That of God in Donald Trump

January 2, 2017 § 9 Comments

In every aspect of his being but one, Donald Trump assaults the sensibilities of liberal Quakers. His decadent moral character, his coarse, bullying personality, his utterly self-absorbed psychology, his willful and dangerous ignorance and lack of identifiable personal or political philosophy, his divisive and demeaning political tactics, his racism, xenophobia, and misogyny—all these things would make it really hard for a meeting to welcome him into membership.

But some Friend would inevitably pipe up and say, but there is that of God in Donald Trump.

Is there? The one thing left of Donald Trump’s humanity is his divinity?

How would we know if this is true? On what basis would we make this claim? Well, there is that of God in everyone, we would say; even him. This is the central article of liberal Quaker faith.

Okay. I do not know this experientially myself. To say that there is that of God in everyone looks to me more like a nice but very speculative metaphysical notion about human nature. But let’s say it’s true. Certainly, I do agree that anyone can commune directly with the Divine, whatever the metaphysics involved. (Though just because they can commune directly with the Divine doesn’t mean that they do.)

So there’s that of God in Donald Trump, whatever that means. What then? How do we answer that of God in Donald Trump?

The famous passage that Friends quote from George Fox’s Journal to say that there is that of God in everyone is a pastoral letter admonishing ministers to do their own inner work so that they may minister to others in theirs:

Bring all into the worship of God. Plough up the fallow ground. Thresh and get out the corn; that the seed, the wheat, may be gathered into the barn: that to the beginning all people may come; to Christ, who was before the world was made. For the chaff is come upon the wheat by transgression. He that treads it out is out of transgression, fathoms transgression, puts a difference between the precious and the vile, can pick out the wheat from the tares, and gather into the garner; so brings to the lively hope the immortal soul, into God out of which it came. None worship God but who come to the principle of God, which they have transgressed. None are ploughed up but he who comes to the principle of God in him, that he hath transgressed. Then he doth service to God; then is the planting, watering, and increase from God. So the ministers of the spirit must minister to the spirit that is in prison, which hath been in captivity in every one; that with the spirit of Christ people may be led out of captivity up to God, the Father of spirits, to serve him, and have unity with him, with the scriptures, and one with another. This is the word of the Lord God to you all, a charge to you all in the presence of the living God; be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come; that your life and conduct may preach among all sorts of people, and to them. Then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one; whereby in them ye may be a blessing, and make the witness of God in them to bless you: then to the Lord God you shall be a sweet savour, and a blessing.

The minister who has done the “threshing” inwardly themselves “can pick out the wheat from the tares, and gather into the garner. . . . Then you will come to walk cheerfully” (in a way that brings blessing, not in a lighthearted mood) over a “world” that could not comprehend the light that was coming into the world in Christ (John 1:5, 9, 10)”. Do your own inner work, then you can answer that of God in others.

So. Assuming that Donald Trump has that “principle of God in him” (Fox), we must thresh out that chaff in our own hearts and souls before we can answer whatever that principle is in him. This means prophetic speech that has no hate in it or even disrespect, but only the power, the Spirit, of Love and Truth.

Hard to do. I find this very hard to do. I have come to think of Donald Trump as Jabba the Hutt, a toadish head of a criminal organization who yearns to lick the captive, scantily-clad princess with his oversized tongue. So I have some inner work to do.

But unlike Princess Leia, our princess must strangle him with the Word, not with a rope—not with counter-violence. We must embrace the third way, and choke Trump’s hatred with our love, not with counter-hatred. We must choke his lies with the Truth. We must protect the least of us from his assaults with ideas that lift everyone up, not just the rich. We must deny the worship of Mammon, for whom Trump is prophet, with Jesus’ proclamation of good news for the poor (Luke 4:18). And we must try for some measure of faith that the Truth will, in fact, prevail.

Then we can walk cheerfully over the world. But I don’t expect to be very cheerful while while waging this new Lamb’s War, or even afterwards. It will be a grim four years.

§ 9 Responses to That of God in Donald Trump

  • Unless you are likely to meet Mr Trump, answering God in him seems irrelevant. Be truthful and courteous whether conversing with his opponents or supporters. Criticise the acts rather than the man: I would be wary of saying he is vile, but happy to say that his tweets often are. And- given that he will be guilty of many more oppressive acts, do not be downhearted when reading of his wickednesses, even his atrocities.

