Trump: Satan’s Manchurian Candidate?

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Was Trump’s presidency the result of a satanic plot to discredit Evangelicalism in America and make it shameful across the world? The “fruit” of his Presidency seems to become more toxic every day. This includes both spiritual issues and political ones such as the looming destruction of the Republican Party and its replacement with a MAGA party that cannot win in any but the deep red states or congressional districts.[1] This may result in the total hand over political control to an ever more radical Democratic Party. All over the world Trump and his conservative Christians supporters have brought disrepute to Christian evangelicalism.[2] These are really huge negative developments in American politics and history that could not have been foreseen five years ago.

In the classic 1962 movie “The Manchurian Candidate” (starring Frank Sinatra and Janet Leigh) a pro-Soviet, American communist couple is planted in the Republican Party and they rise to prominence. They come close to winning the presidency with the help of their son who was brain-washed a prisoner of war (POW) in Korea. It was a magnificent film and justly placed in the National Film Registry for its artistic merit and plot brilliance.

So, I am asking the question, did Satan work to place Donald Trump as “his man” in the White House to produce the chaos and destruction we see? The assault by deluded and cultic Trump Christians on the Capitol was the most public event of this destructiveness. Was this achieved by implanting a series of false prophecies about Trump among key Christian ministers who   claimed to have special prophetic insights?

I learned a lot about the satanic when from 1974 to 1978 I took part in various metaphysical and occult groups. My exit from that form of demonic Gnosticism was due to God’s grace (and probably my sister’s and mother’s prayers) and to the fact that as a Catholic I had been taught the basics about spiritual experiences. That is, they can come from God (Holy Spirit), the subconscious (“flesh” in Paul’s vocabulary) or demonic sources, and that all Christians are subject to all three influences no matter what their spiritual state. This is an understanding of discernment that is based in scripture and was reinforced by the experiences and writings of the “Desert Fathers” of the early Church who were masters at discerning the processes of prayer and the accompanying demonic distractions and temptation.[3] The Catholic insights I was taught made me suspicious of the spiritual manifestations and trance utterances I was seeing in occult groups and helped me exit. But as I processed through my occult years, I also learned some important lessons on Satan’s long-range strategies.

One important Satanic constant is to carefully understand its target audience as it executes its long-term goal of destruction. It cannot move too swiftly or blatantly lest the audience be frightened away. Satanic mediumship in its pure, unrestrained form can only exist in places where the Church is not present or very weak.  For instance, in pre-Colombian Mayan religion. Now that Mayan writing have been deciphered, we know that instead of being peaceful cousins of the bloody Aztecs, as the original archeologists indicated, the Mayans were just as murderously prone. They were driven to this by their priests who went into trances to communicate with the “gods.” And the messages were universally to go to war with their neighbors and capture prisoners for sacrifice. Maya civilization probably collapsed under the pressure of demonic chaos.[4]

But when Satan, via mediumship, operates in areas where there is an active Church and an understanding of God as loving and good, he cannot expose his hand and say via the medium, “Go kill Methodists and Presbyterians and offer their hearts in a blood sacrifice.” So, Satan settles on “gradualism” in destruction. For instance, in the popular New Age teaching A Course in Miracles (1976) the medium channels a Jesus who claims to bring new teachings which incorporates the “wisdom” of world religions. What it really does is affirm Buddhist psychological techniques that includes much meditation and accepting everything that happens, and no real worship. This also effectively shut down the Christian’s duty of intercessory prayer, i.e., to pray “on earth, as it is in heaven,” the core of the Lord’s Prayer.

Now back to Trump and his MAGA movement, I believe something similar has occurred. Christianity has been debased, shamed and made to look awful in ways most Trump supports will not admit or understand but is obvious to many others, and especially those who are non-believers and Christians overseas. This has been done in increments during the Trump administration and continues today with his cultic followers.

Before I get to the specifics of the present Trump-induced Christian disaster let me first clarify that I understand that many policies that the Trump administration achieved were positive and beneficial to our nation, as in his strong opposition of China’s unfair economic policies and expansionism. His administration also achieved some goals that helped the Christian cause and slowed the process of radical secularization that seemed to be a constant of Democratic administrations, as for instance, his splendid picks for the Supreme Court and his opposition to government-funded abortions in any form.[5]

It is the abortion issue that galvanized most strongly Trump’s Christian supporters. And indeed, it is a serious issue. But it seems that Trump’s gains were temporary and have been easily cancelled by the Biden administration. In fact, the whole issue of stopping abortions by closing clinics and government funding is almost a moot point, as increasingly women now get an abortion via the newly developed abortion pills. These can be gotten via a doctor’s prescription or through the internet from China without a prescription. It seems from the present perspective that Trump’s anti-abortion policies were the camouflage net that obscured the significant damage Trump’s presidency did and is doing to Christianity as a whole.[6]

Let us now turn to the most serious assaults on the heart of Christianity that have occurred because of and by his administration and person.

The formation of Trump’s cult:

Perhaps the most spiritually disastrous of all is that Trump has created a cult out of his Christian followers.[7]  Of course not all persons who voted for Trump became part of his cult following. Many chose Trump as the lesser evil to Hilary Clinton, and then Joe Biden. The Messianic Jewish Christian leader, author Michael Brown is one such person. He now readily admits that much of what Trump has done has been a disaster for the greater Evangelical cause and has been consistent in calling to account the lunacy and cultic nature of the false prophecies about Trump’s second term.[8]

But indeed, the crowd that showed up Jan 6th in Washington stormed the Capitol can justly be called Trump cultists. There were many Christian symbols and flags carried by the crowd, along with protesters in body armor and rods of all sorts, plus the American flag and symbols of right-wing groups such as the Confederate battle flag, etc. Capitol Police were assaulted and beaten, and one died. All this shamed the Gospel among many peoples of the world who watched the events in horror (or delight, as did our enemies). This was cult activity not Christian activity.

