Old Age Senility and an Inerrant Bible.

Person, woman, man, camera, TV. Donald Trump bragged that he aced a “difficult” cognitive test by remembering five words and reciting them in order. Nikki Haley, former U.N. ambassador – and strong evangelical – who resigned under good terms with Trump carries a Republican gravitas. She recently alluded to President Biden, noting “anyone above a certain age in a position of power… should have some sort of cognitive test”. She parrots many right-wing pundits who insist the lights are out and nobody’s home in the White House. (Of course, they skip over the previous President, who many in his own administration (and his siblings) believed had early onset Alzheimer’s.)

Conservative evangelicals like Ken Ham believe that if Moses didn’t write the Pentateuch, it calls into question the truth of Scripture. One question Mr. Answers in Genesis has never asked is, did Moses ever take a cognitive test?

Exodus 7 informs us that Moses was eighty years old when he challenged Pharaoh. Did we get the Torah from a Moses suffering from old age dementia? It seems that if we can question a 78 year-old President’s mental acuity, what conclusions can we draw from Sinai? Here we have an elderly, perhaps senile, man who trudges up a mountain and comes down saying he saw G_d. Couldn’t the rhetorical argument be made that an aged, maybe hallucinatory, Moses saw something that wasn’t really there?

Conservative evangelicals believe the Bible’s divinely-inspired authority is not limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes but includes its assertions in such fields as history and science. I believe the miracles of Exodus and agree the Bible is infallible in terms of faith and practice. But the same can’t be said for the accounts in Genesis being historically, scientifically, and factually inerrant. And conservative evangelicals believe the first five books were all written down by Moses.

I’m not a geriatric physician diagnosing Moses’ cognitive impairment. I’m merely pointing out that making reckless age-ims about President Biden’s mental acuity logically leads to places where conservative evangelicals are loath to go.

How the Corinthians Would Handle Sexual Sin Today

Biblical archaeologists have uncovered a valuable and unique early church manuscript – the church replying to Paul’s letters addressed to the Corinthians:

From: First Church of Corinth

To: Paul, Missionary and Evangelist

Dearest Paul,

We are eternally grateful for your work in founding this church, and thank you for the letters you have sent to encourage us in the faith. We have reviewed them carefully to best to incorporate your recommendations into our program of excellence here at First Church of Corinth.

You allude to an instance of incestuous behaviour being permitted in the church. As senior pastor, I and the elders conducted an internal investigation into the matter. The facts are somewhat different than you set out. The young man in question comes from a prominent family upon whom our church depends financially. We determine that he, like Lot, was seduced and manipulated into sexually immorality by feminine trickery. Having been deceived into sin by an aggressively licentious woman, we quickly restored him into full fellowship. As for this shameless woman, you will be happy to note that we have severed relations and obtained a restraining order against her.

Clearly, you did not have all the facts at your disposal, and the discrepancy is not entirely your fault. Some disgruntled former members have been spreading malicious rumours with the intent of destroying the unity of our body. Many member “concerns” are simply unfounded, and since long ago, we have required our members to sign binding confidentiality agreements to protect our reputation from damaging or disparaging gossip. We are suing these contentious individuals to prevent any disclosures under their contractual obligations.

In the future, direct your communications only to me as senior pastor. I, as owner of the Vision and my select leadership team will fine-tune your letters and pass them on to the congregation as deemed appropriate. As you sail along to other mission fields, be assured that this ship will see its mission fully realized under my leadership and control.

Senior Pastor/CEO

The Dog Did It.

Farts. There’s nothing more embarrassing in polite society than issuing a malodourous southward blast. The age-old ploy is to blame your outburst on someone else – a dog is most convenient – in your immediate vicinity.

Since the fall of Kabul, lots of farty people have piled onto President Biden for the ensuing chaos. A loud voice in that frenzy was Richard Land, a pope within the Southern Baptist Convention, doyen of evangelical Trump politics, and executive editor of the Christian Post. Recently, his hate-filled outburst directed at President Biden, “AFGHANISTAN:  A name that will live in infamy”, appeared on his click-bait site. That wasn’t enough for him; he took the curious step to have a Christian Post staffer publish an editorial covering his own editorial.

