the counsel of Eric Metaxas

I have a few thoughts about this op-ed by Eric Metaxas. (FYI, I don’t know Eric well, but I do know him, and I think he’s written and done many good things over the years, though I’m not crazy about the political turn he seems to have taken in recent years, starting with the publicizing of his otherwise fine Bonhoeffer biography.)

First, Eric assumes that there are three options: vote for Clinton, vote for Trump, stay home. But you could vote for someone other than the major-party nominees. That’s what I’m going to do. Does that dishonor God? If so, why and how?

Second, Eric says that some of Trump’s comments have made him angry, and acknowledges that many people find him “odious.” But he never acknowledges that many of us wouldn’t vote for Trump even if he treated women with unfailing courtesy. Michael K. Vlock said of Trump, “He’s an ignorant, amoral, dishonest and manipulative, misogynistic, philandering, hyper-litigious, isolationist, protectionist blowhard.” If he were merely an ignorant, amoral, dishonest and manipulative, hyper-litigious, isolationist, protectionist blowhard, wouldn’t all that be enough to disqualify him from the Presidency? And each of those words accurately describes The Donald.

Third, Eric writes, “It’s a fact that if Hillary Clinton is elected, the country’s chance to have a Supreme Court that values the Constitution — and the genuine liberty and self-government for which millions have died — is gone. Not for four years, or eight, but forever.” Essentially, this is to say that Hillary is Sauron, and the Presidency the One Ring. “If [she gains] it, your valour is vain, and [her] victory will be swift and complete: so complete that none can foresee the end of it while this world lasts.” But is there any evidence whatsoever that this prophecy — Eric’s about Hillary, I mean, not Gandalf’s about Sauron — is true? It’s the same claim that Decius makes with his “Flight 93” analogy, but as far as I can tell, none of the people who prophesy so boldly have ever defended it. They just assert it. Saying “it’s a fact” doesn’t making it a fact. The prophecy of ultimate and endless doom is just a guess.

And a despairing guess — which is the element of all this that isn’t poor judgment, but rather a sin. If Hillary Clinton is elected, that will not foreclose the possibility of Christian revival in America. And if there ever is Christian revival in America, then surely Eric Metaxas believes that that would be good news for the cause of “genuine liberty and self-government.” Hillary is not mightier than Sauron, and American democracy is not quite that fragile, even if it is profoundly flawed, and the possibility of spiritual renewal is always at hand.

My fellow Christians, don’t give in to despair. Despair can make intelligent and decent people do very strange and very destructive things. Like voting for Donald Trump.