“I think he’s a great President because he moved the embassy to Jerusalem.” That is the answer I got from friend and former neighbor whom I asked the reason she voted for and continues to support Donald Trump.
“So why is that important to you?” I asked.
“Well, I’m a strong believer that the Bible is the word of God.”
“Where in the Bible does it say the U.S. Embassy needs to move to Jerusalem? I was brought up United Methodist,” I asked. “I’ve read the Bible twice and the Books of Revelation and Daniel several more times and I do not recall anything about the U.S. Embassy. Can you point me to the part of the Bible that suggests the importance of location of the U.S. Embassy in Israel?”
She could not. Instead, she kindly forwarded to me a nicely presented trifold pamphlet entitled “The Revelation Prophecy Chart” from Turning Point Ministries, a radio and television ministry based at the Shadow Mountain Community Church, a Southern Baptist megachurch in El Cajon, a suburb of San Diego, California
The brochure, written by Dr. David Jeremiah, the senior pastor at Shadow Mountain, laid out for me in great detail Dr. Jeremiah’s learned analysis of how the world will end based on the word of God as revealed to him in the book of Revelation, the last book in the Bible. The pamphlet starts with “The Rapture,” runs through “The End of False Religion,” Armageddon, and the “Collapse of the ‘World Market’,” This leads to the Second Coming of Christ and moves on to the “1000 year reign of Jesus Christ, a period of peace and righteousness [that will] last for a millennium.” In the minds of many, including my friend, moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is a necessary pre-requisite to the fulfillment of this prophecy. To many in this subgroup of Christianity the embassy move is an obvious sign Donald Trump is guided by Divine Providence, regardless of any moral failing he might otherwise exhibit.
This is not the Christianity in which I was brought up. We read the Bible for ourselves and wrestled with its words to find guidance for our lives. I personally strove to understand the Bible in its historical context, to compare its teachings and words with other sacred texts, to reconcile the Bible with my growing understanding of the world and all its complexity. To be sure, I found (and find) the Book of Revelation interesting, even intriguing, but the idea of staking my worldview on the meticulously detailed interpretation of Revelation by Dr. David Jeremiah really worries me. Ringing in my ears are exhortations in the Bible against following “false prophets.”
How prevalent is this worldview that Donald Trump is the fulfillment of an end times prophecy? More than you might think, I’m afraid. It turns out that Dr. David Jeremiah, as the senior pastor at Shadow Mountain, is the successor of Tim LaHaye (1926-2016). Recognize that name? You might. Tim LaHaye wrote the “Left Behind” series of books between 1995 and 2007. According to Time the series sold more than 42 million copies, not including spin-offs. Jerry Falwell described the effect of the series: “In terms of its impact on Christianity,” says Falwell, “it’s probably greater than that of any other book in modern times, outside the Bible.” The book started with The Rapture as a premise and carried on from there, that is, the books are works of future fiction based on Tim LaHaye’s interpretation of the Christian end times. What better way to capture the people’s imagination in the midst of all the millennial craziness?
Below read words of our Representative to Congress as quoted in an article in The Inlander (that I highly recommend). Remember that McMorris Rodgers received her undergraduate degree from the Pensacola Christian College, an independent Baptist institution unaccredited at the time. Among its Articles of Faith one finds: “We believe in the imminent, pre-Tribulation return of Jesus Christ for all believers. The Rapture of the saints will be followed by a seven-year Tribulation, after which Christ will return in glory to judge the world and set up His millennial reign on earth.” In light of her upbringing and my friend’s enthusiasm for the teachings of Dr. Jeremiah, I find McMorris Rodgers’ words a little jarring:
“President Trump has defended Christianity. He has defended religious freedom more than any other president,” McMorris Rodgers says. “He made the decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem.”
I’ve asked many friends over the last few weeks what significance they attach to the embassy move. Very few made any connection with Christian end times prophecy. A few even naively asked, “Is your friend Jewish?” In citing the embassy moving to Jerusalem is McMorris Rodgers speaking from a worldview like that of my friend? When she remarks that her “positive disruptor,” Donald Trump, “...made the decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem” is she lighting up a similar worldview in the minds of some of her listeners, a worldview of which many of her constituents, Christian or not, have little awareness? Is her viewpoint on national policy nurtured by her confidence in Christian end times prophecy?
“He has defended religious freedom more than any other president,” Really? Weren’t you free, Ms. McMorris Rodgers, to practice your particular brand of Christianity before Donald Trump? Do you suppose Muslims, Sikhs, and followers of other religious traditions in these United States feel like their religious freedom is defended by your “positive disruptor?”
from their radio and television pulpits to broad audiences, including my friend, people who believe Dr. David Jeremiah, for example, offers them the one true interpretation of God’s Word. .
Then remember that the current U.S. Congressional District 5 Representative believes her Christian faith and worldview are defended by Donald Trump and his shift of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
Keep to the high ground,
P.S. I urge you to take a short internet safari into the world of Christian end times prophecy. Listen to Dr. Jeremiah rail against the “New World Order” (as exemplified by the United Nations). Or listen to Dr. Jeremiah explain how the very existence of Israel at this time is proof the end times are near.