The Trump cult is both similar and different from traditional religious cults, such as Jim Jones cult in Guinea or the David Koresh cult of Waco, Texas. Historically, most cults have a location where a person is immersed in the doctrines and attitudes of the cult and learns not to question the sayings of the leader-messiah. In contrast, Trump Cult has no specific place, rather it is an internet and Twitter-based cult. It achieves the same result of isolation from contrary views and information not by force, but by self-censure and selection. When Trump said he won the swing sates but was cheated out of the election, followers believed his every conspiracy theory, and went to media outlets and internet sites that only reported this position. Fox News, which traditionally supported Trump, had several of its news anchors declared that Trump had fairly lost the election. The station was punished buy a huge loss of Trump supporters who went over to Newsmax and other outlets that towed the Trump line. [9]

David Brooks, a long time New York Times columnist, but one who in recent years has become a devoted Christian and often writes about the spiritual issues of our nation wrote:

One core feature of Trumpism is that it forces you to betray every other commitment you might have: to the truth, moral character, the Sermon on the Mount, conservative principles, the Constitution…The split we are seeing is not theological or philosophical. It’s a division between those who have become detached from reality and those who, however right wing, are still in the real world.

Hence, it’s not an argument. You can’t argue with people who have their own separate made-up set of facts.[10]

In a traditional cult the member feels pressure to remain in the cult and is afraid of expulsion and the disdain of the fellow members if they leave. Trump achieved this type of control over his administration and major sections of the Republican Party by the use of reviling tweets that defamed and excoriated anyone who crossed him. Reviling tweets were common fate of those who disagreed with his policies, or lack of them.[11] From Jeff Sessions, his honorable attorney general to Mike Pence, his morally righteous and faithful vice president, and many in between, all were reviled.[12] The Trump cult members who stormed the Capital and chanted that Pence should behung. That, more than anything else, should convince the skeptic that there really is a Trump Cult.

The understanding that many Trump followers morphed into cult members is coming to some Republicans – probably more than admit it publicly. An example, Congressman Adam Kinzinger of a very red district in Illinois voted for Trump’s second impeachment. He received a tremendous amount of hate mail and recently wrote about his fellow Republicans making Trump an idol: “There are many people that have made America their god, that have made the economy their god, that have made Donald Trump their god, and that have made their political identity their god.”[13]

Let me add here a spiritual issue not discussed by political commentators. It is that when Trump issues some outrageous claim or conspiracy theory, as in calling the Supreme Court “cowardly” because it did not rule in his favor or calling the Republican Governor Georgia and his secretary of state stupid and corrupt because they did not do his bidding (both were faithful Republicans and men of integrity) Trump committed the sin of slander. This is part of being a reviler, and why Paul ranks it as such a serious sin. Further, the Trump cult followers shared that sin when they agreed with Trump. Of course, the degree of culpability is God’s judgement only. For instance, in the Middle Ages a murderous and slanderous conspiracy theory developed during the Black Death in which Christians accused the Jews of starting the plague. Thousands of Jews were rounded up and burned alive for their supposed crime. How much sin would a peasant who believed this awful conspiracy theory be responsible for in God’s eyes? Impossible to judge, but it was a sin of slander (and murder) all the same.

In common with other cult members, Trump Cult members affirms things that were plainly not true and easily contradicted. For instance, many affirm that they love Trump because he “kept all his campaign promises.” Well, actually not. To be fair his administration had many successes, but to say he fulfilled all his campaign promises is a cultic statement. From Trump’s large failure to curb North Korea’s nuclear arsenal (after much boasting he would do so), and his failure to enact a health care insurance act, there were many instances where he did not fulfill his pledges. The failure on health care is especially egregious as the Republicans controlled both houses of Congress for two years but could not hammer out the necessary legislation (I believe the root cause of this failure was the destructive influence of Ayn Rand’s philosophy which is centered on selfishness as “virtue,” that made the sacrifices needed in terms of taxes difficult.[14]

Trump wars against spirit of truth

Adding to his many spiritual calamities is the effects of Trump’s use of the phrase “fake news.” The phrase was first used accurately to describe invented and false news events planted on Facebook by Macedonian hackers for monetary gain (they received a few cents for every “hit” which often added up to a good living). I recall in the year before the Trump presidency seeing strange and unbelievable stories forwarded by some of my Facebook buddies. One story claimed that Mexico had built a long an expensive fence on the border with Guatemala to keep out immigrants. The message was of the “hypocrisy” of the Mexican government. It was totally false, and the fence pictured in the story was of the Israeli fence along its border with Syria. The Macedonian news-lies inventors, like demonic entities, were careful to note and pander to the fears, suspicions and hopes of their target audience, in this case conservative Christians.

