#NeverNebuchadnezzar

Have those who oppose Trump ever considered Jeremiah’s instructions to the people of God, namely, to submit to the rule of a pagan king?

“‘“But if any nation or kingdom will not serve this Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, I will punish that nation with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence, declares the LORD, until I have consumed it by his hand. So do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your dreamers, your fortune-tellers, or your sorcerers, who are saying to you, ‘You shall not serve the king of Babylon.’ For it is a lie that they are prophesying to you, with the result that you will be removed far from your land, and I will drive you out, and you will perish. But any nation that will bring its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I will leave on its own land, to work it and dwell there, declares the LORD.”’” (Jeremiah 27:8-11 ESV)

Wouldn’t that sort of Word of God prompt you to consider revising this?

Note that I didn’t say that Trump definitely is an existential threat. I don’t know that; nobody does. Hitler only rose to power because enough people believed that he wasn’t such a threat. There is no way of predicting in advance just how bad a President Trump would be. But if you’re an evangelical leader, this sets up a version of Pascal’s wager for you. If Trump turns out to be embarrassing but not all that bad, then your pride will suffer a bit, and you’ll have to say you were wrong to support Hillary. You’ll try to be wiser in the next election.

But if Trump turns out to be the “extinction-level event” that Sullivan predicts, and you fail to do everything in your power to stop him, then you will join a long line of evangelical leaders who have been on the wrong side of history – and judged harshly for it – at critical moments ranging from slavery to Jim Crow to abortion (in the early days of that debate). Your witness for Christ – our witness – will be diluted because we didn’t do everything we could to prevent this catastrophe. And there won’t be a next election to get it right.

Isn’t it possible that a politician could be God’s judgment on a nation’s churches (not that any of us has that kind of word from God)? And isn’t it possible that God’s plans go on even when his people and prophets go into exile as part of divine judgment?

That’s not a reason to support Trump the way Jeremiah endorsed Nebuchadnezzar. But it is a reason to be cautious as a minister of God’s word when talking about magistrates.

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35 thoughts on “#NeverNebuchadnezzar

  1. “Isn’t it possible that a politician could be God’s judgment on a nation’s churches (not that any of us has that kind of word from God)?”
    Oh but we do. It’s called the bible. It’s the entire history of the northern 10 tribes and most of the history of the south too.

    “And isn’t it possible that God’s plans go on even when his people and prophets go into exile as part of divine judgment?”
    It is IMpossible that it could be otherwise. Which I’m pretty sure is what you meant.

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  2. I can’t find any background for the author of the linked piece. Around here, the “Evangelicals” vocally saying voting for Hillary is mandatory backed Obama in at least 2012, if not both times. Maybe not as vocally, but still…

    Andrew Sullivan’s fear of an extinction level event is certainly not self evidently reasonable. A decent dissenting view: http://www.salon.com/2016/05/08/andrew_sullivan_is_wrong_again_his_mainstream_liberalism_has_become_scarily_anti_democratic/

    All that said, I might sit this one out. Probably won’t but nothing could make me vote for a Democrat -. tribal loyalty

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  3. So glad that TGC weighed in on this issue. I’ve been looking for a GURU! But, I’d rather have one with some educational credentials.

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  4. Dan, don’t you think Sullivan has a point about the marriage between liberalism (which should include GOP moderates) and humanism coming apart because of identity politics is plausible? Whether that marriage was ever an easy one is one question. But it’s hard to see identity politics cooperating with any larger identity whether national or humanistic.

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  5. Lining up Jeremiah, 2 Kings, and Daniel, wouldn’t Nebuchadnezzar have been the God-fearing “king of kings” after his madness in Daniel 4 by the time Jeremiah tells the inhabitants of Jerusalem to leave the city and the disobedient King Zedekiah? Just saying.

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  6. DGH, a point? Sure. But does it bear the weight AS puts on it? Post the OT prophets, I don’t think predictors of extinction level events have a very good track record. (Adam Smith apparently really did say “There is a great deal of ruin in a nation.”)
    . I respect Sullivan’s credentials, particularly as an interpreter of Oakeshott. But when he goes off the rails, he can make intellectual skywriting appear extremely erudite.

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  7. @Dan It seems to vote for an actual republican this time around, you gotta pull the lever for the two governors on the libertarian ticket. I always saw Johnson as a libertarian, but I thought Weld was more of a Bloomberg type gop’er. Maybe they will crack double digits?

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  8. @SDB, I would take the under. While not as consequential as it is used to be, my choice as to what to do this time around does have ramifications for the kinds of things I am involved with locally. My congressman endorsed Trump before Indiana, which puts me in a little bit of a tight spot. I went to a Libertarian meeting back in the early 90’s and was not impressed. Bunch of pot smoking, neo-Confederate, Randian goldbugs.

