By Steve Berman
He’s been studying for his masters degree at seminary, and as his knowledge of faith and scripture grow, so does his understanding of the relationship between Trump supporters and their religion.
Here’s the storified version of what should be the last word on Trump and Christians. I recommend everyone read this very carefully. If you don’t understand some of the terms, please refer to the handy glossary at the bottom (reporters and media: this means you, because the AP Stylebook doesn’t define these terms).
These are presented in the order used.
**Doctor of Divinity**: Regent University offers 43 degree programs in religion and ministry. They offer a Master of Divinity program with 11 focus areas. But they don’t offer a Doctor of Divinity. Neither does Southwestern AG University, or Liberty University, or Notre Dame. A Doctor of Divinity is an honorary degree made to look like a Master of Divinity (which is real), but you can’t earn it.
**Dispensationalist:** An aderent of dispensationalism. That’s a theology which holds that God has dealt with humans through separate and distinct historical periods (dispensations): innocence, conscience, government, patriarchal rule, Mosaic Law, grace (where we are now), and a literal Millennial Kingdom. Dispensationalists believe that the church and Israel have completely separate destinies, that grace has supplanted the Law, and the New Testament Church was not a prophetic object of the Old Testament prophets. Basically, they believe Jews are on their own, and Christians should look to grace until Christ’s coming.
**Reformed Protestants:** In very broad terms, Protestant denominations holding to the theology of the Reformation. The main theological points here are: Sole authority of Scripture (Sola Scriptura), Justification by Faith alone (Sola Fide), and the priesthood of all believers, versus an earthly priestly class. Today, many Reformed churches are associated with Calvinist teachings, but others are leaning Molinist. Calvinist teaching is important in the doctrine of Irresistible Grace, which (basically) means that to whomever God’s saving grace is directed (the elected) is foreordained to accept that grace.
**Theonomists:** Adherents of the system of Christian ethics known as theonomy; its main tenet is the applicability of Old Testament ethical standards to modern society (such as the Ten Commandments). Most theonomists advocate Christian Reconstructionism—making Biblical Law the foundation of society’s laws, including certain civil prohibitions.
**Post-Millennialists:** Believers in postmillennialism, which holds that the reign of Christ is not a literal return and thousand year era, but achieved through the gradual increase in God’s Kingdom through the spread of the Gospel. These believers emphasize doing everything based on converting people and increasing the influence of Christianity. Reformed theologians such as R.C. Sproul hold to this belief.
**Israel (Biblical):** Biblically, Israel is a tender issue for Christians. Replacement Theology holds that Israel is just another country, and Jews are just another people group who hold to a covenant which was fulfilled and supplanted by Christ. Many Replacement Theology (Supercessionism) believers believe that (Jews) Israel is irrelevant to the end-times. Scripture does not support this view, and a spectrum of beliefs populate Christendom. Ephesians 2:11-22 provides the best Biblical support for Christians to love and value Jews and Israel, who, through Christ, will become “one new humanity of the two” Jews and Gentiles.
**Prosperity Gospel:** One day I was in church, and the preacher said if I give $50, a new Cadillac would appear in my driveway the next morning. I eagerly put a $50 in the offering plate. And behold, the next morning, a shiny new Cadillac pulled in to my driveway. The preacher got out and personally thanked me for my donation. Seriously (but that is serious), Prosperity Theology holds that God will do whatever is asked in His name (John 14:13), combined with Jesus’ teaching on giving and money (Luke 6:38). Though God does desire that we are blessed, and God does answer prayer, prosperity preachers center all teaching on those singular points, emphasizing giving to get. The “name it, claim it” doctrine is taught by many Charismatic preachers such as Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Paula White, and T.D. Jakes. Mostly, it just enriches the preacher, not the flock. Most serious theologians reject Prosperity Theology as outright heresy.
**The Book of Virtues:** No, it’s not in the Bible. Stop looking. It was written by Bill Bennett. I recommend you read it and then compare it with his statements supporting Donald Trump.
**Pharisees:** A Jewish sect in Jesus’ day, characterized by the priest and Levitical classes. Pharisees emphasized the spiritual gifts and nature of God, while adhering to the strictest legal code of Jewish life and Torah. To be called “pharisaical” as a Christian is a pejorative meaning overly legalistic and self-righteous. Many of the Pharisees opposed Jesus because they believed God would reveal the Messiah exclusively through them, due to their perceived righteousness (how wrong they were!).
**Chasidim:** In Jesus time, a Pharisee. Today, a Hasidic Jew—the inheritors of the Pharisees. Interestingly, today’s Chassid is probably most likely to accept Yeshua as Messiah when presented with inescapable personal evidence (dreams, visions), versus the secularized Jew. In Jesus’ day, many Pharisees became Christians when they heard the Gospel.
**Render Unto Caesar:** Matthew 22:20-22. The Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus into a theological error. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” They wanted him to weigh in on a political matter, but Jesus wouldn’t bite. This has nothing to do with a Christian’s obligation of citizenship, and certainly is not any kind of commandment that Christians are to vote as a matter of faith. In fact, it buttresses the argument that a Christian’s faith should inform their vote, not that a vote is a Christian obligation.
**False Disciples:** Matthew 7:21-23. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” — Speaks for itself.