Wayne Grudem's ethical casuistry...

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Lots of people have done a good job dissecting the endorsement of Donald Trump by my former colleague, Wayne Grudem. If you only have time for one of the critiques, try this one by Bill Muehlenberg. But let me add a couple thoughts of my own.

As I said, Grudem's endorsement is long—so long and detailed that readers may get lost in the verbiage. So here's a summary of his arguments:

I have "taught Christian ethics for 39 years [and] I think voting for Trump is a morally good choice."

Grudem claims to be an academic expert in the matter of making difficult decisions (ethics). And having established his authority, Grudem tells us Trump is the right choice. But not just the right choice. He aims his pitch at the higher spiritual plane, saying Trump is a "morally good choice."

Grudem gives the reason Trump is a morally good choice:

Justice Ginsburg is 83, and she has had colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, and has a heart stent.

Yup, that's just as he wrote it. The entire reason we should make the "morally good choice" of Donald Trump is that Justice Ginsburg is about to die and...

Mr. Trump will give us a better replacement of Justice Ginsburg than Secretary Clinton will give us.

Having made his argument, Grudem goes on for another 4,285 words talking about everything that's wrong with our country today. Also, he gives us the skinny on Mr. Trump, assuring his readers that Trump isn't nearly as bad as everyone makes him out to be. So the summary of Wayne's piece reads as follows:

I've been teaching "ethics for 39 years" and I tell you Donald Trump is a "morally good choice" for president of these United States because "Justice Ginsburg is 83, and she has had colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, and has a heart stent."

Things are going to Hell in a handbasket here in America. Look at abortion. Look at the gays (although Grudem labels this "Christian business owners" and "Christian schools and colleges"). Look at the transgenders (although Grudem labels this "churches"). Look at abortion. Look at criminalizing dissent. Look at taxes and jobs. Look at the military. Look at borders. Look at ISIS and terrorism. Look at China. Look at Russia. Look at Israel. Look at bathrooms. Look at healthcare. Look at the poor.

Then, with these final two paragraphs (in their entirety), Grudem gives the altar call:

But the most likely result of not voting for Trump is that you will be abandoning thousands of unborn babies who will be put to death under Hillary Clinton’s Supreme Court, thousands of Christians who will be excluded from their lifelong occupations, thousands of the poor who will never again be able to find high-paying jobs in an economy crushed by government hostility toward business, thousands of inner-city children who will never be able to get a good education, thousands of the sick and elderly who will never get adequate medical treatment when the government is the nation’s only healthcare provider, thousands of people who will be killed by an unchecked ISIS, and millions of Jews in Israel who will find themselves alone and surrounded by hostile enemies. And you will be contributing to a permanent loss of the American system of government due to a final victory of unaccountable judicial tyranny.

When I look at it this way, my conscience, and my considered moral judgment tell me that I must vote for Donald Trump as the candidate who is most likely to do the most good for the United States of America.

Did you notice Grudem's body count? if you don't vote for Trump, you will only "be abandoning thousands of unborn babies" whereas you will be abandoning "millions of Jews in Israel." Honestly, it's hard not to see this horrific error in the number of babies killed by abortion as a tell. It's not "thousands." It's not tens of thousands. It's not hundreds of thousands. It's between one and two million per year just in these United States, but somehow Wayne thinks of the number of murdered babies as merely "thousands."

Anyhow, as we approach November, here are a couple responses I'm hoping will inoculate us against this sort of bombast.

First, this is Uncle Tom working hard to keep all the slaves on the plantation. The plantation I'm referring to is the Republican Party and conservative Christians are the slaves. For decades, in exchange for our vote the Republican Party has been promising to give Christians Supreme Court justices who are pro-life. But each time abortion comes before the court, regardless of which party nominated the current justices the ruling comes down solidly in support of the continued wholesale slaughter of very little babies. Wayne Grudem is the insane man who does the same thing over and over while expecting different results. Joe Sobran put it this way:

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, I'm a Republican!

Wayne and Jim Dobson might be endorsing Donald Trump because they're card-carrying Republicans. But none of the rest of us are, so leave them be. You and I, our wives and children, are not Republicans but Christians—Christians committed to obeying our Lord Who commanded us, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment" (John 7:24).

We must stop judging according to appearances and begin judging with righteous judgment. This necessarily means we must swear off listening to all the Uncle Toms intent on keeping us on the plantation and subservient to our corrupt masters. Grudem assures us the way to end the moral degradation and baby slaughter of our nation is to stay loyal to the moral degradation and baby slaughter of the Republican Party because it's a much better moral degradation and baby slaughter than the moral degradation and baby slaughter of the Democrats. So noted.

Second, playing up fears doesn't create a good environment for godly decisionmaking. From cover to cover, Scripture commands God's people, "do not be afraid." God doesn't need Republican nominees on the Supreme Court so He can bring repentance to our beloved homeland. God needs nothing. Knowing He needs nothing, we are to live by faith. John the Baptist didn't rebuke Herod's incest because he thought his rebuke would cause Herod to repent, after which the lives of the godly would get better. He rebuked Herod because he feared God and lived by faith.

We, too, are to fear God, and then be bold as lions.

Third, in his two-paragraph summary of his position, Grudem commits a basic ethical fallacy: that if you have the ability to do something that will keep a bad thing from happening and you don't do that something, you bear responsibility for the bad thing that happens. In ethics this is called "negative responsibility" and this fallacy is common among utilitarians who believe right is determined by the action that leads to the greatest amount of good (happiness) among the greatest number of people. But of course, this is entirely contrary to what Scripture teaches and a simple illustration is sufficient to show Grudem's error: the president who does not negotiate with terrorists or pay them off is not morally responsible for the death of the hostages.

Don't be afraid of having to answer for the evil Hillary Clinton does if you don't vote for Donald Trump. Instead, be afraid of allowing fear to determine your vote. Christians don't make our decisions based upon fear of consequences, but fear of God. Christians make our decisions from the firm foundation of righteous judgment.

Fourth, I went up to Indy last night to meet a friend attending Gen Con 2016. The two of us went through Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary together, back in the early eighties. He's spent his life working in government and is an elder of Christ's Church who has real wisdom and authority in judgments concerning politics and government. At the end of our evening, our conversation turned to Clinton and Trump. With just a few words, my friend said something wise and true, something that is the perfect antidote to Wayne's many thousands of words:

All my life, my vote has been a choice between the lesser of two evils. This election my only choice is evil.

Quite right.

So what about my own vote? Well, despite my recent feint in her direction, I certainly won't be voting for Secretary Clinton. And I'm not thinking The Donald, either—even holding my nose, I don't think I could manage it. Plus, my wife and daughters, as well as the sisters and mothers of the church, would spit on me.


Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!