Today’s headlines continue to be dominated by the news that former US President Donald Trump has been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury on more than thirty counts related to business fraud. He is expected to appear in court tomorrow. Unsurprisingly, reaction has fallen on partisan lines. Some Republicans protested the “weaponization of the justice system” as a “mockery” of the legal system and claimed that the Trump indictment makes us a “banana republic,” while some Democrats “cheered” the decision “with evident glee.”
Others have seen the indictment in larger terms.
Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts is warning conservatives that “if this can happen to [Mr. Trump], it can happen to all of us.” Former federal prosecutor Ankush Khardori writes in the New York Times that Democrats could also face “a similar effort by any of the thousands of prosecutors elected to local office, eager to make a name for themselves by prosecuting a former president of the United States.” He even envisions a day when former presidents live in and limit their activities to states that are run by their “red” or “blue” parties.
How to subvert American democracy
It seems to me that there are three logical options behind this unprecedented series of events:
- A former president of the United States and leading contender for his party’s nomination is guilty of multiple crimes, including a felony.
- A local prosecutor is willing to indict an innocent former president for partisan political reasons.
- Mr. Trump is innocent, but the prosecutor and the grand jury sincerely but erroneously consider him to be guilty.
Unless the third option is true (a possibility I have not seen discussed anywhere by anyone), we have reached an epochal moment in the American democratic experiment. Though we have not yet seen the indictment and have no idea of the actual charges against Mr. Trump or their merits, multiplied millions of Americans believe options one or two to be true. No matter how the legal process plays out, millions will still believe their opinion to be correct. And the fact that millions of Americans consider these positions to be plausible or even likely is damaging by itself.
This is why I consider the indictment to be so dangerous for America. For democracy to function, citizens must do three things at a minimum: vote, pay taxes, and obey the laws. However:
- If we believe the system is rigged against us and our candidates, we are less likely to vote. (Less than half of eligible voters cast ballots in last year’s elections.)
- If we do not believe that our elected officials spend our taxes in ways that benefit us and our country, we are less likely to pay our fair share. (The IRS estimates that tax cheating costs the US $1 trillion a year.)
- If we do not believe that our laws are fair or that they will be enforced, we are less likely to obey them. (The FBI estimates that a property crime is committed in the US every 4.1 seconds.)
Clearly, we must have the character to police ourselves or the authorities cannot govern us sufficiently.
Here’s the bottom line: if you wanted to subvert American democracy, the best way to do it would be to cause the people to lose faith in their elections and their elected officials. Is this what is happening before our eyes?
The solution for American democracy
King Solomon observed: “It is an abomination to kings to do evil, for the throne is established by righteousness” (Proverbs 16:12). This is because “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).
Consequently, the solution for American democracy is theocracy. Not the kind where religious clerics rule society, but the kind where the one true King rules on the thrones of our hearts.
On Palm Sunday of Holy Week, Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem, fulfilling the prophecy:
“Behold, your king is coming to you” (Matthew 21:5, quoting Zechariah 9:9). On this day in Holy Week, Jesus acted as king of the nation when he drove the corrupt moneychangers from their temple (Luke 19:46). Tomorrow, our king will demonstrate his omniscient wisdom in confounding his religious opponents; on Friday, he will die for his subjects; on Easter Sunday, he will rise again as king of death and life.
When we make Christ our king, he changes our hearts and uses our influence to change our culture. He can transform Republicans, Democrats, and independents, presidents and prosecutors, juries and journalists, leaders and people. From Saul of Tarsus to today, he is in the business of making fallen humans into a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17) with a “new heart” (Ezekiel 36:26).
"The final syllable from the lips of grace"
Why, then, is our secular culture so broken? For the simple reason that it views Jesus in the same way it views Confucius, Muhammad, or other long-dead religious leaders. If you and I do not make Christ our living king, we treat him in the same way.
The prophet called to his nation, “It is time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you” (Hosea 10:12). Charles Spurgeon commented: “There is a day of grace for you now—be thankful for that, but it is a limited season and grows shorter every time that clock ticks.”
As a result, he implored his reader, “From my inmost soul, as God’s servant, I lay before you this warning, ‘It is time to seek the Lord.’ Slight not that work, it may be your last call from destruction, the final syllable from the lip of grace” (his italics).
How urgently will you “seek the Lord” today?
Publication date: April 3, 2023
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Fizkes
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.
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