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Culture Q&A

Wayne Grudem

The case for Donald Trump

A positive assessment of Trump’s tenure and future outlook

The case for Donald Trump

Wayne Grudem (Illustration by John Jay Cabuay)

In this issue, we offer contrary views of President Donald Trump from two people I greatly respect. First, Wayne Grudem, professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary, offers a positive perspective. Grudem is the author of Christian Ethics, Politics—According to the Bible, and 20 more books and was general editor for the ESV Study Bible. Here are edited excerpts from our Sept. 1 interview. (Click here to see David French’s perspective on Trump.)

Christian journalist and lawyer David French says Christians spent decades saying “character matters.” Now we rarely say that. What kind of testimony is that before the watching world? I recognize, and evangelicals in general who support Donald Trump recognize, that he has character flaws. But they do not seem to us to be disqualifying. Character matters, but policy also matters.

Can we separate character from policy, especially during a crisis? You partly judge a person’s character by the actions he takes. President Trump has made wise decisions regarding the coronavirus pandemic in the midst of misleading, lying information from China and conflicting advice from scientific and economic experts. On racial issues, his leadership led to an economy with the lowest black unemployment since we’ve been keeping records, with great gains among lower-income workers. He pushed for greater school choices in minority neighborhoods and stronger law enforcement to bring more safety to inner cities.

Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis said, “Donald Trump is the first person in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people. … He tries to divide us.” Mistaken evaluation? It’s bearing false witness against President Trump to say he seeks to divide us. He isn’t responsible for the rioting, the burning of cars, the blocking of public roads and sidewalks that began on day one of his presidency. No Americans legitimately have a fear of physical violence … for putting a Biden sticker on their car or wearing a Joe Biden campaign shirt or hat. But I know many evangelicals, including myself, who fear being physically attacked or shouted at if I were to put a Trump bumper sticker on my car or wear a MAGA or Trump-supporter hat in public.

The political left certainly has a lot to answer for, but what about the responsibility of Christian leaders? When Barack Obama made untruthful claims, he received a lot of criticism; but have we seen similar criticism regarding President Trump? I’ve publicly criticized his previous marital infidelity and his vindictiveness at times, and his brash, confrontational behavior at times. I looked at The Washington Post’s list of what it calls 16,000-some “lies” Trump has spoken and examined 20 or 30 of them. They’re what I’d call conclusions drawn by a hostile interpreter of words that a sympathetic listener would understand in a positive way. President Trump is often not careful in some of the things he says. He is given to exaggeration. Sometimes he’s made a statement after being given inaccurate information. I’m not sure he’s ever intentionally affirmed something he knows to be false, which is how I define a lie. As you know, I have written an ethics textbook. I believe it’s never right to affirm X when you believe X is false. If someone wants to point out to me some actual Trump lies that fit that definition, I’d be happy to look at them. 

Will America in 2024 be in better or worse shape if Biden is elected, or if Trump is reelected? The Trump presidency has resulted in a stronger economy, stronger national defense, positive steps toward achieving border security, standing up to China and Russia, negotiating new trade agreements, advocating educational freedom, standing with Israel, strengthening our military, and reforming our judicial system. Those are all what seem to me to be evidence of God’s blessing on the nation with President Trump. If he wins again, I expect there will be more blessing on our nation. If Biden is elected, he’ll support abortion, cripple the economy, weaken our military, largely abandon Israel, select more judges who legislate from the bench, weaken religious freedom. We’ll have more crime, a complete federal takeover of our healthcare system, and much more that looks like the withdrawal of God’s blessing.

Character matters, but policy also matters.

How much power does the president have over abortion? The influence the president has on abortion, right now, is through the appointment of judges who will undo the protection that Roe v. Wade in 1973 gave to abortion. President Trump has appointed two Supreme Court justices who indicate they are willing to overturn Roe, which would allow the American people through state legislatures and through Congress to make laws restricting the practice of abortion that the American public in general would support.

What do you think about the Trump administration dropping the number of refugees allowed in the United States to an all-time low? We should allow more legal refugees to come into the United States, but we don’t have the national will to do that until we have a sense that there’s a secure border. Once that border wall is completed in all the major areas where it needs to be to have a secure border, it will be a calmer, more thoughtful atmosphere on the part of the American people to provide a just and humane solution.

We’re probably agreed that President Trump has faced a hostile media. The Media Research Center evaluated the evening news broadcasts of NBC, CBS, and ABC for all of June and July. It found for every negative comment about Joe Biden there were 158 negative evaluations or statements about President Trump. That’s led to popular misimpressions. 

I’m not critical at all of people who look at the Trump-Biden race and vote for Trump as the lesser evil. I do wonder about those who call Trump the “Greatest Christian President” ever. I have not done that. He’s a good president with some flaws. It’s a choice between two flawed candidates, and it boils down to an issue of what policies he will enact. 

—Read an opposing viewpoint from David French: “The case against Donald Trump”

Comments

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  • EM
    Posted: Fri, 09/25/2020 12:16 pm

    I think Mr Olasky should have played hardball in stead of softball with his questions in this interview and it's counter interview. I understand that each gentleman is well qualified to answer but I really think the tough questions should have been asked I.e., Do you think immigrant families have been treated fairly during this administration. Have Trump's actions to date been ethical or moral in the treatment of immigrants? 

  • Steve SoCal
    Posted: Fri, 09/25/2020 01:19 pm

    Overall, I would say that, yes, immigrants have been treated fairly under the Trump administration.  There have been some mistakes, but no more than have happened under other administrations that are not under the constant, vicious, scrutiny that President Trump has faced since day one.  And, as Mr. Grudem suggests, the lower number of refugees being received is largely connected to whether we as a country are prepared to receive them well while also actually having good immigration laws, proper screening, and good border protection.

