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Viewpoint from Dr Shuba Ktorides 22/09/2017 

Dove rightDr Shuba Ktorides  (doctorate in Philosophy, Religion, and English Literature)
Authorised Worship Assistant in St Andrew’s Church, Lowestoft


as published in the Yarmouth Mercury

 

Viewpoint 22/09/2017


Trump: the theology of divine irony

 

There appeared, last November, in the Dallas Morning News commentary column, “10 reasons you can’t be a Christian and vote for Donald Trump”.  Two sociologists of religion, Christopher Pieper and Matt Henderson, embarked on research to analyze how Trump squared with the basic Christian beliefs of a large group of voters who identified as followers of Jesus.  Their conclusion:  “A Christian who supports Trump either does not understand this person and his positions, or supports him despite Christian convictions”. They outlined 10 reasons how Trump was drastically un-Christian in regard to basic character, relationships and values

dove leftThat was on 6th November 2016.  Then came the election.  81% of white evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump; at least four out of five placed their trust in Trump. There have been various attempts to explain this conundrum of how Christians could acclaim a man, who should have been anathema by Christian standards, to be the chosen vessel for the mission of God in the world

One striking theological explanation offered is that of “divine irony”.  This is the theory that God anoints unlikely individuals, even clearly ungodly non-Christians, to work out his goodness. One evangelical Christian leader, Dr Lance Wallnau applauded Trump as “God’s chaos candidate”   “I really believe that the mercy of God intervened in this last election cycle and gave us an individual who has the willpower and the tenacity to be able to do a reset”

 And the reset so far? Since the election Henderson and Pieper’s admonition have turned out to be eerily prophetic. There have been a whole catalogue of negative resets in Trump’s White House

Dove rightTrump’s group of evangelical leaders have attempted to sanitize his actions . Their primary concern appears to be to cling on to the coveted inroads into the White House which Trump has granted them, no matter that their Master’s notorious ethics  hit an all-time low with Charlottesville

The theology of divine irony has historic precedents.  Take the conduct of early Christian leaders who fawned on Constantine.  By the same theology of divine irony they were able to sanitize the bloody brutality Constantine engaged in and hail him glowingly.  Modern critics indict Constantine for corrupting Christianity from its pristine original form.  More recently though, scrutiny have shifted from Constantine to his privileged Christian advisers:  “Yet if blame must be apportioned, much belongs not to Constantine but to those church leaders who failed to teach him any better, but even, like Eusebius, constructed an extravagant theology of the Christian emperor that made him almost the earthly embodiment of divine power” (Controversial Constantine, DF Wright, “Christian History” issue 27). Divine irony came round full circle - the disingenuous theology they applied to mitigate Constantine’s wrongdoings is a plainly shameful chapter of church history

What is there to say the evangelical cheerleaders who elevate Trump with similar theology are not laying up their future condemnation?


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