Trump appropriated “fake news” to mean any news that criticizes him even if it is factually correct. On this issue it is important to distinguish between “fake news” and normal partisan news coverage. They are not the same. Since the early years of our Republic the press has been mostly divided along partisan lines. The Jeffersonians vs. the Hamiltonians, etc., Whigs vs. Democrats, and to our own day with the bitter liberal/conservative divide. But, for instance, Fox News and CNBC give the same basic facts of the news, but with vastly different shades of interpretation, or emphasize some items and ignore others. In fact, it might be said that the Bible shows a form of this “partisan” interpretation. For instance, there are different interpretations David’s kingship in the book of Kings and Chronicles, with Chronicles being more positive and avoiding the story of David’s murder and adultery with Bathsheba. But neither the Bible nor reputable news outlets contradict facts. By calling embarrassing items “fake news,” as Trump is prone to do, serious spiritual damage is done by disabling the ability to tell truth from exaggeration or error among his follower.[15] For instance the Trump culters accepted every lie put out by Trump on why he really won the 2020 election, and why anyone who disagreed with his Conspiracy theories on the election was a fool, cowardly and captive of the “deep state” etc.[16]

“Personal morality is not important” –  the old Antinomianism heresy.

Last year I wrote an article, later expanded as a book, taking the position that the “Trump as Cyrus” prophecies which helped his election were false prophecies and were damaging the credibility of the Church.[17] I submitted the original article it to my friend and editor of the influential blog, Pentecostal Theology, Troy Day. I suggested that it be published with a piece that defended Trump to maintain the political neutrality of his blog. He cast round and found an author and passionate pro-Trump advocate to do the article, Mr. Leonard Ransil. He had authored a bevy of Christian books as Amazon Kindle pieces, including God’ Solution for a Frac/tur\ed America.[18]

Mr. Ransil’ article echoed the pro-Trump, Christian Evangelical apologetic that is widespread.[19] Its argument was that Trump’s negative personal and moral qualities were of little or no account, and what really mattered was his protection of Christian values and defense of the vital interests of the American people.[20] As far as it goes, it is a logical argument to make.  But by them I was concerned by the “collateral” spiritual damage he and his Republican Evangelical supporters are inflicting on American Christianity.

To start, I would like to point out that President Trump’s conduct, speech and tweets negates the tradition, begun with George Washington, that our presidents be morally upright and act as gentlemen. The end product of the gentleman tradition is that the Presidency has had a “bully pulpit” of moral order and persuasion that has been used to from time to time to bring about moral good. Of course, none of our presidents have been saints, and many had serious moral flaws that were often hidden from the public, as in John F. Kennedy’s womanizing. But being a gentleman is not a small thing. It really is the product of centuries of Christian culture and was especially influenced by the norms for men established in the Victorian (Christian) era. These norms are often ridiculed today by the secular Left, but we can see now that such norms were the one of the foundations that permitted civil discourse among politicians of opposing views.

But President Trump has changed all of this with his aggressive speech, uncharitable, reviling tweets and off the cuff remarks. These are often filled with ridicule of others and disparaging, school-yard name calling, such as “Cheating Hillary,” “Sleepy Joe” [Biden],” “Crazy Pelosi.” directed at practically everyone who opposes him.[21]

Trump’s lack of argumentative decency is the very opposite of rational discourse which could lead to communication and dialogue with the political opposition. I am older than most readers of this essay and can affirm I do not remember any such linguistic boorishness from presidents Truman, Kennedy, Eisenhower, the Bushes, Clinton or Obama. President Johnson came vaguely close when he called those who opposed his Vietnam policies “Nervous Nellies,” but that was not directed to specific persons. For instance, he never personally ridiculed the chief critique of his Vietnam policy, Senator Eugene McCarthy. That was just not done. But Trump has now established personal ridicule as normal. The Bible calls this being a loidoroi, “reviler,” or “slandered” (depending on translation) and it is a serious sin. In 1 Cor 6: 9-10 Paul writes:

Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. (NASB)

In this scripture reviling it is identified as a very serious sin, and a person who habitually does this, a reviler, is excluded from the Kingdom of God. In my years as a Christian, I cannot recall a sermon denouncing reviling as a major sin even though that is plain in this scripture. To be clear, Paul is here talking about a consistent pattern of behavior, as in a constant fornicator, thief, reviler, etc. God’s forgiveness covers us as we stumble. For instance, a husband and wife may have a verbal blow-up, and both say reviling things to one another, but one or two incidents of this does not make them “revilers.”  But both Jesus and Paul were concerned about lifestyles of un-repented unrighteous. They would not stand for that. Again, for instance, in 1 Cor 5: 1-5 Paul instructs the Corinthian congregation to expel the sexually immoral son who is sleeping with his stepmother and does not stop it (see also Gal 5: 19-20).

It is significant that many Evangelical Christians who support Trump admit that his personal conduct and communications are awful, but still support him.[22] There is both a hypocrisy and an irony here, even if not consciously so. The hypocrisy is in the fact that President Clinton was lambasted by most Christian Evangelicals as unfit for office because of his sexual immorality with his office intern and other women. The irony is that former vice-president Mike Pence is the picture of a Christian gentlemen politician and was an effective Christian politician as governor of Indiana. Pence agreed with and boosted Trump’s policies, but His conduct and speech are foils to those who rationalize Trump’s boorishness by saying only such an ill-mannered person could effectively bring forth conservative policies.

