Theologian, author, and seminary professor Wayne Grudem has written a lengthy response to John Piper’s commentary on the 2020 election. Last week, in a rare commentary about this year’s political election and its candidates, Piper wrote he is “baffled that so many Christians consider the sins of unrepentant sexual immorality (porneia), unrepentant boastfulness (alazoneia), unrepentant vulgarity (aischrologia), unrepentant factiousness (dichostasiai), and the like, to be only toxic for our nation, while policies that endorse baby-killing, sex-switching, freedom-limiting, and socialistic overreach are viewed as deadly.”
Grudem, who identifies Piper as a friend, disagrees with Piper’s conclusion that when considering which candidate to vote for this year, a candidate’s character issues (specifically, unrepentant sin) should be weighed to the same degree (perhaps even greater) as that of a candidate’s policy positions. Grudem, who said he’s already voted to re-elect President Trump, believes that considering the two candidates both have “character flaws,” it’s policy that has primary importance in this election.
Grudem breaks Piper’s thoughts into four main points and then provides his own response to Piper’s words. At the end of his lengthy article, Grudem says that he had sent a draft to Piper and that Piper had given Grudem his blessing, Piper said that Grudem had “represented him fairly” and even gave Grudem advice for how to make one of his points stronger.
Piper’s Claim #1: “The personal sins of a leader can be as harmful to persons and to nations as morally evil laws.”
Piper wrote, “When a leader models self-absorbed, self-exalting boastfulness, he models the most deadly behavior in the world. He points his nation to destruction. Destruction of more kinds than we can imagine. It is naive to think that a man can be effectively pro-life and manifest consistently the character traits that lead to death — temporal and eternal.”
Grudem says there is a big difference in influence between a leader’s example and “laws that compel obedience.” The problem with Piper’s argument on this point, Grudem believes, is that it “fails to recognize that people can decide not to imitate the sins of a leader, but they cannot do that with laws.”
Additionally, Grudem believes Trump’s character is not leading the country down a morally bankrupt path. Grudem says he doesn’t know a single Christian or Christian leader who has been compelled to follow Trump’s lead of adultery or boasting due to his example.
Grudem also contends that Trump has good character qualities, too. For instance, Grudem points to Trump’s “courage of convictions,” “steadfastness of purpose,” “incredible energy,” and “faithfulness to his campaign promises.” Grudem even indicates Trump might have turned a corner concerning his past sexual impropriety when he says the leader has displayed “not even a hint of any sexual impropriety” while he’s been in office. Additionally, while Piper emphasized Trump’s arrogance and boastfulness, Grudem characterizes Trump as only “sometimes boastful.”
“With Trump, we will get good policies and character flaws, but with Biden we will get bad policies and character flaws,” Grudem argues. He then goes on to address Biden’s flaws, which he believes include his alleged use of “his government office and influence to enrich members of his own family with millions of dollars from China, Russia, and Ukraine.” Grudem did not address any of the allegations that Trump has also used his office for gain in his own personal interests.
Grudem also points out that Trump has elevated many evangelicals into positions of influence: Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, Ben Carson, Betsy DeVos, Russell Vought. He’s also elevated “deeply committed Roman Catholics” like Amy Coney Barrett.