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The heresy of Donald Trump

Citing Adlai Stevenson's quip that "as a Christian, I find Paul appealing and Peale appalling," Michael Horton- one of my favorite Reformed theologians- writes this compelling piece on the heresy that connects Donald Trump with so many people who consider themselves "evangelical" Christians: the writings of Norman Vincent Peale.

The appeal (or aPeale) of an unrepentant serial adulterer who apparently is unfamiliar with the Bible for so many conservative Christians is puzzling. Various people have tried to explain it. Usually, it's some variation of their engaging in a kind of "scorched earth" strategy in the wake of having realized that they've lost the culture wars. As if worldly triumph and glory, rather than the cross, were the hallmark and signature of the Crucified.

But therein, if Horton is right, lies the key: what Luther would have called "a theology of glory," a fatal compromise of Christ's message which permits those who claim to be His followers to instead follow a set of ideas as alien to the Gospel as rationality is to the Trump movement. Zeroing in on four key words- Creation, Sin, Christ and Leadership- Horton lays out the places where the Peale-Trump heresy departs from the Bible and the teachings of Jesus and authorizes (as one of my liberal seminary profs would have said) a departure from the teachings of Jesus to those of a different, alien Christ.

Nor is the cultural prostitution of the Gospel unique to the Trump movement or to the theology of Peale. May this essay on the Trumpian heresy illuminate that particular aspect of this present darkness, and enable those of us who follow the Crucified to confess the real cross in opposition to the chocolate one.

And yeah. Believe it or not, the crucifix in the picture is made of chocolate.


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