Many of Trump’s supporters believe he is a Christian because various clergy supporters say he is, including such prominent TV ministers such as Paula White and Kenneth Copeland, and because Trump has affirmed he is several times.[23]  Mr. Ransil points out in his article that Trump often is seen with ministers surrounding him and laying hands on him in prayer. But to my knowledge there is no recorded instance of him personally saying a thoughtful, or unthoughtful, prayer. Trump’s own candid statements contradict that he is a Christian. He has said in the past that he never sinned, and most recently, when asked if he ever asked God for forgiveness for his sins replied:

“I am not sure I have, I just go and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so. I think, if I do something wrong, I think I just try to make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.[24]

Note that this disqualifies him from the Evangelical definition of being a Christian. This has always included a process of conviction of sin, repentance, and asking God for forgiveness. Why Trump believes himself to be a Christian is partly explained in the church he attended as a youth. It was Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s Marble Collegiate Church in New York City, where he was confirmed. But Dr. Peale’s sermons were sermons of encouragement and self-help, and he did not preach the Evangelical understanding of sin, repentance and the atonement, as well noted by Peale’s Evangelical critics.

Back to Ransil’s article. More seriously, Ransil presents a distorted view of the Gospel in order to define President Trump as a true, if “baby,” Christian. This is also often repeated by Trump followers. Ransil’s view is based on Paul’s argument in Romans that salvation comes by faith alone and is not dependent on works or morality. He begins his argument with the Gospel episode of Jesus pardoning the woman caught in adultery (John 8: 3-11) Ransil makes the point that Jesus’ forgiveness makes her and her partner’s sin unimportant in view of Jesus’ atoning grace. Not true. Ransil does not mention the end of the passage where Jesus tells the woman to “sin no more.”[25]

This leads to the twisted point of Ransil’s understanding of Paul’s theology, that accepting Jesus as Lord and savior is the primary thing of the Gospel and thus, conduct matters little, “[Paul’s message] means that “morality per se is not the focus of Christianity – like it is for Judaism and all other religions. Rather it is an abiding, personal relationship with the living God through spiritual rebirth…”[26]

This is a distortion of the Gospel. Paul in Romans 7 – 8 certainly affirms that the Christian has access to tremendous graces of forgiveness for their failures and sins. That is, as the Christians walk in faith, they stumble, but in subsequent confession should experience “no condemnation” (Rom 8:1). But this is not an apologetic for a life of non-repentance and inattention to God’s established moral law – as in the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Munt, or as Jesus summarized it, to love God and others.

Ransil’s argument is a falsehood that starts with the truth that good works do not save us but leads to the fallacy that evil deeds and words are of little importance in the Christian’s life – this for the sake of letting Trump off the hook. This misunderstanding has been a problem for the Church since its inception. Paul specifically condemned it in Romans 6:15, What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!?”

This error (heresy) is called “antinomianism.” Luther had to fight it among some of his followers, who like Mr. Ransil, took Paul’s insights as license to avoid the Gospel demand for holiness. Antinomianism has had a various manifestations in Church history. A tragic and important example was the monk Rasputin, who was influential in the Russian Czarist court during World War I. He believed that to be truly repentant one must sin exceedingly, so he organized regular orgies within the Czarist court where adultery was encouraged. These were followed by repeated periods of repentance. His antics so discredited Czar Alexander and his court that many historians see Rasputin as a major factor in the overthrow of the Czar and the subsequent rise of the Communist Russia.[27]

It is not an issue of merely Trump’s boorishness and reviling being excused, rather a whole cluster of public sinful behaviors and attitudes that Trump manifest consistently and has given no indication of repentance or change. For example, President Trump practices boasting to an incredible degree. Trump has spoken a series of “I know more than anyone on…”boasts including that he knew more about ISIS terrorism than anyone. What! There are intelligence specialists in the US and other countries that study ISIS fulltime. Trump rarely has the patience to read his intelligence reports.[28]

In his inaugural address he boasted that by his becoming president that gang crime would stop “[T]he crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

No noticeable change on this since he took office.[29] Boasting is denounced as sin in both the Old and New Testaments. The Bibleis filled with warnings against it.

I say to the boastful, “Do not boast,”
and to the wicked, “Do not lift up your horn;
do not lift up your horn on high,
or speak with insolent neck.” (Psalm 75:4-6)

The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge,
but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. (Prov 15:2)

Fools find no pleasure in understanding
but delight in airing their own opinions. (Prov 18:2)

All of which is to say that Mr. Ransil’s antinomian apologetic of Trump’s behavior, which echoes many Evangelical voices, has created a dangerous antinomian mind set among American Evangelical Christians. Without conscious effort (but probably with demonic assistance) the Trump apologists have obscured what is perhaps one of the finest elements of American Christianity, the quest for holiness that was the core of Methodism and its offshoots, such as the Holiness denominations that birthed Pentecostalism.[30]

Many persons have observed the antinomian erosion of manners among Believers as many follow the Trump example, consciously or unconsciously, of rudeness and reviling others. This is tragically common among young students.[31] It is also especially noticeable on Facebook. A decade ago, when I began writing on Facebook, Christians could discuss controversial issues with charity and courtesy even in serious disagreements; we tried to be Christian ladies and gentlemen. That has steadily eroded. For instance, one Christian minister recently messaged me on Facebook he wished I would choke to death for writing a book critical to Trump. That would not have happened six years ago.

Another Facebook friend, a professor of Christian history in a UK seminary told me of a disturbing incident. Part of his course was a lecture on American Evangelicalism, but when he began his talk a student stood up and said, “We have no interest in American Evangelicalism and its ugliness.” The other student cheered at this, and he had to skip that lecture and go on to another topic. Just recently the French Minister of the Interior (equivalent to our Homeland Security Department) Gérald Darmanin, said that Evangelicals are a “problem” to France, though not as serious as the Islamists.[32]  That would not have been said before the Trump era.

