Fear in the age of Trump: my analysis

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Fear in the age of Trump: my analysis

January 23, 2017 -

Donald Trump is the eleventh president sworn into office in my lifetime. I have never seen as much unrest over a new president as our nation is experiencing.

During Friday’s inauguration, ninety-five people were arrested in Washington as protests grew violent. The next day, according to The Washington Post, more than a million people gathered in Washington and cities around the country and the world to protest the new president.

Undeterred, President Trump visited the CIA on Saturday, spoke yesterday to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, and plans to meet with congressional leaders today and with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday.

Amid controversy and dire predictions for the new administration, Pope Francis had the wisest word. He told a Spanish newspaper that he doesn’t like “judging people early. We’ll see what Trump does.”

Some uncertainty is exciting. During the NFL season, when Green Bay was 4–6 and Pittsburgh was 4–5, few predicted they would play in their conference championships. Before yesterday’s title games, few thought they would lose in such convincing fashion. Now no one is sure who will win Super Bowl LI between Atlanta and New England.

Uncertainty is fun in sports but something else entirely in economics and geopolitics. The Washington Post notes that Mr. Trump’s unpredictable financial plans have “helped unnerve a corporate America that traditionally craves stability.” The Wall Street Journal claims that the new president’s plans have made “a high-stakes foreign-policy arena . . . even more unpredictable as he vows a fresh approach.”

Why does unpredictability frighten us?

We inherited from the Greeks a linear view of time divided into past, present, and future. Business leaders make business plans and formulate long-range strategies. Geopolitical analysts study national metanarratives—the historic purposes and aspirations of countries—to predict future actions. When we forecast the future, we feel a measure of control over it.

But our Western, linear, rationalistic view of history doesn’t align with history. The past is gone and the future is unknowable. As Heraclitus famously observed, you cannot step into the same river twice. Change is the unchanging principle of life.

The only foundation for stability and serenity in such a chaotic world is the unchanging reality of God (Hebrews 13:8). Abraham could offer Isaac on Mt. Moriah because he trusted the character of God more than the circumstances of the moment (Genesis 22). His was the height of faith: doing what made no sense to him to obtain a reward he could not possibly imagine. No wonder Scripture testifies, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” (Galatians 3:6).

Biblical faith asks for “our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11) and unconditionally trusts the “I Am” (Exodus 3:14) with each moment of each day. By contrast, our culture segregates soul from body and religion from the “real world.” If we make God our Sunday hobby, we forfeit his Monday provision. If we believe him to be real and trust him to be Lord, we find that he is both.

We experience God’s reality to the degree that we expect to. This fact reveals the greatest problem our nation faces. And our greatest opportunity.

NOTE: My latest booklet, How Does God See America?, is now available on our website.

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