WorldNetDaily columnist Michael Brown's specialty these days is helping his fellow evangelicals get past President Trump's odious, amoral behavior by repeatedly pointing out how Trump has advanced the political agenda of right-wing evangelicals like himself. Yet, he still pretends to agonize over the conflict between the two.
In his July 6 column, Brown leans into the divine-Donald narrative, which posits that Trump was elected in 2016 due to divine intervention (and which WND has embraced):
All in all, Trump will have to navigate a very difficult path to reelection, and at this moment in time, without divine intervention from the Lord for His sovereign purposes, his chances do not look good.
But what if God does have a special plan? What if this is yet another setup to underscore the impossibility of Trump's presidency by natural means alone?
In my new book, "Evangelicals at the Crossroads: Will We Pass the Trump Test?", I devote an entire chapter to the question, "Did God uniquely raise up Donald Trump?"
In the chapter, I state the case against divine intervention, offering naturalistic explanations or even noting that, according to some, any president is divinely chosen by God. I then lay out the case for divine intervention, explaining the meaning of the King Cyrus parallel, which means something different than many think. (I'll cover the Cyrus question in another article.)
In the end, I believe a good case can be made for sovereign intervention in Trump's 2016 election, as I explain in the book. (Again, this doesn't vindicate everything Trump does; it simply underscores a divine purpose. If anyone can play "4D Chess" – or 4,000 D Chess – it is the Lord!)
To Brown's credit, he did broach what few others pushing the divine-Donald narrative have done, in raising the possibility that God did this to judge America rather than bless America," but begs off by saying, "that's another subject entirely."
In his column the next day, Brown promoted his new book again, claiming to have read much of the anti-Trump literature and responding to it, which led him to ask: "Is Donald Trump a spiritual danger?" Of course, he finds a way to handwave that by rehashing what he has done for evangelicals and setting an artificially high bar by claiming the consequences for Trump's actions were not as dire as feared:
The simple answer is: 1) only if we put our trust in him rather than in the Lord (see my recent article, "Christ, Not Trump, is the Solid Rock on Which We Stand"); 2) only if we defend him when he is indefensible; and 3) only if we are known more as Trump supporters than as followers of Jesus.
Otherwise, I do not believe he is a spiritual danger, either to the nation or to the church.
After all, with the constant concerns we have heard about his alleged instability for the last four years, has he provoked an international war? Did his relocation of our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem spark a massive response in the Muslim world? Did he start a nuclear battle with North Korea?
As for him keeping his promises to evangelicals, has any president in recent history been as loyal to this constituency? Has any president stood up more for our freedoms? Has any president kept the door open to us the way Trump has? Has any president dared to take the public, pro-life stands he has taken, including speaking at the annual March for Life in D.C.? Has any president appointed as many quality judges to the federal courts?
As for the predicted mental breakdowns, they have not happened yet. (If you want to brand him "crazy," then he's as "crazy" today as the day he was elected.)
As for him asserting dictatorial powers over the nation, he has done no such thing, even during the current pandemic.
To be sure, to the extent we have looked to Trump as some kind of savior or defended him at every turn, we have tarnished our witness. That, to me, is undeniable and something we must correct.
On the other hand, evangelical leaders have not sided with Trump in a cult-like, blindly loyal manner. Just think of the backlash he received from leaders like Pat Robertson and Franklin Graham when he pulled our troops out of Syria, thereby endangering our Kurdish allies. The warning from some of these evangelical leaders was quite intense.
That's why I am fully convinced that, should Trump abandon the values of his evangelical base, we would not stand with him. We are not part of his cult.
The problem here is that Brown is assuming Trump has any "values" that cause him to push an evangelical agenda beyond trying to get evangelicals to vote for him. If you stick with an amoral man whose hollowness you give a pass to because he advances your agenda, then you are part of his "cult."
Then, on July 14, WND published an excerpt from Brown's book, which purports to be "aimed at evangelical Christians who are put off by Trump’s faults." In it, Brown returns to his ends-justify-the-means approach to excusing Trump's amorality (while, yet again, pretending to agonize over it):
This is not to minimize his faults or the negative fruit of his words. As a follower of Jesus, I abhor some of his behavior, and, from a pragmatic viewpoint, he is his own worst enemy. My purpose here is to put Trump’s strengths and weaknesses into a larger global context.
As an American whose own family was being threatened with terrible loss, what specialist would you want at the helm? Would you want the nice family guy who had a poor track record in combatting similar plagues? Or would you want the nasty-tongued, prideful, oft-married man who was known for stopping these diseases in their tracks?
More specifically, from a Christian perspective, who would be the better choice? In a case like this, would God be more concerned with the person being nice yet inept, resulting in the deaths of tens of millions of Americans? Or would He be more concerned with the saving of all these lives, despite the man’s carnality?
To be sure, when it comes to our choice of president, morality does play an important role, just as, say, sobriety would play an important role with a heart surgeon. If you knew the surgeon was an alcoholic, would you still trust his or her track record?
In the same way, when it comes to the president, we don’t want a hothead who could needlessly start World War III. We don’t want a liar who can’t be trusted. We don’t want someone who is so divisive and mean-spirited that he tears the nation in two. Character does count and morality does matter.
It’s just that character and morality are multifaceted, and for many of us, a president who will fight for the life of the unborn demonstrates good character. The same with a president who will combat Islamic terrorism. Or stand for religious liberties. Or push back against a dangerous globalism (aka the New World Order). Or stand up to the repressive regime of China.
And while we regret many of the president’s words and actions, knowing they do real damage as well, in balance, we think he’s the best man (among possible current candidates) for the job.
As for the alternatives to Donald Trump, Farias opines, “I must honestly say: I cannot imagine how any true Christian or Messianic Jew could be a Democrat today. It is quickly morphing into a Marxist socialist, violently atheistic party with great greed for power. One cannot read his Bible and be a leftist liberal democrat. You have to feed on humanistic ideologies and go to humanistic schools to be one.”
Again, I don’t write these things (or, really, anything in “Evangelicals at the Crossroads”) with the goal of minimizing Donald Trump’s failings. Rather, I write this to explain why so many God-fearing, morality-loving, Bible-believing Christians can enthusiastically vote for Trump. The picture is much bigger than the man himself.
Actually, Brown is very much trying to minimize Trump's failings as a way to keep evangelicals interested in keeping political power. He wouldn't have written this book if he wasn't.