Tag Archives: Trump

From Disappointment to Determination: Christian Mission Liberated from Political Ideology

As the Biden presidency and a Democratic-led Congress assumes power, it is right that we reflect on not only the new policies, but the deeper issues affecting Christian believers in the USA. The awfulness and immorality of the violent protests of January 6, 2021 forever stained what little legacy the Trump Administration may have had. There was some progress on important issues in the past four years, especially economic policies, pro-life initiatives, diplomatic successes in the Middle East, and some first steps in ending mass incarceration. At present, these forward steps are lost in the political and public reactions.

In the next six to twelve months, thoughtful Christians that voted for a Biden Presidency will be encouraged by the new tone and a few of the policy changes, especially climate change, immigration, and perhaps pandemic policies. But many of these voters will discover that voting against the previous administration or taking a “Never Trump” posture will backfire as more radical policies and continued polarization afflict our nation. The hostility of the new administration toward traditional morality, abortion, affordable energy, and people of religious faith will take its toll on many.

Here is the good news: these deep disappointments with political leaders, parties, and ideologies are a divine opportunity for Christians to engage the public square in wiser, more effective ways. For almost fifty years, there has been a split between conservative and progressive factions of Christianity, with both groups believing that the Gospel and Scripture support their perspectives. The divides have grown greater over time and the anger between the two groups is palpable: “You cannot be a Christian and vote for _____ [fill in Democrat or Republican; Biden or Trump, etc.]!” Conservatives focus on abortion, marriage, individual responsibility, and respect for America’s heritage of freedom. Progressives advocate systemic changes for gender and racial equity, compassion for the poor, and expose the serious injustices of our history. How can these groups do more than tolerate each other? Where is the common ground?  (I am speaking of serious followers of Christianity that believe in the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus, the inspiration of the Bible, and importance of the local church, not folks that deny cardinal doctrines or want to “remake” Christianity.)

There are four keys that can unlock a new unity among believers, with enormous impact for the common good of society:

  • First, all Christians must recognize that “ideology is the enemy of theology” (Donald Bloesch) and carefully examine whether they are cherry-picking their favorite Bible passages to fit their political beliefs.
  • Second, all Christians and church communities must stay engaged in the political arena with prophetic distance (encouraging and critiquing both friends and opponents) without capitulating to the lust for power. 
  • Third, churches and Christians from all traditions can unite for the common good, affirming the integration of spiritual and social vitality, compassion for the vulnerable, ethical free enterprise, support for families, and peacemaking, one zip code at a time.
  • Fourth, Christians want for all neighbors the liberties they desire for themselves. Living peaceably with those that have a different view of the universe is the genius of a free and virtuous society.  One can desire the conversion of a friend while working together for the community. Our faith was born in the midst of pluralistic empires, and it thrives when its institutions are not coercive, but persuasive.

We can begin a new chapter of unity without uniformity, of community with a conscience, and a Table where very different people are welcome. Our nation needs voices free of rancor and filled with wisdom.

Inconvenient Insights for a Polarized World

This week after Groundhog’s Day and in remembrance of the Bill Murray comedy of reliving the same day over and over again, it is right to reflect on some enduring challenges:

We have miles to go in our pursuit of justice for women and men of all classes and cultures.
We can celebrate Christian contributions to social progress, and we must deeply lament historic ecclesial complicity with oppression.

We can criticize Israeli policies, but most of the responsibility for lasting peace rests with Arab leaders acknowledging Israel’s right to exist as the national home of the Jewish people. Israel is not a western colonial imposition, but the historic home of an ancient people. The new plan presented by President Trump (and quietly endorsed by some Sunni Arab states in the region) is an opportunity that the current Palestinian Leadership is willfully ignoring.

Billions have been lifted out of poverty in my lifetime due to global trade, with access to new markets. We still have too many food, banking, and job deserts in our own American cities.

Our national debt and deficit spending reveal cowardice and a lack of concern for generations yet unborn. Both parties are guilty, and it will take both parties cooperation to find solutions.

UN officials admit that their proposals for climate change amelioration are of little practical use, except for the transfer of trillions in wealth. Unless China, India, and Russia sign on, little progress can be made. Every proponent of free trade and/or climate change skeptic must also care more deeply for the ecological life of our planet. Good environmental stewardship means a good economy for our grandchildren.

Let’s find a new way to fund education of all kinds without a lifetime of debt on graduates and ever-increasing tuition prices.