Land’s article is a J’Accuse! directed at the “collection of buffoons and pretenders has just presided over a national humiliation”. Meaning, an “incompetent'” President Biden and his foreign policy “boobs”. Yes, the abrupt pull-out was more like doing a runner than an exit strategy. But Afghanistan was a venture doomed from the start, with successive Presidents tossing it to the next guy like playing Milton Bradley’s Time Bomb. The years went by with successive generals promising victory and painting a rosy picture of the progress they’ve supposedly made.  Even Tucker Carlson admitted that the American people had been lied to for twenty years by commanders passing off their failures as progress. Americans themselves got bored and distracted, and you’d have been hard-pressed to see Afghanistan as headline news for the past decade or more. Even Congress gave up paying attention to the money-pit war.  Observing an empty Senate chamber, Sen. Lindsay Graham lamented, “I remember when all these rows were full with people carrying bags and everybody was hanging on every word about Afghanistan.” By 2015, Afghanistan had become another Forgotten War. Soldiers went to a place that made little sense to them, among people who didn’t want them, and who often tried to kill them for being there. Many – like my son – came back with a Purple Heart and PTSD to a country disconnected from that  sideshow so far removed from their everyday lives and experience.

The realities emerging from the protracted outcome were much different from those promised at the outset to be swift and crushing victories, with the war no longer resembling the objectives we originally sought to achieve. We no longer fought an endless war because we should, but because we could. Except we couldn’t win it. Knowing this, Trump cut a deal with the Taliban to reduce military personnel to bare bones. Mike Pompeo, Trump’s Secretary of State  glad-handing the “gentleman” Taliban leader over the Doha surrender agreement, sabotaged the Kabul government, and released 5,000 jailed fighters on good faith. Arty McDeal really cut a pants-ripper loose on that one. But instead of drawing attention to his flatulence, The Christian Post continued to give fawning praise to the evangelical political leader – and presidential wanna-be.

All the attention given over to how we left Afghanistan covers over the odiferous way we stumbled into a forever war. In the Afghanistan blame game there are plenty of windbags, all of whose farts don’t smell. Like Richard Land. To what started out as a punitive mission not unsimilar to chasing Pancho Villa’s cross-border raiders, he blessed the cannons to turn it into a holy crusade. America is no exception to the truism that nations carry their deities into battle with them. And evangelicals pack their soldiers off to war like missionaries with guns. Land re-worked the Just War theory to construe godly arguments for “why not” war.  “The question is not if God is on our side, but if we are on God’s side,” Richard Land was quoted as saying about the Iraq invasion. “Then, with a wink of the eye, Land added, ‘But I think God is on our side in this one.’”[i]  Of course, committing the evangelical god into making victory happen had help from a President with a Messianic certainty of what God told him to do.

After 20 years, there have been more than enough farts stinking up our air, but too few people owning up to the ones they made. I think Richard Land should feel shame – and do some serious repentance – for his own stinky contribution . Then again, maybe his dog did it.


[i] Michael P. Melon, Yet You Would Not Return to Me, Xulon Press, 2004, p. 193.

Of Lice and Men…

We’ve all heard the many cockamamie reasons given by evangelicals for being anti-vax. Including the Holy Spirit Immunity offered by Kenneth Copeland by getting the gullible to touch their TV screen. Well, Jesus did say he people who think they’re righteous don’t need a doctor. Or, the insidious plan uncovered by Matt Staver to sterilize men and women through the inoculation.[i] It’s the problem in reverse to another nutbag, General Jack D. Ripper, who warily guarded his precious bodily fluids.

Here in the real world – as much as Texas can be – we’ve seen a spike this week of over 21,000 new cases. Hospitals in our region are in crisis mode, with only 27 ICU beds available for 6.6 million people in Greater Houston Area. Triage tents have been set up outside St. Luke’s Hospital in The Woodlands. Texas has requested extra mortuary trailers.

Today, our esteemed Christian governor, Gregg Abbott, tested positive for COVID-19. He was fully vaccinated. Now, those in close contact with him been notified.  Which is more than he’s allowed for Texas school children.