I have discovered that when I speak with a Trump supporter about his immoral behavior they often answer, “Touch not my anointed,” quoting the incident when David he had the opportunity to kill Saul, who was pursuing him (1 Sam 24:3-7). This is a confusion between assault and verbal reproof.

No, a kingly anointing does not excuse a justified reproof.  Pertaining to David the best king of all, he was not only rebuked by Nathan, but also by the commander of his army, Joab, when David lamented the death of his son Absalom. Absalom had just led a revolt against the King and would have killed David and his court had he triumphed.

Then Joab went into the house to the king and said, “Today you have humiliated all your men, who have just saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the lives of your wives and concubines. You love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that the commanders and their men mean nothing to you. I see that you would be pleased if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead. Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come on you from your youth till now.”  (2 Sam 19:6-7)

To note, David had not sinned against the Ten Commandments, as he had done with Bathsheba, but he failed in his leadership duties, and this earned him Joab’s firm and just reproof.

How did such a cult form so quickly?

How is it that the Trump cult formed so quickly, and included so many reasonable and good Christians?  The answer is tragically simple. It is the effect of a series of false prophecies that many Christian Evangelicals, Pentecostals and charismatics (EPCs) took as true.[33]  Starting about 2015 several prophecies from different persons circulated proclaiming that Donald Trump would be the next President of the United States. Further, that he would be a “Cyrus” figure, that is, a person not particularly pious, but one destined to “restore the Temple” – restore America to its Christian heritage.  The most influential of these prophecies was a book written by a retired fireman Mark Taylor, The Trump Prophecies.[34] The prophecies pandered to the fears and hopes of conservative Republicans who rightly were concerned by the secular drift of the Obama administration.

Mr. Taylor claimed that, starting about 2011, the Lord both spoke to him and gave him various visions about the coming presidency of Donald Trump. Other than being correct about Trump being elected in 2016, the prophecies are filled with things that God could not have said and prophecies that have proven false. For instance, Taylor prophesied in 2017 that soon after Trump’s election the national media would see that Trump was a great man and laud his administration. He also prophesied that Trump would have two consecutive terms and nominate and see seated five justices to the Supreme Court.  In addition, the 2018 congressional elections would be a Republican landslide. The opposite was true of course, and in fact the Democrats won the House of Representatives.

Many of Taylor’s prophecies were viciously partisan and could not have possibly come from God.  Here is what God supposedly said about Hilary Clinton and President Barak Obama

Beware, beware, the enemy roams about seeking whom he can devour and this sitting president [Obama] is doing that in this hour [2016]. He’s full of lies and deceit and is very hateful; he spreads division and corruption with every mouthful. Beware when he says, “look over here, what the right hand is doing” to divert your attention from what the left hand is doing, is his intention. This is a setup from this President and his minions, from the hate, the division, and Hilary Clinton. …For the signs are clear to see, that this President and his minions shall try for thee. A sign will be, he will try to and take the guns so the people can’t rise up and stop him when he tries to run [for a third term].[35]

The Holy Spirit does not rail against living persons and declare them evil, but if they are doing wrong, urges then to repentance. This utterance was most likely from a demonic source using Taylor’s suspicions and fears. Time has proven the prophetic utterance totally false. Note also God’s supposed interest in gun right as if he were an NRA charter member. The biblical evidence is that the Lord sees weapons and war as evil, but sometimes necessary, as in driving out the pagan peoples from the promised land. But warfare and armaments are not a spiritual positive. We are to trust God, not weaponry. Psalm 20, verse 7 declares, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” (See also Isaiah 31:1). In fact, the long-standing tradition of the Church is that if blood is shed in violence in a church, it must be reconsecrated.[36]

Another intemperate, partisan salvo against Obama that has proven false:

For this man who holds the title of President of the United States, will begin to lose his grip from it and be stripped of it, for I the Lord God will rip it from him. The man who calls himself the Commander in Chief, is nothing more than a lying deceitful Thief!”[37]

Obama left the White House with dignity, and in his inaugural address Trump recognized the gracious cooperation that Obama gave his transition team.

Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent.[38]

Taylor’s book, The Trump Prophecies, was co-authored by Mary Colbert, an influential writer and editor who worked to gather a large number of  EPC pastors to accept Taylor’s prophecy and pray for Trump’s election, and then for the success of his presidency. She formed a group that would eventually become Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board. These included many of the most influential pastors in America such as Kenneth Copeland, James Dobson, Jerry Farwell, Jr,. They met with and prayed over Trump many times – and provided him with splendid photo opts.

Why did these and other Christian leaders fall for false prophecies about Trump?  Why their uncritical acceptance of this Taylor’s and other Trump as Cyrus prophecies?  This was predicated on a flaw in EPC theological education and understanding. These groups, and their Bible colleges, mostly dismisses the history and experience of Church history that is not Protestant or current. Thus, most Evangelicals and Pentecostals have little or no access to the classic discernment literature of the historic liturgical churches, principally the Roman Catholic, and their experience in false prophecy, cultic prophetic movements, and the discernment of prophecy.