A rebirth of civility begins with an affirmation of the dignity and worth of each person we meet. We must end caricature, insults, and stereotyping of those different from us.

Letters to Leaders, Part 2

Dear President Trump,
I pray for you: for purity of heart, divine love, and the wisdom and strength to carry out the impossible duties of your office.


Three things I long for as you lead:

  1. Clear policy communication without personal insults.
  2. A balanced budget for our children’s future.
  3. More convening with people that do not agree with you so we might discover a principled middle ground.

I agree on some policies and disagree on others. Your desire to help our nation will be enhanced with humility. I do not mean apologizing for particular principles, but opening pathways of peacemaking.

OK, three more things:

  1. Call a racial reconciliation summit and listen deeply to the cries of the historically underserved.
  2. Call an immigration summit and forge a hospitable, secure and compassionate policy.
  3. Meet with leaders of all faiths and none and reaffirm the brilliance of freedom of conscience and true toleration.<


I was no fan of the prior administration, but I prayed for and still pray for those that were part of those years. While applauding some of your initiatives, I long for you to choose statesmanship. You will never win over inveterate enemies, but you may get more done in service of all.

Letters to Leaders, Part 1

Dear 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates,
I understand your frustrations with current political leaders. What I am awaiting are policies that are pro-life (from conception to coronation, caring for the vulnerable at all stages) consensus-building, doable and fiscally responsible. Rage against Trump will not balance a budget, confront our global adversaries, repair our broken cities and increase opportunity.

A candidate willing to meet in the middle and stop hating people of traditional faiths will have a shot. Imagine a courageous Democratic candidate stopped pandering to the Radical Left wing of the party and stated the following:

  • We balance our checkbooks at home; therefore, the federal budget should be balanced as well. A few government workers may lose a job, but the poor can be helped, infrastructure rebuilt, and solid military defense provided within our revenues.
  • There is a real person inside a mother’s womb. Allowing for exceptional circumstances, we should foster support structures that prevent most abortions and welcome children as gifts to our world.
  • Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and the United Nation’s continual condemnation is a travesty of historical knowledge and justice. It is time to broker a real peace agreement with the burden placed upon Palestinian leaders to acknowledge Israel’s legitimacy and security needs.
  • Immigration can be reformed to welcome the qualified, secure our borders, show compassion to true victims and offer millions a chance at citizenship.
  • Ecological stewardship is good for the world, our economies and future generations. We can care for our planet without global power structures forcibly transferring trillions in wealth.

I will cross parties and vote for this candidate.

Finding Wisdom Amidst the Noise

Every day we are besieged with information. Some is useful…much is mere advertising. Our internet world often confuses data with knowledge and knowledge with wisdom. Soundbites and click-throughs are replacing research and reflection. On the American scene we already have nearly 20 presidential candidates vying for attention. Here are some observations from the last several weeks that I hope will prompt thoughtfulness:

Political correctness and cynicism are two sides of the same coin of fear. The first aims not to offend at the expense of humility and reality. The second avoids debate with caustic declarations that only widen differences. 
Let’s choose critical thinking with mutual respect – our civil institutions depend on people of character looking at reality and finding wisdom, not parroting talking points or practicing stand-up comedy.

Still reflecting on the powerful movie, “Unplanned” that Kathy and I saw together. Without hyperbole, this may unveil for abortion what Schindler’s List did for the Shoah. I recommend parents and teens pray and see it together. Not for children or the unprepared. There is divine grace for all ensnared in this tragic issue.

Encourage someone today. Everyone needs one person saying, “You can!” In a world of flattery and insults, genuine, positive encouragement is a gift. Our word in season may be just what someone needs in the midst of life’s pressures.

I challenge all aspiring Presidential candidates to offer doable solutions, not irresponsible speculation. Balance a budget (tax revenues are at an all-time high), secure a hospitable border, continue improving private/public healthcare and work on infrastructure and economic opportunity. President Trump is easy to criticize – but can opponents offer viable policies that have all Americans in mind?


We must start negotiating on important issues such as immigration reform, a balanced budget, infrastructure, improving access for economic opportunity, fixing student debt, and many more. Interpretations of the Mueller Report and investigations will never end…meanwhile, constituents deserve attention to solvable issues that promote human flourishing. Will we choose posturing or productivity; positioning for 2020 or practical help in 2019?