Saturday, July 30, 2016

A Never Trump Response to Wayne Grudem

Dr. Grudem just wrote an article explaining his support for Donald Trump. It can be found here:

To say I was shocked is putting it mildly. Several people have asked for my thoughts, so here they are:

First, I have a great love and admiration for Dr. Grudem. His systematic theology book is one of the most impactful books in my life. The ability he demonstrates to graciously explain complex issues is incredible.

Second, Dr. Grudem and I agree, in broad terms, on the major issues. His aims and mine largely overlap.

Third, I hope two things: (1) I hope I’m wrong about what kind of president Donald Trump would be and (2) he’s elected and does great things. But I still can’t vote for him.

Fourth, Dr. Grudem made some incredibly compelling arguments, particularly when speaking about what a Trump and Clinton presidency might each look like. The Supreme Court in particular is of grave concern.

Fifth, evangelicals who support and oppose Trump are usually talking past each other. We both think Hillary Clinton would be a bad president. But the “Pro” (I use the term loosely) Trump evangelicals focus on her flaws while the Never Trumpers acknowledge those flaws but find Trump’s appalling enough to be unfit for office.

Sixth, Dr. Grudem did something that I think crosses an important line and it greatly troubled me. Not only did he say that Trump was a better candidate than Hillary Clinton…he said that Trump was a good candidate with flaws. I understand someone making the decision to vote for him but I cannot understand an evangelical calling him good.

Seventh, Dr. Grudem went one more step. He implies that refusing to vote for Trump is wrong: “if someone votes for a write-in candidate instead of voting for Trump, this action will directly help Hillary Clinton, because she will need one less vote to win. Therefore the question that Christians should ask is this: Can I in good conscience act in a way that helps a liberal like Hillary Clinton win the presidency?”

This is an argument I have heard many times. My response is that the likelihood of me voting for Hillary is just as likely as me voting for Trump (0%). Therefore, by that logic, by writing in a candidate, I have actually also given a vote to Trump. You’re welcome. (My actual hope is that analytics people will analyze who did and did not vote for a candidate and why. Your vote counts…and so does your write-in vote.

Eighth, Dr. Grudem’s assessment of Trump’s character was naïve…and wrong. He writes: “I believe that character does matter, but I think Trump’s character is far better than what is portrayed by much current political mud-slinging, and far better than his opponent’s character.”

And here is our most fundamental difference. The problem for me is not that I find HRC an acceptable candidate. The problem is I find Trump has also disqualified himself for the presidency. See below

Ninth, since Dr. Grudem asked, here’s why I can’t support Trump…

#1: I can’t vote for Trump because he is uninformed and/or doesn’t care about the issues that matter most to me.

Throughout the primary and now the general election, Trump has shown a frightening lack of knowledge about issues. Many of his statements that are offensive to evangelicals are dismissed because he hasn’t “thought through” issues. His ignorance is dangerous.

And, for evangelicals who believe he is better on the issues, what has he stated are his "official positions"? Here are two pages from his website, the two pages that deal with his official positions:

Notice there is nothing about (1) abortion/pro-life; (2) freedom of conscience for religious institutions (even under health care sections); (3) same-sex marriage; (4) transgender issues; or (5) Supreme Court nominations.

Mr. Trump just gave the longest acceptance speech of any presidential candidate since 1972. Number of times he mentioned the pro-life issue: 0. Number of times he mentioned defending religious freedom: 0. Number of times he mentioned any of the social issues Dr. Grudem is banking on him accomplishing: 0.

That’s to say nothing of issues that are important to me just as an American who wants my children to grow up in a world that is safe. He has a bad understanding of global and economic issues. If we vote for Trump, we are putting an uninformed, narcissist individual in the White House.

#2: I can’t vote for Trump because his temperament is dangerous. The temper of an angry man is dangerous. “A hot tempered person stirs up conflict” (Proverbs 15:18). “Do not associate with one easily angered (Proverbs 22:24). “Fools give full vent to their rage” (Proverbs 29:11). “A man without self control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Proverbs 25:28). The company of a fool is dangerous. There is no insult so small that he is unwilling to take offense and respond to.

His pride also represents a danger to our nation. “The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished…. Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud” (Proverbs 16:5, 18-19).

#3: I can’t vote for Trump because he is a liar, meaning I can’t trust him not to turn on me when convenient.

You don’t have to look far to find examples that prove he is willing to lie to get certain groups to back him.

He has also has lied about releasing his tax returns and his charitable giving (which, to me, is particularly concerning as he tries to court evangelicals): 

Here are things that seem to be lies but are at least confidently/arrogantly stated untruths (maybe mistakenly):

The lie(?)about Medicare in the above example was particularly galling to me because I watched him say it in a debate even when the moderators pointed out that you couldn't save $300 billion on a program that only spent $78 billion TOTAL!

He has no shame when confronted with obvious falsehoods.

#4: I can’t vote for Trump because I love my daughters and my wife (and my mom, sister, etc.).

Trump is a sleazy individual and evangelicals should conclude that his sleaziness makes him as unfit to be president.

I’m not looking for a pastor for president. I don’t care (in a political sense) if Trump is or is not a Christian.

But it’s hard to escape this fact. He is one sleazy individual…

(1) He is an accused child rapist or at least friends with a pedophile who Trump said "likes beautiful women as much as I do" and even some "on the younger side." If it bothers you that Bill Clinton went to “Sex Slave Island” with a pedophile….guess what? SO did Donald Trump!

(2) If you think he is an “amazing” business man, you are partly admiring his financial profiting from the sex industry: 

(3) he makes derogatory comments about women, focusing on their physical appearance.

#5: I can’t vote for Trump because I love my friends who are from different cultures.

Evangelicals, a person willing to exploit one group of individuals for his personal gain will be willing to exploit multiple groups for his personal gain. I believe Trump will make you a scapegoat just like he’s doing to minorities if it suits his agenda.

Tenth, I would encourage people to vote for and support down-ballot candidates who will be able to oppose either Trump or Hillary.