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How are Christians supposed to handle a candidate like Trump?

Everyone knows, “judge not lest ye be judged.” Whenever a Christian anywhere points out that some conduct is a sin, the secular world immediately throws that line in their face completely ignorant of its meaning. Christians are supposed to advance the kingdom of God. Advancing the kingdom means making disciples, which means saving souls.

Occasionally, Christians are confronted by those who call themselves Christians, but are behaving in ways so egregious as to bring disrepute on the church. When a church holds open its doors, it holds its doors open to sinners. But when a sinner enters and boasts of his faith while then bragging about his sins, the church has to act.

1 Corinthians 5:11-13 is where Christians must go for how to handle such Christians. There the Apostle Paul wrote, “I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler — not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.’ 

From Tertullian taking on the Montanists and Marcionism about A.D. 200, theologians have not applied that passage to an individual church, but to the church universal. As theologian Matthew Henry noted, Christians are to stop enjoying the companionship of an unrepentant swindler, idolater and the sexually immoral who boasts of his Christianity in order that the person might be shamed into repentance, lest his soul be lost. Likewise, to have an open and boastful sinner boastfully proclaiming himself a Christian does damage to the reputation of Christians who turn a blind eye.

The largest issue is the soul of the sinner. When one calls himself a Christian, but both brags about his sins and does not apologize or goes a step further and claims no need to repent at all, Christians have a problem on their hands. The person’s soul is at stake. “Once saved, always saved,” maybe a great Calvinist expression, but even Calvin would be leery of a boastful, unrepentant sinner.

A good example might be the man who brags openly of multiple affairs. He brags about breaking up marriages, sleeping with married women and even writes a book about it. He goes on television and says he’d love to have a sexual relationship with his daughter if she was someone else’s child. He brags about swindling people out of money. All the while, at every opportunity, he is asked about his faith. “I am a Christian,” he says repeatedly. “Have you asked for forgiveness?” he is asked repeatedly.

Each time the question comes up, he says he has never had to ask for forgiveness. He has never apologized for his sins. He says this repeatedly. Should we not take him at his word? If we refuse to take him at his word, is he not a liar? And if we do take him at his word, how then can Christians embrace and champion Donald Trump?

Christians advancing their own self-interest through Trump’s campaign risk his soul. He boasts of his Christianity, he boasts of his sins, and he says repeatedly he has never had to ask for forgiveness. For his sake and the church’s, Christians should be cautious in dealing with Trump. They may not be electing a pastor-in-chief, but they risk his soul by affirming him in his rebellious state.

Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.

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