William Imboden, a US national security scholar, today offers a perceptive analysis of how the political and social trends of the 1930s imbues our present moment. Rather than identify Trump with any political figure of that era, Imboden writes that DT embodies the ethos of that time, when the "very values and institutions of democracy, capitalism, and a peaceful and stable international order themselves faced a crisis of public trust and legitimacy".
I found Imboden's theological analysis of the present danger for people of faith to be especially salient. His identification of US theologian Reinhold Niebuhr as an advocate of robust resistance to evil as a guide for the Christians today is interesting and makes me want to read Niebuhr again. Here is an excerpt of Imboden's argument about the temptation lurking in Trump's appeal to some Christians.
In a man who proclaims Christian faith yet boasts never to have asked God for forgiveness of sins and displays little knowledge of the Bible, many observant American Christians find themselves perplexed. Political commentator and devout Christian Pete Wehner has distilled the essence of Trump’s theology into a perverse worship of power. As Wehner wrote recently, in Trump’s mind, “a person’s intrinsic worth is tied to worldly success and above all to power. He never seems free of his obsession with it.” He then quotes Trump’s remarks to a group of evangelicals:
And I say to you folks, because you have such power, such influence. Unfortunately the government has weeded it away from you pretty strongly. But you’re going to get it back. Remember this: If you ever add up, the men and women here are the most important, powerful lobbyists. You’re more powerful. Because you have men and women, you probably have something like 75, 80 percent of the country believing. But you don’t use your power. You don’t use your power.
As Wehner points out, Trump’s obsession with power is inimical to the Christian Gospel, which proclaims the paradox that only in our weakness can God in Christ redeem us and make us strong.
Read Imboden's whole piece here. It will take you a few moments, but well worth it.