Ebola, Donald Trump, and the Gospel of Christ (by Adam Blosser)

Over the weekend, Donald Trump sent out a series of tweets weighing in on the current Ebola crisis.

Suffer the consequences? Liberal do gooders? This is morally outrageous. Mr. Trump would do well to educate himself on the facts concerning Ebola before opening his mouth or striking his keyboard again. Facts aside, the very idea that there should be “consequences” for doing what we all know in our hearts to be right is extremely disturbing.

While Trump’s tweets sadden me, my concern here is not ultimately with this morally bankrupt man. I just prayed while typing this that he would experience the heart transformation that only comes through the gospel of Christ.

My concern is more for Christians who may be led astray by this kind of thinking. This is the kind of Darwinian evolutionary thinking that is completely foreign to the gospel of Christ. This is the kind of thinking that says, “I must focus first and foremost on myself. If I don’t watch out for myself, no one else will.”

The gospel of Christ says…

Matthew 25:40
And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

John 15:13
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

Philippians 2:3-4
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

You see, the gospel of Christ is not just something you believe in once and then move on with your life. No, the gospel of Christ IS the way of life. It is one of laying down our lives. It is one of counting others more significant than ourselves.

It is one of following the example of Jesus.

Philippians 2:8
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

The Christian life is difficult. Jesus never promised that it would be easy.

While our flesh calls us to watch out for ourselves, may we walk by the Spirit, and not according to the flesh. And when we fail, may we lean upon the grace and forgiveness available to us in Christ Jesus.

Comments

  1. Jess says

    Dave,

    Anything Donald Trump says doesn’t catch my attention. Donald is a self serving human being with no compassion for anyone. It amazes me that Republican candidates for office flock to him for advice and money.

    Now he is a medical doctor giving medical advice about Ebola that the CDC has a different opinion about. I’m glad Jesus touched the sick.

  2. Adam G. in NC says

    The Donald isn’t a Christian? I thought I saw him at the Billy Graham birthday bash. Why else would he be there? (just kidding folks)

    • D.L. Payton says

      The only time I liked Donald was when he got into that spat with Rosie. I like her even less than Trump. :-)

  3. Nate says

    I don’t know Trump’s true intentions, but which of you that are father’s, who have, in the process of ministry came down with a deadly infectious disease, would then knowingly bring the disease back into your home, and place your family at risk of being infected by it?

    As far as the CDC is concerned, they have, as well as some other countries, kept smallpox in a fridge when they had the chance to destroy it.

    • Adam Blosser says

      Nate, part of the point is that Trump is not being honest with the facts. They were brought to a hospital for treatment with all of the necessary precautions taken. They were not sent to hang out among the populace and thus infect the rest of the country.

      Referring to people who risk their lives for others as needing to suffer the consequences for their actions is sickening. Calling those who support such heroic efforts as liberal do gooders is appalling. Christians who applaud such statements should be ashamed of themselves in light of the grace we have received in Christ. That is the point of the post.

      • Nate says

        Adam,

        I believe I said that I didn’t know Trump’s true intentions. My point is that there is some legitimacy to the notion that you don’t bring highly deadly diseases into places where they have never been before. Even one mistake could trigger a horrific outcome.

        Further, if we can’t discuss this overall issue like adults, then I’m not sure you should even be allowing comments. I gave no applause to Trump, I merely inferred that, if I had come down with a deadly infectious disease as I was ministering in the name of Christ, I would not, under any circumstances, bring that disease into my home and risk infecting my family (no matter how small the chance).

        As far as moderating my other comment, these are legitimate issues and concerns for the population of the U.S. as a whole, which is entirely different from an individual (in the name of Christ) making a decision to put themselves at risk in the name of the gospel. I have no problem with an individual’s decision whatsoever.

        • Adam Blosser says

          Nate, I apologize if my comment sounded as if I was attacking you. I was not accusing you of applauding Trump’s comments.

          With that said, I am not sure that your analogy to a father knowingly bringing home a life-threatening infectious disease to his family is particularly relevant considering what has actually happened. The infected persons were brought to a hospital for treatment with all necessary precautions taken.

          From what I have read, there is little to no chance that bringing these two Americans home for treatment could result in a regional or nationwide Ebola outbreak. If it were spread more easily, I may feel differently about whether it is wise to bring them home. Regardless, Trump’s rhetoric is sickening and should be denounced rather than applauded by Christians (not suggesting you are applauding his rhetoric).

          As far as moderation of comments, do you mean that a comment you posted was deleted? If so, I do not have the authority or capability on this blog to delete comments.

          Thanks for commenting.

          • Nate says

            Yes, I think my analogy is accurate, from a standpoint that we (the USA) have knowingly, for the very first time, brought Ebola into this country. Why would we do that?

