Monday, June 13, 2022

A modern Cyrus?

Marvin Olasky​, former editor of World, considers Evangelicals, politics, and Trump in a long and very interesting article in National Review. In particular, he considers whether politics has been more affected by Evangelicals or Evangelicals by politics. I excerpt what he has to say about Trump as a Cyrus for today's America:
...[H]e doesn’t stand for Christian moral and spiritual principles, but it’s precisely because Trump does not that some Evangelicals have had a third reason to support him. Some have become used to a type of Bible interpretation that hangs a political decision on a particular verse or the doings of a particular character rather than overall biblical teaching. Some World readers mentioned Samson, Jehu, or Queen Esther, but the leader many equated to Trump is Cyrus, the Persian king who made it possible for exiled Israelites to return to Jerusalem almost 26 centuries ago. ....

...Googling “Cyrus and Trump” brings 24 million results. The equation of Trump and Cyrus in dozens of books and thousands of articles is particularly popular in Charismatic and Pentecostal churches, but it’s spread beyond them. ....

Remembering that Machiavelli around five centuries ago wrote about Cyrus, I went back to The Prince and its praise of him. Medo-Babylonians had become soft, and many Persians had a virtue ethic that would not allow them to slaughter peaceful people.

Cyrus toughened up his Persians and taught them to practice virtue only when it paid off for them. ....

Some Jews and Christians have now prostrated themselves at Trump’s feet. The political beauty of the “Trump = Cyrus” equation is that Trump’s character flaws are not a strike against him but a signal that he’s the real thing: This new Cyrus is a non-Jew, a non-Christian, and a non–nice guy.

Fifty years ago I briefly saw the far Left up close. Becoming a Christian in 1976 and then having a pen-pal relationship with World readers let me interact for 40 years with great people, compassionate and self-sacrificing. Since 2016, I’ve seen the slow growth of callous conservatism among some politicized Evangelicals — and since 2020 it’s metastasized. Will Evangelicals who said character didn’t count now also say craziness doesn’t count? (more)
Marvin Olasky, "The Sixty Years’ War: Evangelical Christianity in the Age of Trump," National Review, June 9, 2022.

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