One of the things The Catholic discernment literature teaches is that false prophecies are easily circulated among groups that share the same cultural and political beliefs, and especially the desires that accompany these beliefs.[39] As in the Taylor prophecies, the Evangelical leaders in the President’s Advisory Board all shared a dislike of Obama and the Democratic party in general, and these opinions loomed large in their mind. But the prophetic voice of God is most always a “small still voice,” that is easily overwhelmed by strong opinions or desires.

Very few EPC leaders know much about Church history, and of how the Catholic Church had to deal with various cultic groups such as the Albigensian, and the earlier Montanist sect.[40]  Those experiences were incorporated in the Catholic theology of discernment of prophecies – but of course this was not studied in Evangelical institutions.[41] Often the truncated version of Church history the EPCs get is a brief, romantic version. It does not give much attention to the extremist sects that broke out during the Reformation – and the discernment lessons therein. In more recent times there was a major incident of false prophecy issued by the revered founder of Teen Challenge David Wilkerson in 1973.[42] His totally bogus prophecy, an excellent lesson on how a good person can issue a demonically inspired prophecy, occurred before most of the current Evangelical leaders were born.

Thus, the Evangelical leaders did not recognize even the gross comments about Taylor on Obama.  Many of them had such a poor understanding of the discernment process in prophecy that when Trump lost the 2020 election they were reluctant to admit that the prophecies about his reelection were false. Kenneth Copeland, perhaps the most important living figure in the “Word of Faith” movement, famously laughed at the 2020 election results.[43] He and his staff continued to repeat that God would miraculously install Trump, not Biden as the next president. This belief was held by many Trump Cultists and was a major point of the tweets and internet traffic from QAnon conspiracy theorists.  Another Trump Cultist minister, Reeni Mederos, insisted on her much viewed “Mysteran TV” that Trump was the real president and Biden an impostor, and so it continues on the internet, ad nauseum.

The original acceptance of the false prophecies by EPC by leaders back in 2017 made it seem infallible by local Christians. If the leaders, which included many pastors of mega-churches saw Trump as Cyrus Messiah for the Church, why should they doubt it?  Any skepticism was written off as “unbelief.”  The constant repetition of the “Trump will be president” because he was selected by God acted as a divine mandate to many and this voided any argument or prayerful discernment over the issue. Immediately many fell into the total apologetic posture in regard to his personal flaws and dishonest commercial dealings.  Nothing mattered, because he was God’ anointed.

Damage to America Foreign policy-spiritual implications

In this article I have avoided arguing about many of Trump’s specific policies, and in fact many of them seem to have been beneficial.  But Trump’s foreign policy is one area where spiritual error has led to great harm for this country and others.  One can almost hear Ayn Rand speaking here hurtful ideology of selfishness in Trump’s inaugural address. Trump dressed it up as “America First.”  It dismisses the idea that America has a particular duty to help others because it has been so blessed (American exceptionalism).  In effect it diminished our efforts in World War II, and the Cold War and our tremendous effort in treasure and blood to fight and contain evil, and reduces everything to America’s immediate self-interest with little thought of others.

A historical aside here: World War II was fought partly for our defense, and partly for others. Japan attacked us because our oil embargo was hindering her assault on China and her other plans for an empire in Asia. We could have negotiated a pace giving Japan full occupation rights over China, etc., but that was seen as morally wrong. In Europe a similar accommodation could have been made, leaving Europe to the Nazi’s. There was indeed an “America First” movement led by the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh that argued that Germany was invincible, and the United States had best be neutral as England fought Germany in the years of 1940-1941. That too was possible, but with terrible potential consequences for the Jews, Poles and other European races the Nazi’s deemed inferior.

Franklin D. Roosevelt kept America legally neutral, but effectively aided the British with the lend-lease program and hindered the Japanese with an oil embargo. Then Japan attacked at Pearl Harbor and Hitler declared war on the United States. On both the Pacific and European fronts peace treaties cold have been worked out during 1943 on a less than victorious outcomes, and far less casualties for Americans but forgoing the liberation of Europe and sacrificing the Chinese. But the war lasted until the total defeat of the Japan and Germany and the liberation of the peoples under their cruel domination. It was a war for the safety and protection of the American people and for others.

The Cold War against Communism quickly followed (1948-1989). This period included several hot wars, including those fought by the French in Indo China and the British in Malaya, and of course, our wars in Korea and Vietnam. Again, there is little doubt that Communism unopposed would have in the long run meant communist armies on our borders. But all of our blood and treasure of the Cold was mostly for others. The British succeeded in keep Malaya free, and our result was a great success in establishing a democratic, prosperous and religiously vibrant Korea, but failure in Vietnam.

In his inaugural address President Kennedy articulated the continuity of  the “us and others” goal of American foreign policy thru opposing Communism:

Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans–born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage–and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.[44]

When I got to Vietnam (June 1968) I was assigned to the 101st Airmobile Division, and there was still hope among the troops that the war could be won with results being similar to our achievements in Korea. Many of us felt we were in the tradition of our fathers and uncles in World War II, fighting a war for our long-term security, but also for others in the present. It did not work out as the war effort was undermined by the anti-war movement.

Trump’s foreign policy has ended the “us and for others” tradition and national goals. It is more like “America only,” not America first.  For instance, many in the U.S. military were shocked by Trump’s abrupt betrayal of the Kurds in abandoning their interests to the Syrians and Turks. There was no official treaty with the Kurds, so Trump, as Commander in Chief could do so, but it was straight out of the Ayn Rand “Objectionist” playbook of selfishness and of “us only.”  We betrayed an ally that for years had done the brunt of the fighting against ISIS. It was a dishonorable thing. In the future, who will trust us again if we make alliances with groups and nations in our fight against Islamists or other threats?

