Archive | #NeverTrump

I spent Super Tuesday with Donald Trump

I spent Super Tuesday with Donald Trump. No, he didn’t come over to my house for dinner or anything like that, but he did come to Louisville for a campaign rally. A friend invited me to go with him, and I did. Neither of us are Trump fans. In fact, we are staunch opponents. So why did we go? For me, I mainly wanted to see what all of the hubbub was about. It’s one thing to watch a demagogue on TV. It’s another thing to see in person how a demagogue captures and holds a room. I got to see it with my own eyes yesterday, and it was illuminating.

I had no idea that the crowds would be what they were. It is estimated that that there were about 5,000 people there. I think it may have been more. The line to get in the convention center downtown wound through four city blocks. All along the way, there were street vendors selling t-shirts, buttons, and other Trump paraphernalia—much of it emblazoned with the familiar vulgarities of Trump’s stump speech (e.g., “Bomb the sh– out of Isis,” etc.). Continue Reading →

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Trump’s candidacy has become a referendum on us

Make no mistake. Donald Trump’s candidacy amounts to a referendum on us. What kind of people are we? To this end, David French writes:

The crucible of the campaign has revealed him to be petty, malicious, and vindictive. He isn’t as bad as his critics feared — he’s worse. But the most disturbing thing isn’t that Trump exists — cruel and ambitious charlatans will always be among us — it’s that millions of Americans are embracing him because of his cruelty, because of his malice

I began by quoting one Founding Father. Let me end by quoting another. Benjamin Franklin said, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” Trump is running not for president of a constitutional republic but to be the strongman of a failing state. A virtuous people would stop him in his tracks. But are we a virtuous people? Tuesday will help tell the answer.

If you think that French is exaggerating the stakes of this election, you have badly misjudged our historical moment. Trump is the personification of everything that is reprehensible in politics. It is the duty of decent citizens to repudiate him. And that includes those citizens who go to the polls on Tuesday.

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Trump fails to denounce KKK and defends Mussolini tweet

Donald Trump did two interviews this morning. In one (see above), he refuses three times to denounce support from from David Duke and the KKK. In the other (see below), Trump defends his decision to tweet an “interesting” quote from Benito Mussolini. Yes, that Mussolini–the fascist dictator who took Hitler’s side in World War II. Continue Reading →

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What was wrong with Trump’s appearance at Liberty

Perhaps the best way to explain what went wrong with Donald Trump’s appearance at Liberty University earlier today is to clarify what wasn’t wrong with it (watch above).

There’s nothing wrong per se with a Christian university hosting a presidential candidate for a speech on their campus. In a university setting—even in a Christian one—a speech need not equal an endorsement. If other candidates are given equal access and if it is clear how such a visit might contribute to robust Christian thinking and conviction, there is no necessary offense in this. In fact, it could be a win.

There’s nothing wrong per se with a Christian university hosting a non-Christian for a speech or a lecture on campus. We should encourage a robust exchange of ideas—even with voices we might otherwise disagree with. And there is no necessary violation of principle to have, for example, an atheist participate in a symposium on the plausibility of belief. In fact, in that setting it would be profoundly beneficial to have an actual atheist come and make his case alongside that of Christians and to hear each side hash the issues out in reasoned debate. We can imagine any number of scenarios in which it might be helpful to hear from a non-Christian on a Christian campus. And I can even imagine a setting in which hearing from a non-Christian politician might actually be helpful and in keeping with a school’s mission.

There is, however, something deeply wrong about a Christian university hosting a person who shows little evidence of being a Christian and then treating him as if he were a Christian. That is what happened at Liberty University today, and that is the main thing that was wrong. Trump spoke at Liberty University’s convocation—a meeting that resembles a Christian chapel service. It began with the students singing together songs of praise—the kind that you might sing at your average evangelical church. The pastor leading the service then led the congregation in prayer and reported on local mission activities of Liberty students.

Then the President of the University—Jerry Falwell, Jr.—took the stage to introduce Trump. Even though Falwell clarified that the University wasn’t endorsing Trump for President and that other candidates had also been invited, Falwell went on to give what could only be construed as a personal endorsement of Trump [UPDATE: Falwell has since added his personal endorsement.]. He said that he admired Trump’s candor and willingness to be politically incorrect, even comparing Trump to his own late father Jerry Falwell, Sr. Falwell even said that Trump had born “fruit” through a life of love and charity to others. In every way, Liberty framed Trump’s appearance as if it were a Christian message from a Christian person. The only problem with this is that it was not clearly either one of those things. Here’s why.

