Compiled by Andre Viljoen
With America’s presidential election just days away influential US Christian pastors are speaking out on their views on President Donald Trump and the consequences of voting for him — or not voting for him — to lead the nation for another four years.
Bethel Church senior pastor Bill Johnson, who voted for Trump back in 2016 says he will be voting for him again “with confidence and a clear conscience” on November 3.
Explaining his decision in The Christian Post, Johnson said the media had falsely portrayed the president as a “racist, misogynist, and xenophobe”.
“While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, the facts show that the policies and actions of the president do not fit the characteristics of what those labels imply,” he said.
Encouraging people to watch the new documentary, The Trump I Know, he added: “It sometimes takes a lot of work to find the truth in the midst of a deceptive platform like the evening news.
“Personally, I place more weight on the words of those who have a personal relationship with someone than a portrayal by those with a political agenda.”
Johnson said he was impressed with Trump’s performance in office over the last four years, claiming that he has “undeniably accomplished — or attempted to accomplish — a majority of his main campaign promises.”
“It is an honourable character trait of any elected official to follow through on their commitments,” he said.
He also revealed how impressed he is by Trump’s personal faith, and suggested that his actions on Israel “should appeal to believers”.
“For me it is worthy of note that I’ve never seen a president who loved prayer as much as Donald Trump — and that includes from those I voted for and those I didn’t. His passion for godly counsel is also legendary,” he said.
He added that it was not his intention to “coerce” anyone into voting for a particular candidate, or to “judge or shame anyone” for their choices at the ballot box, but rather to encourage all Christians to engage thoughtfully and prayerfully with civic life.
Change of heart
Influential evangelical leader Al Mohler, a former “never Trumper” who did not vote for the president in 2016, said because of his Christian convictions he will be voting for Trump this time, warning that a Biden-Harris administration would be “the most pro-abortion political force in American history”.
In a lengthy blog post, Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said: “The difference between a Trump administration and a Biden administration will shape a generation and have a very great deal to do with the future of our nation.”
He clarified that the president’s “divisive comments and sub-presidential behavior are an embarrassment … Constantly.” However, he stressed that “character” is also defined by political policies.
“If I am electing a neighbor, it would be Biden hands down,” Mohler wrote. “But I am not voting for who will be my neighbor, I am voting for who will be President of the United States.”
In his article, Mohler said he chose his vote based on Trump’s actions regarding abortion, Supreme Court nominees, protecting religious liberty, and LGBT issues.
Mohler explained that though he did not vote for Trump in 2016, he nevertheless made note of his “pro-life promises, especially with reference to the federal courts culminating in the Supreme Court.”
“But I doubted that Donald Trump meant to fulfill his promises,” he admitted. “I was wrong.”
“In terms of presidential action, Donald Trump has been the most effective and consequential pro-life president of the modern age,” he continued. “Furthermore, in both executive actions and court appointments, President Trump has gone far beyond what would have been politically necessary to secure his base. He has staked his place in history and has defied the accommodationist temptation and has given pro-life Americans more than any other president.”
He wrote: “The Democratic Party is now so pro-abortion (and yes, that is the right term) that it has declared opposition to any restriction on abortion and demands tax-payer funding for abortion,” Mohler said. “Those who deny this reality are dishonest.”
The author and speaker acknowledged that some Christians may not be able to vote for Trump in good conscience, a “predicament” he says he understands. Still, voting for Biden is “beyond my moral imagination,” he said.
“With my Black brothers and sisters, I make my best case for how I see the issues. They have every right to do the same. We each have a vote. Both of us will answer to God for that vote. We earnestly seek to persuade the other. We will likely vote differently in the end. We remain brothers and sisters in Christ,” he wrote.
Mohler penned his thoughts on the election just days after famed author and pastor John Piper explained why he doesn’t feel comfortable voting for Trump in the upcoming election.
“When a leader models self-absorbed, self-exalting boastfulness, he models the most deadly behavior in the world,” Piper wrote. “He points his nation to destruction.”
He wrote in a blog on his Desiring God website that he was “baffled that so many Christians consider the sins of unrepentant sexual immorality (porneia), unrepentant boastfulness (alazoneia), unrepentant vulgarity (aischrologia), unrepentant factiousness (dichostasiai), and the like, to be only toxic for our nation, while policies that endorse baby-killing, sex-switching, freedom-limiting, and socialistic overreach are viewed as deadly”.
“In fact, I think it is a drastic mistake to think that the deadly influences of a leader come only through his policies and not also through his person.
“Flagrant boastfulness, vulgarity, and factiousness are not only self-incriminating; they are nation-corrupting.”
Piper’s comments have drawn criticism from some notable Christian leaders, including friends and admirers of the respected theologian.
Not the ‘primary issue’
Wayne Grudem, a theologian, general editor of the ESV Study Bible, and long-time friend of Piper, says he agrees that a candidate’s character is important but asserted that – generally – it should not be the primary issue.
Biden and the Democrats, Grudem argues, would pass laws that infringe on religious liberty and the sanctity of life.
Grudem acknowledged Trump’s flaws but said he has a “more positive evaluation” of Trump’s character than Piper does.
“He has shown remarkable courage of his convictions, faithfulness to his campaign promises, steadfastness of purpose in spite of an astoundingly hostile press, incredible energy in the performance of his job, dignity and even eloquence in many formal speeches and ceremonies at home and abroad, respect and appreciation for his wife Melania and his sons and daughters, and a wide-ranging understanding of the hundreds of different issues that every president faces,” Grudem wrote.