Under his March disaster proclamation – which has been upheld by the Texas Supreme Court – school officials must report positive results to the health department, but have no obligation to perform contact tracing or even notify parents of other students who may have been in contact with the child.

They’re kids – healthy, young, and Texas tough. But occasionally, one of them turns up at school with head lice. And the school health authorities regulate that as well. Elementary school nurses must notify the parents of each child assigned to the same classroom as the child with lice within 48 hours. The policy is based on the priority of keeping kids in class, as head lice do not spread disease and are not considered a serious health problem. It seems “don’t ask, don’t tell” is the Texas solution to COVID-19 in the classroom. But do notify other parents if your kid has lice – “which is not considered a serious public health problem” It all fits in with that famous Texas slogan, “Come and Take It”!


[i] And some convoluted theology of the an unmasked face is bound to come into play. One of disgraced fundagelical Bill Gothard’s favorite themes was how a True Christian’s face must be uncovered, with a radiant countenance, joy in their heart, and a beautiful smile that ministers in the lives of others. I really don’t have the energy to go down that rabbit hole.

….a time of war, and a time of peace

[N]o national government could ever secure a more powerful organ of official propaganda than a church quickening moral indignation against the enemy of the moment. – Herbert Butterfield

I vividly recall the chaotic scenes as the South Vietnamese army abruptly collapsed, with overloaded Hueys and C-5As trying to ferry a desperate last few to safety.  “This is manifestly not Saigon,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed, despite the clear correlation to Vietnam in 1975. But with the Americans pushing and shoving a hasty evacuation from Kabul as the enemy overruns the city – in all its heart-wrenching tragedy – I’ve seen this movie before.

“The blood of this nation will be on the hands of the Biden/Harris administration,” intoned Franklin Graham. “If you voted for Biden, you did this,” one right-wing pundit intoned. I agree. But if we’re playing the blame game, we all are implicated. Yes, America’s abrupt exit from Afghanistan has been a debacle, as we’ve heard from numerous armchair quarterbacks. It’s the end of an American-made, slow-motion catastrophe. Someday, a historian, looking back on our time will judge that war-mongering evangelicals helped light the conflagration – and kept it burning with divine complicity.

With the enthusiastic aid of evangelical leaders, what started out as a punitive military mission to force the Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden took on messianic overtones. GWOT – the Global War On Terror – became an unlimited ‘war for righteousness’. President Bush’s repeated use of the heavily-weighted word “crusade” was interpreted by many outsiders as implying a clash of religions – not so much their respective civilizations. “I am driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, ‘George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan’. And I did.”

Bush spoke of God, to God, and ultimately, for God. The problem was not all inside Bush’s head. “When we pick a president, we are in fact choosing a minister of God”, wrote Bryan Fischer. Many evangelicals believe the President is anointed, not elected. Taking matters into our own righteous hands was the theme of the day, with some advocates blithely calling for vengeance on whatever Muslim enemy was most readily at hand. A Pew survey conducted in 2012 found over half of Americans felt our wars should be fought, whether right or wrong.

In committing the country to war, Bush had also committed the evangelical god into making victory happen. America’s military foray was divinely ordained for a higher purpose as God’s blunt instruments of wrath on iniquitous humanity. The church in deifying the state was now complicit as its court chaplain, and biblical peace-making became the answer to a question no one was asking. In fact, authoritative evangelical voices moved to quash any potential moral opposition; it becoming a matter of apostasy to question the born-again President.

There were seasons over the past 20 years for evangelicals to exercise the Divine “No” as America killed its way to peace. What began as a Just War became Just A War no longer having a discernible rhyme or reason. “History is rife with discarded grand meaning where wars became drawn out,” wrote Herbert Butterfield, “and continued long after their high-minded aims seem forgotten”.  Even by 2012, Afghanistan had become a purposely-ignored problem – just as the KIA number hit the 2,000 mark.  It seemed the war had twisted into such an abstract form that it no longer resembled the objectives we originally sought to achieve.