Trump has given little to no evidence of actually being a Christian–at least in the way that Liberty has heretofore defined it. That is not to say that Trump doesn’t claim to be a Christian. Indeed, in his speech he claimed to be a protestant and a Presbyterian. Shouldn’t we just take him at his word? For the moment, let us set aside whether we think his policy proposals are consistently Christian. Just consider how Trump has described in his own words his Christian commitment. Trump has said that he has never asked God for forgiveness. Why? Because he says he doesn’t need it. Trump has said that he only goes to church at Christmas and Easter. His many divorces are also well-known. What kind of Christian is it that feels no need for forgiveness from his sins? That only gathers with God’s people twice a year for worship? That is involved in what is at best serial monogamy? It may be a “Christian” that is Christian in name only, not in reality.

None of these items is an unforgivable error, but they do appear to be un-repented of error. If he were applying for membership in the church where I pastor, he would not be allowed to join while having these errors in tow. If he were already a member and persisted in these errors, we would excommunicate him. In short, we would treat him as if he were not a born-again believer in the Lord Jesus. What we would not do is put him on a platform and tell everyone that he has born the “fruit” of authentic Christianity—much less invite him to give a speech in a slot that is typically reserved for Christian preaching. To do such a thing would be to call light darkness and darkness light (Isaiah 5:20). To put him before the people, to endorse his message, and to treat him as a fruit-bearing Christian is to “participate in his evil deeds” (2 John 11).

Also, it doesn’t serve Trump to leave the truth of the gospel in obscurity. What Trump needs is what all of us have needed. We need to know that we are sinners and are in desperate need of reconciliation with a holy God. If there is one thing we need in this life, it’s forgiveness from our offended Maker. The good news is that our Maker loves us and his sent his Son Jesus to die for our sins. He has resurrected Jesus from the dead to give us eternal life. Anyone who repents of their sin and believes in this Savior will taste real forgiveness and the life-transforming power of the Holy Spirit. That message is for any and everyone who will have it, and it is totally free. It may advance a political agenda to leave these things in obscurity, but it doesn’t advance the kingdom of God.

Donald Trump doesn’t have to be a Christian in order to run for president or to speak at Liberty University. But Liberty University—as a Christian institution of higher learning—has a responsibility not to confuse people about what Christianity is. And today they fell short of that in a big way.

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Related Posts:

“Trump tells voters he’s a ‘great Christian'” (October 28, 2016)

“Glenn Beck at Liberty University” (May 1, 2014)

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Trump tells voters he’s a “great Christian”

In the wake of sagging poll numbers in Iowa, Donald Trump assures Iowa voters that he is a “great Christian.” At a rally in Sioux City, he declared:

Will you get these numbers up? I promise you I will do such a good job. First of all, I am a great Christian. And I do well with the evangelicals, but the evangelicals let me down a little bit this month. I don’t know what I did.

NPR reports that Trump’s campaign has been handing out pictures of his 1959 confirmation ceremony in an attempt to establish his Christian bona fides.

I doubt that anyone is buying this. I’m not questioning the fact that he is Presbyterian or that he goes to Christian churches when he goes to church (which is very rare by his own admission). I am questioning the suggestion that what he means by Christian is what evangelicals mean by Christian. Continue Reading →

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What does Trump believe anyway?

D. C. Innes has a short piece on Donald Trump’s religious beliefs. Here’s the long and short of it. Even though Trump claims to be Presbyterian, he seems only to be a nominal Presbyterian at best. Innes writes:

So Donald Trump, the early Republican frontrunner for 2016, has come under scrutiny for his own religious beliefs. If he were an ordinary candidate, he would simply say he’s a “Presbyterian,” and that would be the end of it. But because he comes across as so arrogant, coarse, and self-absorbed, the opposite of Christian humility, people have been prying into the substance behind his boasts of religion.

Continue Reading →

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Trump and Abortion

Donald Trump has been all over the news lately as a potential front-runner for the Republican nomination for President in 2012. In my view, the speculation about Trump’s place in the field is way out of whack with reality. For a variety of reasons, I think his candidacy has little chance of succeeding. That being said, recent polls suggest that he is at the front of the pack of Republican presidential hopefuls. Many have attributed his sudden rise in the polls to his public statements questioning the citizenship of President Obama.

Another reason that his candidacy has more plausibility among some conservatives is his recent conversion to the pro-life point of view. Trump has been trying to make the case for himself to conservatives by contending that he is no longer pro-choice but has now embraced the pro-life cause. Continue Reading →

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