Wayne Grudem rescinds Trump endorsement

Campaign 2016 | The evangelical theologian regrets calling the GOP nominee a ‘morally good choice’
by J.C. Derrick
Posted 10/10/16, 07:26 am

Noted theologian Wayne Grudem withdrew his endorsement from Donald Trump on Sunday and urged the businessman to drop out of the presidential race.

“There is no morally good presidential candidate in this election,” Grudem, a professor at Phoenix Seminary, wrote in a commentary posted at Townhall.

Grudem’s striking reversal comes two days after The Washington Post reported on a 2005 video showing Trump making lewd remarks about women and bragging about sexual assault. The resulting controversy sparked a wave of lawmakers to abandon the Republican nominee, but many evangelical backers refused to do so.

Grudem, the general editor of the ESV Study Bible (WORLD’s 2009 Book of the Year) and a participant in WORLD’s evangelical insiders survey, wrote a lengthy July column for Townhall calling Trump the “morally good choice” in the general election. On Sunday, he refuted that assertion in his first sentence, saying the new revelations, including separate remarks Trump made to radio host Howard Stern, changed his mind.

“I now regret that I did not more strongly condemn his moral character,” Grudem wrote. “I cannot commend Trump’s moral character, and I strongly urge him to withdraw from the election.”

Grudem expressed regret for not doing more research on Trump and said it’s fair to criticize him for it. He called Trump’s 2005 comments “evil” and said reading transcripts of his conversations with Stern “turned my stomach.”

“If I had read or heard some of these materials earlier, I would not have written as positively as I did about Donald Trump,” Grudem wrote as he thanked Townhall for removing his prior column from its website.

Grudem cited numerous reasons Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is “no better” than Trump. He expressed uncertainty about how he will vote but is “deeply reluctant” to simply walk away from the election or vote for a third-party candidate, as many Christians have vowed to do.

“If all the Christians in the country decide not to vote for either candidate, our rulers will then be chosen entirely by non-Christians, many of whom will increasingly use the immense power of government to promote evil, silence Christians, and oppose Christian values in every area of life,” Grudem wrote. “This is the opposite of what Paul told us to pray for in 1 Timothy 2:2.”

The theologian remains hopeful that Trump could withdraw from the race.

Grudem’s about-face stands in stark contrast to Trump’s other top evangelical backers. Gary Bauer, Robert Jeffress, Eric Metaxas, Tony Perkins, and Ralph Reed all released statements saying they still believe the real estate mogul is the country’s best option for president. Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr., one of Trump’s most ardent evangelical supporters, had been silent since the video’s release on Friday but noted his continued support for Trump in a congratulatory tweet following Sunday night’s debate.

UPDATE: On Oct. 19, Wayne Grudem changed course again, advocating that conservatives vote for the policies attributed to Donald Trump.

J.C. Derrick

J.C. is WORLD Radio’s managing editor. He spent 10 years covering sports, higher education, and politics for the Longview News-Journal and other newspapers in Texas before joining WORLD in 2012 and eventually becoming WORLD’s Washington Bureau chief. Follow J.C. on Twitter @jcderrick1.

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  • mp
    Posted: Mon, 10/10/2016 07:41 am

    Has the Professor called for Hllary Clinton to drop out of the race due to her obviously defecient moral character?

  • AlanE
    Posted: Mon, 10/10/2016 09:34 am

    While I understand your point, Grudem never called Clinton a "morally good choice" in the first place. As a church, the risk of wearing the stain of Trump is much greater than the risk of wearing the stain of Clinton. Indeed, we already wear it. We are already wearing the stain of bigotry, exploitation, and self-serving that should never be part of our story to the world. Evangelicals have supported Trump in large numbers whereas they have not supported Clinton in large numbers. Hence, right now, the need is more pressing for Grudem to speak to the Trump side of the issue. If, however, you read Grudem's entire piece, you will find he is anything but a supporter of Clinton. 

