According to the Pew Research center, as of last month, President Trump holds on to a 69% approval rating of Evangelicals. But this approval is not without controversy. Many people struggle in their support of President Trump because of personal behavior. Evangelicals, who often tend to be conservative in political philosophy, may appreciate the direction President Trump is moving with many issues including foreign policy (especially Israel) and the economy, but they struggle with his personal behavior often. Personally, I have struggled with many of the insults he has flung at so many people on both sides of the political arena not to mention the vulgar boasting of lewd behavior that was caught on a hot mic back in 2005.
President Trump’s faith was recently called into question by Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg who said, “I’m reluctant to comment on another person’s faith, but I would say it is hard to look at this president’s actions and believe that they’re the actions of somebody who believes in God,” Buttigieg said. “I just don’t understand how you can be as worshipful of your own self as he is and be prepared to humble yourself before God.” He has also been in the news quite a bit with harsh comments toward the faith of Vice-President Mike Pence as well.
The Bible does speak to the issue of questioning the faith of others:
Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
James, in this passage, is reminding us that there is only One Judge who will judge according to the Laws He has given. To judge if someone is a true believer or not is to sit in the place of God. Who, of any of us, can know the heart of a man and whether they are truly saved or not? Salvation is based on faith in Jesus Christ alone. Evidence of this faith is seen in our lifestyle, yet, faith in Christ does not remove our sinful nature. Sin doesn’t disappear from our life. Our faith in Christ releases His grace and power into our spirit for transformation so that our life begins to look more like Christ and less of the person we used to be. Because sin is not instantaneously gone, it cannot be the sole indicator of salvation.
The Bible does tell us that we are to judge the behavior of people within the church who are purposely working against it the church:
1 Corinthians 5:9-13
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”
I know…some of you are thinking that this passage tells us that someone like Trump should be expelled from Christianity because behavior he has shown has revealed sexual immorality, greed, and slander. But before we go too far, let’s not forget that King David of the Old Testament committed adultery and murder while following God. The Apostle Paul, after his conversion, reveals that he still sins even though he is committed to following Christ. The context in which Paul instructs the church to ‘expel the wicked person among you,’ is referring to someone who is openly and boastfully committing sexual immorality. I can feel the burning inside of some of you. You want to say, ‘Aha…again the Scripture tells us to call Trump out on his Christianity.” But again the context reveals that this man has no desire of serving God. Paul calls him wicked. There is a big difference in this man and someone struggling with sin while truly wanting to follow Christ.
This is the nature of the Christian walk. Ain’t nobody perfect. And when we begin to judge whether or not someone is a true Christian, we are putting ourselves in a dangerous place. Though we are supposed to correct one another in love, sin does not indicate that a soul is lost. We sin. We rebel. We commit indecent acts. We choose to do these things at the moment, but our desire is still to follow Christ. We are putting forth the effort, but at times, our flesh is weak. Yet the Lord does not discard us. He is patient, giving us the Holy Spirit to convict us to repentance. So how can any Christian judge the sincerity of another’s faith? We can judge behavior. This is true. When we see behavior that contradicts Christian values, we correct one another in love:
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
There is a difference between correcting someone’s behavior out of love and judging them as an unbeliever. One is an attempt to help. The other is an attempt to shame. One works for reconciliation and unity. The other works for division. One gives a person the benefit of the doubt. The other condemns to Hell. One leaves judgment to the Judge. The other takes the Judge’s seat.
Is Trump a Christian? How in the world can I judge that?!? How can I judge anyone’s faith in Jesus Christ? The only thing we can judge is behavior. Well, President Trump’s life is out in the open so we know he has sinned, but haven’t you? I know I have. If President Trump were a member of my church, it would be my responsibility as his pastor to correct him in love and guide him deeper into righteousness. This is my responsibility for any under my teaching. And I have those in my life who can speak truth to me when I am wrong. But it will never be my place to judge whether or not anyone is truly saved or not. It’s not my place. I’m not God.