            Your trust of the CDC is great, but as I said, in the comment that was moderated, this is the same group, who refused to destroy the smallpox virus and have it stored for research. All it will take is one loony person in the CDC and smallpox could be unleashed again. So, I do agree with Trump that the CDC is not a group that is so trustworthy that we should simply not have any concerns whatsoever.

          • Adam Blosser says

            Nate, you keep referring to a moderated comment as if someone here is trying to silence you. I have not deleted any comments, nor do I have that capability. Now, if you posted a comment with more than one link then it automatically went into moderation. That is just the way the comments section of the site is set up.

          • Nate says

            Yes, I had a comment moderated. Makes sense now with your comment that multiple links cause moderation. I had one link to a NY Times story about the lax quarantine strategies used in Africa that has caused a more widespread outbreak. I also linked to a story about the whooping cough epidemic in Southern California as an example of our govt. not having a concern for its citizenry by not taking precautions on immigrants (both legal and illegal) with the diseases that are re-appearing in this country.

          • says

            Nate,

            It’s not that we shouldn’t have concerns – this is Ebola we’re talking about – but the precautions taken – and the fact that these are US citizens who cannot lawfully be kept out of the country – address and outweigh those concerns.

          • Adam Blosser says

            I’d love to see the links. If you post each of them in separate comments they will make it through. Like I said, I have no ability to moderate comments or take them out of moderation.

          • John Wylie says

            Nate,

            You asked, “Why would we do that?” First, because these are Americans. Second, because they got sick in the service of others. Third, because we provide some of the best health care available in the world. Fourth, because it will give us the opportunity to research this disease in a state of the art facility and hopefully come up with vaccine.

          • Nate says

            Chris and John,

            Yes, the U.S. can keep citizens from returning to this country if they are contagious with a plague, even if the disease was contracted in service to others, but I think you are missing my larger point, which is the govt. has the responsibility to look out for all citizens, absent of compassion (in some cases), much like a judge would have to cede his personal compassion/empathy to rule in a case.

          • says

            Nate,

            Government has to protect the rights of every citizen no matter how that impacts the nation as a whole – because the impact on the nation as a whole is positive.

            But on what legal basis could the government forbid entry to law-abiding citizens?

          • Dave Miller says

            For the record, Nate left a comment with 2 or more links. That automatically triggers our SPAM busters and the comment goes in moderation

          • Nate says

            Chris, the govt. can keep U.S. citizens out of the country if those citizens pose a threat to the nation. Once you leave this country you forfeit some of your rights as a citizen, both in the country you are going to and in your attempt to return. Under normal circumstances no U.S. citizen is thwarted upon returning

          • says

            Nate,

            But what is the legal justification? What is the precedent? What are the laws that permit the US to refuse re-entry? Who gets to make that decision?

          • Nate says

            Right off the top of my Chris, if you take up arms against the U.S. with another country you will be forfeiting your rights. But, yes, if you have a plague that could kill scores of people, the U.S. could keep you out, although I don’t know that it has ever been done to another citizen.

          • says

            Nate,

            Can you cite sources which give the legal framework for denying entry to people with infectious diseases? So far we only have your opinion that it can legally be done.

          • Nate says

            Just so I know what you are attempting to make an argument about Chris. You are suggesting that the U.S. govt cannot keep a citizen from re-entering this country if they have a disease that is highly contagious, and there is no cure? You are suggesting this person has the legal “right” to enter the country and roam freely?

            I have already said that I was not opposed to bringing these two back into the country, but I certainly understand the concern that some have. Further, the CDC is not beyond miscalculations or mistakes.

          • John Wylie says

            I would not presume to speak for Chris, but I think his point is that in spite of the fact that the CDC is not immune to mistakes, the point at hand is that these are US citizens.

          • says

            Nate,

            More or less what John said. These are US citizens. I’m not aware of any legal basis for refusing them entry due to sickness. There might be ways to apply restrictions once they are in the country, but offhand the only law I can think of restricting behavior due to disease are specific laws targeting certain behaviors of people with HIV. Historically, Typhoid Mary was isolated due to being a carrier and specific aspects of New York law were used to justify her forced quarantine – again referring to specific state statutes for people in the US who acted in ways that essentially willfully put others at risk.

            No law of that sort would even apply in this case since we’re talking on the national level where I’m not aware of any precedent or legislation that would permit barring citizens with diseases, and at any rate precautions have been taken to keep these citizens under quarantine.

            Can you cite some specific legal code that would allow the US government to refuse entry to US citizens on the basis of disease? Or are you simply saying that you think Obama should be allowed to stop sick citizens from entering the US?

          • Nate says

            So if a recurrence of the Spanish Flu broke out again, you don’t think the U.S. govt has the right to close all air traffic entry and seaports to this country in order to limit the plague from entering its border? And yes, I understand that the southern border and the Canadian border is porous, but do you really believe the U.S. would not cut off every other entry-point? This is just common sense and would be necessary steps in order to protect the citizenry. Obviously nothing is full-proof.

