You’re a Pharisee, No, You’re a Pharisee (A Response to James Riley)

James Patrick Riley published a story recently that’s been making the rounds about how everyone is a Pharisee who doesn’t agree with Trump’s moral character. He also offers that Trump shares similarities with God and Jesus, notably in the category of righteousness.

Yeah, I’m not kidding.

The Pharisee name-calling reminds me of that scene from Dumb and Dumber, with Harry and Lloyd in the car, tagging and screaming at each other like infants. “You can’t tag back a double tag back, Lloyd!!” Harry screams while Lloyd plugs his ears and bellows.

Writing a response to this article feels like arguing that water is wet or that the sun is hot. Alas, I just can’t stand idly by as Riley bastardizes the Christian worldview and misinterprets Scripture.

Riley sets up his unabashed apologetic for Trump with a bombshell. Anybody who doesn’t want someone with the moral unfitness and wildcard unpredictability of Trump in office is a Pharisee.

The #NeverTrump movement is defined by this Pharisee spirit

Bold move. It gets better.

Max Lucado did the unthinkable and spoke out about the character of Trump, pointing to his name-calling as a particularly immoral quality. This came a day after The Donald pandered to evangelicals by making a video with his Bible. Let’s watch the logical fallacies unfold:

Think on that for a moment. Max closes his eyes to another “Christian,” Barack Obama, who stands foursquare for the slaughter of millions of unborn babies, at your expense, but Donald Trump called a lady a “bimbo?” Intolerable! Unthinkable! Impolite! Time to engage the Pharisee warp engines.

There are so many straw men in this article I feel like I’m on the old neighborhood Christmas hayride. For those of you keeping score of fallacies, here’s another one for you, free of charge:

Max Lucado: I think Candidate A is immoral.
Riley: Oh, then you must think Candidate B is moral!

That’s a non sequitur (latin for “that does not follow”). It’s a logical fallacy. That’s not a good thing. It does not logically follow that someone who calls out a candidate for their immorality approves of the other candidate. For all we know, Lucado could have equally ardent objections to the policies and practices of Obama.

The apologies cited for Donald Trump’s behavior are flaccid and borderline heretical in the way they interpret Scripture. I’m embarrassed for Mr. Riley when I watch him mangle the Scriptures like a drunk balloon artist.

On the topic of abortion, Riley cites the interview in which Trump says the following:

When asked about abortion, Trump related a story close to home. He said that he knew of a pregnancy that was going to be terminated. ”That child today,” Donald continued, ”is a total superstar. It is a great great child.”

What Riley left out is when Trump was pressed a month later about his comments. An interviewer asked him if he would still be pro-life if that child turned out to be a loser:

Trump admitted, “Probably not, but I’ve never thought of it. I would say no, but in this case it was an easy one because he’s such an outstanding person.”

So Trump will not abort you, unborn children, as long as you promise not to be losers. Otherwise, you’re out of luck. This man’s view on life in the womb is so convoluted and inconsistent it’s impossible to really say what he’ll do in office. One thing is for sure, he is not consistently pro-life.

Last but not least, the paragraph that almost made me fall out of my chair. Watch as Riley compares Trump to God and Jesus. I can’t make this stuff up:

Foul mouthed? I’m guessing you haven’t read scripture with any real scrutiny, because when God gets angry, He doesn’t hold back. His prophets call harlots harlots. His Son called religious hypocrites, “white washed tombs full of dead men’s bones.” “Vipers.” ”Sons of the Devil.”

James, have a Snickers. You get heretical when you’re hungry.

I left out the other straw man he threw in there, about how foul-mouthedness isn’t as bad as radical jihadism. Therefore, we should overlook it. Someone get this man some rudimentary training in logic.

Let’s do some basic theological review:

God, the first person of the Trinity, and Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, are without sin and perfectly righteousness in everything they do (Psalm 145:17, 1 Peter 2:22). They alone hold this office of perfection. Donald Trump does not.

God is justified in all rebukes, curses, and admonitions that He pronounces because of His innate perfection (Psalm 18:30). This is why I resent Riley’s use of the word “foul.” Nothing that proceeds from the mouth of God is “foul”, as he purports, even if it sounds harsh. It’s perfect (Psalm 19:7).

The way Donald Trump talks like a sexual predator is foul. (I can hear Riley calling me a Pharisee from here).

The way Donald Trump mocks those “weaker” than him (like the disabled and women he perceives as unattractive) is vile.

God’s perfect judgements are not vile, nor foul. They are, indeed, the infallible Word of the Living God.

All this Pharisee witch-hunting and name-calling reminds me of something. When you disagree with the hard left, you’re often called a bigot. Could this be the evangelical hard right equivalent?

Vote for Trump because of the Supreme Court justice argument. Vote for Trump because you think he’s the lesser of two evils. I personally don’t agree with these arguments, but I respect them. What I do not respect, however, is an argument for Trump built on held up on his congruence to the Christian worldview. You may as well be building your house on the sand.