    • carperson says:

      “Unless you are likely to meet Mr Trump, answering God in him seems irrelevant. Be truthful and courteous whether conversing with his opponents or supporters.”

      Yes – thank you, Clare.

  • Thank you for this, Steve and Don. I’m reminded that, according to Jude 9, even Michael the Archangel did not rebuke the devil directly, but said, “The Lord rebuke thee.” This is what comes to mind when I think of answering that of God in a person who, though created in God’s image, has become devilish in character (or in George Fox’s words, has taken on the image of the serpent instead). “Answering that of God in them,” in my reading of Fox’s usage of the phrase, means speaking to them on behalf of their Creator, whether they will hear God’s warning message or refuse to hear it (cf. Ezekiel 2:5, 7, 3:11).

    Historically, such people do not usually take well to being called to repentance: Pharaoh chased the Israelites through the Red Sea. Belshazzar’s knees smote one against the other when he saw the writing on the wall, but we have no evidence that he renounced his evil ways during his last hours on earth; neither did Hitler and Stalin.

    Nonetheless there have been some major evildoers that felt the Lord’s rebuke and repented while they still could: the Bible tells of David, Paul, and Simon Magus; I myself have met a serial child-molester, for most of his life heavily defended and oppressively self-righteous, who repented at the end; and I myself, though not quite a sinner of the Hitler-and-Stalin class, have done, said and thought enough evil things to loathe myself and think myself damnable, have felt myself washed clean of my sins by Jesus Christ. Other people, many people in recovery, may call Him their Higher Power. So don’t underestimate the Lord’s power to rebuke, Friends. Whether Donald Trump or any of his partners in evil will listen to the divine rebuke is up to them; but we have it within our own choice whether or not to pray that they do.

  • I suppose I needed to read this. Personally, even the thought of Donald Trump in the White House makes me nauseous. Countering his hatred with love is going to be very difficult, for me at least. What is more difficult for me is trying to understand the people who voted for him. How anyone with a modicum of decency could vote for this man is beyond my comprehension. But if, as you say, he has “that of God” in him, then I suppose it is that part of him that we must appeal to, with reason, with loving argument, with patience. Quite frankly, I’m not sure I’ve got it in me. But I’ll try. I guess that’s the best I can do. And yes, it’s going to be a very long four years.

  • westernfriend says:

    Nothing like laughter to open my eyes! m

    Mary Klein Editor / Executive Director

    Western Friend 305 N California Ave, Suite 203-B Palo Alto, CA 94301-4105 650-318-1652


  • Jill H-W says:

    Steven, I’m sorry, but the word “transgression” in the context of this passage makes no sense to me. I put in other meanings for it the word, and still it makes no sense. So thank you for stating that Fox is telling us that we must work on ourselves first, since I would not have gotten that from this passage.

  • Don Badgley says:

    As usual Steven, you well speak my mind.

    Absent millions of so-called followers of Christ enabling the beast, DJT never gets nominated let alone elected. Despite the threshing that must be done in my own life, my efforts over the next few years will be focused on those churches that have made this, institutional greed and nationalistic militarism possible.

    My efforts will be in encouraging Friends to aggressively publish the Truth of the absolute Love that Jesus pointed toward and that a vast majority of “Christians” have chosen to ignore in favor of notions that allow the beast to thrive among us.

    All my faith in the institutions of government is gone. The work is not in that worldly arena. Let’s see what Love can do.

    Don Badgley

    • I, too, have lost faith in my government. How can a person win the popular vote by almost 3 million votes, and still lose the election? There is something very, very wrong with our political system. It is corrupt. And yes, here I agree with Mr Trump – it IS rigged. Congress makes hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, with perks all over the place, but deny their fellow American’s a decent living wage. But as long as we keep electing people to congress who only have their own interests at heart, I fear nothing will change.

      • Carol Rose says:

        I think our system is outdated; not the best, although we like to think it is. Time to face up to the flaws and correct them. Start with the Electoral college; explain why it is important for everyone to vote if the votes of 2 + million people don’t count? Also, as for D. Trump: By their fruits ye shall know them. A lot of info sociology, psychology, etc.can bring insight into his behavior and needs to be considered when re-doing this outdated (not all of it) system.

Leave a Reply to John Jeremiah Edminster Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading That of God in Donald Trump at Through the Flaming Sword.