It is hard to maintain that Trump’s policies made “America great again,” Rather he is diminished its reputation as a reliable ally and protector of freedom. Perhaps Trump’s rise to the Presidency was Satan’s ploy to confuse, diminish and divide American Christian and reduce America’s positive influence in the world.

[1] Ross Douthat, “How the Republican Party Could Break,” New Your Times. Posted Jan., 12, 2021. 

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/12/opinion/trump-republican-party.html

[2] Morgan Lee, “How American Evangelicals Lost Credibility with the Global Church,” Christianity Today. Posted Jan. 27, 2021.  https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/podcasts/quick-to-listen/global-church-american-evangelicals-trump-trust-podcast.html

[3] Especially influential was the work of Evagrius of Pontus, whose writings led to the Church’s understanding of the “seven deadly sins.” He was a master of understanding the demonic spiritual influences that all Christians experience. See Evagrius of Pontus: The Greek Ascetic Corpus. Translated by Robert E. Sinkewicz, (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2003).

[4] As pictured in the fictitious movie “Apocalypto” 2006, by Mel Gibson.

[5] See the surprisingly fair assessment of Trump’s achievements in the Left leaning magazine Politico: Doug Palmer, “30 Things Donald Trump Did as President You Might Have Missed.” Posted Jan. 18, 2020

www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/01/18/trump-presidency-administration-biggest-impact-policy-analysis-451479See also the Biden’s administration praise for the Trump brokered “Abraham Accords” between Israel and several Arab states. Scot Detrow, “Biden Won’t Reverse All of Trump’s Foreign Policy. Here’s What He’ll Keep,” NPR. Posted Jan. 29, 2021. https://www.npr.org/sections/president-biden-takes-office/2021/01/29/962090301/biden-wont-reverse-all-of-trumps-foreign-policy-heres-what-hell-keep

[6] Lest the reader misconstrue that I am pro-abortion rights, not so. Note my play “Doing the Stuff at St. John’s,” in: William De Arteaga, Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts). (Amazon: 2017). In

that work I dramatize an experience I had 25 years ago in baptizing an aborted baby and naming in a proxy baptism via its mother (1 Cor 15:29). The child, which had been aborted 5 years earlier by a severe beating, momentarily appeared next the mother as a five-year old, as in saying “thank you.” This indicates that the month-old fetus was indeed a true human being.

[7] Steven Hassen, The Trump Cult (New York: Free Press, 2020). For a personal narrative on how a good Christian mom entered the Trump cult via Qanon, see Donie O’Sullivan,  “She was stunned by Biden’s Inauguration,” CNNBusiness. Posted Feb 3, 2021.  https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/03/tech/qanon-mom-former-believer/index.html?fbclid=IwAR2KYkO3Dy7dTX_asA81GFZW9nphm2GU42xcFgQwby9UV1-coL2nWOwkePQ

[8] Brown has spent much of January 2021 on his program “Line of Fire” calling out the lunacy and stubbornness of the false prophets of Trump’s second term. Brown is one of the elders of the charismatic movement and his writings and broadcast consistently show great Christian wisdom and maturity.

[9] Jim RutenbergJo BeckerEric LiptonMaggie HabermanJonathan MartinMatthew Rosenberg and Michael S. Schmidt, “77 Days: Trump’s Campaign to Subvert the Election,” New York Times. Posted Feb. 1, 2021.  https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/31/us/trump-election-lie.html

[10] David Brooks, “Trump Ignites a War Within the Church,” New York Times. Posted Jan. 14, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/14/opinion/trump-evangelicals.html

[11] David A. Graham, “Government Officials Are Living in Fear of Trump’s Tweets,”

Atlantic. Posted Nov. 4, 2019. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/11/trumps-tweets/601387/

[12] On Pence being slandered as coward: Maureen Groppe, “An ‘angry’ Pence navigates the fallout of his rupture with Trump over election, Capitol riots,” USA Today. Posted Jan. 8, 2021. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2021/01/08/pences-break-trump-comes-amid-25th-amendment-talk-capitol-riots/6582212002/

 [13] The Economist, “Adam Kinzinger is making a lone stand against Donald Trump,” The Economist. Posted Feb. 6, 2021.  https://www.economist.com/united-states/2021/02/06/adam-kinzinger-is-making-a-lone-stand-against-donald-trump

[14] See my discussion of this in my book Discerning Trump’s, chapter 3, “The Spiritual Decline and Fall of the Republican Party.”

[15] Here is just one of many examples that could be cited: Robert FarleyAnother Dubious Trump Attack on “Fake News’” Fact Check.org, posted 12 Dec, 2019.  https://www.factcheck.org/2019/12/another-dubious-trump-attack-on-fake-news/

[16] Jim RutenbergJo BeckerEric LiptonMaggie HabermanJonathan MartinMatthew Rosenberg and Michael S. Schmidt, “77 Days to Subvert the Election,” New York Times. Posted Jan 31, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/31/us/trump-election-lie.html

[17] De Arteaga, “Why Christians.” And William De Arteaga, On Discerning Trump’s Character and His Presidency (Amazon: 20202).

[18] (Amazon:2018) His author page is: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=leonard+ransil&i=digital-text&ref=nb_sb_noss These works are especially good for a theologian who wishes to study an articulate, modern antinomianism. Interestingly, Mr. Ransil is a citizen and resident of Australia, but writes like a passionate, patriotic American.