          • Nate says

            Chris, you didn’t answer the question. You have contracted a deadly disease which can be transmitted through the air, from which there is no recovery, and will be highly contagious. You are a U.S. Citizen in say, Bora Bora, and you think the U.S. is required to let you back into the country to roam about freely?

            I don’t have a particular legal precedent, but I promise you that if this was known, you would not be allowed back into the country. Seriously Chris, why would the govt. be forced to let you back in to potentially kill millions. Merely because you carry a U.S. Passport?

          • says

            As the law now stands, yes, the government would have to allow me back in. If there was a global pandemic, congress or executive authority might lead to specific laws addressing the situation.

            As for coming into the country and going about freely spreading the disease, that’s why I cited examples of such actions being restricted in past and present. There is precedent for keeping people inside the US from callously spreading disease, but I am aware of no precedent for keeping law abiding citizens from re-entering the country.

            Point being: you are giving an ungrounded opinion. You think government should be able to close the borders to its own citizens, you think Obama should have the authority to stop citizens from entering, but you have no legal policy or precedent to cite. You call it common sense, but that’s irrelevant. If there isn’t a legal basis for the action, it doesn’t matter whether or not you think it common sense.

          • Nate says

            Which particular law would that be, Chris? As you said, the Congress has the right, at whatever point they want (see 9/11) for shutting down air travel, or closing the borders. That (9/11 shutdown of air travel) occurred before the day was over. Since our scenario is something that might happen there is already precedent that the govt. would shut everything down. That is my point… You would not get back in.

    • says

      They have smallpox on ice because IF another smallpox epidemic happens, that will give them a massive jump on creating vaccinations for the population. Seriously, if you are concerned about that you need to take stock of reality.

      • Nate says

        The disease has been completely eradicated, otherwise people would still be inoculated. Russia and the U.S. both kept vials of it. Why? One can only assume that both are afraid the other will unleash it again. If they both came together and destroyed their vials, the disease would never return.

  4. Nate says

    Here is a NY Times report speaking about lax quarantine strategies that have been causing further spread of the virus in Africa.

    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2014/08/05/Report-Ebola-Virus-Spread-Because-of-Lax-Quarantine-Enforcement/

    To be honest, when I heard they were transporting the two US citizens back here I thought, “Why not just treat them where they are?” I’m sure the CDC followed protocol to not transmit the disease, but one wonders, with the current immigration crisis, if any measures whatsoever (on legal immigrants) are being taken to ensure that we aren’t allowing known pathogens to brought into the country.

    As far as illegal immigration, whooping cough is now an epidemic in Southern California. Anyone surprised?

    http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Whooping-Cough-Officially-Epidemic-in-California-says-Public-Health-Department-263216351.html

    • Bennett Willis says

      Nate, I strongly suspect that the whooping cough epidemic is the result of failure to obtain vaccinations in the area. With no data–but this is what has caused several outbreaks of measles this year.

      Do you have any basis for implying that immigrants are responsible?

      • SFG says

        As someone who lives in Southern California, public health officials are NOT blaming new immigrants for the whopping cough outbreak, but they believe the failure of parents to vaccinate children is the prime cause, “California has historically had higher vaccination rates than other states, but a recent study found large clusters of parents who did not vaccinate their children close to areas with a large number of whooping cough cases during the 2010 California outbreak.” http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/13/health/whooping-cough-california/

        The article that Nate sighted did NOT suggest the illegal immigrants were the cause of this outbreak, nor did several other articles I looked at. It is a shame to blame the foreigners among us for this problem. Lev 19:34

  5. David Rogers says

    I, for one, am glad we are bringing the infected missionaries back to the US for treatment. And personally, I think Trump’s comments are hardhearted and cold.

    But just for the sake of discussion, let me throw out the following info. From what I have read, Ben Carson is saying we shouldn’t be bringing them here, and he is a “Christian” (or at least a 7th-Day Adventist).

    Also, this is perhaps a good case study for how we divide between our Christian convictions and our American values. As a Christian, I believe the compassionate thing to do is to bring the infected missionaries back. But if I take specifically Christian compassion out of the equation, perhaps it is not the best thing for America. Also, is it the role of the government to show compassion? or just to defend the interests of the nation as a whole?

    Full disclosure: I am somewhat internally conflicted and unsure how to answer these questions. But I am interested in what insights some of the commenters here might have with regard to this.

    • Adam Blosser says

      David, thanks for the comment. The risk to America associated with bringing these missionaries back seems minimal. That is part of the reason that I believe bringing them back is clearly the right thing to do.

