During the White House Christmas tree lighting ceremony last Thursday evening, President Donald Trump was more clear and more forthright about the reason for the season than Americans have heard from the White House in years:
The Christmas Story begins 2,000 years ago with a mother, a father, their baby son, and the most extraordinary gift of all: the gift of God’s love for all of humanity. Whatever our beliefs we know that the birth of Jesus Christ and the story of his life forever changed the course of human history.
Trump's message contrasts markedly from the remarks made by then-President Obama a year earlier during a similar tree-lighting ceremony. Those remarks reflected the narcissistic personality of the occupant of the White House at the time, as well as his clearly implied belief that all paths lead to Heaven. He also neatly and deliberately omitted any mention of the Savior by name:
Along with celebrations like these, the holidays also offer us a time for reflection and perspective. And over these next few weeks, as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, as we retell the story of weary travelers, a star, shepherds, Magi, I hope that we also focus ourselves on the message that this child brought to this Earth some 2,000 years ago — a message that says we have to be our brother’s keeper, our sister’s keeper, that we have to reach out to each other, to forgive each other. To let the light of our good deeds shine for all….
It’s a message that grounds not just my family’s Christian faith but that of Jewish Americans, Muslim Americans, non-believers — Americans of all backgrounds.
Then-President Obama’s remarks differ from those from the Savior Himself: “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, New International Version)
President Trump remarked that “we know” that Jesus "changed the course of human history," raising the question: Is this the corporate or editorial “we,” or was he expressing his own personal knowledge of the Lord of life? George Barna thinks he has the answer.
Barna, the author of more than 50 books related to matters of faith in the United States and the founder of The Barna Group, a market research group specializing in studying the religious beliefs and behavior of Americans, is persuaded not only that Trump has come to Christ, but that God used His people to bring Trump into the White House. In his latest work, The Day Christians Saved America, published in August, Barna relates how he witnessed the beginning of the miracle that stunned the country last November:
Some people — the author included — began referring to the [November] outcome as a literal miracle … delivered by the very same God whom the Democrats had purposefully written out of their official party platform.
As the voting totals from the crucial swing states trickled in during the early morning hours of November 9, stupefied TV anchors across the nation reported the outcomes with glazed eyes and soft voices, unable to comprehend what was going on.
Hillary Clinton, the “sure thing,” the presumed victor who would cement and build upon the “Obama legacy” through the implementation of her “progressive” agenda, had been defeated.
Donald Trump, the vulgar, loud-mouthed, cantankerous, Twitter-happy billionaire from Manhattan — a political novice and moral dilemma — had won to fill the highest political position in the country.
According to Barna the first evidence of the transformation — the salvation of Trump from his “moral dilemma” — occurred on September 15, 2016, when “about 40 evangelical and Pentecostal leaders huddled with Trump in a private meeting to discuss national interests. Among those present were David Jeremiah, Jan Crouch, Paula White, Robert Jeffress, Kenneth Copeland, and black pastors Darrel Scott and Clarence McClendon.”
Following the meeting, wrote Barna, “Many … felt led to pray for Trump; they laid hands on him and asked for God’s blessing and guidance for the man.” Added Barna:
Somewhere along the line it seems that Trump may have discovered enough spiritual truth to embrace Jesus Christ as his savior.
One of those absent from that meeting was James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, who noted:
Only the Lord knows the condition of a person's heart. I can only tell you what I've heard. First, Trump appears to be tender to things of the Spirit. I also hear that Paula White has known Trump for years and that she personally led him to Christ. Do I know that for sure? No. Do I know the details of that alleged conversion? I can't say that I do. But there are many Christian leaders who are serving on a faith advisory committee for Trump in the future. I am among them. There are about 25 of us that include Jerry Falwell, Jr., Robert Jeffress, Jack Graham, Ben Carson, James Robison, Michele Bachmann, and many others whom you would probably know. We've all agreed to serve. How will that play out if Trump becomes president? I don't know. It is a good start, I would think.
What can safely be concluded is that, wherever Trump was at the beginning of his campaign, he is closer to His Creator today, and Thursday’s declaration that “we know” who He is and why America celebrates His birth may not just be the editorial “we” but a personal testimony as well.