Walter Wink wrote that where “man first directs war, only too soon it is war which is directing man; as though a devil were presiding over the affair.” And that is where our Holy Afghanistan Crusade has taken us. This week, America lost its war in Afghanistan. Evangelicals lost their spiritual version of it long ago by doing the will of the demonic enemy within ourselves.

Life Interrupted

I’d be pleasantly surprised if anyone noticed the long lapse, but life’s complications compelled me to take a season off from blogging. My sabbatical was a necessary wandering the wilderness. It wasn’t because of too little to say; I wish it were otherwise. The terminal velocity of American white evangelicalism has accelerated so drastically its been hard to keep up with the descent.

My blog “handle” has been Phronetic Christian, coming from Aristotle’s concept of phronesis. That is, seeking wisdom relevant to practical action. I’m refreshed now and hope you’re still hanging in there with me. The hiatus has come to an end, and I’d love to hear your comments on the eclectic stream of posts over the coming days. I can’t promise they’ll be compelling. But they’re free and worth every penny.  

Onward Christian Terrorists

“The attack on Washington?” Rayford said, craning his neck to talk to the officer. “Washington, D.C.?”

One prediction the Left Behind tag team of LaHaye and Jenkins got right – unintentionally, by the way –features in their 1996 installment, The Tribulation Force. (I’ll summarize the plot so you don’t waste your time). Our born-again hero has a growing awareness that he is working directly under the honest-to-goodness Anti-Christ. The antagonist, U.N. Secretary-General Nicolae Carpathia, having largely succeeded into hood-winking the religions of the world to unify, is well on his way to One World Government – starting with disarming America for world peace. The U.S. President is opposed, and enlists the well-armed “patriotic militia forces” to resist. Carpathia responds:

“If we accomplish what I have proposed, do you really think a bunch of zealots running around in the woods wearing fatigues and shooting off popguns will be a threat to the global community?” Yet, their President character whispers a warning to the righteous hero: stay away from Washington.

They could have been writing about January 6th, 2021. A collection of self-declared vigilante organizations – Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, Three Percenters and less-glorified street gangs – were leading the siege. And Franklin Graham can lie all he wants – it would be out-of-character for him not to – but evangelical Christians were among the mob forcing its way inside the House chambers. “We love you and we thank you, in Christ’s holy name we pray.” There may not be a self-styled ‘Christian’ militia, but armed Christians permeate these private armies. “God is not on the Democrats’ side,” said a rioter who kicked in Nancy Pelosi’s office door. “And if patriots have to kill 60 million of these communists, it is God’s will.”

Slowly, America is waking up to the fact that these are not just “a bunch of zealots running around in the woods wearing fatigues and shooting off popguns”. Especially, given that Donald “good people on both sides” Trump’s campaign underwrote the January 6 rally organizers to the tune of $2.7 million. “Be there, be wild,” the now-disgraced former President cheered.

I am a former National Guard officer – a JAG, to be specific. I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I know a thing or two about militias under the Constitution.  I know enough about the so-called Anti-Klan laws – now codified as 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 – 1986 – to recognize a civil conspiracy to deprive individuals of their constitutional rights. I don’t think many evangelicals are involved; maybe it was the same in Klan days. But almost all Southern white folk supported the night-riding vigilantes. Evangelicals today should ask themselves, how much further down into the Tribulation Force do they want to sink? All its hateful malevolence is unfolding right before our eyes, and I’ll be blogging about it for the foreseeable future.

You Lost It

I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.

We’re losing an entire generation. They’re just gone. It’s one of the worst things to happen to the Church.”

A generation ago, getting to your evangelical church meant walking through a parking lot brimming with “I Found It!” bumper stickers. You saw them everywhere in the ‘70s. It was a marketing strategy of Bill Bright, who came up with a form of passive evangelism designed to pique someone’s curiosity. If they asked, “I found new life in Christ” was seen as a perfect, non-threatening entrée to share one’s faith. And to share the story of life and life abundant that Jesus gave us.