    Grudem's urging of Trump to drop out might have some influence both over Trump (unlikely) and over Evangelicals still supporting Trump. Grudem urging Clinton to drop out would be so much breathing air into the air. It is the progressives who need to call on Clinton to drop out. You could say their silence is deafening.

    It is telling that a large number of Trump supporters cannot entertain any criticism, no matter how pertinent, of their preferred candidate without protesting, "But, but Hillary is worse!"

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Posted: Thu, 11/03/2016 01:46 am

    Certainly we should vote Trump because, despite his brutish ways, he is the candidate who will do the least evil! Any other vote is a vote for Hillary, which will rapidly destroy our Christian liberties with the choice of her Judges!  Foolishness is no virtue, so do the moral choice and vote Trump!

  • D Oliver
    Posted: Mon, 10/10/2016 09:01 am

    Grudem should not have been surprised at the contents of the 2005 film.  Anyone who was paying attention to Trump could have surmised he is a vulgar and brutish man.   Perhaps Grudem should stick with his apparent calling – great Theology.

    Having said that, who will likely do less damage?  Who will likely reduce governmental interference in business and culture?

    I vacillate between Trump and Johnson.

  • hawaiicharles
    Posted: Mon, 10/10/2016 01:18 pm

    Question for Mr. Grudem:  why did you see fit to endorse Mr. Trump in the first place?  I honestly don't think the 2005 recording has revealed anything about Trump's *character* that we didn't already know.  For me, *nothing* is different today compared to last week, or last month.


  • AlanE
    Posted: Mon, 10/10/2016 04:03 pm

    Perhaps it is best to be satisfied that Mr. Grudem has changed his point of view. We don't all come to the same conclusions at the same time. I am satisfied from reading his article that he has beaten himself up enough over this one. We all have our tipping points of what it takes to bring us from one point of view to another. Evidently, the revelation about Trump that came on Friday was Grudem's tipping point.

  • Brendan Bossard's picture
    Brendan Bossard
    Posted: Mon, 10/10/2016 01:43 pm

    I commend Dr. Grudem for publicly admitting his error, and changing moving forward without trying to shift blame.  This is a hard thing to do, when millions are watching, as last night's debate proved.

    Thank you, Dr. Grudem.

  • William Peck 1958's picture
    William Peck 1958
    Posted: Mon, 10/10/2016 03:43 pm

    Trump is fighting a two-front war - the left / MSM / Democrats (all the same) and the Republicans. Did you notice that Trump ran roughshod over the Republican Elites during the primary ? I suppose you're fine with the state of the Republican Party - a bunch of smooth talking club members pretending to be conservative.

    If Hillary is elected, Trump will be the poster child for Republicans for 50 years, and the Republicans like Ryan and McConnell will pretend to be high and  mighty.

    If Trump wins, you might see a Revolution in the Republican  Party.

  • Brendan Bossard's picture
    Brendan Bossard
    Posted: Mon, 10/10/2016 09:03 pm

    You may want to adjust your pants, William.  You're sounding a little shrill.

  • Wayne Asbury
    Posted: Mon, 10/10/2016 05:12 pm

    Thank you Doctor Grudem for your honesty and humility.  That took courage and I hope we all respect that.  As to those who still support Mr Trump.  He may be the Republican Revolution.  But like the French Revolution and the Chinese Cultural Revolution I'm afraid it's gotten quite out of hand.  One thing I'll never understand about Americans is how they bandy the word Revolution about so freely as if it were always a good thing.  Some Revolutions end badly.  Some end VERY BADLY.  And then there are the Revolutions that never seem to end at all. 

  • Sojourner For Now
    Posted: Mon, 10/10/2016 07:12 pm

    Excellent point on Revolutions!  Perhaps Christians should be more focused on Reformation than on Revolution.

