Trump as the Chosen One
Donald Trump recently said he was The Chosen One. Most people thought he was claiming to be God or the Messiah. But evangelicals saw it as a sign of the Antichrist. RNS provides an overview: “Why Trump — and some of his followers — believe he is the Chosen One.” Michael Brown tried to minimize the damage (here). He couldn’t spin Trump’s speech, so he told his flock to ignore everything Trump says, and focus only on his deeds – those that Brown chose.
RNS notes the obvious problem: “For Christians, Jesus is the ‘Chosen One’ or Messiah, and sometimes, the title of ‘Chosen One’ is an Apocalyptic term to describe when Satan will return to the Earth.” In more straightforward language, it is the Antichrist who falsely proclaims himself the Chosen One. Evangelicals are always on the lookout for both the return of Jesus and the appearance of the Antichrist. Having their hero, Donald Trump, virtually confess to being the Antichrist was disconcerting, to say the least. Trump, being ignorant of both the Bible and millennial theology, had no idea what he was saying. He was just making yet another claim of greatness. He thought The Great One is equivalent to The Chosen One.
While Michael Brown is a religious zealot, he makes most of his money from politics, carrying water for the right and alt-right. He tried to soothe his evangelical audience, while keeping them right-aligned : “What he does is often praiseworthy; what he says is often cringeworthy.” So after touting Trump’s pronouncements for years, he now tells his flock to ignore them - think instead about his actions.
The two actions Brown emphasizes are moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and pulling out of the multi-national deal with Iran. He calls these “huge.” Moving the embassy does nothing for Americans, and very little for Israelis. It is just a way to enrage Palestinians by denying their rights to Jerusalem. All our western allies oppose it, not to mention the United Nations. But most evangelicals believe that opposing the United Nations and “internationalism” is the godly thing to do.
Most evangelicals believe that starting a war in Israel is about the best way to expedite the return of Jesus. Originally, when Israel became a nation in 1948, evangelicals were sure that meant that Jesus was on his way. But after a couple of decades they had their doubts. Then after the 6-day war when Israel conquered the Arabs and took their land in Jerusalem, the Golan, the West Bank, etc., evangelicals were sure this would bring Jesus back. But that was over thirty years ago, and now they are looking for something else to trigger the Final War and the return of Jesus. Infuriating the Palestinians and the Arabs is their best bet, so evangelicals support attempts at denying Palestinian rights in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and elsewhere. They are spoiling for a fight.
Similarly, starting a war with Iraq - which would almost certainly involve Israel - is another way to provoke the return of Jesus. This has the added benefit of triggering a nuclear war, which evangelicals identify with the end of the world and the onset of the Kingdom of God. They derive this from the Book of Revelation, which is full of handy metaphors and bloody imagery. In other words, in the perverse minds of evangelicals, anything that promotes peace in the Middle East is bad for the return of Jesus and the Kingdom of God. They want the opposite.
These are the actions Michael Brown wants his flock to focus on. Brown doesn’t want them to think about speech acts like promises or vows, such as middle-class tax cuts which would not enlarge the deficit, building a border wall with Mexican money, or replacing Obamacare with something better and cheaper. Nor does Mr. Brown want them to consider moral acts like grabbing pussy, serial adultery, serial lying, and fraud. Brown doesn’t point out current ploys by Trump to rip off taxpayers, as recently highlighted by Yglesias (here). And don’t even think of his actions on behalf of Vladimir Putin.