Is Donald Trump What American Christians Deserve? Maybe?

Posted on April 6, 2016 in Public Policy, Theology by

donald_trump_churchIf you didn’t know better, you would be convinced that a vast majority of evangelical Christians support Donald Trump for president. If you didn’t know better.

There is no doubt that the mainstream media is propping Donald Trump up in his bid to be elected president. No one says the crazy things Trump has said on the campaign trail and survives unless the media is helping. Liberal outlets even seem joyful in their reporting that “evangelical Christians” are lining up to support Trump. But is it true that evangelicals en masse are prepared to vote for Trump in this year’s election?

I don’t think so.

Yes, it’s true that Trump has secured (for now) a large part of the Christian vote. We could have a discussion on the difference between “self-identified Christian” and those that are truly Christ-followers, but I’ll save that for another time. For now let’s just agree that many church-going people intend to vote for Trump in November and that reality is causing a stir.

Never in my years of presidential elections have I witnessed so many prominent evangelicals vocally oppose a republican candidate. For the most part church leaders and other prominent evangelicals remain silent. Not because they don’t have opinions and prefer one candidate over another; but because they prefer to focus on the Gospel instead of politics. (That’s also another conversation.)

But the with rise of Donald Trump as the heavily favored GOP candidate, and the support given to him by many church-going people, the usually quiet religious leaders in our country have taken to their respective pulpits and podiums to denounce Trump’s candidacy and the accompanying evangelical support. Highly respected figures such as Max Lucado and Dr. Russell Moore have been open with their criticism of Trump. (Click here to read their comments.)

Other more recent examples of evangelical leaders denouncing Trump and the Christians that support him include Dr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University. Dr. Piper recently said:

“A man who calls women ‘fat pigs’ is not one of my own. A man who is a misogynist is not one of my own. It’s not my cause. A man who mocks the handicapped is not on my side. I will not sell my soul or my university’s for someone who seems to stand for the antithesis of the Christian virtue and Christian values I hold dear. I want to vote for a conservative, someone who conserves the time-tested truth of God, not someone who sidesteps them. I want to vote for someone who has Christian virtue, not someone who … owns casinos, has strip clubs, calls women fat, calls them pigs with such misogyny and doesn’t apologize for it is not on my side. I’m not a Trump fan.”

Clearly Dr. Piper is not a Trump fan. But, in all fairness, Dr. Piper has some valid points that need addressed by Christians that support Trump. And that, it seems, is the basis for the vocal opposition to evangelical support for Trump as president.

The words and actions of Trump indicate that he is not a Christian and rather clueless as to what following Christ entails. As Dr. Piper noted, not only does Trump call names and use insulting remarks to belittle his opposition, he owns strip clubs and casinos; and he makes comments that he doesn’t need to ask God for forgiveness. Maybe these statements would not be a problem if not for the fact that Trump holds himself out to be a Christian – a Christian that is supported by other Christians.

The problem is not that Trump is a sinner; a man who has been a long-time liar, committed adultery, supported gambling and strip clubs. The problem is that Trump doesn’t believe he needs forgiveness. He shows a tremendous lack of character, insufferable arrogance, and apparently knows nothing of the fruit of the Spirit. And yet many prominent Christians continue to support him and defend their support of him. (Read this article about Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. supporting Trump.)

But as those prominent Christians support Trump, others are not shy about holding their brother in Christ accountable for that support. Dr. Russell Moore is one such example. The splintering among the Republican Party (and among Christians) over Trump has been a curious aspect to this election for me. It is the single element that I believe will lose the election in November if Trump is the nominee.

I found myself in agreement with a pastor that wrote a blog about the “utterly mystifying” support of Trump from Christians. The pastor wrote:

“In one sense [Trump] makes no sense. From a character and even policy standpoint, evangelical support of Donald Trump is utterly mystifying, and countless articles are being written trying to explain this phenomenon. But all of them seem to come to the same conclusion: evangelical support for Donald Trump is a referendum on the current state of evangelical doctrine and convictions.”

Uh-oh, I think this pastor has hit the nail on the head. Now, to be sure, some Christians are probably supporting Trump simply because they believe he is the best political candidate, and it has nothing to do at with any religious aspects of Trump. I would disagree with those people on a political basis just as ardently as I disagree with Christians supporting Trump form a religious perspective.

What this pastor has identified is a problem that every Christian faces at this point in time: a love of (fill in the blank) more than Christ. I agree with the Pastor that Trump has exposed a problem in churches and Christians across the nation in that we have fallen in love with America, the Republican Party, money, power, and greatness, more than we’ve fallen in love with Christ. This explains the epidemic of biblical illiteracy, rampant porn addiction, divorce, and many other sins that stem from a culture that cares nothing for Jesus and simply wants to “eat, drink, and be merry.”

Maybe we really do love our culture more than we love Jesus. Maybe the rise of Donald Trump is simply a reflection of what American Christians love and want to see more of. Maybe what we are seeing in our country is God’s judgment for “losing our first love” and caring more about this world than eternity. Maybe Trump is exactly what we deserve.

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