  • My Two Cents
    Posted: Fri, 09/25/2020 12:50 pm

    I wish Mr. Grudem would stick to writing theology books. He never responded directly to whether Trump is the "Greatest Christian President" ever. It's about policy and not character? Is it too much to expect the party of "morality" to nominate a person who has good character AND good policy? Apparently so.

  • Allen Johnson
    Posted: Fri, 09/25/2020 04:59 pm

    Professor Grudem says, "I’m not sure he’s ever intentionally affirmed something he knows to be false, which is how I define a lie....If someone wants to point out to me some actual Trump lies that fit that definition, I’d be happy to look at them."

    Let's start from the beginning of Triump's voice in politics, when he repeatedly slanderously lied that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and thus was an illegitimate president. What say thee, professor?  

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Mon, 10/05/2020 09:55 pm

    How come Obama's Grandmother said he was born in Kenya? 

  • Steve Shive
    Posted: Sat, 09/26/2020 07:49 am

    Thanks Marvin for posting this and David French's opposing position. This is good journalism. It seems to me that Grudem does a better job than French in staking out a reasonable and accurate position. An interview with Nikki Haley or Victor Davis Hanson, or both, would be enlightening.

  • PJ
    Posted: Sat, 09/26/2020 12:07 pm

    Wayne Gruden is RIGHT ON, in his evaluation.

  •  West Coast Gramma's picture
    West Coast Gramma
    Posted: Sat, 09/26/2020 06:49 pm

    Well, if we didn't know before, we know now who's paying your bills. But, of course, you are a conservative magazine. Why should anyone expect otherwise?

  • Leeper
    Posted: Sun, 09/27/2020 03:38 pm

    Thankyou for these viewpoints. You won't hear both of them in any other publication. Saying that I agree completely with Mr Grudem. 

  • DEBI
    Posted: Sun, 09/27/2020 04:38 pm

    We call Trump "Our Favorite President" ever !  We thank God for him !!!

  • SG
    Posted: Sun, 09/27/2020 10:25 pm

    Thank you for providing this forum.  I likewise would appreciate hearing other thoughtful individual's take on Trump (and Harris/Biden), and for that matter on the stated policies of their respective parties.  

  • Joe M
    Posted: Mon, 09/28/2020 07:56 am

    Good opposing interviews. The bottom line is voting is a prudential judgement. With Trump you get a 24-7 antagonistic, hysterical media and increased national strife, as well as bureacratic mismanagement and gaffes aplenty. With Biden you get a massive government expanasion, a crippled economy, and leftist social propoganda. Neither will be fun.

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Mon, 10/05/2020 10:10 pm

    You claim that with Trump you get bureaucratic mismanagement? What planet are you living on? Trump has  pushed to see government IS managed effectively. He pushed back against the cost of Air Force 1. He pushed back at the cost of the US embassy in Israel. Trump has push back at the cost of many programs in government and he fore goes receiving a paycheck for his work as president! 

  • Cyborg3's picture
    Cyborg3
    Posted: Mon, 10/05/2020 10:10 pm

    You claim that with Trump you get bureaucratic mismanagement? What planet are you living on? Trump has  pushed to see government IS managed effectively. He pushed back against the cost of Air Force 1. He pushed back at the cost of the US embassy in Israel. Trump has push back at the cost of many programs in government and he fore goes receiving a paycheck for his work as president! 

  • BP
    Posted: Fri, 10/02/2020 03:51 pm

    Professor Grudem says, "If someone wants to point out to me some actual Trump lies . . .  I’d be happy to look at them."  How about that Covid-19 was no worse than the regular flu, that it would soon burn itself out in the warm weather (or just fade away into thin air), that children are virtually immune to the virus, and that the government had everything under control?  Some of these things the Woodward recordings show he knew not to be true when he said them.  If he didn't know that the rest weren't true, it's only because he wouldn't listen to people who did.  Willful ignorance may not be the exact same thing as lying, but it's certainly close, especially when you know people are depending on your for the truth.

    Again - How about that the crowd at his inauguration was "the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration," which he had to have known was demonstrably untrue?  These are just a couple of Trump lies that come readily to mind.

    Finally, though I have benefitted greatly from Professor Grudem's books, and have always found him to be reliable, I have to say that examining "20 or 30" of the Washington Post's supposed 1600-some Trump lies seems like taking too small a sample from which to draw legitimate conclusions.

  • zonie
    Posted: Tue, 10/06/2020 04:32 pm

    I appreciate Dr. Grudem's perspective, that Policy Trumps Personality.  A couple of items which provide a bit greater depth than available here:  https://townhall.com/columnists/waynegrudem/2020/08/24/30-good-things-pr... and https://townhall.com/columnists/waynegrudem/2020/08/08/letter-to-an-anti...

  • HANNAH.
    Posted: Tue, 10/06/2020 06:42 pm

    Thank you for the links! They provide wells of reasoned information from which the sip of this article was drawn.

  • RS
    Posted: Tue, 10/06/2020 07:41 pm

    I would like to live under whatever rock Dr Grudem lives under. Trump is apparently a uniter and an honest person.

  • TH
    Posted: Thu, 10/08/2020 08:53 pm

    Leading the pack for liar of the year are Christians supporting Biden because of Trump's immoral behaviour. It would be one thing to vote for neither on morality considerations. But that is rarely the case. The argument is made that due to Trump's immoral past a Christian can combat that by voting for a party that promotes, endorses and literally loves a laundry list of immoral behaviours. Pathetic.