“The Bible makes it clear that soul-winning is the business of every Christian,” wrote John R. Rice.[1] A generation ago, most evangelicals agreed with the fundamentalist Rice. Few evangelicals speak of “soul-winning” anymore. And evangelicals are no longer into bumper sticker evangelism. You’re more likely to see a few Trump/Pence stickers plastered on the car. In fact, most evangelicals today aren’t into evangelism at all. Statistics show Christians rarely share the “good news” of the Gospel. Hot Tub Church and/or Partisan Church have led to very few even managing to articulate it.

How did this sea change come about? Primarily because evangelicalism was wide, but very shallow. The late Michael Spencer was great at saying out loud things you couldn’t say in church. “The Christian life that was oriented to one thing: converting people”. He related how his youth pastor called him out for reading Packer’s Knowing God.Your purpose isn’t to know God. Your purpose is to win souls.” Like Corrie ten Boom, who wrote “The reward of faith is that you shall have everlasting life!”.  The Good News is all about how people can go to heaven when they die, and there was a “wretched urgency” to win their souls for Christ.

Evangelicalism is all about personal salvation. Ask Jesus into your heart – a phrase nowhere found in the Bible – and He’ll reward you with eternal security. Yet today, less than half of born-again Christians feel a strong responsibility to share the Gospel. This is the damage caused by Rapture-addled apocalypticism. The world is going to Hell; but like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I’m singing “I have the Golden Ticket”. I’m sitting in God’s waiting room to board Spaceship Jesus and get me out of this despicable place full of unsaveable people. It’s hard to pass on a form of faith that can take root and survive when we’ve already packed our escape bag and turned off the lights.

But before we depart, we need something to occupy our time. “Jesus’ entire discipleship program with his apostles was an academy designed to prepare them for service in the political arena,” noted Bryan Fischer.[2] Now there’s an idea: believe in a cause more than a faith. So, starting from Jerry Falwell’s I Love America rallies in the late ‘70s to Franklin Graham’s 50-state get-out-the-vote tours, political ideology has usurped the evangelical spiritual identity. That’s what’s holding evangelicalism together. “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, but lose his soul?” Evangelicalism, you’ve lost it.


[1] John R. Rice, Soul Winning, Murphreesboro TN, Sword of the Lord Publ., 1944, 3.

[2] Bryan Fischer, “Jesus Groomed His Apostles for Political Office”, Self-Educated American, April 5, 2011. http://selfeducatedamerican.com/2011/04/05/jesus-groomed-his-apostles-for-political-office/

Nurseries of Sedition

There are any number of examples through history where millenarian Christianity fused with secular rebellion. Like Thomas Müntzer, Luther’s religious antagonist, who led the German Peasants’ War.[1] Or the antebellum Southern churches, which “led by their ministers, have gone heart and soul into the rebellion and the war against the Government.”[2]

The phrase Nurseries of Sedition became known during the English Civil War era to describe Dissenters whose aim was “not to spread the Word of God or the imitatio Christi, but with great caution and stealth” to support those intent on overthrowing the government.[3] The most radical among them made up the Fifth Monarchy movement, whose “millenarian convictions, combined with an assurance of divine sanction for their use of military and political means to bring down earthly governments and establish the reign of the saints to usher in the millennium.”[4] Funny thing about spiritual warfare: the fight is usually more visceral than supernatural.

“Christians should rule the world,” says Dominionist Michele Bachmann. Her hero is proto-culture warrior and fervent anti-abortionist Francis Schaeffer, whose son quoted him calling for “the violent overthrow of the government if Roe v. Wade isn’t reversed.” Politics, for many evangelicals, is an apocalyptic, zero-sum struggle. Whether you’re a radical Atomwaffen devotee of accelerationism, or a Tim LaHaye-indoctrinated Dispensationalist, or a Dominionist/NAR/INC/Christian Reconstructionist immanentizing the eschaton, dismantling democracy is a small price to pay for a government of White supremacy, preferably theocratic. Secular and sacred sedition have the same goal: domination. We answer to a higher authority to get holy revenge. Don’t believe me? Try this: Let’s count Christian ministers who’ve advocated death for gays.

