The front runner in the GOP field of politicians for the 2016 presidential race is Donald Trump. The New York billionaire is a lightening rod for controversy. It doesn’t matter if he’s running a business, firing people on The Apprentice, or debating other politicians in an official debate setting, what comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth has a certain bite of offense to it. His statements about illegal immigration is purposefully abrasive as he stokes the fires claiming that because Mexico has opposed him building the wall, he will now build it 10 feet taller. When he talks about ISIS, he uses obscene language claiming that he will bomb them relentlessly. Interestingly enough, Trump has claimed to be a Christian, but when he talks about his faith, that edge and offensive bite isn’t there. Why doesn’t Donald Trump’s Christianity offend people?
Donald Trump’s Gospel Is Not The Gospel
In his book titled, Crippled America, Donald Trump claims that he owes much of his spiritual development to Norman Vincent Peale, the author of The Power of Positive Thinking. According to Trump, “Reverend Peale was the type of minister that I liked, and I liked him personally as well. I especially loved his sermons. He would instill a very positive feeling about God that also made me feel positive about myself. I would literally leave that church feeling like I could listen to another three sermons.” 
In an interview with Frank Luntz at the Family Leadership Summit in July of 2015, Donald Trump was asked if he had ever asked God for forgiveness? Trump sidestepped the question at first by saying, “That’s a good question…” and then moved on to talk about his relationship with Norman Vincent Peale. When Luntz pressed him on the question, he made the following statement, “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.” 
Norman Vincent Peale, Trump’s former pastor, did not teach the true gospel of Jesus Christ. He was born on May 31, 1898, in Bowersville, Ohio, and studied at Ohio Wesleyan University and Boston University School of Theology. He developed a love for psychology and tapped into the world of psychology in order to minister to people. After spending some time serving in a couple of Methodist churches, he eventually moved on to serve the Marble Collegiate Church. Norman Vincent Peale would spend the remainder of his life in this church and it was there that he developed his Freudian approach to the pulpit.
In the first sentence of the first chapter of Norman Vincent Peale’s book The Power of Positive Thinking, he writes, “BELIEVE IN YOURSELF! Have faith in your abilities!”  The point is, his teaching was backwards. Christianity doesn’t teach that we should “believe in ourself” or place our faith in our abilities. Christianity teaches the exact opposite. We should not trust ourselves because as Jeremiah 17:9 teaches, our heart is deceitful.
In an interview on the Phil Donahue show, Norman Vincent Peale made a shocking statement. He said, “It’s not necessary to be born again. You have your way to God, I have mine. I found eternal peace in a Shinto shrine … I’ve been to Shinto shrines and God is everywhere. … Christ is one of the ways! God is everywhere.” Jesus taught the exact opposite. According to Jesus, the gospel of Jesus Christ is exclusive (John 14:6). The Scriptures teach in Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Likewise, Jesus said, “unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).
The reason Donald Trump has never repented of his sin and called upon the Lord for salvation is because he has never been taught the true gospel. The false gospel of Norman Vincent Peale taught Donald Trump to believe in himself and to place his faith in his abilities. That made Donald Trump a very rich man, but today, Donald Trump remains in poverty regarding the gospel (Luke 12:21). In short, Donald Trump calls himself a Christian because he has been taught the wrong definition of Christianity.
Oil and Water Don’t Mix
The world hates the gospel of Jesus Christ. As Paul preached the gospel, he labored to make Christ known to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16). However, both groups had problems with Paul’s preaching. To the Jews, the gospel was a stumbling block and to the Greeks the message of the cross was utter foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:23). As Paul preached the gospel in Athens, the people mocked him. To the world, the message of Christ doesn’t make sense. Why would the King of the universe condescend to the dust of earth, clothe Himself in human flesh, life a life of poverty, and die on a cross reserved for criminals? That simply doesn’t make sense to the world. Then, add to that offense the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day following his death, and the world continues to mock and laugh.
Donald Trump’s gospel is one of positive thinking, feeling good about yourself, getting rich, and becoming great. That gospel doesn’t offend anyone because it’s not the gospel of Jesus Christ. To embrace an inclusive view of religion such as Norman Vincent Peale taught will never offend the citizens of America. Most people in America want to be rich and desire to feel good about themselves. So, what Donald Trump has to offer them is attractive. He can call himself a Christian, so long as the people feel safe, secure, and prosperous as a nation.
Oil and water don’t mix. If Donald Trump is the oil and the gospel is water – they’re opposed to one another. Pride and egotism may get you to the top of a ruthless business world, but it isn’t Christianity. The Word of God teaches that God’s children are to be humble and holy. The pursuit of holiness is one key factor missing from today’s Christianity, and it’s absent from Trump’s life as well. The Scripture teaches us that we will know people by their fruit (Matthew 7:15-20). Like the word evangelical, the word Christian is being deflated and redefined everyday. If your god is money, you cannot be a Christian. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God (Mark 10:25).
We may not be voting for a pastor, as Christians who are seeking the next president of the United States, but we are to take our voting responsibility seriously. The office of president should be reserved for men of dignity. Dignified men who have good ideas, policies, and the ability to lead well for the good of our nation. Donald Trump is the owner of the Taj Mahal casino and strip club, which certainly demonstrates a deficiency in the dignity department to say the least. Donald Trump lacks dignity and is one of the most arrogant characters in American culture today. We must remember, the office of president is not a reality television show. Decisions made while sitting in that seat of power will affect us.
It’s one thing for the world to believe that Donald Trump is a Christian, for the world doesn’t really know what Christianity is. It’s quite different for evangelicals to embrace Donald Trump as a Christian and that’s what seems to be happening across the nation. Before you vote for a demagogue who has lied his way to the top of the GOP nomination, you need to think about what it means to support a man who has the wrong gospel, a lack of humility, and has perpetually changed his positions, lied, and slandered people in order to get to where he is today. Donald Trump needs Jesus, but America doesn’t need Donald Trump.
- Donald Trump, Crippled America, (New York: Threshold Editions, 2015), 130.
- Eugene Scott, CNN (July 19, 2015). “Trump believes in God, but hasn’t sought forgiveness”. CNN.
- Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking, (The Quality Book Club, eBook version 2006), 6.