Dr. Michael S. Horton, of Westminster Seminary California, has never liked Donald Trump since he started to run for President. Yesterday he returned to the anti-Trump theme he sounded last March. “Heresy!” he thunders, especially after looking at Trump’s list of Christian speakers at his upcoming Inauguration. But Michael Horton has a problem. He has effectively disclaimed all moral authority to speak about any political leader. How, then, dare he criticize those of us who chose this one?
Michael Horton and Reformation Theology
Michael Horton makes no secret of what he really wants. He wants to see another Reformation, comparable to that of Martin Luther. Looking at the church in America today, he shudders. The Roman Catholic Church strayed from relying on Scripture alone as the authentic Voice of God. Michael Horton thinks that holds true today—and not merely of the Catholic Church.
Like most Reformed Theologians today, he holds, as did Harold Camping, that
God is through with national Israel!
Horton hinted of this last October, one week before the Election. When he refers to the Parable of the Greedy Tenants, he leaves little doubt of his feelings on that matter. But he also exhorts his readers to
Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.
That comes from Psalm 146. And those words ring true enough. But he ignores the role “princes,” or the “powers-that-be” as Paul of Tarsus called them, play. In Romans 13:1-7, Paul tells us God sets up “powers-that-be” to restrain evil. He even tells “every soul” to “subject itself” to these powers.
For there is no power that does not come from God.
How does that relate to us as Christians? In this wise: we have a democratic republic. We have a voice in choosing those we trust to wield the power. And if we don’t, someone else will. As they have for eight years. Who can forget this public-service slogan from the Sixties?
Vote, and the choice is yours! Don’t vote, and the choice is theirs!
Bear this in mind when Michael Horton belittles the role of holders of public office.
Michael Horton objects to one side only
Horton rails equally against Donald Trump and some of his supporters. His biggest quarrel seems to be with a school of thought he finds less than faithful to Scripture. Norman Vincent Peale comes in for the worst abuse. Here Horton drops a bigger hint than he might have meant to. Peale, as Horton recalls, recommended against voting for Adlai E. Stevenson in the Election of 1952. And what does Horton do? He quotes Stevenson, approvingly.
Speaking as a Christian, I find Paul appealing and Peale appalling.
Adlai E. Stevenson, a Christian? Don’t make me laugh. Stevenson probably wouldn’t know Paul of Tarsus if the latter hauled off and slapped him upside the head. And Michael Horton knows this, or ought to know it.
Horton expresses great concern about electing a demagogue. Just what in God’s Name does he think Barack Obama was and is? Or what Hillary Clinton would have been?
Lest anyone find this unfair, anyone can review Michael Horton’s writings. Where was he when Barack Obama enacted policy after policy anathema to anything a Christian should hold sacred? What did he say when Obama openly mocked Scripture and those who hold to it? For that matter, what did he say when Obama all but threatened persecution of Christians in America? Answer: nowhere and nothing.
Why evangelicals support Trump
Donald Trump never promised to “save” anyone. As much as he loves his own star power, he doesn’t go that far. Nor should anyone actually call him “Messiah.” (I do not concede anyone has said anything like this.)
He has promised:
- An end to anything in the civil law that forces Christians to commit, or acquiesce in, crimes against nature. This demonstrably includes forcing little girls to share public restrooms with predators who conveniently “self-identify” as female. It also includes taxpayer funding of abortions, or of the organizations that do them.
- Repeal of the infamous Johnson Amendment. Then-Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson, Democrat of Texas, shut-up the church to make sure he would stay a Senator. Has Michael Horton forgotten that? Would he prefer that tax regulation continue? Does Horton realize the Internal Revenue Service enforces this rule selectively, against conservatives only?
- A complete reversal of the foreign policy of the outgoing President, that puts America in serious danger of the Genesis 12:3 curse. I refer, of course, not only to United Nations Resolution 2334, but to all that has led up to it. I refer to Obama funneling American taxpayers’ money to a leftist coalition in Israel during the 2013 Knesset elections. And to snubbing Netanyahu—who, while not the best leader Israel could have, was a better leader than Obama clearly wanted Israel to have. Indeed, Obama struck an attitude that came just shy of throwing anti-Semitic slurs at Netanyahu straight-out.
Donald Trump would put an end to all these things. That doesn’t make him “Messiah.” But neither does it make him a heretic.
We didn’t vote for a spiritual leader
The United States Constitution reads in part,
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.
For that reason, neither bishop nor priest nor deacon receives any government salary by virtue of his office. Nor do the American people, or any part of them, elect such officers. So Donald Trump did not run for pope, or archbishop, or presiding bishop.
Does Donald Trump love his own star power too much? Perhaps. He certainly built a reputation on that. Much of that was “putting on an act” anyway. One wonders whether he really likes his star power as much as he lets on.
But again Michael Horton said back in March:
Trump reveals that “godly leadership” is apparently for some evangelicals the celebration of narcissism, greed, and deceitfulness in the pursuit of power.
Funny. Those traits describe Obama, not Trump. Lay it on the line: Obama revealed, over eight years, that his brand of statesmanship was, demonstrably for nearly all his slavish followers, the celebration of narcissism, power lust, and deceit in pursuit of power. And what did Michael Horton say about that? Again: crickets. Oh, and let’s not forget: Donald Trump pledged to draw no more than a buck a year in salary. A grasper after material wealth would not do this. Obama didn’t. Hillary certainly would not have.
That The Washington (Com)Post should run this editorial by him, should surprise no one. They have no more shame than had The New York Times, or nearly every electronic network except One America News. But that one calling himself a minister should write such a one-sided screed should really scare anyone.
To quote Scripture right back at Michael Horton:
Who is this who darkens counsel with words without meaning? Now gird up your loins like a man! I will demand of you, and you will instruct Me!
Job 38:3. Look it up. Of course, we don’t speak of “girding up loins.” Today we would speak of donning the shorts, shoes, gloves, and mask of the boxer. Or to be more “civilized,” of meeting one’s opponent in open debate.
Of course, Horton would have to brush up, maybe not on the Marquess of Queensberry Rules, but on the rules of debate. For he has already broken some of them. He has “poisoned the well,” and appealed shamelessly to an Authority he thinks would validate his remarks. For this reason, one cannot let his screed go without a challenge.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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