In the week following the election of Donald Trump, I found myself having many unexpected conversations with Trump supporters at work. As I rang them up at the register, I would joke about how much the election induced me to drink. Usually, after laughing together, they would start to share with me their own thoughts on the election.
One particular conversation stands out to me, in bold relief.
“I never thought I would see the day that I would vote for Donald Trump.” One customer said. This man happens to be a regular I rather like: he is kind, articulate, and well educated.
He went on, “but I am so anti Hilary, so anti the establishment. I am pro small business and anti national debt.
“I know that Donald Trump is chosen and anointed by God. I know God has a plan for him. I just hope it is a good plan.”
Those final words have stayed with me in the months following Trump’s election. In my friend’s world, God’s anointing comes before action or credentials. Therefore, if Trump destroys the world, it is still part of God’s plan – still part of his anointing. And, far from being the isolated views of my one friend, I believe this is a popular opinion and gets at the heart of the Evangelical worldview, and why it has been a force for such debilitating backwardness in the world.
You don’t have to look far to see evidence that many Chistians see Trump as anointed by God. Just google “Trump” and “anointed” to get thousands of results.
The Anointing is a crucial aspect of the Evangelical mindset. It is a central part of it’s DNA: that God calls the humble, the rough, the unqualified to do remarkable things. Tied in with this worldview is anti-elitism, and a distrust of a mediating priesthood of any kind: be it Catholic, scientific, political, or intellectual. It is Martin Luther’s reformation for the common man bled into all aspects of life, from politics to science.
As Randall J Stephens and Carl W. Giberson point out in their book The Anointed,
Anointing, though it brings great authority, is typically unrelated to intellectual credibility. A winsome preacher who can quote the Bible and tell heartwarming stories of God’s blessings may posess more authority on global warming for believers than an informed climatologist with 100 publications and a doctorate from Harvard.
The end result is that, again and again, the Evangelical world circles around charlatans, idiots, and liars: the Ben Carsons, David Bartons, and Ken Hams of the world, despite there being many other qualified and brilliant Christian, evangelical thinkers like N.T. Wright, Francis Collins, and Mark Noll.
Most disturbing is that, once someone is seen as anointed, it is impossible to shake. Their scandals are seen as just proof of their lowly humanity. After all, didn’t David, God’s great anointed, commit adultery and murder?
When we ask how the American Christian world could give blind, outrageous support for such an obvious villain such as Donald Trump, the answer is, to me, simple. For some mysterious, hidden, psychological reason, he has become anointed in their eyes. This forgives him of all his atrocities, for God has used fiends in the past for his great works. It forgives him of all his incompetence, for God has used the incompetent to fulfill his purposes.
I am pessimistic as to whether his follies will shake his Evangelical support. This worldview goes so deep, he might have to commit genocide before he loses the support of the Evangelical world, so blinded are they by the glamour of the Anointed.