I do not support Donald Trump for President of the United States of America. I will not vote for him. His authoritarian ideals would be a disaster for our country. He recently said that when he is president we will hear "Merry Christmas!" in the department stores. He also will attempt to force Apple to build their computers in this country. Apparently he doesn't understand that accomplishing such feats is impossible without shredding the United States Constitution. Beyond those concerns, the despicable things he has said about Megyn Kelly and other women make me sick. His support for Planned Parenthood should not be tolerated by those who claim the name of Christ. I could go on and on. A Donald Trump presidency would be a disaster for our country.
With all of that being said, these are not the things that concern me most about the Donald Trump phenomenon. He claims to be one of "the evangelicals" and has been baptized in the praises of Dr. Robert Jeffress, Pastor of First Baptist Dallas, and Dr. Jerry Falwell Jr., Chancellor of Liberty University. The thing that concerns me most is my perception that many evangelical leaders have exchanged the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ for a Trumpcated gospel.
What do I mean by a Trumpcated gospel?
To truncate the gospel would be to alter the gospel by cutting it short. We might truncate the gospel by talking about grace and forgiveness without talking about sin and holiness. We might truncate the gospel by calling people to receive Jesus as their Savior without calling them to bow their knee to Him as Lord. But that isn't exactly what is happening with Donald Trump. Rather than truncating the gospel, many evangelicals are Trumpcating the gospel. They are not cutting the gospel short. They are preaching a gospel that is altogether different from the one that has been once for all delivered to the saints.
Let's consider the most egregious example. Trump doesn't believe he needs to ask God for forgiveness. Republican pollster Frank Luntz asked Trump if he'd ever asked God for forgiveness. Trump responded, "I am not sure I have." He continued, "I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don't think so. I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don't bring God into that picture. I don't." Now perhaps you think Trump made a mistake. He is a politician, not a theologian. Surely he is entitled to a mistake here and there. Well, when asked if he regretted saying those things Trump said, "No." He went on to refer to his great relationship with God and "the evangelicals." He said, "I like to be good. I don't like to have to ask for forgiveness. And I am good. I don't do a lot of things that are bad. I try to do nothing that is bad." How could he regret something he said? In his eyes, he has no need for forgiveness.
Trump's comments are antithetical to the true gospel as revealed in Scripture. The gospel says that we are all sinners. The gospel says that we are all enemies of God because of our sin. Our only hope of being made right with God is by experiencing the grace and forgiveness that is only available in Jesus Christ. We all need forgiveness. That is the Christian message. There is none righteous, no not one.
In his introduction of Trump at Liberty University Convocation, Jerry Falwell Jr. spoke of Trump's "fruit." He listed a string of generous gifts given to people by Donald Trump. He then quoted from Matthew 7 about knowing a tree by its fruit, and implied that Donald Trump is a Christian. Falwell claims some special knowledge of Donald Trump as a man that the rest of us are not privy to. If we just knew Trump as he does, we would know that he is a good Christian man. I could not disagree more. The bad fruit that we see on the outside serves as evidence of who Trump is on the inside. If Trump has never repented of his sin and placed his faith in Jesus for salvation, he is not a Christian.
Let me be clear. I really do not expect Trump to sound like a Christian when he talks. I certainly do not expect sound theology from the owner of strip clubs and casinos. I expect Trump to talk and live like a lost man. He has given no reason for anyone to expect anything different. The fact that Trump would preach a Trumpcated gospel doesn't surprise me or even concern me necessarily. I expect as much. And while Trump's vision for America does not match mine, I respect the decision of those who feel Trump is the candidate that best aligns with their views. My concerns in this piece have very little to do with the presidency of the United States.
I am infinitely more concerned that leaders like Robert Jeffress and Jerry Falwell Jr. are preaching this Trumpcated gospel. They can vote for whoever they want. They can even endorse whichever candidate they prefer. Though I disagree with their "beat Hillary at all costs" perspective, I can understand it. But please do not pretend as if Donald Trump is a brother in Christ. Please do not suggest that the good things Donald Trump has done somehow outweigh the bad. Don't recite Matthew 7:1 as if Jesus said those words to prohibit us from making clear moral judgments on the authority of His Word.
Brothers and sisters, may we reject this Trumpcated gospel. We do not somehow earn favor with God by "drinking our little wine and eating our little cracker." Favor with God is only gained by repentance of sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. May we cling tightly to the true gospel as revealed in the Scriptures. May we reject all attempts to pervert the gospel for political ends. May we cling to biblical fidelity and reject political expediency. Doing so may not be popular. It may prove to be difficult. It may even result in a Democrat being elected president. But more than we fear another Democrat in the White House, we should fear gaining the whole world, while losing our soul.
Note: I have been biting my tongue for months regarding Donald Trump's candidacy. It is not my place as a pastor to endorse candidates for public office. To prevent from erring on the other side of that coin, I typically refrain from openly criticizing political candidates as well. However, I feel compelled to speak now because I believe that it is not just the presidency that is at stake, but also the clear proclamation of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Because leading evangelicals like Robert Jeffress and Jerry Falwell Jr. have spoken in a way that clouds the gospel, I feel the need to combat their false teaching with truth.