We still buy the line that the hard core of the Christian right is just an interest group working to protect its values. But what we don’t get is that Mr. Trump’s supposedly anti-Christian attributes and anti-democratic attributes are a vital part of his attraction.
• Katherine Stewart, Why Trump Reigns as King Cyrus
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This is one of the big reasons why I am a post-evangelical.
This is why I’ve never trusted pentecostal/charismatic/third wave/new apostolic reformation “Christianity,” or, in fact, think it actually represents authentic Christ-following faith at all.
This is why I am afraid of, and resist passionately, the influence certain so-called “evangelicals” are having in the halls of power these days.
This is craziness, plain and simple.
Katherine Stewart’s article “Why Trump Reigns as King Cyrus” is one of the latest pieces to examine the incredible spiritualizing certain evangelicals are doing these days to justify and celebrate the presidency of Donald Trump and promote a resurgence of Christian nationalism.
Stewart begins by referring to the recent film “The Trump Prophecy,” which was shown in over 1,200 theaters in October. The film is based on a book — The Trump Prophecies: The Astonishing True Story of the Man Who Saw Tomorrow…and What He Says Is Coming Next — by Mark Taylor and Mary Colbert. It’s the memoir of a fireman with PTSD and severe health problems who got better through the help of a Christian natural health doctor and his wife. In the process Taylor received and then, with Colbert’s help, disseminated a prophecy from God himself about how Donald Trump would become the president of the United States.
The film shows how Taylor, in a dramatic epiphany, turns to Isaiah 45 and makes the link between King Cyrus and Trump. This has become an evangelical talking point for some.
As Stewart notes:
The identification of the 45th president with an ancient Middle Eastern potentate isn’t a fringe thing. “The Trump Prophecy” was produced with the help of professors and students at Liberty University, whose president, Jerry Falwell Jr., has been instrumental in rallying evangelical support for Mr. Trump. Jeanine Pirro of Fox News has picked up on the meme, as has Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, among many others.
Some, like Wheaton College professor Daniel Block, have tried to address the Cyrus/Trump link with some measure of seriousness. But those who are promoting this comparison through such tripe as The Trump Prophecy do not deserve this kind of dignified response.
I downloaded a copy of the Kindle edition of Taylor and Colbert’s book and found it filled with page after of page of spiritual mumbo-jumbo, illogic, over-the-top melodrama, the loosest coincidences being interpreted as divine intervention, conspiratorial thinking, and uses of the Bible that are wildly idiosyncratic and entirely subjective.
Here is a particularly laughable example:
One night when I was feeling particularly down, I dreamed that the Holy Spirit placed His hands on the back of my shoulders in a gentle and comforting massage. Butterflies were fluttering all about the room, which I discovered later was a sign of transformation. The Spirit’s voice whispered in my ear two words I had never heard: “Shakina Kami.” I took this information to my interpreter friend; he told me they were names, and then gave me a resource to look up their meaning. “Shakina” as a name is African in origin, and it translates “Beautiful One.” “Kami” is an Indian name, and it translates “Whose Desires Are Fulfilled.” Additionally, both of these names, once traced back to some of their etymological roots, point to some renderings in Hebrew and Japanese that ring true to my spirit to this day. Shechinah in Hebrew means “settling” or “dwelling,” and it was most commonly used in reference to the dwelling of the divine presence of the Lord in one’s home or life. Kami is Japanese for “God” or “Lord,” and was therefore used by Japanese converts to Christianity and Protestant missionaries circa 1600 to refer to Christ—and, by extension, to the provision of the Lord of Hosts over one’s life. It is also a derivative of the Japanese compound word kamikaze, the “divine wind of God” or the “divine wind of God’s providence” (kami, “God”; kazi, “divine wind”; used in this manner for ages before it became known as the “suicide flyer” of World War II).
I was floored when I realized that the Creator of the universe had renamed me as He had the patriarchs in the Old Testament, but I was even more amazed when I began to digest the translation of the new name. In the simple “Shakina Kami” sound the Holy Spirit uttered was the following: “Beautiful One Whose Desires Are Fulfilled, and in Whose Life the Lord Dwells with the Divine Wind of Providence.” Not only was He calling me beautiful, despite all my recent trudging through the mud of despair and depravity, but He was also telling me that the desires of my heart were His, and that they would be fulfilled through the direction of His all-knowing and divine wind.
Add this to the butterflies that sweetly and gently dipped here and there all over the room during that dream, and the meaning is clear: I was no longer the man I was…I was being transformed into this new identity. I was no longer simply Mark Taylor…
I was Shakina Kami.
• The Trump Prophecies, ch. 3
This is the guy to whom God communicated the destiny of the United States?
Why, of course! It’s the old “God uses the foolish to shame the wise” meme writ large.
But there is another, more important theme involved in this ridiculous story that Katherine Stewart puts her finger on in her article:
The Trump Prophecy is being promoted by “biblical” evangelicals who are ultimately looking for a king and a theocracy.
As much as they might give lip service to American democratic ideals, this form of evangelical religion is actually teaching that God (still) works through the divine right of kings.
Today’s Christian nationalists talk a good game about respecting the Constitution and America’s founders, but at bottom they sound as if they prefer autocrats to democrats. In fact, what they really want is a king. “It is God that raises up a king,” according to Paula White, a prosperity gospel preacher who has advised Mr. Trump.
In this model, resisting Donald Trump is tantamount to resisting the God who anointed him.
As Stewart says, it is not simply that these Christian supporters of Trump have a transactional relationship with him wherein they hold their noses with regard to his utter lack of moral and ethical leadership as long as he promotes elements of their agenda. No, these particular evangelicals simply don’t care about any perceived or actual negative aspects of Donald Trump’s character, experience, words, or actions.
In fact, the less connected he is to any conventional leader and the messiness of the democratic process the better. Our president needs to be a man whose ascension to the “throne” can only be explained by God’s providential intervention and who rules by his own laws. The crazier he appears to be, the more it proves to them that this is “of God.” This has always been a hallmark of Pentecostal logic — which is actually a perversion of the “Great Reversal” theme of the NT.
- These people are fighting a culture war that is at cross purposes with democracy itself.
- This is a religion full of kooks with idiotic theology.