With Joe Biden, a Democrat, officially inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States on January 20, 2021, local time, the dramatic 2020 US general election finally came to an end. It was doubtless that Trump could not have "turned over".
Not long before Biden’s inauguration, Trump being reluctant to admit defeat, finally moved out of the White House and went to Andrews United Base in Maryland to deliver his farewell speech. He reviewed his administration in the past four years, expressed his "good wish to the new government", and declared that he "would come back in some form". Later on, Trump set up the so-called "Former President's Office" in Florida.
Trump's announcement of "come back in some form" left endless "suspense" for some self-media. As expected, a few unscrupulous self-media made up new stories based on the announcement. They wasted no time in declaring that "King Trump will return in a vivid portrait". They even further "prophesied" that King Trump would be "formally re-elected" on a certain day in March this year. How ridiculous!
Looking back now, the 2020 US presidential election had its ups and downs. The election also set a historical record among the Chinese Christian community, which attracted unprecedented attention. In history so far, no "foreign leader" has attracted as much attention and moral solidarity from Chinese Christians as Trump has. It was known as the "Trump support" fever which might be recorded by church historians in the future.
In view of the emergence of an unprecedented "Trump fans" group on the Internet, what were exposed were the problems existing in the Chinese Christian community. It deserved attention.
The perspective of self-media hype about the US election
Due to the presupposition that the so-called "mainstream media" in the United States were controlled by the "leftists", many self-media were extremely active during the last American election, giving unprecedented follow-up reports. It was particularly so to a few so-called Christian self-media. They were acting as “depth charge”, constantly pursuing Trump, and creating a zealous atmosphere of singing "Hallelujah to Trump who will win". The practice continues today, resulting in gossips all over the place.
Ironically, since these self-media could not wait to announce "Trump wins" from the first day of the general election, they made fake messages one after another. However, each of them proved to be wrong.
As a result, even these days, some hardcore Trump fans in the Christian community still feel deadly lost and disappointed. They cannot accept the "cruel reality". They are still looking forward to Trump "regaining throne" and carrying out his signature move to "drain the marshland". The false information released by self-media just met their expectations to attract countless hits.
In a certain Christian WeChat group, a pastor spoke emotionally about the situation: "Most of the pretentious Christians are excited by the call of duty and they are ready to do a big job with Trump. As a result, this 'God's chosen son' has stepped down quietly."
Therefore, although the 2020 American election has ended for some time now, the self-media are still tossing. Just because they have to face the "cruel reality", these self-media have also changed their style of publicity, and the announced message mainly focuses on criticizing Biden and mourning for Trump.
For instance, some media feel that "the United States has exhausted its fate". The United States was used to be regarded as a paradise, and now the United States is regarded as hell. Some talk of "where the United States is going", and some brew arguments such as "shadow government", "draining marshland", "American people miss Trump", "eternal King Trump", "Trump's shadow presidency should be settled". Others create a "favorable" situation that "Trump moves step by step in chaos and Biden becomes chaotic in panic".
In addition, there is a Chinese pastor who frequently appears on media platforms to continue to talk about the topic of the American election, analyzing how Christians should treat Trump's defeat from the perspective of God, and look forward to the "harm" that Biden will bring and the further degradation of the United States, so as to "comfort" those disappointed Christians. However, that pastor’s overly optimistic "prophecy"/"prediction" being wrong has not been mentioned.
How hot is the "Trump fever" among Chinese Christians?
How hot is this "Trump fever" among Chinese Christians? How many blind followers are there? There is no big data at present, but we can get a glimpse of it from some aspects. The main platform "Good News Today" published a total of 12 articles on the topic of "American election" during that time, which mentioned such a phenomenon:
"In this special period, the series of articles related to the general election have successively hit the highest in the history of 'good news today': at the end of the articles, there are the most comments, the most fierce oppositions, the most malicious abuse of authors, the largest change in the number of readers, and the most intense interaction of messages ... Despite being scolded, we respect the thinking of every reader and let go of all messages."
