President Trump Turns Bible Verse About Salvation Into Hymn to American Greatness
At the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday morning, President Donald Trump referenced one of the most powerful passages in the New Testament, but he did not cite the whole passage. By cherry-picking one verse, Trump turned a passage about being saved by grace and by the power of God into a paean to American greatness, a nationalistic subversion of God's grace.
"Today, we praise God for how truly blessed we are to be American. Across our land, we see the splendor of God's creation. Throughout our history, we see the story of God's providence. In every city and town, we see the Lord's grace all around us through a million acts of kindness, courage, and generosity," Trump declared.
The president waxed eloquent on the selfless love of service members, teachers, police, and moms and dads. Indeed, these acts of kindness, service, and love are inspiring. The problem wasn't Trump's praise of such deeds, but his explanation of where they came from.
"As the Bible tells us, for we are God's handiwork, created in Jesus Christ do to good works," Trump declared. "America's heroes rise to this calling. In their selfless deeds, they reveal the beauty and goodness of the human soul."
Trump went on to praise the service of those who risked their lives to help hurricane victims — groups like the Cajun Navy. He praised firefighters who braved the flames to save people, police officers who ran into a "hail of bullets," families who adopted children lost in the opioid crisis, and churches serving those struggling with addiction.
"All we have to do is open our eyes and look around us, and we can see God's hand. In the courage of our fellow citizens, we see the power of God's love and work in our souls, and the power of God's will to answer all of our prayers," Trump declared.
Like his State of the Union address last month, this speech soared on American greatness, and Trump's praise for the love and kindness of Americans to one another is inspiring and fitting for a president of the United States. However, the verse he quoted is emphatically not about American greatness.
Trump quoted Ephesians 2:10, but that verse makes sense in context, and the passage begins in Ephesians 2:8. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Ephesians 2:8-10).
In this passage, Paul clearly addressed Christians and only Christians. Those who believe in Jesus Christ have been saved from sin and death, and this is not something they earn, but it is a gift of God. No Christian should ever boast about believing in Jesus, as if it were proof of how good they are.