      With regard to your question concerning the role of government and compassion, I would answer, yes. We should always advocate government treating its citizens with compassion. It is also the role of government to defend the interests of the nation as a whole. In this case, I don’t believe the two are really in conflict. If they were in conflict, the decision as to how to proceed has to be made on a case by case basis I would think.

    • Nate says

      Let me state that I was not fully opposed to bringing these two back to the U.S. Having said that, I totally understand the concern and am also skeptical of anything this government does. They (the govt.) have a less than stellar track record in recent memory of protecting the citizenry.

      David, having the compassion of Christ as an individual is very different than a govt. looking out for the well-being of the citizenry as whole, don’t you think? I am grateful and applaud the missionaries willingness to serve in the area that was hit by the Ebola virus. Where would you draw the line personally? Would you want to bring a deadly virus, after having contracted it, back to your family (even if the risk of spread was small) or would you stay isolated where you contracted it and then only return after the infection is gone? I would opt for the latter and would argue that is having the compassion of Christ as well.

    • says

      Is there really any biblical grounds in even comparing our nationality to our true christian identity? When one comes against the other, is there really any choice?

      • says

        and given Ben Carson’s religious background, there’s no telling how he’s grounding this opinion. The 7th day judaizers are well known for their doomsday prophetics and general tinfoilhattery.

      • David Rogers says

        Adam G.,

        I believe the Bible is clear that, as Christians, when forced to choose between obeying God and obeying human government, we ought to obey God. But I also think that human government is not bound to follow the principles of the gospel in the same way as individual Christians. As individual Christians asked to opine on what our human government should do in a particular situation, we are often confronted with a dilemma with reference to these two different perspectives.

    • Scott Shaver says

      Internal conflict is not uncommon when were’re forced into the exercise of a utilitarian ethic.

      Compassion has it’s place but sometimes interferes in discerning when and how to act in the greatest immediate good for the greatest number. Unfortunately, difficult scenarios arise in life in which there are no easy, clear-cut “compassionate” answers.

      I’m sure that American presidents (most of them) have struggled with utilitarian ethics in making decisions to go to war or drop bombs.

  6. Bill Mac says

    I suspect one of the reasons for bringing the people back into the US is the same reason they hang on to the smallpox sample. Research. Ebola may indeed one day reach the US and what we learn from treating these two people may save a lot of lives in the future.

    When Y2K was imminent, I heard a lot of preachers giving lots of advice that was absolutely rooted in ignorance, as if having a pulpit gave them insight into the world of electronics and computer programming. It was almost laughable. This is what Trump is doing. It would not surprise me if preachers started to tell people to stockpile rice and ammo.

  7. Nate says

    My first thought when I heard they were transporting the two US citizens back here I thought, “Why not just treat them where they are?” I’m sure the CDC followed protocol to not transmit the disease, but one wonders, with the current immigration crisis, if any measures whatsoever (on legal immigrants) are being taken to ensure that we aren’t allowing known pathogens to brought into the country.

    As far as illegal immigration, whooping cough is now an epidemic in Southern California. Anyone surprised?

    http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Whooping-Cough-Officially-Epidemic-in-California-says-Public-Health-Department-263216351.html

    • says

      Why not treat them where they are? Because we have better facilities here, and because they are citizens here.

      As for whooping cough, the anti-vaccination movement has more than a bit to do with recurrence of preventable diseases in America. Plus, as even that article notes, vaccinations for whooping cough are not permanent and require a booster, so take that as a reminder folks: be sure and ask your doctor if there are any vaccines you need to have boosted.

      • Dave Miller says

        I was very sick in January. The first diagnosis was whooping cough. The doc said that it is on the rise because of parents refusing to protect their children from this preventable disease.

        There, I said it.

        • Jess says

          Dave,

          Many years ago back in the mountains a 10 year old boy came down with the whooping cough. An old man told the boy to go down to the creek and catch six medium size minnows and swallow them whole. The boy done as the old man said, and the next day he was cured, no more coughing. This suppose to be a true story. Dave, you might want to try it the next time you get sick.

          • D.L. Payton says

            Do you guys remember the fad where pastors were swallowing minnows on high attendance day in Sunday School?

          • Dale Pugh says

            And you never saw ONE of them come down with whooping cough, did you? There! Proof that Jess’ remedy works.

  8. William Thornton says

    The facility receiving these two patients is near me and I am not against these citizens being treated where they have a better chance of success. I made many a pastoral visit in the hospital over the years.

    The daughter of one of my members worked for the Center for Disease Control in the same area. She had routine surgery and acquired one of the post operative viral infections. There was no cure. She died.

    Risk is easily distorted in the popular mind.

  9. Jess says

    D.L. Payton

    I do remember pastors swallowing minnows, they never caught the whooping cough either.

    • D.L. Payton says

      Jess
      Now that you mention it I think you are right. :-) However, I understand that one preacher did have a strong craving to eat worms after the minnow incident.