For the first 20-plus years of my life I was a Baptist and didn’t have to deal with the Apostles’ Creed (Ecumenical, Traditional, or the United Methodist version), the Nicene Creed, or The Modern Affirmation of Faith. When I became a Methodist the use of the Apostles’ Creed in worship was standard practice—but it was an “abbreviated” Apostles’ Creed. The Methodists left out the controversial clause, “He descended into hell.” United Methodists are not alone in this practice. Other denominations also consider this clause optional or have removed it from their version of the Apostles’ Creed. Some evangelical Christians reject the creed, not for its content, but simply because it is not found in the Bible. So did Jesus descend into hell or didn’t He? I’m thinking about that as we reflect on Jesus’ death and burial on this Holy Saturday. Did He or Didn’t He?
That question, “Did He or Didn’t He” rankles in me after perusing Stephen E. Strang’s recent book, God and Donald Trump. Strang states, along with other white Evangelical Christians, that Mr. Trump’s election is God’s response to an ongoing prayer for national revival and restoration to America’s traditional roots, a movement also known as “Make America Great Again.” Strang says Trump’s agenda is the same as that of Christians, namely, nationalism vs globalism, blocking immigration via the wall, the overthrow of Roe vs. Wade, strengthening the military, and reducing the fear over the threat of radical Islamic terrorism, etc. Did God or Didn’t God—choose Trump? Did God or Didn’t God—come up with this so-called Christian agenda? Can it be, that Michele Bachmann is right—“Trump was sent by God as a bull-in-a-china-shop to break up the globalist agenda and interrupt the Left’s campaign to remake America in their own image.” When did globalism and the “Left” become anti-Christian? This god is not my God.
Who are the “ministry leaders and prophetic voices” who are convinced God has lifted up Trump? They include Franklin Graham, who claims Trump has yet “to sin” once since becoming President. Meanwhile the Washington Post has demonstrated that Trump has lied 2,140 times during his first year in office. They include Robert Jeffress, a pastor and Fox News contributor, who talks about “pinhead lawyers from the ACLU,” Sean Hannity as “Rachel Maddow’s worst enemy,” and the widespread cultural decay because “We have allowed the atheists, the infidels, the humanists to seize control of this country and pervert our Constitution into something the Founders never intended.” What happened to the God who so loved the world? The god they espouse in not my God. Did God or Didn’t God? Did He or Didn’t He—descend into hell? Has He or Hasn’t He descended into hell?