Trump, Two Corinthians and James the Third

Yesterday Donald Trump visited Liberty University to court Christian students and to appeal to other conservative Christians who might consider casting their vote for him. During his speech he brought up the school verse for Liberty, which is 2 Corinthians 3:17. The verse says: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” Unfortunately, Trump once again displayed his biblical ignorance when he referenced the verse by saying “Two” Corinthians instead of “Second” Corinthians.

This shouldn’t be shocking to anyone. He said the Bible was his favorite book, but then couldn’t name a favorite verse when asked. What? He couldn’t even come up with John 3:16? Okay, so he doesn’t know his Bible. But, he also shouldn’t act like it has any meaning to him at all, because it obviously never has and it doesn’t now.

But, the real test for me on Trump’s Christian faith is how he stacks up to James chapter 3. The overarching theme that James writes about in that letter is how your Christian faith is evidenced by the way you act, not by what you say. James writes:

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. James 3:8-12

In other words, what is coming out of your mouth defines who you are. Just like you can tell what kind of plant you have by the fruit it produces, you can tell about someone’s faith by the fruit they produce. The words that come out of Trump’s mouth seem just as antithetical to the Christian faith as brackish water is with a fresh water spring.

Paul in his letter to the Galatians tells us what the fruit of the Holy Spirit is:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. 

How many of these things come to mind when you think about Donald Trump. He obviously is not humble or gentle. I question his self-control. He certainly can’t control his mouth. Apparently he has a potty mouth, because the the media has to bleep out some words here and there at his rallies. He also has a propensity for tearing others down, and even revels in it. None of us is perfect in everything we say. We all say the wrong thing now and then and wish we hadn’t. In Trump’s case it seems to be second nature, and in his opinion he never says anything wrong.

James continues in his letter saying that true wisdom is demonstrated by a person’s character and a humble attitude:

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. James 3:13-15

Why is is Trump’s Christianity, or lack thereof, important to me? Because the presidency, among other things, should be about character. Sure, there are non-believers who have good character, but I think we’ll stand a better chance of finding someone with good character if they are a sincere follower of Jesus Christ. I also want someone in office who shares my values, and the values that this country was built upon. As a conservative Christian I would find it hard to vote for Trump based on the character displayed through his words and actions.

We have some great candidates on the Republican side who are just as passionate about the same conservative causes as Trump says he is. They just happen to be more careful with their words. They don’t have the bombastic delivery of Trump, so they don’t draw the same attention from the media or from a slice of voters who are so tired of career politicians who have let them down that they are happy to back anyone who speaks their mind and says what they want to hear.

Of course, with the exception of Hillary Clinton, we can’t be sure about the character of the others in the presidential race.  It could be that they all just have better control over their mouth in public. Maybe they have a potty mouth in private. Maybe they are just as arrogant, condescending, petulant and narcissistic when the cameras are off, as Trump is when they are trained on him. I tend to doubt that, though.