Are Shallow Christian References Enough to Win Evangelical Votes? Donald Trump Seems to Think So

(PHOTO: REUTERS/RICK WILKING) Republican U.S. presidential candidate businessman Donald Trump gives a thumbs up near the end of the 2016 U.S. Republican presidential candidates debate held by CNBC in Boulder, Colorado, October 28, 2015.
(PHOTO: REUTERS/RICK WILKING)
Republican U.S. presidential candidate businessman Donald Trump gives a thumbs up near the end of the 2016 U.S. Republican presidential candidates debate held by CNBC in Boulder, Colorado, October 28, 2015.

Donald Trump thinks shallow Christian references are sufficient to win Evangelical votes. Is he right?

In his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Trump has, so far, mentioned that the Bible is his favorite book, compared himself to evangelist Billy Graham, showed his personal Bible to the audience at the Values Voter Summit, and promised to force Macy’s to celebrate Christmas if elected president.

Amid these attempts to warm up to Evangelicals in the most frivolous and sometimes absurd ways imaginable, Trump has fallen flat.

When asked to name his favorite Bible verse, he first took a pass, and on his second try he cited a verse that’s not in the Bible; he reached out to prosperity gospel preachers, who most Evangelicals view as heretics; and, he claimed to be a Presbyterian and a member of Marble Collegiate Church, which is not Presbyterian and has no record of him ever being a member.

Worst of all, Trump said he has never asked for God’s forgiveness because he hasn’t done anything that needs to be forgiven.

If Trump hasn’t asked for forgiveness, he can’t be a Christian. The Bible says that we’re all sinners (Romans 3:23), Christ came for the forgiveness of sins, and to accept God’s gift of eternal salvation one must repent of their sins and follow Christ as lord (Acts 2: 36-39).

This does not necessarily mean that Trump is intentionally misleading people about his faith. There is certainly enough false teaching in American churches that it could be Trump who is being misled into believing he is secure in his salvation even if he is not.

In another goof, Trump assumed that being “middle of the road” and a Presbyterian would appeal to Evangelicals.

“And, look, I don’t have to say it, I’m Presbyterian,” Trump said. “Can you believe it? Nobody believes I’m Presbyterian. I’m Presbyterian. I’m Presbyterian. I’m Presbyterian. Boy, that’s down the middle of the road folks, in all fairness,” Trump touted Saturday.

To the ears of most committed Evangelicals, however, being Presbyterian and “middle of the road” is nothing to brag about.

The Presbyterian Church (USA), the largest Presbyterian denomination in America, is a Mainline Protestant, not Evangelical, denomination. Like other Mainline denominations, it has moved away from core Christian teachings that Evangelicals continue to uphold.

Indeed, PCUSA’s attempt to be “middle of the road,” or aligned with cultural norms, has been exactly the problem, from an Evangelical viewpoint. This year, for just one example, the PCUSA changed its definition of marriage to include same-sex couples.

There are conservatives within the PCUSA who are fighting on behalf of biblical truth, and there are other Presbyterian denominations that are Evangelical, the Presbyterian Church in America being the largest, but these don’t represent the dominant themes among Presbyterians today.

What made Trump’s statement even more strange was that his middle-of-the-road-Presbyterianism brag was intended as a contrast with rival Dr. Ben Carson’s Seventh-day Adventist faith.

After stating, “Boy, that’s down the middle of the road folks, in all fairness,” Trump continued, “I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don’t know about. I just don’t know about.”

In this statement, Trump clearly demonstrated his cluelessness about what is important to Evangelicals.

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SOURCE: The Christian Post
Napp Nazworth