After introducing likely Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at an evangelical meeting on Tuesday, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. and his wife posed for a photo with The Donald. In the background, you can see an old cover of Playboy magazine with Trump’s face on it. That magazine had an interview with Trump, and in that interview, The Donald called Jesus Christ an egomaniac.
Trump claimed that every successful person has a very large ego, and that Jesus Christ had a “far greater ego…than you will ever understand.” Not only is Donald Trump here claiming an intimate knowledge of Jesus, but his declaration also flatly contradicts not just Christian tradition, but scripture itself.
Here’s the relevant Playboy excerpt (HT: Ben Howe at RedState):
(Playboy questions are in bold, Trump responses are in normal type)
How large a role does pure ego play in your deal making and enjoyment of publicity?
Every successful person has a very large ego.
Every successful person? Mother Teresa? Jesus Christ?
Far greater egos than you will ever understand.
And the Pope?
Absolutely. Nothing wrong with ego. People need ego, whole nations need ego. I think our country needs more ego, because it is being ripped off so badly by our so-called allies; i.e., Japan, West Germany, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, etc. They have literally out egotized this country, because they rule the greatest money machine ever assembled and it’s sitting on our backs. Their products are better because they have so much subsidy.
Here’s Philippians 2:3-11 discussing Jesus’ ego.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Sure, God elevated Jesus Christ to the highest place, but He only did it because Jesus humbled himself — even to death on a cross! — and even then, the glory of Jesus is itself in service to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus himself describes himself in terms of humility (Matthew 20:28): “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” He even submitted his will (Matthew 26:39): “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Indeed, there is a long list of verses where Jesus emphasizes that even his teaching is not his (John 7:16), he does not seek his own glory (John 8:50), he speaks words “not from myself” (John 14:10), and “I do nothing of myself” (John 8:28).
Does this sound like having a big ego to you? Jesus needed exactly the opposite of ego to die for our sins, and thereby achieve the greatest feat in human history — reconciling a sinful humanity to its divine perfect Creator.
But never mind all of that — Trump knows better. There’s “nothing wrong with ego. People need ego, whole nations need ego,” just like Jesus had it!
Next Page: What it means for Jerry Falwell Jr. to be standing with his wife in front of this Playboy issue.
Were the Reverend Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority, alive today, he would likely be ashamed of his son. Here’s the photo he and his wife took with Donald Trump.
— J L Falwell (@JerryJrFalwell) June 21, 2016
Over Becki Falwell’s left shoulder, you can see the Playboy issue. The magazine well-known for featuring naked photos seems to run right in the face of Jerry Falwell’s argument for establishing the Moral Majority. In his book Listen, America! the reverend laid out five key American sins that have political consequences — pornography was number 3!
“Sex magazines deliberately increase the problem of immoral lust and thus provoke increased adultery, prostitution, and sexual child abuse,” Falwell wrote.
He listed “the fractured family” as number 5, warning that “with a skyrocketing divorce rate, the American family may well be on the verge of extinction in the next twenty years.”
Falwell’s son Jerry Falwell Jr. (who is not a reverend like his father) not only posed with a man who cheated on two wives — and said he does not remember asking God for forgiveness! — but posed with him in front of a Playboy magazine!
The Christian Post’s Michael Farris argued that Trump’s meeting with evangelicals “marks the end of the Christian Right.” At the time I read his article, I thought he was exaggerating, but perhaps my hesitance was misplaced.
Granted, Playboy magazine no longer has nude photos as of October 2015. Nonetheless, there were nudes in that issue on the wall, and the Reverend Jerry Falwell’s own son posed with his wife right in front of it.
If that doesn’t mark the end of a tradition of moral leadership, I don’t know what would. Trump’s comments about Jesus’ ego are just the icing on the cake.