Trump’s Christianity—Don’t His Apologists Confirm The Doubt?

Alan Keyes Former Assistant Secretary of State
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An article I read today reports the spat between Carl Gallups, one of Trump’s Christian apologists, and Russell Moore, a Christian pastor who recently described the Trump campaign as “reality TV moral sewage.” I was once again struck by the fact that Trump’s apologists do not rely on arguments based on God’s written and Incarnate Word. Instead, they talk about politics as if Christians must leave God and Jesus Christ outside the voting booth.  

In this separation of God from politics people like Gallups and Jerry Falwell, Jr. tacitly accept the false notion of “separation of Church and state” that presently bedevils our nation’s public life. Now the GOP is poised to nominate a candidate whose life could be used to illustrate the deceitfully seductive quality of sin summarized in the phrase “the glamor of evil.” That’s why his reputedly Christian apologists no longer even try to use arguments drawn from God’s written and Incarnate Word to justify their support for him. For whenever they do so they have to cite the very aspects of the life of the ancient Israelites that confirm the indispensable role of Jesus Christ in our salvation.

For Christians this means that the defects evident in the judges, prophets and kings of ancient Israel cannot, on their own, be taken as guidance. We are admonished to “let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus.” Christ is the one of whom we strive to say, along with the Apostle, “I live not, but Christ lives in me.” Who else but Christ, therefore, would true and faithful Christians choose to represent them as judges, legislators and ministers of their self-government? This, of course, brings us to the core argument on which Trump’s Christian apologists primarily rely: Christ won’t be on the ballot in November.

For better or worse, Donald Trump’s name will likely be on the GOP ballot line. Now, Donald Trump says he is a Christian. Some of his apologists claim that, since we’re unable to look into his heart, we must take him at his word. But how is doing so compatible with saying that Christ won’t be on the ballot in November? Doesn’t a Christian strive to make the mind and will of Christ his own? Doesn’t a Christian strive to put God’s will above his own, thus reflecting the priorities of Christ? And if, despite his strivings, a Christian fails, doesn’t he trust in God’s mercy, knowing that if he turns to Him, repentant, to ask with contrite heart for God’s forgiveness, He will set things right, for Christ’s sake?

With all this in mind, if Donald Trump is what he claims to be, why do people like Jerry Falwell keep saying “Christ won’t be on the ballot”? Wherever, with mind and heart and will devoted to Christ, a Christian strives to follow in Christ’s way, doesn’t he act as a member of Christ’s living body? In this he bears true and faithful witness to Christ’s ongoing presence in the world. Why is this not true when his name is on the ballot?

That thought puts Trump’s Christian apologists on the horns of a dilemma. When they say repeatedly that Christ will not be on the ballot in November they are implicitly admitting that they too realize that Trump is not a Christian. They are implicitly bowing to the preponderance of the evidence, replete throughout his life, that contradicts what his lips profess. But the preponderance of the evidence of his life also suggests that he is not a conservative; that he does not support the measures he now expediently advocates to secure the border; that he will not defend Americans who conscientiously reject complicity in abortion, the promotion of homosexuality and the scandalous abandonment of decent respect for the gender distinction by which the Creator, God, secures the perpetuation of our humanity.    

With their own words Trump’s apologists justify the doubts of the very Christians whose rejection of Trump they decry. With their own words they implicitly admit that he is lying about the issue most important of salvation. Abetting him in this lie, they abandon the gospel of love. For far from abandoning sinners to perdition, Christ gives His life to call them to repentance, and in token of God’s guarantee of forgiveness for those who sincerely do. Instead these Trump apologists abandon Trump to his prideful, vain ambition, on the plea that his success will somehow secure life and material well-being for our people. This is not the logic of Christ, it’s the logic of sinful selfishness and spiritual hardheartedness, indifferent if not hostile to God and Jesus Christ.

But insofar as Trump’s apologists are supposed to be leaders, mature in faith, their example in this regard may influence their less mature brethren to depart from Christ’s way of loving. They set them up to honor in Donald Trump a way of life they themselves conclusively suspect to be unrepentantly sinful.  How is this consistent with the Gospel they profess? Isn’t it the millstone sin, which Christ considered worthy of something worse than physically fatal punishment?

Finally, though they claim to lament the war on Christian conscience now being pursued in every walk of American life; Trump’s apologists propose to give the highest governmental authority to one whom they tacitly admit professes Christ’s name but does not live accordingly. But if Christians prove willing to ignore conscience in this, their sovereign duty as citizens, how can they refuse to bake cakes, issue marriage licenses and otherwise decline to depart from conscience in their other vocations in this life?

If we are content to support for President of the United States someone who professes Christian faith but does not conscientiously stand with those who bear true witness to the requirements of Christian conscience, how can we plausibly claim that Christian conscience requires it? If Christians pliably sacrifice conscience for the sake of political victory, why shouldn’t judges and legislators demand that we do so for the sake of what they (however speciously) portray as a lawful demand for individual justice? If God’s higher than human law must govern us as bakers, doctors, nurses and ministers, how can it not govern us in our duty as citizens, acting for the common good which, as Christians and Americans, we claim means nothing apart from the laws and will of our Creator, God.