Its editor spoke emotionally, "Now, after the election ended, we lost thousands of subscribers. For a time, we had unspeakable grievances, unknown confusion, countless losses, and a touch of sadness."
For example, in some main and internal WeChat groups, some Christians even put forward a "bet" in the face of the confusing election situation in the US general election, and betting on Trump to win has become the new standard of "confidence".
Some Christians did not know how many "Trump Groups" have been built. In the groups, they broadcasted real-time messages of the election, analyzed the election trend, or called for intercession for "Brother Trump". Especially on January 6th, after the US Congress certified the voter's voting results, Trump basically lost his chance. At that time, some pastors felt that in some Christian Trump groups in those days, anyone who said that Trump was not good at all could literally drown in collective bashing.
There were also reactions from brothers and sisters, but they were criticized for forwarding "positive reports" about Biden. They were either kicked out of the group or labeled as "dishonoring Trump" or "Bidden fans".
There are also evangelical platforms that put up videos related to Trump every day, and then put them into various WeChat groups intensively. Some members sighed: "Every time some self-media platforms under the banner of Christianity talk a lot about Trump, I just think it makes sense, but I don't know why I can't rest in peace in my heart and feel uneasy in my spirit." The simplest idea I use is: Why is a Christian so obsessed with Trump? Every day, there is more information about him than Jesus Christ himself? What power makes Christians become so fascinated by one person?"
There are also some evangelists who write articles and shout for Trump. For example, some people have risen to a very high level, describing the US election as a dualistic spiritual battle with evil, God and Satan. Trump is fighting for God, and you must take sides. There is no middle position: "In this struggle between justice and evil, the most important thing for Christians is to return to Jesus Christ and thank him for God's raising of righteous people in America.
Others showed such an article "Supporting Trump is My Belief Position", which tied Trump support to "devout faith", and there was no lack of touting and beautifying Trump. For example, the article reads: "I support Trump. And I will pray for Trump from beginning to end, bless the Americans whom God loves, and thank and praise God for the Americans who support Trump. My reason for supporting Trump is simple: this is the basic belief position of devout Christians. Love what God loves and hate what God hates."
However, after January 20th, a way to face the failure of the previous prediction about Trump's re-election must be justified. Some people quickly interpreted Trump's admission of defeat and his refusal to launch "mutiny" (the so-called coup theory does not understand the operation mechanism of American constitutionalism at all) as "the true mother of the child in the story of the two prostitutes".
Others said that they should continue to be quite prosperous and have "confidence" in Trump as they did in the resurrection of Jesus three days after his death (In fact, they are still betting that Trump will be "re-elected". Ridiculous). Therefore, some brothers asked in confusion: "Is Trump support an attitude, and is betting on Trump a proof of confidence?"; "Is this the dislocation of the focus of confidence?"
To sum up, with the emergence of "Trump fever" in this context, a shining network group, "Trump fans", was born. Some people even made a simple and direct one-size-fits-all approach, dividing Chinese Christians into two categories, one is "Trump fans" and the other is "dishonoring Trump". The former is proud of supporting Trump, being spiritual and on God's side.
What is more, some people put it this way: "Whether or not to support Trump is the touchstone of true and false belief". In this way, Christians who were not optimistic about Trump's turnaround were often regarded as an alternative, and were even labeled as "Satan", "can't be saved" and "false believers". It seems that whether or not to support Trump has become a watershed between believing in truth and falsehood and being saved or not.
Under this passionate emotion, this kind of "Trump fever" has shown an unhealthy side. Some brothers sighed: "Trump fans have never been so excited about Jesus Christ." More brothers and sisters asked: "Do we believe in Trump or Jesus?"