  • Nick Stuart's picture
    Nick Stuart
    Posted: Mon, 10/10/2016 08:21 pm

    It is impossible to predict whether Trump will live up to the promises he has made that have garnered him pro-life endorsements by the likes of Troy Newman (Operation Rescue), National Right to Life Committee PAC, West Virginians for Life PAC, Ben Carson, Marjorie Dannenfelser (pro-life activist and president of the Susan B. Anthony List), Frank Pavone (National Director of Priests for Life) and others.

    It is virtually certain that Clinton will live down to the promises that have garnered her pro-abortion endorsements by the likes of Ilyse Hogue (President: NARAL), Cecile Richards (President: Planned Parenthood), Eleanor Smeal (President: Feminist Majority), NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and others.

    Promises like the promise to repeal the Hyde Amendment that has been estimated to have saved over 2,000,000 lives since enacted.

    While Trump’s pro-life position is recent and sketchy, it is immeasurably better for the cause of life than Clinton’s longtime abortion at any time for any reason stance.

    Stand on your Principles™ and vote for neither if this is what you have determined to do. In doing so you will cooperate with evil by passively helping elect Clinton. The blood of the unborn who die in consequence will be on your hands.

    It’s really more like the choice between Diocletian and Constantine. Constantine was not a good man, he had his little ways, but he was a lot better than Diocletian.

  • Brendan Bossard's picture
    Brendan Bossard
    Posted: Tue, 10/11/2016 01:21 pm

    Nick, I share your anguish about the child sacrifice that is abortion.  That is why I would love to be able to vote for Trump in good conscience, but I cannot.  I could have voted for any of the other Republican candidates, but I cannot vote for Mr. Trump.  According to St. Paul, it is sin for me to vote against what my conscience indicates, just as it would be sin for me to judge you for voting for him in the general election.

  • Neil Evans's picture
    Neil Evans
    Posted: Tue, 10/11/2016 12:27 am

    To not vote for a candidate that has a chance of defeating Mrs Clinton is to give her one more vote.  To give her and the Democrats the victory means the continuation of their support and facilitation of abortion, unconstitutional governing, and their rejection of and opposition to America's Biblical values.  A vote against HRC does not necessarily mean agreement with the personal character of Mr Trump.  The more people abandon voting to defeat the proven anti-Biblical character and behavior of Mrs Clinton and her camp the more we are certain for them to contine their conquest of America's future.

    Posted: Wed, 10/12/2016 05:39 am

    It seems to me that we could look at this election as a more strategic process. One major party candidate (Clinton) is most easily blocked at the voting booth. The other, Trump, is the most likely of the two be on a very short leash and to subsequently be successfully impeached. I can live with that prospect in getting to a leader such as Mike Pence. In my view there's a preferable outcome for which one's vote in November is merely a step in that direction.

  • Steve Shive
    Posted: Tue, 10/11/2016 05:48 am

    This is truly a conundrum. And there is no perfect or obvious choice. The comments here all attest to that. There is a certain logic to most of them. But we still end up with a queasy feeling in the stomach. On the one hand I'm reminded that we have had very good and very bad presidents over the years. We have had some whose morals were every bit as bad as Trump's seem to be. But on the other hand the great American experiment has survived both despite, and maybe at times because of, the current President. But in the end that does not explain 240 odd years of our Republic's astounding successes. I don't really believe that our Republic will fall because of either of these deplorable candidates. The fact that we are in this situation is a symptom of the deplorable moral character that seems to have infected Americans. We are the problem. Not Trump, Clinton or any of the elected officials.

    I will add that one thing I'm hesitant to do is assume that St Paul would say that it is a sin to vote for Trump. That is a pretty big jump of logic or theology. But that may give some a sense of moral authority or conviction to be comfortable with their decision. I submit that voting or not voting is not a sin. Who we vote for is not a sin. Judging people for their votes is not a sin. The biblical concept of judging is not this narrow. Come on, where does St Paul, or scripture even address these superficial issues. Do we vote for people after balancing how bad or good they are on some scale?

