Let’s say that, today, Donald Trump publicly declares that he has repented as a sinner, and accepted the forgiveness of Jesus Christ for his sins. Let’s say he apologizes and asks forgiveness from the #NeverTrump crowd who have criticized him for his immorality. Let’s say he publicly admits he regrets boasting of his past sinfulness and pledges to govern with Godly counsel.
What should Christians say?
For some, it would be too late. Without fruit, Trump could be lying, they’d reason. For others, it would be enough that he claimed salvation. For if Trump would be lying, to whom would he be lying? To the Holy Spirit, of course, and we know what happens to people who do that. (See Acts 5.)
Erick Erickson’s primary argument against Christians supporting Trump is it damages the public witness of Christ in a Christian’s life. I agree with that argument. But when that witness shows promise, even if it’s a small shaft of light, should we then turn the other cheek?
Yes. Christians should not be cynical about other people’s salvation. The Golden Rule requires it. How would we feel if the church we attend looked at our confession of faith and responded, “yeah, right!” I know, it’s not about feelings. But it is about forgiveness and love.
Now let’s extend this argument. If Hillary Clinton has wholesale abandoned an absolute morality, even if she claims a Christian heritage, and Trump holds to many truths of the Bible, should we look to his salvation by faith as a reason to support him now?
Can we claim Trump–surrounded many times as he is by Godly people who encourage him in the Lord–as a leader who may come to the Lord through those associations, our prayers, and the weight of the solemn responsibility of the presidency? Could it be God’s will to save Trump through the White House (as he has all but claimed himself)?
It certainly could be. However, let’s look at this from God’s perspective, which He has given to us in the Scripture:
Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:
‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’
‘In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”
Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” (Matthew 4:5-10)
This description is also found in Luke chapter 4. The devil quotes the Psalmist in Psalm 91:11, “For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.” The devil challenges Jesus to ask God for a miracle, knowing that the Father would grant it. Then the devil offers Jesus “the kingdoms of the world and their glory.” Jesus counters with the First Commandment and dismisses Satan.
Supporting Trump is the same test for American Christians that Satan gave to Jesus.
First, shall Christians pray for a miracle, that Trump is saved? Yes, absolutely. But should we cast ourselves from the pinnacle of the temple and therefore ask God to provide a Godly man in a repented and sanctified Trump to lead our nation? Should we trust that God has blessed America to the point that the Father’s plan could not proceed without us?
To think that is naked hubris. God is not American, and God doesn’t need America to carry out His prophetic plan. America was not there when either of the Old or New Testaments were written. Our existence is not relevant to Biblical truth any more than any other of “the nations.” America is blessed because we were founded on the Word of God, not because the Word of God requires it.
If we support Trump because we believe God wants to bless America through him, and will save Trump to accomplish that, is tempting God to perform a miracle because it helps us. That in itself is a dangerous position, theologically, spiritually, and relationally to God’s Kingdom. No nation can wear the mantle of the Kingdom of God. All that have tried have perished doing so. Read your history (the Holy Roman Empire, the Crusades, the Inquisition are good examples).
The second test is “the kingdoms of the world and their glory.” If we support Trump because “he wins” and we want “America first” we have bowed before Satan. We are asking God to bless that which the devil offered the Lord and the Lord rejected. We will have violated the First Commandment to worship the Lord your God, and serve Him alone.
If Trump, today, publicly confessed that he is a sinner, accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior, publicly repented and asked for forgiveness from God and man, then yes, I would believe him. I would consider casting my vote for him–subject to seeing a month’s worth of fruit, or at least the evidence of it. I would not judge his confession to be a ruse or a lie just because he said it.
But short of that, there’s no Biblical basis to support Trump, and doing so is in fact counter to God’s instruction. It’s the same magical thinking Trump wants us to have about all his policies. We should not apply magical thinking to the Bible–the one true, unchanging rock of our faith. If we do that, we’re no better than Hillary Clinton.