“In contrast to his past life, during his term in office there is not been even a hint of any sexual impropriety. He is sometimes boastful but on a number of occasions I have seen him publicly give credit to many other people for things that have been accomplished. And I think he has shown mature and wise judgment in a variety of situations that he has faced as president.”
God’s anointed instruments
Lou Engele, a respected “general” of intercession, also responded to Piper’s anti-Trump blog post. Referring to Piper as “a well-known great man of God who has deeply blessed the church”, he wrote: “I suppose Piper would not have voted for Cyrus with his harems or Jehu with his idols either, but God had another idea. He called them His anointed. They were anointed to fulfill God’s purpose.”
He wrote: “Daniel 4:17 states that ‘the Most High rules over the kingdom of men and gives it to whomever He wills and sets up over it the basest of men.’
“Piper went on to state that, in his subjective opinion, Trump’s base life, his unrepented-of sins and vulgarity, are bringing more death to this nation than legalized abortion. I don’t know how he could scripturally support such a statement, but I know this: William Wilberforce, the great parliamentarian who ended the slave trade in England, about whom Piper wrote a brilliant brief biography, once said, ‘There is a principle above everything that is political, and when I reflect on the command ‘Thou shall do no murder,’ believing the authority to be divine, how can I dare to set out any reasoning of my own against it? And when we think of eternity and of the future consequences of all human conduct, what is there in this life that could make any man contradict the dictates of his conscience, the principles of justice, the laws of religion and of God?’
“Wilberforce believed he would be held eternally accountable for any of his political actions and votes that countered or were weighed more heavily than the command, ‘Thou shalt not kill.’
“It is one thing to write a biography of praise about a man, but it is duplicitous not to honor his faith code. Piper has certainly raised up his own subjective reasoning over the most foundational divine command in Scripture.
“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in His own image” (Gen. 9:5-6).
“It seems obvious to me that Piper has not been staggered by the terrifying implications for both individuals and nations laid out in the Scriptures concerning the doctrine of the shedding of innocent blood. By encouraging thousands of Christians to consider not voting, or—even worse—make way for a candidate who supports abortion up to nine months, John Piper (and those in agreement with him) are like the four members of Parliament in William Wilberforce’s day who, when the slave trade could have been ended years earlier by their votes, instead opted out of voting and went to an opera.
“How much death, torture and human agony could have been averted?
“If now, in His providence, God is seeking to remove this horrifying offense of abortion as He did with slavery, then over the next four years Trump could be a Lincoln-type president, and the legalized slave trade of abortion could be no more—or America will face a terrifying day of reckoning.
“If 650 000 men died on the Civil War battlefields because of the offense and bloodshed of slavery, what will that day of reckoning be for the blood of 62 million unborn babies?
“I believe Piper is only judging by what his eyes see and cannot recognize what God is pressing for in this “pregnant throbbing moment,” the ending of state-sanctioned murder of the innocents. It has been said that God is not a single-issue voter, but sometimes He is a single-issue judge.
“Many issues faced America during the Civil War, but God was “trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored” to judge one thing: the vile atrocity of American slavery.
“Meanwhile, in this election season, thousands of Christian nonvoters are rejoicing in the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett but can’t honor the man God raised up to appoint her, along with hundreds of conservative judges in lower courts. This election is not a referendum on the character of Donald Trump. It is instead a referendum on where the church will stand on the most foundational biblical moral pillar of society, ‘Thou shalt not kill.’
“So nonvoters, enjoy the opera while the slave trade of abortion languishes another 20 years or more, and we and our children are swept away in the day of reckoning.
“Blood is on our hands. If the great men of the church don’t understand the surpassing evil of the abortion holocaust, then maybe the great women of the church will. Let the Deborahs and Esthers arise. And may the sons of Issachar rally to their side.”
‘Heart is in the right place’
Another prominent evangelical leader, Pastor Sam Rodriguez, who is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, has also weighed in on Trump’s suitability for the highest office in the land. Once a fan of and adviser to former president Barrack Obama and currently a Trump adviser, he said he believes Trump’s “heart is in the right place.”
Speaking in an interview with Michel Martin, he said: “I think it’s hard to understand President Trump unless you met him and know him personally. I wouldn’t support anyone — the depiction of President Trump in the media would be someone I would never support, in the media, in the mass media. But I know this man personally. He is a human being. He is emerging in his faith. He loves his family. He loves America. He wants people — he really is committed to one thing. Instead of seeing Americans survive, he wants them to thrive. And that’s what he’s fighting for. I don’t think he does it perfectly. No president does it perfectly. But I do think his heart is in the right place.”
Describing himself as a political independent, Rodriguez said he is campaigning for life, religious liberty and biblical justice — values which he said are being upheld by Trump’s Republicans in contrast to the Democratic party which “has shifted so, so much to the left on these issues, on life, on religious liberty, that I am compelled, because of my children and my children’s children, to advocate policies that line up with our biblical world view”.
He said the Democrats’ “obsession with late-term abortion and even post-birth abortion” and its being “hijacked by socialism” was alienating evangelical Hispanics.
Responding to a suggestion by the interviewer that Trump’s allegedly poor response to the Covid crisis resulted in loss of life and raised questions about his commitment to life, Rodriguez said: “So, I can tell you from the get go there was a commission from this administration to deal with Covid in a very deliberate, intentional manner, while simultaneously protecting our God-given rights.”
He said he believed the death toll from the virus could have been worse had it not been for the actions of the Trump administration.
“I think religious liberty is the firewall against secular totalitarianism. And we have seen during Covid, not just in California, but in Michigan and other states, coincidentally driven by Democratic governors, who are infringing upon my God-given right to gather, which I do believe is essential, and worship,” he said.