The spiritual malady of Trumpism

It is a great delusion.

The evidence was irrefutable, but the jurors were faithless, corrupt, and wholly self-serving.

Of course, I’m talking about the recently closed impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.

Again, that’s former President Trump.

No one was very surprised at how the vote shook out. With the Senate now under Democrat control, a majority vote to convict Trump for inciting the January 6, 2021 mob that attacked the foundations of our republic, overtaking the Capitol building, and resulting in multiple deaths and injuries was expected.

The vote was 57 in favor of conviction, 43 opposed. The Constitution requires a two-thirds vote, in order to convict. Of those 57, seven brave Republicans bucked the party and voted for principle over partisanship and devotion to Trumpism.

The reward for many of those 7 principled lawmakers (UT-Romney, NC-Burr, PA-Toomey, ME-Collins, NE-Sasse, LA-Cassidy, AK-Murkowski) was the harsh rebuke, and even censure from their states’ party leadership.

After the vote, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell openly admitted that Trump was guilty of the very thing he refused to vote on, and that is equally unsurprising.

It should not be missed that 43 Republican senators were unwilling to put the nation over Donald Trump. Many of them, such as Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Josh Hawley made an open mockery of the proceedings, by doodling, reading, or otherwise ignoring this very serious trial.

For that matter, Cruz, along with South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and Utah Senator Mike Lee, met with Trump’s defense attorneys before the end of the trial. Were the shoe on the other foot, with a Democrat president charged with the same, these gutless, principle-free wonders would be screaming bloody murder.

That’s the poison of partisanship.

I’ve said this since 2016, and I’ll continue to say it: I’ve never seen anything like it, and I think it goes much deeper than simply political, which is a surface issue.

Trumpism is a spiritual malady, festering, rotting, and infecting the soul of anyone that allows themselves to get too close. It may have started as the putrid, gaping wound of partisanship, but it has since metastasized, combined with unabashed cultism, and created the perfectly corrupt attack on our nation’s foundations that we saw on display on January 6.

Sometime in the recent past, I suggested that Father God could very well be using Donald Trump, as his most breathless and adoring evangelical followers insist, but not in the way they believe. Rather, he is likely just one prong in the winnowing fork, separating the wheat from the chaff. That particular comment earned me more than a few disapproving comments from church brethren, but I will stand by that belief, right up until the Lord calls me home and tells me I was mistaken.

It’s as if each new day, each new revelation of what Trumpism has wrought in this nation only firms up my opinion. I like to think I have been gifted with spiritual discernment. I have prayed for it. I have asked to be shown if I was wrong, and what I see, over and over, is that I’m closer to the truth than I would like to be.

That brings me to six-term Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger.

Kinzinger has been a bold and unapologetic critic of Trumpism. He’s one of the few lawmakers to push against the tide of his party and call for a return to what the GOP claimed to be, before the age of Trump.

In keeping with his principles, and his hope that the party can be saved, he was one of three GOP House members that voted to impeach Trump, as well as to strip Georgia Representative (and all around stain on the reputation of Congress) Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee posts. He has also started a PAC geared towards ending Trumpism and regaining what used to be that stated platform of the party.

So what has he gotten for his efforts?

The aforementioned censure from his state’s party leadership, and even more ghastly – a two-page letter, signed by no less than 11 of his family members, basically calling him the devil for opposing Donald Trump.

“Oh my, what a disappointment you are to us and to God!” they wrote. “You have embarrassed the Kinzinger family name!”

The author of the letter was Karen Otto, Mr. Kinzinger’s cousin, who paid $7 to send it by certified mail to Mr. Kinzinger’s father — to make sure the congressman would see it, which he did. She also sent copies to Republicans across Illinois, including other members of the state’s congressional delegation.

“I wanted Adam to be shunned,” she said in an interview.

That’s just vile.

First of all, while I don’t know the state of Rep. Kinzinger’s relationship with Christ, I can assure the execrable Ms. Otto that He is not concerned with our political views. He is far more concerned with our hearts, and what the fruit of our spirits lead us to do.

Her spirit is tied up in her politics, and it led her to demean and attack a member of her own family. It led her to recruit other family members, all under the same veil of political hatred, to join her.

Ms. Otto, you are a disappointment to God.

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. We can’t assume that Otto or the other 10 signers are simply proof that Kinzinger has unresolved mental health issues in his family line.

All over the nation, Trumpism has proven to be a curse, causing separation between friends, families, communities, and in churches. There are few who can simply agree to disagree and walk away. Those who have succumbed to its wretched and destructive clutches believe that only the glory of Trump matters, because only through exalting him can the nation be truly great.

You can’t question him. You can’t say he’s wrong. You can’t even bring up biblical reasons for opposing him. In their minds, he is the emissary of God, the One, the hand of the Most Holy, and anything short of absolute fealty is to be, as Ms. Otto suggested, in league with Satan, himself.

This is a cult. This is not rational, reasonable behavior. It most certainly is not patriotic, or what our republic was intended to be.

When one man has the power to cause such division, and at the foundational level of our society – within the family and the church – it is more serious than political or secular differences. It is the perfect recipe for godlessness and ruin.

Maybe we need to look at what comprises a cult and compare.

According to an article from Bible.org, as it examines the Pharisees from Acts 15:

A cult is a religious group, bound together by their attachment to a person or a principle.

From the vantage point of evangelical Christianity, we can make a more specific definition: A cult is a perversion of the gospel, based upon an unholy devotion to a person, a principle, or both.

It is important for us to understand the difference between what is a “cult” and apostasy. A cult tends to be a rather small group, committed to a few very highly regarded principles, often led by a very “charismatic” (enthusiastic, dynamic, attractive) person. The cultist tends to view everyone outside the group as unbelievers. The cult is usually marked by a very strong, centralized authority. Apostasy is more easily defined in terms of what it is not. Apostasy denies authority, the authority of the Person of Christ and the Scriptures. Apostasy tends to shy away from anything firmly believed, other than the right to believe what you wish. While the cultist sees himself as one of the elect few, the apostate sees himself as one of the many, the majority. Both the cult and apostasy can lead a man to a Christless eternity. The former strongly believes the wrong thing; the latter believes in little or nothing.

Does any of that sound familiar?

This particular article is more concerned with cults masquerading as churches, but I found it relevant, as Trumpism has become a religion to many, and the disciples are willing to go to great lengths to extol and proselytize in his honor.

It’s sad. It’s alarming, and it is sorrowful, that for the glory of this one, corrupt and arrogant man, brother has turned against brother, countryman against countryman, church members, friends, and loved ones – at bitter odds.

It is a delusion of the heart and spirit, and many have fallen blind and deaf to reason. They are calloused and unwilling to check themselves. How could they allow this division to go on, and not stop and ask themselves why?

I know it to be small comfort and of no true consequence, but I’m proud of men like Rep. Kinzinger. No matter what his family members may say or do to hurt him, it reveals more about their lack of connection to God’s heart than his. How unfortunate that they now believe the way to God is through Donald Trump.

I’m proud of those senators that stood on principle and voted to convict, even knowing it would draw the ire of their party.

I weep for our nation, and those who now litter the threshing floor, having given themselves over to a great lie.

Can we recover from this?

I honestly don’t know, and that frightens me. Donald Trump has peeled back the thin veneer, revealing the cracks in the foundation of our republic. Were it simply a secular problem, I would have more confidence, but more than ever, I see it as so much more dire.

And I know nothing I say will soften the hearts of Trump’s true believers.