    I would submit that we go to the polls and vote for whoever we feel is the best of the bad choices. Then we continue to pray for all of our leaders. Then we commit ourselves to grass roots moral actions. We choose to love others as ourselves. We pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

  • Brendan Bossard's picture
    Brendan Bossard
    Posted: Tue, 10/11/2016 01:23 pm

    To clarify, I meant that it would be sin to vote against my conscience.  I have clarified that in my post.

  • Leeper
    Posted: Tue, 10/11/2016 01:55 pm

    A vote for anyone other than Trump is a vote to lose Constitution rights. The next supreme Court will decide religious freedom, free speech, and second amendment gun rights. The Democrats supports erosion of these rights and promote expansion of  abortions. If anyone thinks a Republican Congress will stop this is wishful thinking. Just look at last 8 years. Clinton will continue and expand Obama's policy's. Trump was not in my top 5 choices for Republican nomination. But he may slow down the wrong direction of this country. This is the first time in my lifetime that I am afraid of our government.

  • Xion's picture
    Posted: Wed, 10/12/2016 08:40 am

    I've read Wayne Grudem's systematic theology and am surprised that someone so well versed in Christian doctrine could be so confused about this world.  We aren't voting for a pastor.  We are looking for someone suited to rule in Satan's kingdom.  If you were under seige in Bastogne in 1944 who would you want to be in charge of the rescuing Third Army, the foul mouthed prima donna George Patton or your choir director?  Jimmy Carter was perhaps the most religious of recent presidents and yet he couldn't have been worse.  Christians need to vote for people with the skills needed to do the job and not become weak kneed when discovering that they are sinners.

    Norm Geisler gives his reason for continuing to endorse Trump:  http://bit.ly/2dIHvkP

  • Brendan Bossard's picture
    Brendan Bossard
    Posted: Wed, 10/12/2016 01:56 pm

    Dr. Geisler rehashed the same arguments that every Christian Trump supporter has used ad nauseam, without any reference to God or scripture, other than what can safely be summarized in two statements:  "We are not voting for Pastor-in-Chief," (a straw man) and "We are all sinners," (a tautology).

    His words are not weightier just because he is a theologian.  Theologians are experts at examining God's Word.  They are not necessarily good at applying it.

  • RJSmith
    Posted: Sat, 10/22/2016 05:35 pm

    Recently, Wayne Grudem has indicated in a detailed article in Townhall on the 19th and again last night on Washington Watch (and perhaps elsewhere), that, after further thought and consideration, he has come around in his thinking about the election and realizes “We have no choice as Christians but to vote for Trump”. His reasoning includes the preponderance of policy stances in Trump’s favor and he acknowledges the mathematical fact that anything but a Trump vote, is a vote for Clinton.

    Perhaps I missed it, but where is your headliner WebPage story on that?

  • Elaine
    Posted: Fri, 11/04/2016 09:59 pm

    Given the crimnal nature of HRC, it is sad but necessary to vote for Trump.  If Hillary is elected, the political swamp that Obama and Clinton created in the DOJ, FBI, IRS, Dept of State, and other bureaucracies under their control, will continue their down hill trajectory and no Democrat criminal will ever be brought to justice - especially not Clinton.  However if Trump is elected, the establishment Republicans and all the Democrats hate him and will hold him to a high standard of ethica.   If he fails to hold that standard he will be immediately impeached and tossed out of the White House.  Then we get.....Mike Pence for President!  That is a great outcome!!!  So, voting for Trump is the best of all possibilites!!   

  • zonie
    Posted: Sat, 11/05/2016 12:29 am

    Has anyone noticed Dr. Grudem has commented again AFTER this article. Well worth noting: http://townhall.com/columnists/waynegrudem/2016/10/19/if-you-dont-like-e...