Many of the lessons I taught as an intern in my local church’s youth ministry (shoutout Ingleside Baptist) were done only after copiously studying Grudem’s book, “Systematic Theology” (order here). Grudem is a Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary and has helped equip countless pastors to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Wayne Grudem is a brother in Christ regardless of his position to Donald Trump.
As much as I think of Grudem, he is dead wrong on Trump. Grudem recently published an article entitled “Why Voting for Donald Trump is a Morally Good Choice”. While voting for Donald Trump is not moral or immoral, I believe it is not wise. Let’s take this point by point:
Grudem opened his article with a few paragraphs in saying this about Trump:
Grudem: “He is egotistical, bombastic, and brash. He often lacks nuance in his statements. Sometimes he blurts out mistaken ideas (such as bombing the families of terrorists) that he later must abandon. He insults people. He can be vindictive when people attack him. He has been slow to disown and rebuke the wrongful words and actions of some angry fringe supporters. He has been married three times and claims to have been unfaithful in his marriages. These are certainly flaws, but I don’t think they are disqualifying flaws in this election.”
This description by Trump supporters, who happen to be Christians, is not uncommon. It is eerily familiar to the excuses given by an abused wife, desperately making excuses for not leaving her husband. “I know my husband hits me but we can work it out,” “I know my husband says awful things about me, but it was just a mistake.” Are our standards not any higher? Is prefacing a political endorsement with “I know he’s a terrible person, but…” acceptable now? I honestly feel badly for Trump supporters who justify their existence in this abusive relationship by saying, “I know he said (something awful) and has done (something worse) but he’s the best I have.” No. Choose higher standards. Make politicians earn your vote. Is there a perfect candidate? No. But, choose policy positions and character traits that you will not compromise on. Period.
Not voting is a vote for Clinton
Grudem: “If this election is close (which seems likely), then if someone votes for a write-in candidate instead of voting for Trump, this action will directly help Hillary Clinton, because she will need one less vote to win. Therefore the question that Christians should ask is this: Can I in good conscience act in a way that helps a liberal like Hillary Clinton win the presidency?”
Let’s break this down… As Erick Erickson is forced to point out many times: If not voting for Trump is a vote for Clinton, then not voting for Clinton is a vote for Trump. It is a zero sum game. A “no-vote” is just that, not a vote at all. To assume that my vote and your vote is a right of a political party is synonymous with political enslavement. To say that they already had my vote before I cast it, means that they are entitled to my vote. Again, make them earn your vote. Not voting because you deem neither candidate is qualified to run the free world is simply that, not a vote.
MOST IMPORTANT: How can we know Trump won’t change his mind?
Grudem: “My reply (to Trump changing his mind) is that we can never know the future conduct of any human being with 100% certainty, but in making an ethical decision like this one, we should base the decision on the most likely results. In this case, the most likely result is that Trump will do most or all of what he has said.”
My response to this is very simple and historically clear; Trump is a pathological liar. Anyone who believes any less is simply naive or misinformed. The problem with trusting Trump, is everything he says has, at best, has an expiration date. The list of Supreme Court Justices is a great example. He and his team put out a list of great Justices. The very next day he said he may not stick to the list. The list does not do any good if the first 11 are Scalias and number 12 is a Ginsburg. My friend, Josh Hammer pointed out that Trump put out 5 positions on abortion in 3 days back in March. Trump has also flipped, flopped and flipped on H1B visas, an issue at the very center of his campaign. One of my personal favorites is Trump committing to be neutral between Israel and Palestine (LOL) before later offering a horrible explanation. Donald Trump LITERALLY uttered this, “’I’m Capable of Changing To Anything I Want to Change To.” It is like he wants us to know that he will say anything or do anything to get in office. Trust Trump at your own expense.
