Some Worthwhile Christian Opinions on Donald Trump. And Why He is Not a “Christian Candidate”
Donald Trump seems to be eliciting a reaction from nearly everyone with his presidential campaign. Some are energized by the un-politician and his blunt remarks. Others are angry over what they believe are racist, bigoted, xenophobic statements. And still others, like Pastor Max Lucado and well-known Christian media outlet The Christian Post are so incensed that they have broken political silence to denounce Trump.
Max Lucado has been a fixture of Christian culture for decades. I grew up reading his books and being inspired by his ability to paint word pictures from the biblical text. And though Lucado has written millions of words in his books, he has remained silent during presidential campaigns; refusing to endorse or condemn any candidate. Until now.
Likewise, The Christian Post has been a go-to resource for many people of faith for many years on all things religious. The Christian Post has never taken a position on a presidential candidate; even though many criticized their silence. All that has changed as The Christian Post makes it clear who they will not be supporting in this year’s election.
So why would two icons of Christian culture break their long-standing tradition of not endorsing or condemning a presidential candidate now? After all, President Obama ran for re-election; isn’t that enough to warrant an op-ed? What is it about Trump that has caused even the most reserved and controlled of Christian media outlets to break their silence?
I believe it is the mass support by self-identified “evangelical Christians” for Trump that has both Lucado and The Christian Post concerned. Specifically it is the concern that people outside of faith in Jesus Christ will conclude that all Christians are like Trump. This is particularly troubling given many of Trump’s claims. The Christian Post says:
“Trump claims to be a Christian, yet says he has never asked for forgiveness….His preferred forms of communication are insults, obscenities and untruths. While Christians have been guilty of all of these, we, unlike Trump, acknowledge our sins, ask for forgiveness and seek restitution with the aid of the Holy Spirit and our community of believers.” (Read the statement in its entirety here.)
The Christian Post is pointing out the glaring errors in Trump’s theology; errors that should be cause for concern to Christians. Max Lucado has many of the same concerns as The Christian Post and cites other statements by Trump as evidence:
“It’d be none of my business whatsoever to make any comments about his language, his vulgarities, his slander of people, but I was deeply troubled … that here’s a man who holds up a bible one day, and calls a lady ‘bimbo’ the next. Here’s a man who calls himself a Christian and yet just had the audacity to make fun of a lady’s menstrual cycle. He didn’t just do this on occasion, but repeatedly, unrepentantly.”
Lucado went on to make clear that his underlying concern was that someone might think all Christians are like Trump and “make a decision against Christianity” as a result. He wrote:
“My concern is that somebody would make a decision against Christianity because of Mr. Trump’s behavior. And that’s my high concern here. And to that person I would say, the way he speaks about people is not the way our master, our savior has taught us to speak, it’s not the way our scriptures urge us to speak.”
I think Pastor Lucado has a legitimate concern. Trump has a persona that is polarizing. He claims to be a “unifier” but he is very good at making people not like him; especially people that disagree with him. But we know what having a polarizing president is like for the country; it’s not good.
From a theological position Trump concerns me. There is nothing about Donald Trump that suggests he is a Christian. Unless of course you count him as a “Christian” in the sense many other people call themselves Christians: because they were born in the United States, or went to church, or own a Bible, or vote Republican. But in the true, biblical sense; where repentance of sins and faith in Jesus Christ is involved – I see no reason to consider Trump a Christian. For this reason his claims are more frightening than exciting.
Dr. Russell Moore has penned an op-ed that appropriately sums up the feelings of many “Gospel Christians” as we watch this presidential race unfold. In particular he expertly addresses the concern that people will assume Trump represents all Christians and the problem with many prominent Christians endorsing Trump. He writes:
“We have been too willing to look the other way when the word “evangelical” has been co-opted by heretics and lunatics. This sort could deny creedal Christianity and gospel clarity with impunity, as long as they were on the right side of the culture war. Thankfully, this sort of evangelicalism is not the future…But you will forgive me if, at least until this crazy campaign year is over, I choose just to say that I’m a gospel Christian.”
Let me be clear: if you want to endorse Trump for president, have at it. I don’t mind disagreeing politically and having a civil discussion about it. But, don’t make the mistake of endorsing Trump as a Christian for president. Trump says he has never asked for forgiveness from God and doesn’t need to. Does that sound like a Christian to you? Endorsing the man as a presidential candidate is one thing; endorsing Trump as a Christian is another matter entirely.
Politically speaking Trump scares me. He will splinter the Republican vote so badly that I believe the Democratic candidate will win. That may be what many on the left are hoping for. But this is another reason I don’t see him as a viable option. But theologically, Trump terrifies me. His portrayal of Christians is dead wrong. His belief that Christians as a whole support him and agree with him is just as wrong.
If you want to support him politically then make that distinction. But, as a Christian don’t continue to prop Trump up as a poster boy for a qualified evangelical candidate. That is something he simply is not.