In the form of a letter from a young follower disturbed about this support for Trump, evangelical theologian Wayne Grudem once again defends his support of the president. In a piece at Town Hall, he makes his case:
Grudem claims he is voting entirely on policy:
A few months ago, while the impeachment trial was going on, a younger faculty colleague asked me at lunch, “What would Trump have to do to make you stop supporting him?” My response was something like this: “I would stop supporting him if he began to favor higher taxes, more government regulation, a weaker military, open borders, judges who believed in a “living Constitution,” extended abortion rights, restrictions on freedom of religion, hostility toward Israel…
Later in the letter he says, “Can you understand that I am seeking to influence politics because of the Bible (italics are Grudem’s), because of my conviction that the Bible speaks to all of life.” He adds, “Don’t you think that Jesus wants his disciples to influence the world for good?”
Grudem is a Christian ethicist, theologian, and New Testament scholar. He knows that the Bible does not teach anything about tax policy, government regulation, borders, the U.S. Constitution, and freedom of religion. Grudem tells his young friend that he cares about how the Bible speaks to all of life. If this is true, and I believe it is, then Grudem needs to consider what the Bible says about life, peace, justice, love, care for the poor, creation, the role of good government, and welcoming strangers. I can’t believe I need to say this to a guy who has been teaching Christian theology for decades. I have sat under his teaching.
Grudem then goes on to defend Donald Trump’s character:
At the heart of our disagreement is the fact that my evaluation of Donald Trump’s character is more positive than your evaluation. Can we least agree that the evaluation of a person’s character is a complex process that requires wise judgments based on a wide variety of factors, and that people can legitimately disagree in their honest assessments of someone else’s character?…
Do you really know what his motives are? It is appropriate to be cautious in speaking about another person’s motives. It is often difficult to know the motives in our own hearts regarding decisions that we make. And our evaluation of other people’s motives is influenced significantly by our previous opinions about them.
This argument may have held a tiny bit of water in 2016, but it no longer does. We have seen the heart of Donald Trump.
And then there is this:
What will Trump do in a second term? The best basis for predicting his conduct in a second term is his conduct for the past four years. If in a second term Donald Trump acts in the way he has acted in his first term, this will bring a continued strong economy, a strengthened military, better trade terms with other nations, a secure border, more originalist judges, stronger protections for unborn children, strong employment and wage growth, greater energy independence, greater school choice, more safety in inner cities, protection of religious freedoms, and greater liberty for Americans in general.
I do agree with Grudem’s second sentence in this paragraph.
Grudem does not like the left’s ad hominem arguments against Trump:
It has seemed to me recently that the strategy of the political left has been to deemphasize policy arguments (where their progressive policies cannot prevail in elections) and to focus their efforts on attacks against the person they are running against. To put it in simple terms, many prominent Democrats have shifted from arguing, “The Republican candidate has bad policies” to arguing, “The Republican candidate is a bad person.” (And even, “If you support Trump you are a bad person” – which stifles healthy political discussion.)
This approach has been helped by a shamefully biased mainstream media including the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, NBC, CBS, and ABC. I receive a newsfeed each morning from the New York Times and the Washington Post, and their blatantly biased reporting reveals a hostility toward President Trump unlike anything I’ve seen regarding any other political leader in my lifetime.
I think it is pretty clear that the “Republican candidate” IS a “bad person.” This makes him bad for the country and bad for the church. Grudem’s claim that ad hominem attacks on political candidates are only coming from the left make me wonder if he is even paying attention.
Finally, Grudem addresses his legacy:
You say that if I write another article in defense of Trump, “You will be tarnishing your theological legacy for the sake of a man who does not deserve it.”
I’m deeply aware that God has given me a positive reputation in much of the evangelical world, and I count that reputation as a stewardship from God. I’m deeply aware of the responsibility that comes with that stewardship. “It is required of stewards that they be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2).
But I have been thinking that God might want me to use whatever influence I have to help the country move in the right direction politically. When I think of the thousands of Americans who gave their lives to protect this country, it is a small thing to risk my “reputation.” In addition, supporting Trump by writing additional articles could cut both ways – it could improve my reputation with some people as well as damage it with others. Who knows? In any case, I don’t want to stand before God at the Last Day and have him ask why I did not use my reputation and my writing ability (that he gave me) to influence the United States for good when it was at a decisive turning point in history, and I would have to say, “But I was trying to protect my reputation.”
Is God really going to judge Wayne Grudem based on how he was able to influence the United States for good? Is God going to judge Grudem for his commitment to originalist judges, a strong military, free-market economics, lower taxes, sanctions on China, opposing Jimmy Carter’s foreign policy, stopping Washington D.C. from becoming a state, and a border wall?
Read the entire piece here.