The impact of "Trump fever" on the relationship between congregations
Because "Trump support" has become a kind of "political correctness", so what can be seen on the Chinese Internet is "Trump support", and "the boat of friendship turns over". However, we have not heard of any offline church that is divided by this view.
However, the evangelical churches in the United States have split because of their different attitudes towards Trump and the general election. "Evangelical Alliance" once published an article, "Why do evangelical Christians still have differences with Trump?”, that made an analysis of this phenomenon.
Yet in China, there was heat on the Internet; apart from the gossip flying all over the place, the online attacks were caused by different viewpoints.
For example, in November 2020, Pastor Su Wenfeng, former editor-in-chief of Overseas Campus, published an article reminding brothers and sisters not to forget that it is the Supreme God who holds power on earth despite the chaos of the general election and urging brothers and sisters to look up to God. Pastor Su's exhortation was very care-oriented, but he was "criticized" and abused on the Internet, and was regarded as having "no independent opinion", being a "swinging grass" and a "compromise to evil". This scene also showed that some Trump fans had become "Trump guards". If you criticize Trump, you do not support Trump, you support Biden, and you dance with evil.
Obviously, some people viewed the American election with a simple dualistic thinking of black and white and treated brothers and sisters with different viewpoints. Some "Trump" Christians simplified the highly complex American politics and regarded it as the dualistic pattern of righteousness and evil, light and darkness, God and the devil. They even equated the Republican Party with Christian guardians, ignoring the interests, power game and other factors, which easily leads to confusion between the boundaries, between heaven and earth, belittles the church's "heavenly identity" and degrades the church into a tool of power struggle.
The excessively charismatic color in "Trump fever"
During the ups and downs of this American election, some "masters" of the Lingen School predicted that Trump would be re-elected. After Biden was declared "winning the election" by the media, some Lingen platforms successively published articles such as "The Bible has predicted: Biden claimed to win the election, Trump will be re-elected", "Trump won, Biden defeated, and the dispute between twins." Articles such as "Torah" quickly gained popularity.
Such an article took out the stories of Niya and Solomon in Riado in the Old Testament, found out the numbers corresponding to Hebrew characters (corresponding to different meanings) by word-splitting games, and then deduced from these numbers, and finally obtained the "shocking prediction" that Trump would be re-elected.
What was even funnier was that another ‘prophet’ found the clue of predicting Trump's re-election from the English KJV Bible because somewhere the scripture mentioned that when Christ came again, "in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." (1 Cor. 15:52, NIV).
The word "trump" in English Bible is the same as Trump's name. The false prophet seemed to have discovered the New World and found that Trump's name appeared in the Bible twice. As a result, it was concluded that the Bible "predicted" that Trump would succeed in re-election.
Some pastors have warned about this: "Trump fans have remarkable characteristics of the Charismatics... In this exciting election, Trump Doctrine was unified with the color of the Charismatic Movement, and all kinds of predictions and expectations that excited Trump fans were repeated (revival movement)."
The "political messiah" complex and the "Christendom" fantasy behind the "Trump support" fever
Generally speaking, the American election was a matter for the United States to change its president. However, in this American election, Chinese Christians paid great attention and enthusiasm, and the "Trump fever" could not be described simplistically.
It was said that a certain quarterly magazine launched many prayer activities such as "Jericho around the city", expecting Joshua's miracle to happen, but the "Jericho wall" did not collapse as they expected.
In the past four years, the halo around Trump was dazzling, and titles such as "Son of Heaven", "Son of God", "King of David" and "Contemporary Syrus", brought spiritual connotations. Many Christians were convinced that Trump was "God's servant". Therefore, in their thinking, Trump's re-election was necessary because "God is with him".
This "spiritual" identification of Trump's identity continues with the identification of Christians. Only by supporting Trump can he be a true Christian, and Trump has almost become synonymous with light, justice, and kindness. "Trump support" means standing on the side of justice. If you do not "support Trump", you are dancing with "Evil". So, you are unjust, heretical, or false.
