One mystery this primary season has been how it can be that so many Christians can support Trump. After all, Trump is basically everything Christians ought to rally against: He’s a serial adulterer and proud of it, he’s a liar, he’s boastful, he has no principles he’s held onto for any significant length of time other than “whatever benefits Donald”, and he’s never asked God for forgiveness for his sins.
One explanation could be that, obviously, not everyone who says they are a Christian or an evangelical is telling the truth. That may cause Trump’s support among these groups to be overstated, but it doesn’t explain why he has ANY support at all among these groups. Because logically, he shouldn’t.
The answer lies in prosperity theology.
Prosperity theology essentially teaches that God rewards his followers by making them rich. Of course, followers will claim that this is a huge simplification – “we just think God wants his children to be happy”, but it all boils down to the same message: If you’re a good Christian, you’ll never be poor. And tithing, rather than being an act of selflessness and a way to give back to the community, is actually an investment that – if you’re a good Christian – will yield a higher return than any earthly investment.
There are so many things wrong with prosperity theology that all the counter-arguments can’t be listed in one article, but let’s just say if you have to be rich to be a Christian, 99.99 % of Christians throughout world history (including the apostles!) were not actually Christians. And all those millions of martyrs who have given their lives for Christ must in that case truly be losers, to use Donald Trump’s favorite term.
But not only does prosperity theology bash all the billions of poor Christians in the world; prosperity theology, when taken to its logical conclusion, perfectly explains how Christians can justify supporting Donald Trump.
If being a good Christian makes you rich, then of course being “really rich” (another Trumpism) means that you must be a really awesome Christian. So what if Trump is a serial adulterer who thinks a woman’s only value stems from her viability as a sextoy; clearly God must approve of his behavior or he would not have blessed him with all those billions that he constantly brags about having made!
Trump says he’s never asked God for forgiveness, because he doesn’t make mistakes – and millions of Christians go “Well sure, if he had done something that required forgiveness God wouldn’t have let his ‘seeds’ multiply like that” (I hate using the term “seeds” for money but that’s what televangelists do).
Niall Ferguson in his excellent book “Civilization: The west and the rest” stated that Christianity is so much more prevalent in America than in Europe is because of competition. American churches compete against each other for visitors and tithes, and so if a church refuses to give people what they want, there’s another church next door that will. By contrast, most European countries had an official state church that faced zero competition and therefore zero need to keep up with the demands of the consumers. And like most government bureaucracies, state churches lacked flexibility and couldn’t deal with the sudden change of secularization.
The American way has certainly kept church attendance up, but there is a downside to it: Businesses have no real principles. Businesses have to obey the consumers, or go out of business, and only in extreme cases will they pick that option. A church run like a business also has a hard time keeping its principles, and instead is very prone to offer people what they want – which is how we end up with churches dictated by the cultural zeitgeist, rather than churches that fight it. Because fighting is not how you make money. Fighting won’t get you a private jet; if you fight, you’ll be lucky if you can afford to fly commercial.
And that’s how prosperity theology came around: People wanted to believe that their upper middle-class salaries, rather than creating an obligation for them to help the poor, meant that they were better people than the poor. People wanted to believe that they wouldn’t have to wait until heaven to get limitless rewards. And most of all; people wanted to believe that they could control God, that God was a toy in their hands that they could manipulate, so that if you give money to a certain organization God has an obligation to not just reward you, but to reward you in the exact way you wish (financially). Trusting God’s judgment and plan for your life is like, so 33 AD. People wanted to believe that, and a number of pastors, acting on behalf of Satan himself, were happy to supply what they demanded.
In short: Prosperity theology is what happens when pastors become capitalists.
Don’t believe me? Try confront a Christian Trump supporter about Trump’s moral and theological heresies. I guarantee you that you will get a response in the line of “But he’s such a great negotiator and he’s a winner” – and that, like I said, is the demonic fruit of prosperity theology.
I don’t care if Trump is a winner.
I believe in a Man who was never a winner in the eyes of the world, but who conquered death.
I believe in a Man who never negotiated, and yet won every fight.
I believe in a Man who blessed the poor, instead of denigrating them.
I believe in a Man who owns the world, but who has never bragged about his wealth.
I believe in a Man who was slandered, but who never sued.
I believe in a Man who could have slayed those who protested him without effort, yet never touched them.
And I believe in a Man who said, regarding those who would seduce children away from the faith, that “It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble”.
That man is Jesus Christ, my Saviour who is both fully man and fully God, and He is the reason I can never support Donald Trump. I don’t want to support a winner, because my God has no use for winners. My God uses those who are desperate, those who are miserable, those who have tried again and again but have nothing but tears to show for their efforts.
To become a Christian, you have to become a loser. Only once you realize exactly what an abject failure you are will you be able to genuinely ask for forgiveness for your sins and trust in God’s plan for your life. I am not a winner, I will never be a winner, but that doesn’t matter because the man who won over death itself lives in me.
I want to finish this article by suggesting that we stand together to clear both our churches and party of the money changers and the merchants who are profiting by masquerading as angels of light. Thank you for reading.