Evangelicals from across America hopped on a plane or bus to travel to the Washington “Save America March,” to have the president’s back as he has had ours. Many of their churches encouraged them to do so, some even hiring busses. “The name of God was everywhere during Wednesday’s insurrection against the American government,” writes Emma Green for The Atlantic. Like the January 6th Jericho march, whose organizer framed it as “denouncing any and all acts of violence and destruction”. Yet, the organization’s website listed skilled incendiaries like Mike Flynn, Mike “My Pillow’ Lindell, Eric Metaxsas as speakers that day. “I didn’t incite anything,” protests another speaker, convicted felon Ali Alexander. “The lord says vengeance is his, and I pray that I am the tool to stab these motherfuckers,” the Christian activist also said, which seems to be a slight contradiction. Giving a platform to these radical Christianists was like carrying lit matches into a gunpowder factory. Metaxsas boasted he was prepared to shed blood for Trump (although it conveniently turned out to be other peoples’). Also on their webpage was a large photo of Donald L’état, C’est Moi Trump with the caption, Be There, Be Wild.  This didn’t exactly have the makings of pious, law-abiding Christians being uplifted at a Billy Graham Crusade.

“The people who stormed that Capitol, the people who killed that police officer, were not a part of the kingdom of God, as some people claimed; they were a part of the kingdom of Satan,” Robert Jeffress stated. For once, this spiritual blowhard for Trump got something right. But many came from churches – probably a horde from First Baptist of Dallas as well. The Kraken comes in various flavors – evangelical being one of the most popular. “The day was peaceful,” writes the My Pillow Guy, “with police letting people in to both the Capitol grounds as well as to the Capitol itself, with some scuffles as the police tried to control the crowds so they would enter safely.” The trouble-free and non-violent First Amendment expression of civil disobedience peacefully resulted in five deaths.

Evangelicals who sit lovingly through Sunday church – probably including a number from Jeffress’ own – jumped the barriers and raged through the Capitol like a pagan horde. Pastor Caleb Cooper, a self-described “young firebrand revivalist,” recounts his exhilaration at being among the hordes of righteous Christians that invaded the Capitol. “The patriots were innumerable. They filled the top platform of the Capitol, with a sea of people extending down the stairs and into the courtyard and beyond. Over the crowd, I saw American flags, Trump flags and Appeal to Heaven flags being carried past the barriers and making their way to the top as the crowd began to sing the National Anthem and shout ‘USA’.” Meshawn Maddock, prominent Trumpist from Michigan, is proud to proclaim, “I’m a Christian and I believe that God qualifies the called.” She organized buses headed to the protest. The hometown paper reported that she and her husband joined a Facebook group which openly discussed civil war.

I don’t fault the pastors of a hundred thousand churches across America trying to keep their flocks together amidst a pandemic and political partisanship, both of which are out of control. I accuse the politically radical media Christians. Like Charlie Kirk, the college dropout that manages the Falkirk “think tank” – and who launched more than 80 busloads of Trumpists aimed at the Capitol. “This attempted coup,” writes Hemant Mehta, “could not have happened without the active participation of Christian Nationalists who have been brainwashed into thinking they’re victims of persecution by pastors who will never admit their role in this tragedy.” He’s not exactly right, but well on the way. Of course, there are Christian Nationalist/QAnon pastors – many of them – and he points to one in Minnesota who says Trump must enact martial law. But that is a man who “shepherds” in a black robe with an AR-15 strapped on. These blind folks feed a false Gospel to a blind congregation.

 “America’s problem is not political. It is religious fanaticism,” writes Frank Schaeffer. I don’t always agree with Schaeffer, but he is spot-on saying the “White evangelical delusion problem” is the enemy of democracy. We saw that in action on January 6th, as evangelicals essentially blessed the cannons. We’ve seen it intensify over the past four years, serving Donald Trump – the Cyrus President – as their new savior.

The riot, noted The Atlantic, was “a Christian insurrection”. I wish there some happy note to conclude on, but don’t see an end to it. Not until the various Christian media despots either repent or are deposed. “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.” These evangelical fixtures are nurseries of sedition – against the government which they are to pray for and to submit to, but more importantly, against the Jesus of the Gospels. I pity a future of evangelical Christianity largely left in their hands.


