4 out of 4 stars
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Almost a full year into Donald Trump's presidency it's still impossible to go anywhere online or in the news without seeing his name. Mentions of Trump range from the most hateful, insulting things to those who praise his every word as the greatest ever. These two sides have two things in common - they're both so solidly stuck in their opinions that no matter what happened they'd never change their minds and, more closely related to this book, both sides fail to see that Trump is a human being who has both negatives and positives, not a god.
God and President Trump Plus the Rest of Us by Patric Rutherford was published in May 2017, so a few months had already passed since Trump's inauguration in January of the same year. A lot has happened in the U.S. since, certainly, but the book is general enough that it's still relevant. The 112-page book is essentially broken into two parts: a discussion about Trump, God, the "responsibility of the presidency" (table of contents) and a discussion of both those who love and hate trump; and a review of historical leaders from Moses to Nelson Mandela.
The first section of the book does an absolutely excellent job of discussing Trump in a balanced, fair way. He lists the legitimate reasons people voted for Trump and discourages those who hate Trump or his supporters (in fact, he discourages hatred in general and explains how it's an unchristian trait), but he also discusses those who show blind love for Trump as well. Here is perhaps one of the greatest points of the book - Rutherford explains that if someone is always negative, only arguing or pointing out bad points someone makes, people will naturally deflect their opinions and consider them as hateful. To truly criticize someone in any way that's helpful, not merely hateful, one must (except in extreme circumstances) actually be close to them. To merely go around and attack everyone who hates or loves Trump (or anyone/anything else for that matter) is unhelpful to everyone; to explain to a friend that you regularly speak with in a kind, solid way - "Hey, friend, Trump is [doing something] and that's bad because of [these reasons]," rather than "You're a racist if you like Trump, go away" for example - is not only much better, it's actually vital in a good friendship. This section also blatantly points out the issues with voting or praising the words of a single party regardless of who one is voting for or what they're saying. Putting so much blind faith in anything is dangerous and comes close to worship, which should be reserved for God alone.
The second half of the book explores spiritual and governmental leaders. These range from Moses, Nebuchadnezzar, Isaiah and Saul to Hitler, Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, with Jesus Himself as a finale. Each of these explores different things that can be related not only to Trump but the direction our country is headed in. Some of these stories I was rather familiar with, but for the most part I learned a lot here. I knew surprisingly little about the challenges Gandhi and Mandela faced, and the leaders and kings of biblical times like Saul, Rehoboam and Moses had a lot of depth I wasn't aware of. It was fantastic seeing not only how these people each held lessons that pertain to today, but how God sometimes used powerful figures in biblical times to point out problems or punish the people who had turned their backs on Him.Or is God planning to use [Trump] as he did Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus for some special purpose in his plan for the world? Or will he be like Lyndon Johnson, who created havoc with the Vietnam War but also upgraded the Social Security system to include Medicare and Medicaid, which is of benefit to millions of Americans today? Maybe God has allowed Donald Trump to win so that Americans can face the reality of their rejection of him and their worship of their new gods: money, entertainment, and celebrities.
In the end, the author points out some things to look out for in the coming years and what we can do about it. Some of those things we're already seeing, like "the smallness of parochialism that pits our citizens against each other and against people of other countries or ethnic groups" (pages 92/93), and how we must act if or when Trump needs to be held accountable and removed (and if Congress fails to hold him accountable).
If there is one lesson this book seeks to teach us, it's that Trump is only a man and that we need to keep our faith in God regardless of what he does. Rutherford points out that even Jesus knew when to be "decisive and forceful when necessary" (page 90), such as when he destroyed the tables of merchants in the temple. There are numerous characteristics that a good Christian shares with Jesus, and these apply to everything in life, even politics. I found only 3 grammatical errors, all minor, and the writing was incredibly easy to follow. I especially appreciated that this wasn't a book that sought out to show Trump, his supporters or his opponents as terrible human beings or 100% correct. As such, I rate the surprisingly enjoyable God and President Trump Plus the Rest of Us by Patric Rutherford 4 out of 4 stars. Despite this, I wouldn't recommend the book to people outside the U.S. unless they're interested in U.S. politics. It also isn't recommended to those who aren't Christian and aren't interested in religious books, as the majority of it (clearly) has a religious slant. Finally, although they may be the ones who need to read the book the most, people who are entirely set in their opinions and don't hesitate to argue with total strangers over the slightest kindness or criticism of Trump probably won't like this either.
God and President Trump Plus the Rest of Us
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