Vote For Trump! He’s A Christian.

A few years ago, I posted a blog, The $5 Sinner’s Prayer. In it, I shared a story about my eil_570xN.803635590_hw0hncounter with a very shrewd homeless man. As I began to tell the man how Jesus had changed my life, he abruptly stopped me and said, “For $5, I will repeat the sinner’s prayer with you.” Apparently, he was used to evangelicals having him repeat a prayer that would supposedly make him a Christian.

Even from a psychological perspective, I thought he was worth the $5. I am sure he’d made many naïve evangelicals walk away with the satisfaction of thinking they’d made one more person a Christian by simply having him repeat some words. However, he was also an excellent businessman who’d learned what it was that those evangelicals wanted to hear, and would provide it for them.

Recently, I heard a rumor that went something like this, “Pray for Donald Trump. Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family recently reported that Donald had prayed with a good friend of his to receive Christ and to establish a personal relationship with Him.”

I have not heard or seen Donald make such a confession. In fact, in 2015 when moderator Frank Luntz asked him whether he had ever asked God for forgiveness for his actions, Trump said, “I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there,” he said. “I don’t think so. I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.”

I do realize that as early as last June he softened the above words by saying he hopes not to ask God for “much” forgiveness, but I still have a question for my evangelical friends. If Mr. Trump has prayed a typical “sinner’s prayer” with Dr. Dobson’s friend’s uncle’s cleaning lady’s brother, would he have asked God for blanket forgiveness of all his sins, or just a little for some of the mistakes he might have made?

I know, I know! How dare I question a man’s faith when only God knows a man’s heart? You are absolutely correct. I don’t’ know Trump’s heart. So, I’m supposed to take Dobson’s friend at his words and believe what the man claims. Something that even Donald himself has not claimed.

I just wonder if the same evangelicals were willing to extend as much grace to President Obama, who not only attended church before getting elected, but also on many occasions has confessed to being a Christian? Many might say that they wouldn’t extend the same grace to Obama because “His actions didn’t match his confession!” Do Donald’s actions match his confession? Could it be that he is, like the above homeless man, just a shrewd businessman who knows what it is that we evangelicals need to hear?

You might say, “We need to give Mr. Trump time. After all, he is a new believer.” How much time? Do you honestly believe that a man in his 70s can change overnight because a few days ago, he repeated some magical words? And if this is true, don’t you think we’re setting the man up for failure since there’s no way he would be able to live up to the standards we expect of our Christian politicians—becoming a saint in the next few months before he takes office? How absolutely foolish! Unfortunately, we evangelicals are notorious for doing stuff like this. You have to be my age or older to remember what we did to Bob Dylan after he publically made a confession of faith.

Maybe it’s my Muslim background, or maybe it’s just common sense, but I’ve come to love even more Christ’s words, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” In this crooked age, we have to put aside our naiveté and take Jesus’ words much more seriously.

If you want to vote for Mr. Trump, do it because you’re voting your conscience, or as a man on a radio talk show said, “I am voting for Trump because Hillary is the devil that I know.” But PLEASE don’t do it because of a rumor that says he might have said a prayer and now he is a follower of Christ. That’s an insult to my Lord, my faith in my Savior, Jesus Christ and my intelligence.

 

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Please Do Not Go To A Bible College 2

A few years ago, I posted a blog, Please Don’t Go To A Bible College. I wrote the article after teaching at a small Bible college for five years and noticing many students committing themselves to thousands of dollars in student loans to earn a four-year degree, which could only land them a job that

  1. a) had nothing to do with so-called ministry and
  2. b) they could have gotten with their high school degree — “Would you like whipped cream on top?”

At the time, I got a lot of feedback on the post, especially from some of my former students. However, a few months ago I received the following long email from David. A young man I’ve never met. To keep this blog as short as possible, I have only included the Reader’s Digest version of David’s email.

Mr. Afshar,

I’ve read your article on not going to Bible College over a dozen times. I agree with you 100%. You have one of the very, very, very few articles on the internet about this subject and I decided to finally email you asking for two things: 1) advice and 2) you write a follow-up article.

After high school, being terrified to be out of God’s will, rather than joining the military to work on nuclear reactors, (An ASVAB test had highly qualified him for that position.) David, who comes from a Pentecostal background, felt he was called to be a missionary, so he went to a Bible college.

After finishing college, he tried to go to Japan as a missionary, but all his plans failed, so he tried to pursue a Master’s program to, as he put it, “…bring another skill to the table…” It was then that he found out his former Bible college’s accreditation was so poor that the only school that would accept him for graduate work was a seminary.

After the door on Japan closed, he applied all over the country for a youth pastor position while “volunteering everywhere like crazy” trying to build up his resume. But he was turned down everywhere mostly due to being single. He couldn’t find a job even at McDonalds or Starbucks.

Today, at the age of 32, David is back to school again starting from scratch. None of his credits, even English, was transferable. He has three more years to complete his BS. He’s already been awarded the engineering student of the year, been put on the board of directors for a non-profit organization that gives scholarship to qualified students, has an internship at an aerospace company, and is waiting to hear back from NASA regarding a grant for a summer project (According to his last text, he got it).

If it wasn’t for the following, we could all say, “All’s well that ends well.” However, this is not the end of the story. David continued with these sobering words:

Going through all of that has left me in a bad shape. I am cynical about the things of God. I have trouble seeing God as someone who is good and blesses. I constantly struggle with disappointment, disillusionment, anger, and regret. I remember imagescountless sermons on hearing how God will, “open doors” ,”bless my sacrifices”, and etc. My anger is affecting my schoolwork now (My 3.81 GPA will drop down considerably after this semester). I don’t have a dating life because no women in her mid-20s to mid-30s wants to marry a guy who doesn’t have a job and won’t get one for at least three years. I did ALL the things I was told to do and this is where it has left me. I’m ashamed of having gone to a Bible college, and these days I do not tell people.

Because I had many students who went through what Dave is experiencing — and I’m deeply sorry to say that some now consider themselves to be atheists — I wrote another post a few years back to deal exactly with the above issues and questions. Please see, Modernity, Post-Modernity, Metanarrative, And….

In that article I showed how the church, in general, has made God a being who operates like a computer: by correctly using a set of programs and algorithms, God will give you the right answer. And if the answers are not what you expected, it is due to your insufficient input (lack of faith, sin in your life, not reading your Bible enough, not praying hard enough, not being present at every church service, not tithing, and…) and hardly ever preparing us for the reaction of a sovereign God whose answers might often be, “NO.”

Dave ended his email with these questions,

How do I move on? How do I get past the regret and anger? How do I get into a good relationship with God? How do I let go? Do I need to see a therapist and who would I see or how do I find one? How do I heal? How do I deal with being sexually frustrated and not being able to do anything for at least three more years and when it is slim pickings in your 30s?

Could you please write another article in case there is anyone like me, who is going through the same thing?

Since receiving this email, I’ve spent a good hour talking to Dave on the phone. He’s a brilliant and articulate young man. I don’t know how much I was able to help him. That’s why I need you to help me answer the above questions. What would you say to Dave? Please give me some practical advice and not just spiritual clichés.