The scriptures command us to vote
Grudem: “Some may feel it is easier just to stay away from this messy Trump-Clinton election, and perhaps not even vote. But the teachings of Scripture do not allow us to escape moral responsibility by saying that we decided to do nothing. The prophet Obadiah rebuked the people of the Edom for standing by and doing nothing to help when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem: ‘On the day that you stood aloof, on the day that . . . foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them.’ (Obadiah 1:11).”
While I defer to Dr. Grudem on almost every biblical matter, I am forced to take exception with this. Choosing not to vote is not as easy as Grudem says. There is a difference in hitting the golf course on November 8th and thoroughly evaluating the positions of both candidates and deeming them both unqualified. Erick Erickson has a saying that goes, “Know when you are in the minority, even when you think you are right.” #NeverTrump is in the minority. Out of every political conversation I have been in, I am yet to find one where more people in the group agree with me than not on Trump. It is not easy choosing to go to the polls, vote down the ballot and leave the top spot blank. However, I believe it is right. In the example Grudem gave, there was a clear good guy and bad guy. The prophet commanded the people of Edom to go and fight for the good guy. What I am saying is, there is no good guy.
The Supreme Court
Grudem: “Trump has released a list of 11 judges to show the kind of nominee he would appoint to the Supreme Court. A lawyer familiar with many of these names has told me that they constitute a “dream list” of outstanding judges who would uphold the original meaning of the Constitution and would not create new laws from the bench.”
The Supreme Court is usually the issue that sways Republicans on the fence to the #TrumpTrain. However, there is 3 MASSIVE problem with this logic. 1. Trump has said that his sister, a federal judge, would make an excellent Supreme Court Justice. His sister is a massive, flaming pro-abortion liberal. 2. After Trump released the list, he said there were other possible names that he could appoint. More on that later. 3. Republican presidents suck at appointing conservative justices. For example, Ronald Reagan, conservative folk hero appointed 2 conservatives in William H. Rehnquist and Antonin Scalia but also pointed 2 conservative-light justices in Kennedy and O’Connor. George H. W. Bush appointed a raging liberal in David Souter and the conservative stalwart Clarence Thomas. George W. Bush appointed the John “Obamacare can stay because it’s a tax” Roberts and the very conservative Samuel Alito. The point is this: Any sober person would say the past 3 Republican presidents were much more consistently conservative than Trump and still batted only around 60%. If these guys couldn’t get it right, do you really think Trump will? I don’t.
Trump is moving in a conservative direction
Grudem: And notice how Trump has changed his mind. He continues to move in a more conservative direction, as evidenced by his list of judges and his choice for vice president.
Now that the primary is over and Trump doesn’t have to worry about us pesky conservatives, he just last week said the minimum wage must go up. Politifact gave him a “full flip-flop”. Trump made it abundantly clear at the convention that social issues were not near the top of his list. The man did not mention abortion or religious liberty ONCE. He is not moving in a more conservative direction.
Grudem: Trump will work to repeal Obamacare, which is ruining the nation’s health care system, and replace it with an affordable free market system in which companies have the ability to sell insurance across state lines, thus substantially lowering insurance prices especially in those states that currently allow only high-priced “Cadillac” insurance plans. But, Clinton would continue to work relentlessly toward federal government control of our entire health care industry.
Again, I think the world of Dr. Grudem, but this is inaccurate. Way back in 2015, Trump endorsed universal healthcare, saying “the government is going to pay for it.”
Trump even doubled down on this in early 2016. Sure Trump hates Obamacare, he hates that Obama’s name is on it and not Trump’s. Trump believes that big government is the answer; Obama just has the wrong people running it. Trump will get “the best people” to lead our massive government programs.
I think the world of Dr. Grudem and hope to meet him one day. Many good Christians will go out and vote for Trump on November 8th, and their eternal status will remain unchanged. Before you pull the lever on November 8th, make sure Donald Trump has earned your vote. He is not entitled to it, and you will not be helping Hillary Clinton if you choose not to. As for me, I will not be voting for Hillary Clinton or her pathological, lying donor, Donald Trump.