Dan Popp
Montanism, legalism and Trumpism
By Dan Popp
October 22, 2016

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son.... (Hebrews 1:1, 2a, NAS95)

If Donald Trump is the instrument of God, why are his supporters sounding more and more like heretics?

I refer specifically to the heresy of "Montanism." Montanus was a fellow in the 2nd century who, as a fresh convert (note that), built a following for himself based on "new prophecy." For the sake of this article it isn't necessary for us to agree whether the gift of prophecy is available to the church today; if it is, it seems to me that a specific word will either agree with Scripture, in which case it is superfluous, or it will contradict Scripture, in which case it should be rejected as garbage.

There can be no problem unless a supposed revelation is allowed to supersede Scripture. If the Bible remains the final authority, then these new pronouncements – no matter their origin – can't do us much harm. The trouble with Montanism is that it exalts personal revelation above the Bible.

Some of those who claim the name of Christ are now putting themselves in the seat of Montanus and his deluded disciples. They say that God is giving people prophetic words that support the Republican nominee for President. Hmm. Well, as I said, I'm easy about all that stuff – as long as the Word of God is the final arbiter.

But there's the rub. When someone shows them that, according to the Bible, Donald Trump isn't qualified to lead a Sunday School class, much less a nation, they begin to charge "legalism!"

This is sad because words really do mean things. Either these Trump supporters are ignorant of the definition of "legalism," or they're trying to deceive.

A legalist is a person who demands adherence to the Mosaic Law in order to be saved. Legalists insist that one must abstain from pork and from driving on Saturday, for example – or else no heaven for you! So there are two parts to legalism: the "keep the rules" part, and the "or else" part.

I don't see anyone on the anti-Trump side that remotely resembles that description. The charge of legalism is a very serious one (read the book of Galatians) and should not be flung carelessly at those who disagree with you about a particular political race.

Scriptural requirements for leadership are scriptural requirements, and it isn't "legalism" or any other kind of sin to point them out. If Mr. Trump is a "baby Christian," as those in his camp are fond of saying, then he is disqualified – on their testimony – according to 1 Timothy 3:6.

If you believe that your fresh prophecy invalidates some or all of the New Testament, then you're in danger of falling into the error of Montanism, and I beg you to run from it.

It is remarkable, isn't it, how strident and desperate the pro-Trump Christians have become? With every new essay they use harsher language to condemn their brothers and sisters who hold a different opinion about the best way to honor God in this civil matter. Their pitch gets higher and more strained. Their accusations become more barbed. The biblical admonition to allow others freedom of conscience in gray areas is disregarded.

Meanwhile, speaking for myself, I find it strangely relaxing to realize that neither Hillary nor Donald is acceptable. We do have other options. This is where the peace is, and I invite everyone to enjoy it. God is in charge. We can rest in Him. Man is nothing. If it takes a special champion, a "messiah," to preserve the republic, then the republic is already gone.

If you can defend your choice on biblical principles, please do. If you can't, your kitchen prophecy isn't going to persuade anyone except a Montanist.

© Dan Popp


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