LYNCHBURG, Va. — The president of Virginia’s Liberty University, which heralds itself as the world’s largest Christian university, took to Fox News on Monday night to defend the the thrice-married, unbridled-tongued Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as being a generous Christian, repeating the praise that he lavished during his introduction of Trump during the university’s convocation earlier in the day.
Jerry Falwell, Jr. appeared on “Hannity” and explained why—although he did not consider his introduction an endorsement—he spoke so glowingly about the presidential candidate.
“I got to know Donald Trump after he spoke here in 2012 and I learned so much about him that the public never hears and I wanted to share that with our audience,” he explained.
Falwell then provided examples of Trump’s generosity, such as the money he donated to help keep the Harlem Hoops tournament operating after its leader died in the 9/11 attacks, to paying off a family’s mortgage after they gave roadside assistance when his limousine broke down, to donating $100,000 to a Christian ministry that was struggling financially.
He then asserted that these aspects demonstrate Trump’s Christianity.
“Those are just things that I think the world needed to know about Donald Trump because the Bible says that by your fruits you shall know them,” Falwell said.
“He may not be a theological expert and he might say two Corinthians instead of second Corinthians, but when you look at the fruits of his life and all the people he’s provided jobs, I think that’s the true test of somebody’s Christianity not whether or not they use the right theological terms,” he stated.
As previously reported, Falwell had made similar statements in his ten-minute introduction of Trump to Liberty students who attended the mandatory convocation on Monday.
“Matthew 7:16 tells us that ‘By your fruits you shall know them.’ Donald Trump’s life has borne fruit,” he said. “Fruit that has provided jobs to multitudes of people, in addition to the many he has helped with his generosity.”
“In my opinion, Mr. Trump lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught in the Great Commandment,” Falwell declared.
But some believe that Falwell shouldn’t be so quick to stump for Trump, noting that simply performing good deeds doesn’t necessarily make someone a born-again Christian.
“I would disagree with Jerry Falwell because although, yes, Trump has done many generous and good deeds, if he doesn’t have true living faith in Jesus Christ as his savior in understanding that he’s a sinner in need of salvation, then the many good deeds do not equate to the fruit that Jesus is talking about,” Pastor David Whitney of Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church and the Institute on the Constitution in Pasadena, Maryland, told Christian News Network.
“After all,” he said, “the prophet Isaiah said that all our righteousness is as filthy rags. Until we come to faith in Jesus Christ, any good things that we do are not seen in God’s eyes as truly acts that are good. The only good that a person can do is after they come to faith in Jesus Christ, and I think that that is the measure of the fruit that Jesus is referring to.”
Whitney noted Trump’s pattern of demeaning other candidates, his casino empire, his support for eminent domain (government seizure of private property), and his statements denying his need for repentance and forgiveness as red flags surrounding Trump’s fruit.
“Why do I have to repent, why do I have to ask for forgiveness, if you are not making mistakes?” Trump asked CNN’s Anderson Cooper in July. “I work hard. I’m an honorable person. I have thousands of people who work for me. I have employed tens of thousands of people over the years.”
“I don’t know anyone who’s truly a Christian who would make such a statement,” Whitney said. “[W]e’re told to confess our sins and to repent of those sins. So someone who would say, ‘I don’t ever see anything that I need to ask God forgiveness for,’ would not have a biblical understanding of their status before God and their need for Christ to be their savior.”
He pointed to 1 Timothy 5:22’s exhortation for church leaders not to “lay hands suddenly” on any man, and opined that the principle likewise applies to university presidents like Falwell who are quick to declare presidential candidates as being Christian.
“Those who are in leadership and are making an impact on a large Christian community, a Christian college or even beyond that realm, need to be cautious in quickly ‘laying hands on’ any politician and endorsing or quasi-endorsing them,” Whitney stated. “We ought to challenge the candidates by the standard of the biblical view of law and government.”
John Jay, the first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, once said, “Providence has given our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as privilege and interest, of a Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”