Donald Trump spoke in Orlando, FL yesterday at Pastors and Pews sponsored by the American Renewal Project. He joked with the pastors at the end of his speech that winning the presidency may be his only path to heaven.

“This will be an election that will go down in the history books for the evangelicals, for the Christians, for everybody of religion. This will be maybe the most important election the country has ever had,” Trump noted.

“So go out and spread the word, and once I get in, I’ll do my thing that I do very well. And I figure it’s probably — maybe the only way I’m going to get into heaven, so I better do a good job.”

I’m little surprised that a statement like that would get as much laughter as it did. Personally, I don’t find jokes about salvation very funny. It is an awkward comment to make to a room full of evangelicals.

Then again so is saying you’ve never asked to be forgiven.

Here is his speech in its entirety.

Trump spent significant time addressing how he would repeal the Johnson Amendment that restricts churches and other non-profit organizations from political speech.

Trump promised by repealing the Johnson Amendment that churches would get their voice back. I didn’t realize we had lost it. Look, I hate the Johnson Amendment. I’d love to see it gone. It is unconstitutional. It is one primary reason why the IRS really hasn’t pursued it because it would get struck down in court. Churches shouldn’t be under threat of losing their tax exempt status because of political speech from endorsements or lobbying against (or for) a particular bill.

He said churches has lost their power as a result of this amendment? Seriously?

First, I’ve been a pastor, and even if I had the freedom (which I believe I should) I wouldn’t make an endorsement from the pulpit. It’s not because the government says I can or I can’t, it is because I don’t believe that is what the role of the church is. The role of the Church is to be salt and light. The Church is to make disciples. The Church is to speak truth to power. I think that gets muddied when we make endorsements. That isn’t to say we should totally ignore politics. I believe if the whole counsel of God is taught from the pulpit you will address issues of moral concern and politics will be addressed.

Involvement in politics is part of being salt and light and engaging in our cultural commission. Christians shouldn’t abandon politics, but ultimately that is not where true, lasting change will come from which brings me to my second point.

Our power is not derived by our ability to use political speech from the pulpit.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,” (Acts 1:8, ESV).

The Holy Spirit gives us power. We are given gifts to use in service of the King of Kings. We are to bear spiritual fruit that sets us apart from the world. We are to be His witnesses pointing a broken world to the only One who can fix the ultimate problem that they have and that is their sin natures.

Washington can’t do that, but Jesus can.

Also, there is power in the message we stewards of. The apostle Paul wrote in Romans, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16a, ESV).

We are giving the message that Jesus Christ, the Son of God came to earth to save sinners. He died on a cross to pay a penalty that we deserve. He rose from the grave three days later defeating sin and death. Those who confess with their mouth that King Jesus is Lord and believe in their heart that He did rise from the grave will, the Bible tells us, be saved, (Romans 10:9).

That is where our power resides we have the greatest news on earth to share and that news goes forth by the Church under democracies and despots. Christ promises that not even the gates of hell will prevail against His Church, (Matthew 16:18).

He inferred that churches would grow as a result. If you truly believe that then I weep for you. Some of the fastest growing churches are were persecution is the greatest. Churches grow when the entire congregation is passionate about the gospel. It has nothing to do with political speech.

Look, I understand that some fellow brothers and sisters will vote for Donald Trump because of the promises he makes about the Johnson Amendment, as well as, the Supreme Court. I understand the desire to keep Hillary Clinton, who is the picture of corruption, out of the White House.

If that is what your conscience is telling you I just exhort you to not hurt your witness in the process. Have both eyes open. Realize this man is extremely flawed. Don’t whitewash over his character flaws just because he identifies as a Republican in this election cycle. Recognize that he has not been trustworthy and ultimately does not represent you even if he is elected. You may end up having to oppose him. It’s much easier to do if you haven’t been a cheerleader for him in the past.

1 comment
  1. “Churches shouldn’t be under threat of losing their tax exempt status because of political speech from endorsements or lobbying against (or for) a particular bill.”

    Then it’s government subsidized / taxpayer supported political advocacy. I, for one, might not want my tax dollars covering your church’s infrastructure costs so that your church can redirect the savings to a particular partisan political activity. There are any number of alternate routes to collect money for partisan work outside of a government subsidized organization. Any organization can be free from such restraints if they choose to forgo tax exempt status. Nobody is forcing any church to operate as a tax exempt organization. It’s up to the congregation to decide if the exempt status is worth the cost.

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