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By his fruits shall you know Donald Trump

I'm not going to get sanctimonious about the professing Christians (or even professing atheists) quoted in this article. For one thing, I'm a good enough exegete not to commit the common blunder of extracting Matthew 7:16 from its context, Matthew 7:15-20. When Jesus says, "You shall know them by their fruits," He is not talking about believers, but false prophets.

Besides, I'm a doctrinally sound enough Lutheran to know that even believers are simul justus et peccator- at the same time saints and sinners. The war between the Old Self and the New is what the baptismal lifestyle is all about. Sometimes the Old Self gets the upper hand. I myself in this blog am sometimes...shall we say.... more emphatic in my criticisms of others than I should be, and I've been known to transgress the boundary between good and bad taste. So I'm not in a position to judge. I'm just a forgiven sinner, living by grace, struggling day by day to thrust the Old Self beneath the waters of my baptism and drown him so that the New Self can daily rise again.

No, I'm not going to judge the liberals and Trumpista Christians quoted therein. The bad language I do not condone, but am not in a position to criticize too loudly. Nor am I exactly in the best position to sit in judgment on their failures of charity.

But consider this remarkable quotation from a YouTube comment on a video critical of Trump:

You are a f---ing idiot!!!!! Trump will win POTUS and when he DOES and he makes this country great again by getting back ALL THAT WAS STOLEN FROM HER, I am going to laugh in your face, and say, 'YOU WERE WRONG AND NEED TO SHUT YOUR PIE HOLE MOUTH!' You are a deceiver and you are leading Christians down a road of utter SUFFERING for speaking against God's ANNOINTED (sic) ONE WHOM HE HAS CHOSEN AND THAT IS TRUMP! You should be ASHAMED OF YOURSELF. Funny how you could not back one thing that came out of your lying mouth with scripture! READ YOUR BIBLE YOU WICKED PLOTTING POS! And I don't care that I cuss at you because I was made this way, and I KNOW who I AM in The Lord Jesus Christ!!!! You will be held accountable on the day of the great white throne judgment and you will have God asking you, 'Why have you led my sheep astray!?' Good luck on THAT DAY, because YOU are going to NEED IT, May God have mercy on you!! Bring on the backlash for my comment. Anyone that gives me crap for this comment, your part of this world's PROBLEM and know NOTHING! I am confident in what I say here and I will risk it for the sake of the Saints who are true Saints and are WAKING UP!! Like I said before, may the Lord have mercy on you. You deserve what's coming to you for spreading lies about God's ANNOINTED (sic) one Donald J. Trump

Wow. Just... wow. This goes beyond bad language. This goes beyond intemperate rhetoric. This goes beyond a mere failure in charity. This goes beyond bearing false witness. In the first place, on what possible basis can a man who by his own admission doesn't ask God for forgiveness, who is so unfamiliar with the Bible that he speaks of "Two Corinthians," who says that his favorite Bible passage is "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," and who is a habitual slanderer and liar as well as an unrepentant serial adulterer qualify as "God's anointed?" Yes, I know. The Bible uses that word to describe King Cyrus, who, while not an Israelite, did fulfill a specific prophecy (it even called him by name) and ordered an end to the exile. But where is the Scripture predicting a wall on the border with Mexico, a reckless and inept foreign policy, religious discrimination against Muslims, and an outright attack on the Bill of Rights? And what divinely-stated purpose would all of this bring about?

But even the bizarre casting of The Donald in the role of a messiah (literally, "anointed one") on the basis of absolutely nothing in scripture or logic whatsoever doesn't begin to touch my concern about the person who wrote this post. Not even my puzzlement as to what, in al that Donald Trump is or has said and done she thinks on any sound biblical basis is remotely pleasing to God plumbs the depths of my concern, though I continue to be bewildered as to how anyone claiming to be a Christian even can support a candidate so lacking in anything that might recommend him to a believer in a righteous God.

No, what really concerns me is a pattern I see in the rhetoric of Trump himself, but even more in that of his followers- including those who claim to be Christians. They seem to have a remarkable fondness not for loving their enemies (or even mere opponents), but for threatening them.

It's obvious in The Donald's endless proclamation that those who disagree with him or oppose him had "better watch out." But it's remarkably consistent in the threats his supporters so habitually make a part of posts online supporting him that once Trump is elected (which, thank God, he never will be) those who oppose him are going to be sorry. I am disturbed when the political rhetoric of even a rank secularist evokes the midnight knock on the door by the secret police, or even the abuse of power to punish and discriminate against people on the basis of their honest beliefs. But when Voltaire's famous statement that "I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it-" a fairly good motto for anyone supporting the values of the First Amendment- is turned on its head and becomes a predilection for threatening those who disagree with one with dire consequences once one's own side and comes to power, the result is something so un-American that it's hard to see how anybody with any commitment at all to the values of Jefferson and Madison and the other Founders could embrace it. But beyond that, it's difficult to see how anyone who claims to be a disciple of the One Who commands them to love their enemies and do good to those who persecute (as opposed to merely disagreeing with) them could either say such things or approve of those who do.

Yes, it's hard to understand why any professing Christian would support an apostle of hatred and fear and ignorance like Donald Trump. He is, in fact, the very kind of person Matthew 7:16 refers to. He is a false prophet.

But it's hard to see how anybody who follows Jesus could mistake the thorns he bears for fruit.

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