[19] Another articulate view similar to Ransil’s is by the well-known blogger, James P. Riley, “Trump and the Pharisees,” JPR. Posted Aug. 11, 2016. https://www.jamespatrickriley.com/index.php/religious-spirit/?fbclid=IwAR2KnKc03B1gjBZ2nm-ZdBRwlgOqBH1u7DxFV7nZMXI5aTBAx6HUaR3OF0M

See also Franklin Graham’s apologetic for Trump in his Facebook post for Oct, 16, 2016.   https://www.facebook.com/FranklinGraham/posts/1277648282291350

[20] Lenord J. Ransil, “Understanding Evangelical Support for President Donald Trump.” Pentecostal Theology. Blog, posted Feb. 2, 2020.  http://www.pentecostaltheology.com/evangelical-support-trump/?fbclid=IwAR3dntl5e3xVRTHYMNdBIHpth2Z2RNGZ_EE92qCcppZ5ORM-bsj-zDosScM

[21] Wikipedia has a page,List of nicknames used by Donald Trump”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nicknames_used_by_Donald_Trump?fbclid=IwAR1q5R2BREVW9oVJ0Lkk-VkGVnO7eojQ9Vwk4N_gMzAnCIjkmrXMxwqcBb4#Domestic_political_figures

[22] Kate Shellnut, “White Christians: Trump May Not Be a Good Person, But He is a good President,” Christianity Today, Posted March 13, 2020.  https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/march/trump-white-christians-evangelicals-presidential-policies-e.html

[23] This is a criticism, but not a general attack on the Rev. Copeland, whom I believe has a strong and biblical message about the role of faith in the Christian’s life.

[24] From C-Spn. https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4585899/user-clip-trump-god-forgiveness&fbclid=IwAR0Vsz9kdMgiMm5fiZhUvcYrAVW__dNqH5aMyfMCz1_t75f_kb5MKFeW_Z0

[25] Ransil, “Understading.”

[26] Ibid.

[27] Sturat Friedman, Rasputin: The Mad Monk (Derby: Monarch Books, 1963).

[28] On the list of “I know more…” boasts see Haley Britsky, “Everything Trumps says he “knows more about than anybody,” Axios, Posted Jan 5, 2019. https://www.axios.com/everything-trump-says-he-knows-more-about-than-anybody-b278b592-cff0-47dc-a75f-

[29] Inaugural speech can be downloaded at:   https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/the-inaugural-address/

[30]  Vinson Synan, The Holiness Pentecostal Movement in the United States (Alba: 1972).

[31]Clare Lombardo, Virginia Study Finds Increased School Bullying In Areas That Voted For Trump, NPR. Posted January 9, 20193.  https://www.npr.org/2019/01/09/683177489/virginia-study-finds-increased-school-bullying-in-areas-that-voted-for-trump

 [32] Joel Foster, “French Minister of Interior says, “evangelicals are a very important problem,” Evangelical Focus: Europe. Posted Jan., 4, 2021. https://evangelicalfocus.com/europe/10061/french-minister-of-interior-says-evangelicals-are-a-very-important-problem?fbclid=IwAR2XRzgRgBcRPdGuNoZa0mNLQn_5nZO2GV2Lab6QywRdTLuVz21y8u71-uQ

[33] The following paragraphs are a summary of a detailed version from my work, On Discerning Trump’s Character. Chapter 4.

[34] Mark Taylor and Mary Colbert, The Trump Prophecies (Crane MO: Defender, 2017).

[35] Taylor, Trump, 149

[36] I blogged on the gun control debate and its underlying spiritual issues years ago, “Gun Control Debate From One Unusual Perspective,” Pentecostal Theology. Posted Nov. 2, 2016. https://www.pentecostaltheology.com/gun-control-debate-from-one-unusual-perspective/

[37] Taylor, Trump. 165.

[38] From inaugural address.

[39]Among the best in the Catholic tradition is Karl Rhaner’s Visions and Prophesies, in Inquiries (New York: Herder & Herder, 1964).

[40] This section is a much-reduced version of an article I wrote on the topic “Why Christians Fell for False Prophecy,” Pneuma Review. Posted Jan. 12, 2021.  http://pneumareview.com/why-christians-fell-for-false-prophecy/

[41] There are of course notable exceptions to this, as in Regent University in Virginia Beach which has splendid and full courses in Church history.

[42] A detailed account of the Wilkerson false prophecy, see my work, On Discerning, chapter 4.  The Wilkerson false prophecy is found in his book, David Wilkerson, The Vision (New York: Pyramid, 1974).

[43] The Rev. Copelands maniacal laugh on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBkegy4aDvk

[44] Transcript of President John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address (1961), https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=91&page=transcript

 

William DeArteaga

William L. De Arteaga, Ph.D., is known internationally as a Christian historian and expert on revivals and the rebirth and renewal of the Christian healing movement. His major works include, Quenching the Spirit (Creation House, 1992, 1996), Forgotten Power: The Significance of the Lord’s Supper in Revival (Zondervan, 2002), and Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal (Wipf & Stock, 2015). Bill pastored two Hispanic Anglican congregations in the Marietta, Georgia area, and is semi-retired. He and his wife Carolyn continue in their healing, teaching and writing ministries. He is the state chaplain of the Order of St. Luke, encouraging the ministry of healing in all Christian denominations.

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