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  9. I suppose it depends how you define “god-fearing” and “covenant keeping” and whether or not it’s an important distinction. I don’t know how you’re using the terms. I’m just saying that I think Nebuchadnezzar was a genuine believer by that point in his life and would have been seeking to honor God and do righteousness. It would have put him a position similar to Melkizedek or Reuel or Job (assuming him to be and Edomite king). Did he do all the things in the Torah (the “old covenant”), particularly the ceremonial stuff? No, and I don’t think that was required of him.

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  10. So, on the flipside, I mean to ask suggestively: do the current candidates have a bit more in common with Jehoiakim and Zedekiah than they do with Nebuchadnezzar?

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  11. Greg,

    So given Calvin’s quote, has any nation today or in the past 2000 years not been judged? Was Obama a wicked ruler while Reagan wasn’t? But I don’t think America was very saintly in the 80s (or any decade) do you? Is Canada or Scandinavia not being judged right now while North Korea is? Can you give me the list of non-judged nations and non-wicked rulers today or from yesteryear we can use and aspire to as models?

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  12. I have a general question somewhat related to the issues in this thread: First of all, Illinois is going through a major impasse between the recently elected governor, Bruce Rauner, who wants to tighten down on the state budget by restricting lavish state employee pensions (including teachers) and other expenses, and the majority Demos and especially the SoH, Mike Madigan, who want to pass a huge tax increase to support existing spending. Ironically, though not everyone agrees with his methods or timeline, Rauner is doing exactly what he promised to do during his campaign – a rare enough event nowadays in and of itself – straighten out a corrupt state that is rife with pay-to-play gov’t jobs, contractor kick-backs on major projects, etc.

    All of this is leading up to the fact that many organizations that provide various “services” to the public are now feeling the pinch and are whining and crying like stuck pigs (sorry, another Billy Carter) over the fact that they’ve had to cut staff and services. I get that – the liberals and leftists will always complain when various services for the general public welfare get eliminated or cut back. What I don’t get is how some “religious” organizations like Lutheran Social Services, CareNet, etc. are outraged that they’ll have to cut back on the services they provide. If they are affiliated with religious organizations, what are they doing expecting and taking handouts from the gov’t in the first place? Isn’t this a clear violation of church/state separation? Worse yet, if they somehow manage to work around that argument (e.g., it’s OK to take handouts from what looks to be potentially evil if it gets used for good), aren’t they quagmiring themselves further into the magistrate’s ability to tighten the noose around each and everything they do (or refuse to do)?

    Confused, again, as aways…

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  13. @SDB, the memorial to veterans on our courthouse square lists about 3 times as many who died fighting for our country as for the Slave Power. And don’t get me started on Rand 😀

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  14. Might be informative to look at how our “American Exceptionalism” style of government fits into the grand scheme of civil polity. Quite a lot is at stake, with the U.S. still about 25% of the world economy, and most importantly, the last refuge left to which people may flee to when their own country, is, uh, not so amenable to those unalienable rights to Life, Liberty, and to possessing their property.

    A old Harvard guy, (well, actually President of Harvard) John Thornton Kirkland drops this little nugget of 1816 style PC civics in his Massachusetts Election Sermon:

    “The specific form of the government is commonly determined for us by the order of Providence; authority being variously distributed, in hereditary or elective rulers, in a few or in many, by the operation of permanent and uncontrollable causes. Our business in this respect is seldom to change or abolish, but only to preserve, amend or improve the exiting arrangement.”

    “The fortunes of OUR country are, under Heaven, staked on the issue of popular constitutions.”

    “The Supreme Disposer has assigned to these American States the solemn, the interesting destination of
    being the subjects of an experiment, on an extensive scale, on the capacity of men in society for self government.”

    So, after exactly 200 years after these words were spoken, if it fails, an observation attributed to an old Italian Guy (Nero) sums it up: “The people deserve the leaders they choose”.

    http://www.wallbuilders.com/libissuesarticles.asp?id=163031

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  15. If it’s wrong to call Trump God’s candidate,

    The logic of Christian nationalists like Barton never ceases to amaze me. It goes something like this. America is a Christian and exceptional nation. Democracy is the prevailing political philosophy in America. Since America is a Christian and exceptional nation, and democracy is the political philosophy that God has ordained in this nation, then it goes without saying that the person who the people elect must be “God’s guy.”

    Oh yes, I almost forgot. This theological view of politics only applies to GOP candidates. After all, the Republican Party is the community through which God’s will for America is made manifest in the world. 🙂

    isn’t it also wrong to say Trump is NOT God’s candidate?

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