07 January 2019

The Cyrus

Has a week gone by since the 2016 election without some columnist asking why evangelical Christian voters support the sleazy vulgarian Donald Trump? Michael Gerson's is only the latest example, and he isn't even up to date. That is, he seems unaware of the Cyrus the Great meme advanced by evangelicals themselves, according to which the President is a modern counterpart to the Persian king who liberated the Hebrews from their Babylonian captivity. In gratitude, scripture proclaims  that Cyrus, though an infidel, was annointed by God to do His work. Just last week a New York Times op-ed writer commented on the Cyrus meme, which was spread by The Trump Prophecy, an electioneering 2018 documentary recounting how, in 2011, a fireman read the relevant chapter of Isaiah in an inspired feat of bibliomancy. Since it was the 45th chapter, it was assumed to refer to the 45th President, Barack Obama's successor. The op-ed writer goes too far, I think, in inferring authoritarian tendencies among Trumpish evangelicals when the truth is probably simpler and closer to what Gerson perceives. Trump is a modern-day Cyrus not because evangelicals want a king but because "He is the enemy of their enemies [and] is willing to use the hard-ball tactics of the secular world to defend their sacred interests." This disappoints Gerson, who sees it as akin to hiring Goliath as your protector when God himself preferred a  polar opposite in David. Trumpish evangelicals espouse the wrong kind of Christianity as far as Gerson, apparently a social-gospel man, is concerned. They follow the "partial and hypocritical Christianity" condemned by Frederick Douglass rather than the "pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity" practiced by Douglass and Gerson. The adjectives are debatable. The real difference, as I suspect is often the case with self-proclaimed Christian patriots in allegedly Christian nations, is that such people really see themselves as Israelites rather than Christians. Interpret that as you please.

1 comment:

hobbyfan said...

At church, our pastor exhorts us to pray for the President. Well, of course, so he can finally see the light. I'm not 100% sold on Trump, and the more I read of stuff like this, the more I believe the evangelicals have been played.