I believe in redemption – both eternal and worldly. Scripture counsels that there is no sin too great that the blood of Christ cannot wipe clean. And temporally speaking, hitting rock bottom can often serve as a catalyst towards change for an individual whose life was spiraling dangerously off the rails.
To illustrate, I always think of the life of President Nixon's "hatchet man," Chuck Colson. Sentenced to prison for obstruction of justice, Colson found so powerful a redemption in Christ that everyone who encountered him noticed the obvious change. Ronald Nikkel wrote:
"Admittedly, when I first heard Chuck Colson tell the story of his newfound faith I was among the skeptics. Yet there was something very compelling about his upside-down view of God working more poignantly through human brokenness and weakness than through power and achievement. I soon realized that Chuck's story was not that of a man trying to clamber and claw his way back into respectability and success. It was instead, a provocative story that saw him returning to the places of his own brokenness and humiliation — prison."
That's the kind of redemption I believe in – one where the individual comes to recognize the emptiness of vain pursuits like fame, finding instead a lasting contentment in humility through Christ.
That was the very kind of redemption that was available to televangelist Jim Bakker, a man whose fall from grace tragically subjected the name of Christ to public humiliation. Bakker's "PTL" empire of the 1980s collapsed under the weight of his sexual and financial sins, with Bakker himself serving a five-year prison sentence for his crimes.
But sadly, rather than take the Colson path, Bakker's reemergence has revealed a man desperately committed to rebuilding his own kingdom of earthly fame and influence. If that seems harsh, consider the flagrantly anti-biblical message that Bakker unloaded on his television program:
The broader context makes it worse:
"He keeps signing things to protect the church, and he's helped Israel and recognized Israel. He's fulfilling Bible whether you like it or not, and you know what? Trump is a test, whether you're even saved."
Viewing that statement from an orthodox Christian foundation, there's no escaping the reality that it is utterly heretical. To be clear, the only test for whether you are saved is if you have placed your faith in Christ and Christ alone.
All secondary questions regarding the degree of support – verbal or financial – a person offers to a particular candidate in 21st century American politics, how a person votes, or even if a person votes, have nothing to do with the status of their salvation. That isn't to say that surrender to the Lordship of Christ will not transform a person's way of thinking. It certainly will, and that should have profound effects on their political engagement.
But to declare, as Bakker did, that the sincerity of one's salvation is directly proportional to their fealty to any president is laughably absurd. It also demonstrates an appalling lack of respect for the authority of God's Word. It's to use the name of Christ in an effort to advance a personal agenda that is separate from, and independent of the Great Commission.
In other words, it's the same Jim Bakker playbook it's always been – pridefully and heretically adding to God's Word for self-serving reasons.
Regardless of their grievous nature, the boundless grace of God offered Jim Bakker the exact opportunity all of us have been given to find redemption from our past sins. Sadly, Bakker has apparently chosen grifting in the name of Jesus rather than embracing it.
Again, as is obvious to most Christians, a person's salvation can not be determined by whether or not they support President Trump. Any person claiming we're saved "by faith alone in Trump alone" is merely exposing an accurate barometer of their own faith.
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