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Donald Trump and the post-Christian “Christians”

July 27, 2016

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Donald Trump self identifies as “Christian” – as do most of his supporters.  Yet the kind of Demagoguery he embodies represents a direct assault not just on Christianity, but upon the entire legacy of the Abrahamic epistemic concept of Rule of Law – the whole Old Testament story of coming to know a Deity who is bound by their own character, who is the same today as they were yesterday and will be tomorrow.

Donald Trump’s slogan is “Never Apologize”.  No matter how wrong you are, or how wrong you’re proved to be – “Never Apologize”.  It would be hard to conceive of a slogan more diametrically opposed to every single tradition of Christian thought – Catholic, Protestant, or Orthodox.  The ability to admit one’s sins and recognise that they need dealing with is part of the structuring grammar of any conceivable version of Christianity.

This does not bother Trump’s supporters.  It does not matter to them that most of the things he says are demonstrable false – some of the other things he says are logically impossible and a hefty percentage of the things he says contradict other things he says.  He is beyond judgement.  Having embraced the notion that Trump “tells it like it is” (even when, especially when he can be proven to be telling it like it isn’t), then it is no longer a matter of deciding that the things Trump says are true – things are true because Trump says they are true.

To regard a human being as beyond judgement and to worship them uncritically is to eschew Christianity completely.  Trump does not even claim to have a special relationship with God.  Trump only has a relationship with Trump.  Trump can’t even read a short paragraph  that does not contain the word “Trump” at least six times.  If Trump is, therefore, a Divinity to his followers – who measure all things by Trump – then the question is – what kind of Divinity?  For sure, he’s nothing akin to the low energy loser worshipped by Jews, Christians and Muslims.  The Abrahamic God is notable for consistency and can be described in terms of fixed attribute.  Cherish the attribute and cherish God.  No, Trump is more like something older – the kind of Divinity that prophets of Yahweh have to take on and best.  Trump is a Baal or a Dagon – a bronze age manifestation of raw power rather than of law.  This kind of pre-Abrahamic potency might decide to protect widows and orphans one week and then really stick it to the widows and orphans the next.  The Old Testament is, if you like, an extended exploration of the slow and steady defeat of such arbitrary Trumpery concepts of God in favour of a God who comes with a rule book, a God with knowable predictive virtues.

Of course, Trump’s followers self identify as “Christian” because for most so-called “Christians”, Christianity is not a system of belief so much as a corporate logo – a badge of cultural privilege.  Perhaps it was ever thus.  The emperor Constantine, casually assumed to be the first “Christian” empire was primarily interested in reuniting the tetrarchy under his personal rule and was looking for a flag that might help him wipe out his many rivals.  For Trump, as for Constantine, Christianity is a tribal flag to help him defeat his enemies – never mind the theology.

For Post-Christian (or post-Abrahamic) tribalist Christians, Trump represents a triumphant unraveling of a tradition of rule of law stretching back millennia.  Trump offers a sort of incineration of the central tradition of monotheistic thought in favour of something much older and more unaccountable.  Not making any sense as the supreme celebration of absolute power.

Oddly enough, it’s Feuerbach’s birthday tomorrow.  He had much to say about this.

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One Comment
  1. “Corporate logo” all too accurately describes the current scene.
    True Christianity, I would add, is more than a system of belief — it’s a way to live, a discipline to embrace, a circle of kindred souls who live under a shared discipline.
    Sounds like a good time to issue a call to repentance.

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