March 16, 2016

Will God save us from Donald Trump? (COMMENTARY)

Print More
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Winner Aviation in Youngstown, Ohio on March 14, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-GUSHEE-COLUMN, originally transmitted on March 16, 2016.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Winner Aviation in Youngstown, Ohio on March 14, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-GUSHEE-COLUMN, originally transmitted on March 16, 2016.

(RNS) After the simmering verbal and physical violence at Donald Trump’s rallies, I have a question for you:

Will God save us from Donald Trump?

Just Wednesday (March 16), Trump told CNN that if he doesn’t leave the GOP Convention as the Republican nominee for president, “I think you’d have riots.”

Given Trump’s manifest moral-psychological problems, and the increasing danger he poses to the Republic, both intensifying in proportion to the positive and negative attention he is receiving, how long will it be until divine justice prevails and he is finally brought low?

Such a question will make no sense to those who do not agree with my description of who Trump is and what he is doing to our country. If you don’t agree, I will not attempt to persuade you.

But if you do agree, and if you are a person of faith, I invite you to consider further questions that extend deep into the roots of biblical faith.


READ: Donald Trump and the preachers he resembles


Has God created the kind of world in which tyrants are defeated?

Is there a divinely given structure to the universe in which tyranny, just of its own nature, burns itself out?

Does the good and just God of the universe intervene in human history to bring tyrants down?

These kinds of questions arise in every context in which tyranny arises. It could be a setting as simple as a family, school or workplace, or as complex as a city, state or nation.

Driven by any number or combination of inner demons, this person dominates, bullies and harms those he is supposed to serve. The greater his power, the greater the harm he does. For a time, no one seems able to stop him, despite many prayers and profound suffering.

But so often, in the end, tyrants are destroyed.

The Bible speaks often of tyrants being brought low. Isaiah 13:11 is a representative verse:

I (God) will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity;

I will put an end to the pride of the arrogant, and I will lay low the insolence of tyrants.

This is a comforting promise to anyone under the heel of a tyrant. And very often history’s most brash and arrogant tyrants, the conquerors and emperors of the world, have indeed been brought low. They thought their reign would last forever, but it was over in the blink of an eye.

How did it happen?  Did God look down from heaven and say, “Enough!”

Or are tyrants brought down as a built-in consequence of their own actions? Might the downfall of tyrants look more like these lines from Psalm 1?

Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers;

But their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night.

They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.

In all that they do, they prosper.

The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away …

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

This wisdom psalm assumes that God has created the kind of world in which the lives of godly people, rooted in divine law and seeking moral virtue, yield good fruit. The wicked, however, self-destruct. The residue of their lives is like chaff that blows away in the wind.

There are logical reasons why tyrants are brought low, no miracles required. One reason is that their actions inevitably evoke opposition. Those who are denigrated, harmed or threatened form the first circle of opposition. Those who are morally offended but not directly threatened often join them. Those tempted to remain bystanders find it increasingly difficult to sit on the sidelines.

It is of the nature of the tyrant to respond to such opposition with greater and more costly resistance. And so it goes, until the spiral reaches some kind of terrible climax.


READ: Mark Driscoll to launch new church on Easter Sunday


I am not claiming either that God can be counted on to intervene when human communities are threatened by tyrants, or that a tyrant’s self-destruction will always occur before he does great damage. Many tyrants have been brought low only after they had time to do a great deal of harm.

David Gushee is distinguished university professor of Christian ethics and director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University. He writes the Christians, Conflict and Change blog for RNS. Photo courtesy of David Gushee

David Gushee is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University. He writes the Christians, Conflict and Change blog for RNS. Photo courtesy of David Gushee

I have no doubt Trump is becoming a kind of tyrant-in-waiting and that one day he will be brought low. But I do not know whether he will be brought low at the GOP Convention this summer; or in the November election; or sometime after we Americans foolishly, tragically, unforgivably, make him president.

I do not know whether he will be given time and power to do the kinds of harm that his behavior and that of some of his followers suggest might be possible.

That, really, is up to us. Because we still live in a democracy. At least for now.

(David Gushee is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University. He writes the Christians, Conflict and Change blog at RNS)

  • Pingback: Will God save us from Donald Trump? (COMMENTARY) | Christian News Agency()

  • Pingback: Will God save us from Donald Trump? (COMMENTARY) - mosaicversemosaicverse()

  • Pingback: Will God save us from Donald Trump? (COMMENTARY) -IKTHUS.NET()

  • Romans 13 assures us that if Trump wins, his authority to rule has been ordained by Yahweh.

    All hail the Donald. All hail…

  • DougH

    “The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?”

    As Gushee said, we’re a democratic republic — in the end we get the leader we deserve, and have to deal with the consequences. It could well be that Trump is our punishment for our failings as a people.

  • Leon

    If Trump wins there will be three factors that will contribute to his failure, which will be the strength of demonizing, parasites and arrogance. Remember this is Earth and where is Heaven.

  • Thomas Ryscavage

    I kind of remember that Holder and Obama and Mayor Blake encouraged burning and looting and everyone who hides from the truth sort of forgets this.

  • Tom

    He doesn’t say we live in a “democratic republic”, but a “democracy”. Not meaning to nit pick, but our form of government is not a “democratic republic” or a “democracy”. We live in a “constitutional republic”(at least on paper).There is a big difference and unfortunately civics is not taught properly in our schools. In fact, I doubt that Trump or Hillary can explain the difference. Ask Ted Cruz though and you will get a concise answer of the differences.

  • yoh

    Have you been part of an experiment where they implant false memories? Because I doubt that ever happened. But then again, I don’t speak wingnut. I have no idea what you are referring to.

  • DougH

    To be really specific, we live in a constitutional, democratic, federal republic. But you are right that we certainly don’t live in a democracy.

  • I would be much more impressed by Gush’s screed had he ever condemned the illegal, unconstitutional and, yeah, tyrannical actions of the current occupant of the White House rather than actions he thinks President Trump might make. But I guess that’s too much to ask of a hypocrite. Stick a sock in it, Dave.

  • David Stroud

    Will He save us from Hillary?

  • Everett

    Someone somewhere else posed the question “Is Donald Trump part of God’s Wrath on America?” To which I had to ask “And a President Clinton wouldn’t be?”.

  • midwestnorwegian

    But the last 7 years with a Muslim in the White House were JUST FINE for you I’m willing to bet. YOU “Distinguished” FRAUD.

  • Tom

    I prefer Constitutional Republic. Not that I’m against Democracy but it connotes a meaning of majority rule over the minority. I like the idea of having a system that prevents majority rule by checks and balances. Unfortunately, our country has strayed from this idea no matter which party is in power.

  • interesting perspective

    Mr. Trump quotes Musolini saying “Better to live a day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep” I wonder if he is prophesying his own downfall? And after only one day in office? For his sake, I hope he wears thick socks so as to avoid rope abrasions.

    Rev Dr Gushee makes a very interesting argument.

  • Tom

    I think he’s of no religion. He plays all the cards, he’s one of the biggest phonies ever. He’s not even an atheist, so no religion but not an atheist. Hard to understand.

  • Tell me again how it’s bad that THE PEOPLE vote for Donald Trump. Yeah, the same people that call themselves Christians. Why condemn Trump. Why not condemn the people who vote for him. Oh, right, you can’t do that, because that would point the finger right back at you. ouch.

  • Pingback: Will God save us from Donald Trump? (COMMENTARY) – Muslim Magazine()