Dr. James Dobson mused to megachurch pastor Michael Anthony that he believes Donald Trump accepted Christ and is a “baby Christian.”
[Dobson], a Christian psychologist and founder of the Focus on the Family group, said he knows “the person who led [Trump] to Christ. And that’s fairly recent.”
“I don’t know when it was, but it has not been long,” Dobson said in an interview with Pennsylvania megachurch pastor Michael Anthony following that meeting in New York. ”I believe he really made a commitment, but he’s a baby Christian.”
I respect Dr. Dobson. I don’t think he would lie or misrepresent the facts in any way. If he knows whoever led Trump to Christ, he is telling the truth. And if Dobson trusts that person and believes Trump made a commitment to follow Jesus as his Lord and Savior, that’s what happened.
While I’m glad for Trump’s soul and acceptance of God’s forgiveness, I don’t believe this should affect any Christian’s opinion of Trump as a presidential candidate–at least not without some other corresponding evidence of his fitness for the office.
First, fitness for the office of President of the United States is not directly related to being a born-again Christian. While it’s preferable for most conservatives to have a Christian in the White House, that spiritual commitment alone does not in any useful way qualify for the job.
Trump’s unfitness has always been exacerbated and mostly explained by his unBiblical lifestyle. But that hasn’t been the reason he’s unfit. All the other stuff Trump has done and said prove that without adding anything else.
Second, if Trump’s supporters wish to make their candidate’s religious experience a campaign point (and I don’t see a lot of evidence they do), there will need to be more than just a passing statement by a single evangelical. More than one Christian leader has remarked that Trump is a different, humbler person out of the camera’s eye, and that’s a good thing. But Christianity is not to be lived in private while maintaining a hedonistic, prideful image in public. See my previous post on integrity for more on that subject.
Third, by Dobson’s admission, Trump is a baby Christian. I understand that miraculous conversions are not only possible, but are the essence of God’s power to change hearts. Anthony’s comments in his interview with Dobson recognize the importance of accepting testimony without cynicism.
If God gets a hold of Trump, it won’t be the first time people didn’t believe it. It won’t be the first time that a terrible person who lived completely against Christ, came to know him. Saul, who became Paul, is a great example. I’m not saying Trump is a real believer. I don’t know. But IF he is, there will eventually be fruit. In the meantime, it’s not surprising to see people be skeptical. They were with Saul/Paul until they could begin to see his change in behavior.
I am not cynical, or even skeptical, of Trump’s commitment. And my own experience with Christ resulted in an overnight change in my personality–to the discomfort and shock of my friends and co-workers. This change is not evident in Trump–yet. If he is in fact reading his Bible and receiving discipleship from good teachers, it will happen.
But baby Christians are very fragile. I was one. For two years, I was “on fire” for Christ, and then when disappointment and difficulty hit, I backslid. I was unstable and subject to all kinds of unBiblical flights of doctrinal fancy since I was immature in my beliefs.
It was not until I backslid and repented that God managed to get enough junk out of me to start maturing me in the faith, and I was 34 years old when I was saved. Trump is now 70. Do we want a septuagenarian baby Christian with a lifetime of junk to get rid of and become sanctified, to lead the free world as he figures out the meaning of his newfound faith in his life? I vote “no.”
Unless we see a very public change in Trump’s behavior, including evidence of repentance from some of his worst sins, I will remain unconvinced of fruit in his life. And fruit is what Christians judge. We are all sinners. Lying, pride, and lasciviousness are sins, even if the sinner has baptismal water dripping from his nose. Should Trump want to make his conversion to Christ a campaign issue, he will need to address the matter of repentance, publicly.
Being a Christian, in and of itself, doesn’t make one a good president. Jimmy Carter makes a good case study. Woodrow Wilson makes another. Again, I rejoice that Trump has chosen the Way, the Truth and the Life. I celebrate that I will meet him in Heaven and worship at the throne of God there for all eternity. I continue to pray for Trump in the communion of the saints.
I still don’t want Trump as president, unless a public and miraculous change is evident in his life.