bock and Brian S. Rosner, The Table, April 4, 2017

We have turned away from God. We are going after the idol of the almighty dollar. The best news out of New York is a vigorous stock market. The best news out of Washington is that which will put more money in our pockets. Money is the god of the present hour. The Ephesians chanted, ‘. . . Great is Diana of the Ephesians’ (Acts 19:28). The cry of America is, ‘Great is the almighty American dollar,’ and God is left out.

J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee

Manasseh, and King Amon, who ruled after him for two years, set up pagan altars all over Judah. These kings encouraged idolatry of every sort, even in the Jerusalem temple. The people departed further and further from the Lord. It was a condition very much like the one in North America in the early twenty-first century. 

Notes on Jeremiah, By Dr. Thomas L. Constable, Sonic Light

One of our team members found something else you might want to pay attention to as you think about how your story is unfolding.

You see, if Christianity is the story we are in, the Donald and his greed could play a role in helping America march further into the Danger Zone of the House Divided…


A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the Lord will be enriched.

Proverbs 28:25


So, we’re curious.

What do your Christian leaders, who have embraced Donald Trump, have to say about idolatry?

Do they agree with what Billy Graham wrote in his will? …


We determined many years ago not to be preoccupied with material things, which leads to covetousness and which the Scriptures call idolatry.

Billy Graham, The Will of William F. Graham, Jr.

Or do they push the issue away because of… what?

And there is something else we have wondered about. Did you consider the connection between Donald’s pride and his idolatry?

Look at this…


Are the love of money and pride legitimate issues to weigh when considering support for a presidential candidate?

First, the Bible is very clear that “the love of money” — not money itself — is “the root of all evil.” But Donald Trump is also very clear — he really loves money. In fact, he has reminded us over and over again, relishing and boasting in how “really rich” he is. Trump’s TV show “The Apprentice” even used the O’Jays’ song “For the Love of Money” as the theme song.

It’s not often that the Bible speaks with such clarity on what is evil. How heavily should a Christian voter considering supporting Trump take into account his love of money?

Secondly, Scripture declares “God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.” Proverbs says that “everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord.”

Trump is not just proud. He is proud of being proud. But don’t take my word for it. Just listen to most any speech he gives. Trump has said, “part of the beauty of me is that I’m very rich.”

3 questions evangelicals should ask about Donald Trump, By John Stemberger, CNN, January 6, 2016

And look what he bragged about…


President Donald Trump slammed reports questioning his mental stability in a series of tweets Saturday morning, writing he’s a “very stable genius” after the publication of an exposé about his first year as President put the White House into damage-control mode.

….

“Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart,” the President continued. “Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star … to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius … and a very stable genius at that!”

….

After his tweets Saturday morning, Trump told reporters at Camp David that Wolff is a “fraud” who doesn’t know him.

“I went to the best colleges, or college,” he told reporters. “I had a situation where I was a very excellent student, came out and made billions and billions of dollars, became one of the top business people, went to television and for 10 years was a tremendous success, as you probably have heard, ran for President one time and won.”

Trump: I’m a ‘very stable genius’, By Daniella Diaz, CNN, January 6, 2018

Does that bother you? If not, then, if Christianity is the story we are in, what about what your God says in this passage?


Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

Jeremiah 9:23-24


Or this one…


The Almighty—we cannot find him;

    he is great in power;

    justice and abundant righteousness he will not violate.

Therefore men fear him;

    he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit.”

Job 37:23-24


And look at this…


Securing all possible physical possessions (wealth, health, and family) and religious credits does nothing to ensure an enduring reward or a meaningful existence after the grave. Riches in fact deceive the individual who places his or her trust in them (5:13–16). They are inherently unsatisfying—they are never enough; someone always desires to take them away; and they produce worry and misery in this life. Riches also are temporary—they provide no true security. They cannot be taken into the next life; they are as fleeting as the wind.

Ecclesiastes 12:1-8: Death, an Impetus for Life, By Barry C. Davis, Bibliotheca Sacra, July 1991

It reminds us how easily and foolishly we can become idolaters by treating our lives, careers, wealth, and pleasure as ends in themselves. Life “under the sun” is coming to an end; we will all stand before God’s judgment throne no matter who we are. As such, we must learn to fear God, walk humbly with him, and grasp the things of this life very loosely. Furthermore, especially when we place Ecclesiastes in the larger storyline of Scripture, i.e., in light of the coming of Christ and his redemptive work, the lessons that Ecclesiastes teaches us must be applied in a greater way, as we learn anew to enjoy our lives, to work hard as God’s gift to us, but also to realize that it is only what is done for Christ which ultimately lasts.

Notes on Ecclesiastes, by Dr. Thomas L. Constable

And Paula is wondering whether this famous ‘magnificat’ from Mary, the mother of Jesus, is somehow relevant for your consideration…


And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
    For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
    and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and the rich he has sent away empty.

Luke 1:46-53


So, will you consider the implications of what your Drollinger guy wrote?


God did restore Israel to the Promised Land after the severe chastisement of Babylonian captivity. It follows that America could be experiencing the beginnings of God’s multiple forms of judgment at present – and that if the believers repent from their various forms of idolatry – that He could restore the nation to her earlier greatness (2 Chronicles 7:14).

The Book of Lamentations As It Applies to America, BY RALPH DROLLINGER, Capitol Ministries, MAY 1, 2014

Please let us know if you push all these things away, because that will help get a better sense of what you really want, here in the story.