In my past thirty years or so of studying and working with Asian, African, and Western theologies and theologians, I have often noticed one thread. Whenever we discuss theologies from the so-called “third world” or “developing” nations, I have often felt many of my western friends quickly want to warn us non-westerners about the lurking dangers of syncretism and potential heresies in the theologization emerging in the majority world. They also raise questions about the lack of discipleship or the shallowness of the faith of new believers who have come to the Kingdom of God as a result of some incredible Christward movements witnessed among various people groups. However, as is often the case, we get our blinders on when looking at our culture, Christianity, and the status of discipleship.
Here’s an example of how blinders often work. Christian nationalism, which is a misnomer in itself, has led many in the west and particularly in the USA to believe that a politician is not only a savior from their political, social, and economic mess, but also a God-sent religious savior, an avatar or an incarnation of God! You may brush it aside as a fringe element and go your way, satisfied that your Christian country can never engage in such a heretical thought. However, you will do so at your own peril. At a time when, a scientific survey by the Pew Research Center predicts a continuous decline, one cannot ignore why the faith is evaporating in the west:
“If recent trends in religious switching continue, Christians could make up less than half of the U.S. population within a few decades…U.S. ‘nones’ will approach majority by 2070 if recent switching tends continue,”https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2022/09/13/modeling-the-future-of-religion-in-america/
A book has recently been published, crystallizing this belief in a politician as the religious savior that people have been looking for, that is replete with biblical citations to justify their wild theological claims. The title is: President Donald J. Trump, The Son of Man—The Christ. Yes, you read that right, and no, the author claims it is not a satire!
Of course, you do not have to be a theologian to recognize it as a heresy, as no educated Christian who has been discipled well would agree with the statements of its author of South African origin, Helgard Müller, that the “son of man” in the Bible is now incarnated in Donald J. Trump. The author, who is basically trying to make a quick buck, argues that there are two Christs – the son of man and the son of God, with Jesus being the son of God who was betrayed by Judas and Trump being the son of man who was betrayed by Mike Pence. Müller will indeed make more than a quick buck (even the kindle version is US $19!) as he knows it too well that millions of Christians who are biblical illiterates would buy anything that glorifies their political hero and justifies it with “biblical prophesies,” which cannot be located in the Bible if one takes the trouble of opening and reading it. That is why Müller has been going to all the rallies of Trump with his trailer and signs, enthusiastically marketing this book and personally handing out or mailing free copies to social influencers such as Candace Owens (see Muller’s Facebook page).
Maybe the publication of such books will help us see our own cultural and theological blinders and take our responsibility for discipleship more seriously than we have done in the past.