There was no shortage of ways to attack John Piper’s fallacious article about voting with regards to Trump. But even Wayne Grudem has written his own response to John Piper. This is significant not because this is uncharacteristic of Wayne Grudem, but because the two are longtime friends and have even coauthored books together. In an era where Big Eva figures are willing to let public error go unconfronted publicly due to fraternity (see SBC 11th Commandment), this is a more noteworthy occurrence. It is also refreshing to see that someone who is at the tippy top of theological academic circles not display such contempt or elitism towards evangelicals who vote for Donald Trump.
I will not go through all of Wayne Grudem’s response. It is lengthy and reads exactly like Systematic Theology. However, there are some noteworthy highlights worth pointing out, some of which arguments I did not make.
Like myself, Grudem critiques Piper’s evaluation of Trump’s character and offer a more comprehensive evaluation.
And now, after his nearly four years in office, I would add that he has shown remarkable courage of his convictions, faithfulness to his campaign promises, steadfastness of purpose in spite of an astoundingly hostile press, incredible energy in the performance of his job, dignity and even eloquence in many formal speeches and ceremonies at home and abroad, respect and appreciation for his wife Melania and his sons and daughters, and a wide-ranging understanding of the hundreds of different issues that every president faces. In contrast to his past life, during his term in office there is not been even a hint of any sexual impropriety. He is sometimes boastful but on a number of occasions I have seen him publicly give credit to many other people for things that have been accomplished. And I think he has shown mature and wise judgment in a variety of situations that he has faced as president.
Another argument on Trump’s character that Grudem makes is that no one is imitating Trump or becoming more boastful because of Trump (unless of course John Piper has evidence he did not share the first time.)
The second major highlight was that Wayne Grudem argues against the neutrality of sitting this one out. Grudem seems to think that Piper is also not voting for Biden, though I did not get that impression. But Wayne Grudem employs some political analysis here:
Imagine what would happen if all evangelical Christians followed Piper’s example and decided to write in someone else’s name instead of voting for either Trump or Biden. The result would be an overwhelming landslide victory for Biden, because the largest single bloc of Trump supporters is evangelical Christians. In 2016, 80% of white evangelicals voted for Trump, while 16% voted for Clinton and 4% didn’t vote for president or voted for some other candidate. If that 4% of “vote for neither one” evangelical voters had been 5% or 6%, Hillary Clinton would have been president.
So, if Trump loses the evangelical bloc, Biden wins. In fact, if a significant number of Christians decide not to vote for either Trump or Biden, the result will not be some ideal third-party president. It will be a Biden presidency which (in my opinion) will bring great harm to the nation.
Therefore the decision not to vote for either candidate is not a neutral position for evangelicals. When evangelicals decide not to vote for either candidate, this takes voters primarily from Trump’s base and therefore helps Biden win the election.
Elections are all about turning out your base and keeping the other base at home. John Piper’s piece was an in kind contribution to Joe Biden’s campaign which certainly violates the neutral facade he attempts to create. Though I thought he was more explicitly pro-Biden then Grudem did, Grudem’s logic points to this fact.
Wayne Grudem’s response definitely provokes thoughts on how Christians should confront election matters, and that is the direction I want to take things in the upcoming days.