[1] “Now if you want to be true governors, you must begin government at the roots, and, as Christ commanded, drive his enemies from the elect. For you are the means to this end. Beloved, don’t give us any old jokes about how the power of God should do it without your application of the sword.” William C. Placher, Readings in the History of Christian Theology, Vol.2 (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1988), 29.

[2] Robert Livingston Stanton, The Church and the Rebellion (New York: Derby & Miller, 1864), 245.

[3] Jason McElligott, Fear, Exclusion and Revolution: Roger Morrice and Britain in the 1680s (Farnham: Ashgate, 2006), 193.

[4] Warren Johnston, Revelation Restored: The Apocalypse in later Seventeenth-Century England (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2011), 15

Sheep Without A Shepherd

The idols speak deceitfully, diviners see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd. – Zechariah 10:2 (NIV)

To kickoff the January 6th festivities, an almost invisible President chose to bless the Washington marchers in an hour-long tirade. Like a pre-game coach pumping up the team, he exhorted his very fine people to press onwards to the U.S. Capitol. He laid out no specific objectives for them, although his remarks were prefaced by Rudi Giuliani calling for “trial by combat”, and his son directing a threat to non-supportive legislators that “we’re coming for you”.

One thing we can be thankful for: Donald Trump was either too clueless to orchestrate the assault, or lacked the requisite cajones, to personally lead his motley collection of followers from the front. After his speech, he headed back in his armor-clad limo so he could watch its consequences unfold at a safe distance on Fox. Not uncommon for the Great Liar, he made one more hollow promise: “I’ll be there with you” to march from the White House to the Capitol. Unlike his hero, General George Patton who truly “had a pair,” Trump predictably dispatched others do his dirty work, and once again led from behind. At the same time, he disowned his fawningly-loyal Vice President for not having “the courage to do what should have been done”.

This was what his “patriot” devotees considered as his Joan of Arc moment at the Siege of Orléans. America’s Savior being AWOL was like a grand fête which the guest-of-honor adroitly disinvited himself. They raised lots of hell, but without a visible leader or plan of action, the rampage – apart from several deaths – achieved little more than a drunken Buffalo Bills tailgate. After his no-show, the myriad arrests and negative reactions left a bad taste in some MAGA mouths. “[He] tells angry people to march to the capitol [and then] proceeds to throw his supporters under the bus,” one disciple groused. The sheeple were momentarily pissed that their shepherd ducked out.

I will spend every day fighting for Christian values!”  Derrick Evans, a West Virginia legislator, was describing his fitness for office, and being an upstanding evangelical was at the top of the list. “I don’t know where we’re going. I’m following the crowd,” he was quoted, while pushing his way through a Capitol doorway, presumably with the busload of folks he organized to travel to D.C.  

No less than the paranoid Stalin once remarked that “Hitlers come and go; the German people remain”. That axiom may not apply to Trump, who will soon transition to be ordinary citizen Trump. But he won’t go away, only more and more removed from view – like C.S. Lewis’s Bonaparte, living in a handsome mansion in the far distant reaches of Hell, relentlessly muttering it was someone else’s fault.[1]

Trumps come and go; the Trumpists will remain. At least for the time being, the diffuse movement is licking its wounds from so many defeats, giving a respite to external enemies as they turn inwards to devour one another. But a wounded beast is the most dangerous.

With or without Mr. Trump, the radical millenarian crusade will continue. “It is the need not of liberty but of servitude that is always predominant in the soul of crowds”, wrote Le Bon. “They are so bent on obedience that they instinctively submit to whoever declares himself their master.”[2] The people wander aimlessly like sheep lacking their shepherd. It is a certainty that in Trump’s footsteps, there will be another murdering Barabbas to choose over Jesus; another anti-Christ like Nicolae Carpathia for them to follow. And so many Christians will be deluded, while saying “I don’t know where we’re going. I’m following the crowd”. 


[1] Lewis, C.S., The Great Divorce (New York: Harper Collins edition 2001), 11-12.

[2] Le Bon, Gustave, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (1895).