trump (tr?mp)

  1. 1. Games a.A suit in card games that outranks all other suits for the duration of a hand. v. trumpedtrump·ingtrumps

“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian…I say only that this man is not Christian if he says things like that.”  

(Pope Francis in response to a question about Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to build a wall along the Mexican/U.S. border to keep illegal immigrants out.)

February 2016 123

Donald Trump fired back that when ISIS attacks the Vatican, the Pope will have wished Donald Trump had been President.

Today Donald Trump will be firing back at Mitt Romney and the Republican establishments historical and unprecedented last ditch effort to undermine their front runner candidate.

But today, I want to turn back to a few weeks ago and the war of words between Donald Trump and Pope Francis and what it might reveal about the future of Christianity.

Beyond the war of words between Pope Francis and Donald Trump is an February 2016 126important theological question.  What does it mean to be a Christian?  Who gets to decide?  Previous Popes and other Christian leaders have often defined being a Christian in terms of what you say you believe.  Things like, “Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God”, “The Bible is the Word of God”, “Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior.”

Pope Francis moved the conversation in a different direction – from what Christians say they believe to Christians thinking and acting in certain ways. For Pope Francis one of these ways is building bridges.

February 2016 121UCC President and General Secretary John Dorhauer writes in Beyond Resistance: The Institutional Church Meets the Postmodern World that now is the time for a rapidly changing church to wrestle with our “non-negotiables.”  That is, what are those things that we cannot give up or else we lose our identity as Christians?  What might they be for you?  The Cross?  Communion?  The Lord’s Prayer?  The Bible as the Word of God?  Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?  Building bridges?

Pope Francis staked his claim on bridge building as one of those non-February 2016 069negotiables.  He’s moved the conversation from a history full of too many examples of Christians walling out strangers and outcasts, the culture and people of different faiths or no faith.

He’s opened the conversation to building bridges as part of our core identity as Christians.  In the same flight home from the Mexican border he opened the conversation on the role of conscience in deciding on issues like contraception and support for same-sex marriage.  Last month, he embraced the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.  Last spring, he addressed a Papal Encyclical, “On Care for Our Common Home” on our environmental and economic responsibilities to not only good practicing Roman Catholics but to every human being on earth. Bridge builder?  It’s a defining characteristic of this Christian leader and I am watching with wonder and hope about where it all might lead.

February 2016 124It makes me wonder about my own ministry and stumbling walk as a Christian.  When have I been a wall builder or a bridge builder?  When is the time for each?

Donald Trump has brought the question of walls and bridges to the center of our national conversation.  Weird to say, but perhaps I’m thankful for that – to make me and perhaps you as well deal with questions we might have stepped around.

UCC Pastor and Writer, Donna Schaper believes that bridge builder Pope Francis will usher in the next Reformation.  When she shared that last month, I laughed.  When I heard the Pope last week, I wondered.  More so, I hope she might well be right.



5 thoughts on “Trumped”

  1. I like how you turn the question around so we could look at ourselves. I wanted to judge this guy but it would do little to help if at all. Better to ask how I can think and act to make things better. Corky


  2. Thank you so much Peter, for framing the real question before us so well. Bridges or walls, which future do we choose?


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