As a Christian, I profoundly disagree with Christianity Today’s call for me to support President Trump’s removal from office for this reason—it’s based on flawed premises.
Flawed premise #1: Unambiguous facts
“But the facts in this instance are unambiguous: The president of the United States attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of the president’s political opponents.” ~ Christianity Today
No, the facts are not unambiguous—many Christians do not agree that the president attempted to use his political power to coerce a foreign leader to harass and discredit one of his political opponents.
This premise requires us to believe that Trump feared a political opponent so much that he tried to get a foreign leader to discredit him. As an aside, do even casual political observers believe Trump has ever feared Joe Biden?
Christianity Today’s central premise is simply not supported by the context of the infamous phone call.
A fair-minded reading of the transcript reveals Ukraine’s Zelensky gushing over Trump’s attempts to drain the American “swamp.” Clearly, he’s either enamored with Trump or wants him to think he is. The context shows that Zelensky appears to greatly respect Trump. He even credits his win on his promise to drain his Ukrainian swamp. Sound familiar?
I and many other Christians believe Trump made his request in the context of both administrations rooting out corruption in their respective swamps—and with residual anger over the FBI spying of his candidacy, charges of an illegitimate presidency, and the baseless Russia collusion investigation.
Clearly, the phone call is far from “perfect,” but the context of Trump’s request for Zelensky to investigate the Bidens’ Burisma entanglement is perfectly reasonable given the company’s shady nature and the firing of the prosecutor who was investigating it—at Joe Biden’s demand.
Flawed premise #2: Immorality demands removal
Donald Trump is not a moral man. And neither am I. I’m a sinner saved by grace. Our Constitution, written by immoral men, does not call for the removal of presidents based solely on immorality. It calls for removal based on illegality.
In this case and to this point, it has not been proven that this president committed an illegal act that rises to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors.
If it were, the House Judiciary Committee would have presented genuine articles of impeachment and voted to impeach Trump in a bipartisan manner. They have not and did not. And now the majority leader is hesitating to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate for trial. Why? Because they know they’re weak, partisan and will not prove the case for removal.
Flawed premise #3: Clinton’s impeachment = Trump’s
Christianity Today mistakenly compares Trumps’ phone call, and their acceptance of the partisan analysis of it, to the immorality—and illegality—of Bill Clinton’s commitment of perjury and obstruction of justice—high crimes that were accepted as self-evident by republicans and democrats.
Again, if there was a legitimate comparison to be made, the House Judiciary Committee would have produced comparable articles of impeachment. In Clinton’s case there was perjury and obstruction of justice—both charges are legally- and constitutionally-recognized high crimes and misdemeanors.
Trump was (almost) impeached for abusing power and obstructing Congress. If abuse of power is a legally- and constitutionally-recognized high crime and misdemeanor, every single president should be impeached.
Obstruction of Congress is not a valid charge because every president can and does turn to the courts regarding the release of documents and witnesses pertaining to executive privilege. Not only is this article of impeachment nonsensical, it would wither under the slightest scrutiny in a courtroom or Senate impeachment trial.
Flawed premise #4: Serve God or Trump
Christianity Today exhorts its Christian readers to “remember whom you serve” and erects a false dichotomy based on the flawed premise that we as Christians either sacrifice our Christian witness by continuing to support Trump or we protect it by supporting his removal from office.
Clearly, Christians are called to serve God, not presidents. This premise is irrelevant because it’s based on a non-argument. We support presidents; we don’t serve them. We serve God, and we do so by supporting our leaders—until we can’t.
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. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. ~ Romans 13:1-7
Flawed premise #5: Supporting Trump harms Christian witness
Christianity Today encourages Christians who support their president to “Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior.”
Notice how the call for careful consideration is framed with bias and a rejection of any other view other than this: Trump is a moral midget whose continuing sins as president can no longer be tolerated.
Never mind that his presidency has produced greater pro-life and freedom of religion protections. CT refers to these as “political expediencies” and uses the abortion issue in light of our calling as Christians to be witnesses for Jesus Christ in a corrupt world:
“Can we say with a straight face that abortion is a great evil that cannot be tolerated and, with the same straight face, say that the bent and broken character of our nation’s leader doesn’t really matter in the end?”
Yes and no.
This rigged question is another straw man. Who thinks a president’s character doesn’t matter? How is the self-evident evil of abortion affected by whether a Christian supports the president or condemns him?
To be bent and broken is to be human.
Bent and broken? We’re all bent and broken. The question is not whether this president’s character is bent and broken; it’s whether or not it has propelled him to commit high crimes and misdemeanors. So far, the answer is a resounding no.
Based on the legal and constitutional weakness of the articles of impeachment, I cannot support an unconstitutional removal from office of President Trump. And I believe Christianity Today’s call for me to do so as a Christian is intellectually lazy and unbiblical.
Does preserving my Christian witness require me to accept one side’s understanding of a phone call over the other’s? I think respecting the presumption of innocence and the rule of law are necessary to sharing truth in a world of deception and division.
Donald Trump is our president and authority. Until his actions warrant legitimate impeachment and removal from office, as a Christian, I’ll submit to his God-given authority and resist wrong-headed calls to do otherwise.