Donald Trump: Evangelicals’ Intriguing Savior?

Who knew?  Donald Trump is a Christian.  In all of his public life to date, I have never once been tempted to think of Trump as a follower of Jesus Christ.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’ll try not to question the Donald’s self-professed faith anymore than I do the self-professed faith of the current occupant of the Oval Office.  But, self-professed faith — no matter who is making the profession — is not evidence of true faith.

In the New Testament book of James, Jesus’ brother (technically half-brother) wrote these inspired words:

“So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.  But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.  Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’  You believe that God is one; you do well.  Even the demons believe — and shudder!  Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?” (James 2:17-20)

In a recent exclusive interview with David Brody, Chief Political Correspondent for Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network’s CBN News, Donald Trump stated that he is a Christian:

“I believe in God. I am Christian. I think The Bible is certainly, it is THE book. It is the thing. I was raised and I gave you a picture just now and perhaps you’ll use that picture I found it from a long time ago. First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica queens is where I went to church. I’m a protestant, I’m a Presbyterian. And you know I’ve had a good relationship with the church over the years. I think religion is a wonderful thing. I think my religion is a wonderful religion.”

Unfortunately for Mr. Trump, just stating one’s belief in God does not a Christian make.  After all, Satan and his demons most assuredly believe in God, but they don’t obediently follow God by any stretch of the imagination.  And while Donald Trump may have a good relationship with the church, does he have a relationship with the Lord of the Church –Jesus Christ?  Religion indeed is a wonderful thing, but religion — without a relationship by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and His shed blood on the Cross of Calvary and His death, burial, and Resurrection — simply will not be enough for Mr. Trump or anyone else in this world, no matter how rich or poor.

As to Mr. Trump’s church-going habits, he offers a rather telling clue as to just how committed he is to the bride of Christ — the church.  When asked if he actively goes to church, Trump responded:

“Well, I go as much as I can. Always on Christmas. Always on Easter. Always when there’s a major occasion. And during the Sundays. I’m a Sunday church person. I’ll go when I can.”

No offense to the Seventh Day Adventists, but it’s good to know that Donald Trump considers himself a “Sunday church person.”  If it wasn’t for all those “Sunday church people” showing up on the day when most churches worship, I’m not sure what pastors would do.  Of course, with Easter coming up in less than two weeks, Mr. Trump will join all those other “Sunday church people” who only show up on Easter and Christmas.

From reading his bio online, I do not know if David Brody, the Chief Political Correspondent for CBN News, is a Christian.  Given the fact that he is in the position he is in, it would be nice to think that Mr. Brody is a believer.  However, if he is a Christian, his analysis of Donald Trump’s answers is quite perplexing, but understandable given the political nature of Pat Robertson and his entire organization.

Donald Trump has piqued the interest of some Evangelical leaders. His bold talk is something conservative Christians like to hear. . . .

The fact that he has expressed conservative positions on abortion and marriage will make him even more intriguing.

Who are these Evangelicals that Donald Trump piqued the interest of?  Ralph Reed and Tony Perkins (here), both well-known leaders of Evangelical political organizations, apparently think that Trump will be given a hard look by Evangelicals and social conservatives.  If Reed thinks that Evangelicals will like Mr. Trump’s “pro-marriage stance,” then the bar for being considered pro-marriage has been considerably lowered. 

I do not blame politicians like Trump, Sarah Palin, and Newt Gingrich who conflate — either intentionally or unintentionally — civic religion with true Christian faith.  I do blame Evangelical leaders like Reed and Perkins who should know better!  For any Evangelical Christian, particularly Southern Baptists — known as a people of The Book — to flirt with the candidacy of Donald Trump shows just how much the line between the true Gospel and politics has been blurred.

If Evangelicals want to support a social and political conservative, they should look to Mike Huckabee.  An ordained Southern Baptist pastor and former governor of Arkansas, Huckabee’s not afraid to take on the special interests or the threat of radical Islam.   And, he’s not afraid to say the J word — Jesus!  Maybe that’s why he has done so well in recent polls. 

I’m not ready to endorse Huckabee, but for Mr. Brody to practice the art of moral equivalency with Donald Trump and the other GOP candidates is absurd:

“Does Trump have some landmines? Of course. Who doesn’t in this GOP field?  But Evangelicals seem ready to listen to what he has to say.”

The only reason that anyone is willing to listen to what Donald Trump has to say is because he is a wealthy celebrity.  Apart from that, there is absolutely no reason for Evangelicals to listen to what Mr. Trump says.  If he can’t even get the religious lingo straight for his softball interview with CBN, what credibility on religious and moral issues does any thinking religious conservative believe that Trump really has?   

I’m glad that Donald Trump says he believes in God and is a Christian.  It’s nice to hear a politician say that they have a wonderful religion.  However, for Evangelical Christians in 2012, the words of politicians can be both deceitful and dangerous.  Responding to one word might get you a bowl of stew.  Responding to another word might get you a promised blessing.  Knowing which is which will be a test of faith.  At the end of the test, let’s just hope Evangelicals don’t hear an authority higher than Donald Trump say, “You’re Fired!”

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About Howell Scott

I have been a Southern Baptist pastor for the last fourteen years. Before entering the ministry, I was a practicing attorney in my homestate of Florida. I have been married to my wife, Brenda, for 18 years and we have three sons, Stephen, Jacob, and Andrew.
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4 Responses to Donald Trump: Evangelicals’ Intriguing Savior?

  1. Tim Dahl says:

    When I heard him talk about his faith, my response was: “Really? Really?! You’re kidding, right? REALLY?!”

    I’m starting to use the modifiers “disciple” and “Jesus follower” a lot more. I’m finding that “Christian” has become a much water downed word.

    Tim

    • Howell Scott says:

      Tim,

      Yea, that was certainly news to me that Donald Trump was a Christian. I’m not going to question his self-profession anymore than I will President Obama’s. I think that you make a good point in choosing to use “disciple” or “Jesus follower” in place of or as a modifier to Christian. Of course, that begs the question of what it means to follow Jesus. I would say the Bible gives us a pretty good idea, but we might have a multitude of opinions on the BaptistLife forums as to what the Bible actually says. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. God bless,

      Howell

  2. Pingback: Trump & Obama: Egos & the Absence of Humility | From Law to Grace

  3. Pingback: Birthers & the Futility of Arguing With Irrational People | From Law to Grace

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