About a month ago CNN reported that across the country there have been several “Not My President” rallies, protesting the Presidency of Donald Trump. Probably most people have seen the hashtag #notmypresident running around. Interestingly, the article says, “In addition, merchants sold T-shirts reading ‘Not My President’ above smaller text reading ‘Elected but not chosen.’” The article can be found here. http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/20/us/not-my-presidents-day-protests/
“Elected but not chosen.” What is a Christian to make of this? I’m currently reading through “Theonomy in Christian Ethics” and I’m finding Bahnsen’s insights to be quite helpful in these areas. Can we simply fiat that Donald Trump is no longer our president? Isn’t politics merely a social construct? I don’t think it is, as I don’t think the Bible teaches us this. What would God say concerning the statement, “Donald Trump is not the President of the United States.”? There are three senses in which we could be taking this statement:
First, we can take “Donald Trump is not the President of the United States” as a statement of factual history. This is clearly false, as he was elected by the electoral college. He lost the popular vote, but in terms of the way Presidents are actually elected in this country, i. e. electorally, he won. God, having immutably predestined the election of Trump, obviously would believe this statement to be false.
Second, we can take “Donald Trump is not the President of the United States” as a statement of ethical approval, meaning he is doing what a President, who obeys the Scriptures, should do. This is obviously not the case either, as there has been no public repentance on this issue of how he talks about or treats women. God would obviously not approve of Trump’s adulteries. So this statement can refer to Trump’s conduct as president.
But there is a third sense in which I think this statement can be taken as well, that of ethical and political reality. We see this sort of thing in Scripture. God obviously appoints all kings, in the sense of the facts of history. But he also appoints kings as an ethical and political reality, a reality that is binding upon the people. This is seen when Jehu is made king. The people proclaimed him to be king: “Then in haste every man of them took his garment and put it under him on the bare steps, and they blew the trumpet and proclaimed, ‘Jehu is king.’” (2 Kings 9:13) And God Himself anointed him as king through Elisha the prophet: “And when you arrive, look there for Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat, son of Nimshi. And go in and have him rise from among his fellows, and lead him to an inner chamber. Then take the flask of oil and pour it on his head and say, ‘Thus says the Lord, I anoint you king over Israel.’ Then open the door and flee; do not linger.”” (2 Kings 9:2-3)
In other words, once a president is elected through the normal political means of a particular country, that fact is binding upon the people not merely as historical fact but as an ethical and political reality. This is the case even if God disapproves of the king’s actual conduct. In other words, whether someone is good or evil as king, he still truly is king, based on God’s ratification of the decision of the people of Israel. Israelites who are upset about the anointing of the king would not have changed the ethical and political landscape in their day by tweeting #notmyking any more than liberals can cause Trump to not be their president by tweeting #notmypresident.
None of this should be taken to mean that God approves of Trump necessarily, but it does mean that God’s Word prescribes to us that we must recognize political realities as God ordained realities, whether we like them or not. God has made Trump President. Thus, with the qualifications I made above about God not necessarily approving of Trump’s conduct as president, we can say that, in God’s universe, the slogan is “Elected and therefore chosen.”