Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for August 5th, 2015

As a pastor, I need to comment on Mr. Donald Trump’s answer to an interview question by Mr. Frank Luntz about Mr. Trump’s religious faith.  Here is the salient portion, from a CNN article:

“People are so shocked when they find … out I am Protestant. I am Presbyterian. And I go to church and I love God and I love my church,” he said.

Moderator Frank Luntz asked Trump whether he has ever asked God for forgiveness for his actions.

“I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so,” he said. “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.”

Trump said that while he hasn’t asked God for forgiveness, he does participate in Holy Communion.

“When I drink my little wine — which is about the only wine I drink — and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of asking for forgiveness, and I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed,” he said. “I think in terms of ‘let’s go on and let’s make it right.'”

First, I am glad Mr. Trump loves God and his church, that is, his congregation, but loving God and your congregation is not salvation.  The emphasis is on me, not on the Lord who is the Savior.  Basing everything on the self is as old as Adam.  Again, as old as Adam when the serpent dealt with Adam and Eve:  eat and you will be like God.   Mr. Trump sounds likes he has imported into the Christian faith his best-selling book title, The Art of the Deal.   Mr. Trump eats Holy Communion as a bargain base salvation:  eat the “little cracker”  and be saved and feeling “cleansed” is ex opere operatum, the work working the work.  The Reformers used that Latin phrase to describe the mechanical view of the sacrament without faith and repentance, and so the Lord’s forgiveness. Such a mechanical view is just an easier and nicer version of Islam’s five pillars of the faith:  Just do it. I will call it “little cracker” theology but Holy Communion is about the totality of the faith in the Lord, the blessed and holy Trinity. With our own religious reasoning, the old Adam is in the driver seat and the devil has his foot on the accelerator.   

Second, and more importantly, how did Mr. Trump come to these terrible conclusions?  My speculation is from poor Christian education, or catechesis, or a total lack of it, and I tend toward the latter conclusion.  If I were the minister welcoming Mr. Trump into the congregation, I surely would be teaching him tithing plus “proportional giving”!  And to forget about the rest of the Bible, that is most of it because it would just turn him off. This temptation has become part and parcel in congregational life as a response to decreased membership.  I uncritically bought into the slogan:  Get them involved before they join.  I found out in so many Lutheran congregations (ELCA) that people from other congregations never had an adult catechism class before joining…and most likely not in their previous church bodies as well.  This then describes the crisis of the Church in the 21st Century that has been well documented, that so many do not know the doctrines, even deriding doctrine as an impediment to church growth. Doctrine is not an impediment to church growth, but it is essential for growth in the love and knowledge of the Lord.  In a sense, I do not blame Mr. Trump for his conclusions if he has not been taught even the rudiments of Christian doctrine.  Mr. Trump is exhibiting the Old Adam: salvation by works, without grace, that is without Christ.

Third, without proper teaching of Law and Promise, Mr. Trump’s answer belies the lack of any understanding of sin and guilt.  Without the Law, then truly, per Mr. Trump, why bring God into it?  Another king, a real one, when he realized by God’s law, the depth of his sin, in committing adultery with Bathsheba, cried out and prayed,

  Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
    and blameless in your judgment. Psalm 51

King David avoided God and obviously did not bring “God into it”!  David had not asked God for forgiveness.  Thankfully, King David was found out and the Lord found him. Sadly, in Mr. Trump’s answer the Law has already  convicted him but the old Adam knows the art of the deal…and the dodge, I am not really guilty, I do my best.  You can only dodge the Lord’s just death sentence for so long. I was afraid and so I hid-Adam (Genesis 3).  No conviction from the Law in body and soul, that we are dead in our trespasses, and so no repentance…and finally no forgiveness, that is, no Jesus Christ, who is there from the beginning for the sinner: “Come to Me” (see Matthew 11:28.   Matthew 19:14 John 5:40  John 6:37  John 7:37 ) The Lord desires all to be saved, see 1 Timothy 2:4.

Finally, the difficulty in evangelization in our day and time is so many people, including many Christians will be satisified by Mr. Trump’s answer.  A great difficulty in evangelizing in our day is that so many people think they know what Christianity is but really don’t have a clue as does Mr. Trump.  This should challenge pastors and congregations in the Church, the Lord’s Body, to be ever be apt to teach and preach.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: