Sunday, October 09, 2016

Trump apologists

Secular Outpost@SecularOutpost I don't want to hear another word about "objective moral values" from any Christian apologist who still supports Trump. #apologetics8:42 PM - 8 Oct 2016

I assume this tweet is from apostate atheist Jeff Lowder. I'll use it as a springboard to make some general observations:

1. I'm unimpressed by the leftwing critics and "progressive Christians" who denounce an evil thug like Trump, but refuse to denounce an evil thug like Hillary. Indeed, leftwing critics and "progressive Christians" act as though denouncing Trump automatically makes them virtuous. As if merely opposing Trump is any kind of substitute for having a good alternative ideology. Opposing Trump while supporting Hillary doesn't make you virtuous. Rather, that masks your own evil preferences. Selective, one-sided indignation leaves me yawning. What about the locker room banter between Vernon Jordan and Bill Clinton? 

2. Jeff's statement is a non sequitur. Indeed, he has it backwards. The fact that some "Christian apologists" (whatever that means) still support Trump despite objective moral values, at best shows their inconsistency. But we can only evaluate their support thanks to objective moral values, which atheism cannot sustain. That illustrates the necessity of a Christian worldview.

3. NeverTrumpers have some reason to feel vindicated by currently developments. But while schadenfreuda is understandable, we need to guard against too much triumphalism. The prospect of Hillary winning is truly tragic. 

4. Since I've consistently opposed Trump, I don't fall under Jeff's censure, although I don't measure myself by his yardstick. 

5. But now is a good occasion to classify and assess Trump apologists. These are not all of a kind.

i) Some people openly disdain Trump, but support his bid because they think he's relatively benign compared to Hillary's malevolence. That position is consistent with objective moral values. It's not my own position. But it's not a position that discredits the person who takes it. 

I'd add that the current revelations about Trump don't change that position. To begin with, we didn't learn anything new about Trump that people who were paying attention all along didn't already know about Trump. And it's not directly germane to the (alleged) contrast between Trump and Hillary on policy. 

True, it's a thankless task to be a Trump apologist. He makes it very hard for his defenders to support him. However, the apologists I'm talking about would blame the situation. They didn't ask to be put in this situation. They resent this situation. It's the fault of primary voters. But now we have to play the hand we were dealt. 

That's not my own position, but it's a morally and intellectually defensible position. So that's the best of the Trump apologists. It goes downhill from there.

ii) There are Trump apologists who combine principle with credulity. Take Wayne Grudem. 

Although Grudem's endorsement was ill-conceived, he has many compensatory virtues. By contrast, many Trump apologists have no compensatory virtues. 

iii) You have Trump apologists who measure conservatism by Trump rather than measuring Trump by conservatism. Trump's barfly effusions become the new definition of conservatism. That's a marriage between a candidate with no core values and a subset of voters with no core values. 

iv) You have Trump apologists who act as character witnesses for the Donald. That includes some prominent evangelical "leaders". They assure us that he's a changed man. Critics have exaggerated how decadent he is. 

That's what happens when credulity meets wishful thinking. 

I wouldn't necessarily say evangelical "leaders" who endorse Trump discredit themselves. That's because some of them were flakes to begin with. They had no line of credit to lose. 

v) Even worse are Trump apologists who measure Christianity by Trump rather than measuring Trump by Christianity. We even have people comparing Trump to "flawed" Bible heroes like King David. Problem is, Trump was never a man of faith. And he's never been contrite. 

vi) There are Trump apologists who lie about his stated positions and his shifting positions. They pretend he takes positions he doesn't. They pretend that he's consistent. 

vii) There are empty-suited apparatchiks like Reince Priebus.

viii)  There are Trump apologists who want a piece of the action. 

ix) Conversely, the fact that someone like Russell Moore happens to be right about Trump is hardly a ratification of his judgment in general–which is highly erratic. 

6. Many public Trump apologists will be disgraced when the dust settles. Their reputations permanently tarnished. 

It's been striking to see the stampede for the exit by people who formerly endorsed Trump. He's exactly the same man he was a week ago. But now they're panicking. It feeds on itself, like a stock selloff. 


  1. If Evangelicals take this opportunity to convince other Evangelicals to denounce and reject Trump as a candidate to vote for, it might cause the Republican party to notice that by sticking with Trump they lose a majority chunk of Evangelical support. That might in turn tip the scales so as to lead them to choose another candidate for the party.

  2. Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. — Romans 13:1

    Looking at both candidates we can see the truth in Calvin's commentary on Romans:

    "a wicked prince is the Lord’s scourge to punish the sins of the people"

    We are about to be scourged