On Monday, the company DDI Media told PJ Media it had taken down a billboard tying President Donald Trump to scripture with the message, “Make the Gospel Great Again.” The billboard also portrayed the Bible verse John 1:14, “The Word became flesh…” Pastors denounced the billboard as “heresy,” but the company did not take down the billboard due to any offense or theological controversy, but rather because the billboard did not meet the high standards for political ads.
“A recent billboard with an image of President Trump has been removed because of its political nature and the fact that it did not disclose the sponsoring organization,” DDI Media told PJ Media. “The ad did not meet our requirements for political ads and was taken down just a few days after it was placed.”
The company refused to identify the person or organization behind the billboard. “It is our policy to not disclose the identity of an advertiser without their authorization,” DDI Media explained.
The billboard had already attracted a great deal of attention by the time it was removed, however.
“A billboard on Interstate 170 just south of the St. Louis airport is drawing a lot of talk. Many are calling it offensive and blasphemous. It features President [Donald Trump] with the Bible verse ‘The Word became flesh…,'” KMOV’s Alexis Zotos reported.
A billboard on Interstate 170 just south of the St. Louis airport is drawing a lot of talk. Many are calling it offensive and blasphemous. It features President @realDonaldTrump with the Bible verse “The Word became flesh…”
— Alexis Zotos (@alexiszotos) November 5, 2018
Many noted that President Trump’s supporters idolize him.
“Some of [Trump]’s religious supporters literally idolise [sic] him. The ‘Word became Flesh’ in John 1:14 applies to Jesus alone. To imply it applies to Trump is blasphemy!” a user named “William Wilberforce” tweeted, with a hashtag declaring, “Trump is not the Messiah.”
Some of #Trump’s religious supporters literally idolise him. The ‘Word became Flesh’ in John 1:14 applies to Jesus alone. To imply it applies to Trump is blasphemy! #TrumpIsNotTheMessiah pic.twitter.com/nfI5t05M0H
— #Starmer4Leader (@Wilberforce61) November 5, 2018
Liberal pastor Michael McBride, who has associated himself with the Black Lives Matter movement and the “Resistance,” tweeted, “An Evangelical political org in STL are hanging billboards in STL with Trump’s face above the words of John 1:14 ‘…the Word became flesh’…with a cross draped in the American flag. This is idolatry. This is heresy. This is Christofascism.”
An Evangelical political org in STL are hanging billboards in STL with Trump’s face above the words of John 1:14 “…the Word became flesh”…with a cross draped in the American flag. This is idolatry. This is heresy. This is Christofascism. #LooseHereSatan pic.twitter.com/KRxTBz3Et5
— Michael McBride (@pastormykmac) November 4, 2018
Deven Green, a Canadian performer who mocks Christianity through her character Mrs. Betty Bowers, took the blasphemy all the way, suggesting Trump would be crucified like Jesus.
“Apparently, it wasn’t blasphemous enough for conservative Christians just to ignore Jesus. They are now replacing Him with their fool’s-golden calf, Donald J. Trump. My only question: Will this crucifixion be catered?” Green tweeted.
Apparently, it wasn’t blasphemous enough for conservative Christians just to ignore Jesus. They are now replacing Him with their fool's-golden calf, Donald J. Trump.
My only question: Will this crucifixion be catered? pic.twitter.com/K38t0bxO1M
— Mrs. Betty Bowers (@BettyBowers) November 5, 2018
Patheos’ Bo Gardiner connected the billboard to a Facebook group entitled “Make the Gospel Great Again.” The Facebook group has been deleted and reformed. The group has posted many pictures of the billboard.
In a post on Monday, the group insisted, “Our billboard IS NOT equating Jesus with President Donald Trump. Salvation comes only from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, not any man.”
Nevertheless, the group praised Trump as a prophet from God. “But God does send his messengers to us, and just as King David liberated the faithful in his day, President Trump is doing this today through his protection of the unborn, defense of our land against foreign invaders and standing up for Israel. He surrounds himself with champions for Christian Rights –Mike Pence, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh,” the post added.
“Compared to the disaster of a president we had in Obama, how is this not the ‘word become flesh’ for Americans?”
The Facebook group’s description suggests a level of trust for the president verging on idolatry. “MGGA exists to help spread the truth of God’s great champion on earth – President Donald Trump,” the group declares. “The Lord anointed Mr. Trump to bless America, and we live out our faith by following him. Donald Trump has already won many victories for Jesus by stopping abortions, telling the truth, proving that the real racists are not white, and fighting against the liberal media and their War on Christians!”
The group attacks “the Progressive ‘Christians’ who hate the Bible,” and declares, “We will not stand for their disgusting witch hunts and fake news about porn stars, nazis and Russians and raping.”
“MGGA will work tirelessly to remind Christians to be loyal to President Trump and trust him in all circumstances. As Proverbs 3:5 reminds us, ‘Trust him with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding,'” the group adds.
Contrary to what “Make the Gospel Great Again” insists, their statements of faith in Donald Trump do indeed constitute idolatry. That Proverbs verse is clearly referring to God, saying “Trust in the LORD with all your heart.”
As a matter of biblical faith, John 1:14 clearly refers to Jesus Christ, and it comes in the context of declaring that Jesus is God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” John 1:1 begins. Later on, the passage compares Jesus to the Jewish lawgiver Moses: “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
Indeed John 1 contains a brief declaration of the gospel, explaining that “to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).
Many Christians who self-identify as evangelicals have indeed seemingly gone off the deep end in supporting Trump. Many Christian leaders have overlooked the president’s moral failings in order to support him.
That said, this Facebook group and this billboard seem rather conspicuous. While the creators insist they support Trump, this kind of hyperbole could be intended to cast scorn and mockery on evangelicals. John 1:14 does indeed begin, “The Word became flesh,” but the full verse reads, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Evangelicals may have “sold their souls” to support Donald Trump, but no biblically literate evangelical Christian would connect this verse to Trump. This idolatry is far too blatant. Trump does not have the glory of the only Son of God the Father, and no Christian leader is dumb enough to link the president to this verse.
This billboard rather seems a cunning way to slander American evangelicals, similar to the activists who dress in costumes from “The Handmaid’s Tale” — who intend to present pro-life Americans, and especially conservative Christians, as misogynists bent on turning women into oppressed breeders.
Then again, a movie about “The Trump Prophecy” has been released across the country…. But many Christians have attacked the film as damaging the Christian witness.
If the creators of the “Make the Gospel Great Again” Facebook group are genuine Christians, they should seriously rethink their approach. Their twisting of scripture, putting Trump in for God, is just as horrific as any progressive activist twisting the Bible to his or her political goals.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.