Is Trump the Evil King Ahab or the Redeemable Pagan Nebuchadnezzar?
Many conservative Christians are struggling with whether or not to support presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, and faith leaders have taken to comparing him to biblical figures like the wicked king Ahab or the redeemable pagan king Nebuchadnezzar. So which is he?
Steve Deace, an Iowa talk radio pundit who backed Ted Cruz in the presidential primary, warned Christian leaders against supporting Trump, calling him an Ahab. David Lane, founder of the American Renewal Project and leader of a movement to get pastors to run for political office, suggested The Donald may be more like Nebuchadnezzar, a Babylonian tyrant advised by the prophet Daniel who eventually honored the Hebrew God.
Many Christians have trouble with Trump not just because of his off-color comments, his demeaning insults, and his sleazy past, but because he says he has never asked God for forgiveness.
This may not seem like a big deal to your typical non-Christian. Why would Trump bother the Almighty with his sins? But to any Christian who believes that Jesus Christ constantly told everyone to repent, died on the cross to save us from our sins, and rose again to give us hope in eternal life, this is a key omission. Throughout scripture, Jesus emphasizes repentance ("go, and sin no more") almost as much as faith.
But Trump told Frank Luntz last July, "I'm not sure I have ever asked God's forgiveness. I don't bring God into the picture." He later told Anderson Cooper, "I try not to make mistakes where I have to ask forgiveness." Trump then asked, "Why do I have to repent or ask forgiveness, if I am not making mistakes?"
Romans 3:23 answers his question, "for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Trump may be a fine person by the world's standards (a proposition which seems increasingly doubtful), but he certainly falls short of the sinless perfection required to enjoy the presence of God -- we all do. Christianity is about recognizing this fact, repenting of your sin, and accepting Jesus' sacrifice and the free gift of eternal life.
A Christian is someone who acknowledges his or her sinfulness, repents, and accepts Jesus Christ's sacrifice and resurrection as the event which reconciles us to God. Granted, this may be a narrow, evangelical-focused definition of Christianity, but it places the Reverend Billy Graham and Martin Luther King Jr. on one side, and Donald J. Trump on the other. It also explains why many Christians hesitate to back him or consider him one of their own.
As Alan Noble, editor in chief of Christ and Pop Culture, wrote recently, "Any man who is so unaware of his own depravity that he cannot recognize his need for forgiveness is incapable of justly leading any country. There is simply no way around this fact for evangelicals."
So if Trump is not exactly a Christian, how should Christian leaders see him? That's where the arguments of Deace and Lane come into the picture. It actually makes a great deal of difference whether Trump is an irredeemable tyrant or a potentially good ruler who just needs humility.
Is The Donald a spitting image of the irredeemable Ahab, who led the people of Israel away from God? Or is he the promising Nebuchadnezzar, a potentially great ruler who needs to learn humility?
Next Page: Why Trump seems like the evil king Ahab.