President Trump’s poor theology and use of language

President Donald Trump believes in hell and he thinks it can be found in mentally-ill gunmen who shoot school children.

He wants to arm trained school teachers to shoot “the hell out of” gunmen running amock.  The world’s media has drawn attention to his colourful language, but the media is unlikely to address his wrong theology.

Trump’s language was sufficiently noteworthy for the world’s press to quote it in their headlines: Sky newsThe Independent, NBC News, etc., but the BBC was unusually coy and does not seem to have quoted him as such.

The media drew attention to the language, the practicality of Trump’s proposal, what he actually said about gun adept teachers and the president’s own spirit towards the mentally ill, in particular the “savage sicko”.

I do not expect the world’s press to make sufficient biblical comment on “A teacher would have shot the hell out of him before he ever knew what happened.”  So I will add a comment or two.

1. If hell was in the heart of the gunman, shooting him will not take it out of him.
2. If hell was in the heart of the gunman, shooting him will take him into hell, not take hell out of him.
3. A shoot to kill policy in such circumstances can hardly be criticised, but it is in effect capital punishment for clearly witnessed crime.  This is the Bible’s teaching on capital punishment.

One might also consider:
1. a gunman will ensure he shoots the schoolteacher first, and then any adult who appears on the scene. What effect will this have on the recruitment of teachers?

2. the argument, based upon the long delay before ‘first responders’ reach the scene of a shooting, if correct would carry into the whole of public life and even into private life, so that it amounts to the right to carry guns at all times.

3. what about a deranged school-teacher running amock with a gun?

4. what about the armed guard who did not respond?  Donald Trump says he might be a coward.  Who wants a job where one is condemned on air without investigation and due process?  Trump is not alone in this.  David Cameron denounced and dismissed on air a Tory party candidate without due process, and Nigel Farage did the same with a UKIP councillor, each because they articulated views the party leader did not like.

5. It is time to teach the Gospel with its message what life is really about:

‘I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.’

Jesus Christ in John 10:10

6. President Trump even applies hell to himself: “I try like hell to hide my bald spot,” he joked. This suggests that his vocabularly is rather limited, and restricted to superlatives, for good or for bad. He is intelligent enough to enlarge his vocabulary, but the problem is that his dumbed-down audience might not understand more nuanced language, so he uses the vulgar which is understood and noticed by his audience. Yet, what is the effect of such abuse of language? Swearing is a sign of someone who has a rather poor command of their language.  It is also a method of demeaning some important concepts such as God, Lord, Jesus, Christ, heaven and – yes, hell. A US President who wants to support and promote Christianity should improve his vocabulary.


17 May 2018: Dominic Raab MP, Conservative Housing Minister, has a theology as bad as Donald Trump’s, with a similar need to improve and develop his vocabulary.  Tonight on BBC’s Question Time he said that the community of Grenfell had been “through hell and back”.  1. They had not been through hell; 2. people do not come back from hell; and 3. notice the demeaning use of the word and concept of hell.  The same night, Andrew Neil on BBC’s This Week repeated his new-found adjective ‘ungodly’.  How the programme he hosts could be held at “an ungodly hour” is difficult to understand, unless he is beginning to appreciate godly hours on the Christian Sabbath, but somehow I don’t think he meant this.  It is more likely that he uses the word in order to demean it.

16 Jun 2018: the godly and the more observant will have noted the increase in the use of ‘ungodly’ by television commentators.  Its use is such an unnatural increase in such a short period of time that I suspect that it is deliberate.

10 Oct 2018: a BBC Newsnight correspondent spoke of Brexit negotiations putting ‘the fear of God’ into the opposition – another example of continuing demeaning of religious terms.

15 July 2019: Trump has muddied his latest argument about governance in other countries by his typically poor choice of words. His point has been lost by the chorus of protest denouncing his language as ‘racist’. Although the President of the United States has still to learn to improve his language, his detractors are not much better, for they are ready to accuse and condemn him as a racist, according to the secular re-definition of words. The four Congress women called themselves ‘women of colour’ and referring to Trump’s opinion said ‘this is the agenda for white nationalists’ – is this not a ‘colour-motivated’ assessment? “The words he uses…are historic dog whistles of white supremacy.” The current language battle needs to consider that ‘every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment’ Mat 12:36. It is interesting that ‘women of colour’ is acceptable in the recent controversy, but Amber Rudd MP had to apologize for calling Dianne Abbott MP ‘a woman of colour’, the argument at that time being that ‘colour’ was unacceptable, and someone in public life ought to have known this. It was not simply that Rudd identified Abbott by her ethnicitity, and it seems that the English language differs for those ‘in public life’ and the rest of the English-speaking world. As Alice in Wonderland said: “curiouser and curiouser.”

31 July 2019: one of the US Congress woman is now under the spotlight.

5 Aug 2019: Donald Trump calls for capital punishment for mass murderers in the context of the El Paso, Texas and Ohio mass shootings.

Trump has a mixture of religious advisers. He appeals to evangelical Protestants, Roman Catholics, Jews and supporters of Israel. Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State is a Dispensationalist who speaks of “the never-ending struggle until the Rapture”, charismatic Paula White, Donald Trump’s televangelist spiritual adviser, thinks that she can claim White House ground as holy ground “because where I stand is holy”; his vice president Mike Pence is an evangelical Roman Catholic. In 2016 Trump formed the Evangelical Advisory Board and soon afterwards he moved the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

19 Jan 2021: as he bowed out of his term as US President, Donald Trump wanted the next administration “to have luck – a very important word”. The non-existent god of luck is unlikely to help anyone, but God’s providence is not easily recognized nor understood by political leaders, far less is it acknowledged publicly. He pardoned his former aide Steve Bannon but not Julian Assange.

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