Trends and Currents: Strong winds are blowing

Jan 26, 2017 | INSIGHTS, World Watch

“You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time? . . . Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come” (Luke 12:56, Dan. 10:14, cf 9:25).

True prophets are those who can discern the hand of God at work in the ebb and flow of trends and developments. They are able to take a longer and broader view than most of us, and have a strong sense that the history that is unfolding before their eyes is part of His story – though even the best of them are bound to misinterpret certain aspects of what is going on.

As someone who has spent much of the last forty four years writing about current affairs from a spiritual viewpoint, I sympathise with Sir Walter Raleigh who, when asked why he did not write about current affairs, famously replied in his Preface to his History of the World:

I know that it will be said by many, that I might have been more pleasing to the reader if I had written the story of my own times . . . To this I answer, that whosoever is writing a modern history, shall follow truth too near the heels, it may haply strike out his teeth!

Events, in other words, have a habit of moving faster than our ability to interpret let alone predict them. Nevertheless, it is important that we do make serious efforts to understand our times both spiritually and at the human level. There is much the Lord would have us focus on so that we can pray with greater insight and fervency and vigour.

As ever, what is happening behind the scenes is usually even more important than the events we see and hear. Many things happen “in the wings” before they are seen on the stage.

What we are doing here is to share or point to various articles and insights in order to help us get a picture of the man now in charge of what has long been considered the most important and influential nation on earth. All of this will help us to discern how we may seek first the kingdom of God in the new political scenarios that are fast developing.

Evangelical support

Donald Trump went to great lengths to cultivate the evangelical vote. (Time Magazine explored this in full last summer). He made a concerted effort to surround himself with evangelical supporters and advisers, which no doubt encouraged the great majority of white Christian evangelicals – all but 16% of them in fact – to vote for him. This had a significant impact on the outcome of the election.

Time magazine’s take on this is that Trump has made these inroads into the evangelical world by surrounding himself with charismatic televangelists who preach a version of the “prosperity gospel.”

As we look deeper into his track record, we will find things that make us question whether the hopes invested in Donald Trump by many have any solid foundations. And whilst that in no way means that the Lord cannot, or will not, use him in particular ways and so fulfil the various prophecies that have been directed his way, it is still appropriate to discern specific shortcomings. We have endeavoured to do the same in previous send outs in the case of President Putin, for the simple reason that the decisions of these men affect the lives of millions of others. I cannot think of a time in recent history when two such narcissistic and easily offended leaders have come to power opposite or alongside each other. The chances of volatile combustibility is huge! (See for example this insightful Panorama programme by John Sweeney,) indicating that there is every likelihood that Trump’s oft stated admiration for Putin is likely to end very badly.

Whilst doing our best to bear Bishop Lightfoot’s ever timely reminder in mind that ‘truth is like a sugar lump’, (that is, at least six sided!) this article represents our best attempt to provide background pointers towards what is going on in the speedy developments accompanying the early days of the Trump presidency. We are sharing these links and insights not to dampen or depress, but so that we can ponder different aspects of what the ‘sugar lump’ is soaking up, and pray accordingly. firste, though, here are some important background thoughts Linda Entwistle contributed concerning some of the unexpected outcomes democracy is taking in America today – and what these could lead to.

The Unforeseen outcome of Democracy

The following brief video concerns an important insight that Plato, the ancient Greek author of the first ‘political textbook’, made when he pointed out that dictatorships often emerge out of democracy.

Linda writes, “This video presents an interesting and frankly frightening perspective. I have been swotting up a bit on American history in order to pray better for President Trump, and this has led me to question whether the US is in fact a pure democracy . . . America is first and foremost a Republic, which uses laws to control the masses by giving them some measure of freedom, which they are pleased to call liberty. The laws made under the US Constitution are meant to derive from the Covenant made by the Founding Fathers and based on Christian and Biblical principles. Whether they do or not is perhaps another matter.

Democracy is a process by which the masses can vote for the person who is most likely to give them what they want. The fear is that the democratic ‘element’ with all its liberal and individualistic values is now threatening the integrity of the so-called Constitution because the population has lost its connection to its core values.

The general consensus of giving people too much power (as Plato, Socrates and the American Founding Fathers alike warned) is that men who are given too much freedom become complacent, materially comfortable, morally indifferent and dangerously, ruggedly individualistic – that is, thinking they can do whatever they want. In Paul’s language they become ‘lovers of self’ (2 Tim. 3:2) This in turn leads to a fundamental naivety which leaves them prey to the claims of a potential dictator who promises great things and solutions that, if they weren’t so gullible, they would recognise full well could not possibly exist.*

It is into this scenario, at a time of disillusionment and confusion, that Donald Trump has stepped. The question is: is he a potential tyrant who is seizing an opportunity to gain more power – or is he a ‘redeemer’ who will bring America back to its original principles and be a truly great nation? The latter is certainly what vast numbers of Christians in America hope and dare to believe.

  • Written back in 2008, and from a Republican viewpoint, this article is very enlightening for understanding the kind of democratic principles on which the United States was founded, and the way this connects with modern day thinking. This article in the Economist likewise offers an interesting perspective on democracy, whilst this recently published one asks the all important question: is American democracy strong enough to cope with Trump?

It would be easy to regard these ‘cyclical’ tendencies in American politics as deeply pessimistic (and there are sure to be many who would disagree with this view), but it seems to me to be borne out. God can break through all this, of course, though this will only fully happen when the Kingdom of God is completely fulfilled on Earth. The question is what we need to do to help that become a reality in a day when people have all but completely turned JF Kennedy’s plea on its head: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Let’s pray for the Church to adopt a bold yet humble godly approach, as opposed to a narrowly partisan one.

We warned in a previous version that the world situation is fast becoming far more volatile than it has been for years, and that leaders who can be effective diplomats are absolutely vital if things are not to degenerate swiftly beyond that stage. An important part of our task is to pray for the Lord to inspire people to make wise decisions, think critically, and not to fall prey to the lure of propaganda or the deadweight of carefully stoked prejudice.

That is certainly what the man who ghosted the phenomenally popular The Art of the Deal, which elevated Donald Trump from playboy developer to the status of a best-selling author and business guru. Schwartz describes Trump as a man sociopathically addicted to lying, who, in reality, cares for nothing expect himself. He bitterly regrets now having written the book. 

It is almost impossible to understand the Trump phenomenon without an in depth awareness of where he is coming from. I found this article both enlightening and deeply concerning concerning the primary influences on his life. Save

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* Fast forwarding to 2024 Judge Ana Reyes recently slammed rioters who compared themselves to America’s Founding Fathers. She wrote, “I feel the need to give everyone a history lesson. Because there are people who believe and continue to believe that the election was stolen and that it is in the best tradition of our American Founding Fathers to rebel against tyranny,” she said.

“I suggest that you read President Washington’s farewell address, because in it he warned Americans to ‘guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.’ Washington warned that ‘There will always be reasons to distrust the patriotism which in any quarter may endeavor to weaken the bonds of our democratic experiment.” ‘I hate this’: Judges vent fury as defendants increasingly rely on conspiracy theories (msn.com)

 

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