Inaugurating Heresy

January 20, 2017

In President Donald Trump's inaugural address today, he wove in more religious references than he normally did in campaign speeches. In doing so, however, he also made a heretical argument. Like his predecessors, Trump wrongly conflated biblical teachings about the people of God with claims about the American nation.

President George W. Bush made this error when he claimed in his 2003 State of the Union address that there is "power - wonder-working power - in the goodness and idealism and faith of the American people." So much for needing "the blood of the lamb." President Barack Obama made this mistake when he took Jesus's parable about a house built on rock and remade the rock a five-point economic agenda. So much for building on the teachings of Jesus.

Trump wasted no time in making a similar theologically-problematic statements.


"At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other," Trump stated. "When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice. The Bible tells us, 'How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity.'"

Trump's claim that patriotism means one isn't prejudiced is simply false. Hyper-patriotism literally makes one prejudiced. That's why for Christians we teach "God so loved the world..." Not "God so loved my nation..."

But Trump made an even bigger mistake in that passage. He called for "total allegiance" to the U.S. and suggests that will prove the Bible right about "God's people." Christians cannot give "total allegiance" to the U.S. as we have instead pledged that to God's Kingdom. I talked quite a bit about this issue in my newest book, Vote Your Conscience: Party Must Not Trump Principles. And we cannot jump from talking about patriotism/allegiance to a biblical verse about "God's people." The U.S. is not synonymous with "God's people." To suggest otherwise - or to applaud such claims - is heresy.

May God's people remember that our allegiance to the Kingdom must trump nationality, ethnicity, or or partisan affiliation.

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