Obviously, there is personal worship of Trump behind the "Trump support" craze. In Christian theological terms, Trump became the "political Messiah" in the eyes of Chinese Christians. Some people have placed too much expectation on Trump, saving America from depravity, protecting the church from persecution, and helping the church bring about revival.
For example, some people said that if Trump could be re-elected, he would continue to implement policies that conform to biblical laws, which will also be beneficial to the church, and it is very likely that he would bring the United States back to Puritan tradition and continue to be a "city on the top of the mountain".
This "political Messiah" complex was more intense in some evangelical churches in America. As early as three years ago, when Trump decided to move the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, some evangelical churches shouted and regarded Trump as "the king of Israel" and "the coming of God again".
In fact, this "political Messiah" complex is not new, but a replica of Constantinianism.
This kind of "political messianism" may be found in the Old Testament, where there are examples of revival brought by godly kings, but Jesus and the apostles had no teaching and practice in this respect in the New Testament. Because in the New Testament era, the theocracy system in the form of the Old Testament had been subverted and replaced by the Christian Church, which only preached and relied on the Savior's cross. The apostles no longer expected an earthly king to protect them or bring revival to the church. They only relied on the cross of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit! Therefore, the revival of the church does not depend on a powerful and godly political leader, but the church trusts Jesus Christ and acts according to the truth.
From church history, in the United States history of more than 200 years, no belief revival movement was promoted by the president; it all started from the humility and repentance of the church and the desire of believers for holiness.
Therefore, it is a serious misplacement to pin the hope of American church revival on a political figure. This is not within the scope of the president's duties, nor does it conform to the provisions of the American Constitution concerning the separation of church and state.
In addition to the "political Messiah" complex, some Chinese Christians may still be dreaming of rebuilding a "Christendom" as such. They are looking forward to having a "Christian king" on earth who can build a heavenly kingdom template according to the Bible (strictly speaking, according to the laws and regulations of the Old Testament). Specifically, "to recapture the United States for God", let the United States return to Puritan tradition, and restore the glorious beauty of "the city on the top of the mountain". This dream of "Christendom" is presented in the face of "cultural war" in America, and is also described as defending conservative values and social order.
Teacher Lin Feng, a scholar living in the United States, wrote an article, "2020 and Christian Nationalism in the United States", which made a comprehensive analysis and profound reflection. The article points out that the real situation is much more complicated than this simple dualistic cognition and analyzes the "Christian nationalism" behind the "Trump support" craze.
What is Christian nationalism? "It is a cultural framework, a combination of myths, legends, traditions, symbols, narratives and value systems. It advocates the integration of Christianity and American citizen life and idealizes it." Christianity in this "Christian nationalism" is not only a religion, but also includes the preconditions of nativism, white supremacy, patriarchy and heterosexuality, as well as the sacred recognition of autocratic control and military hegemony. It is a combination of race, politics and religion." Obviously, it has drifted away from the New Testament and is branded with racism.
Therefore, the ideal of establishing a "Christendom" looks beautiful, but God has no such promise in the New Testament, and neither Jesus nor the apostles have made such "attempts".
History has proved that it is impossible for us to establish a heaven on earth and a pure biblical moral system in a ruined world, and it is impossible for us to return to the middle age or the Puritan era.
Therefore, we should go back to Jesus' teaching and draw a line between religion and politics: "Caesar's things should be given to Caesar, and God's things should be given to God" (Luke 20:25). The revival of the church depends not on political leaders, but on whether the church acts in truth and shines for the Lord.
Our understanding of American society and politics is extremely limited, and there is no final conclusion about those distant people and things. Every Christian should encourage each other, start from the things around him, and only look up to the heaven promised by the Lord. Do not confuse "Jesus wins" with "Trump wins" because Trump stepped down but Christ is still in power.
Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place." (John 18:36)
- Translated by Charlie Li