Interview: Ben Carson Explains Decision to Support Trump
James Robison: Dr. Carson, we’ve been friends since we met shortly after you spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast, and you’ve been on LIFE Today more than once, and spoke at our conference. Do you see your role as an ambassador and witness for Christ as the highest calling?
Ben Carson: That is by far the highest calling. A real evangelical is someone whose life is centered on Jesus Christ and that becomes the most important thing in their life. That really helps to determine their relationship with the world and with everyone else.
JR: It really seems that it’s easy for the church to divide. Have you had some pushback from Christians who might be critical and even unkind since you decided to endorse Mr. Trump?
BC: Yes, you will always get that no matter who you would endorse. You would get that. That’s to be anticipated.
JR: I know you expressed respect for my decision not to endorse but to pray for and speak truth to all candidates who seek my advice. It’s obvious where you stand related to principles that matter, which is why you gained such respect at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013. Right now some people are a little confused about why you decided to endorse Donald Trump. … What led to that decision?
BC: The desire to avoid a brokered convention, recognizing that if we got to a brokered convention, it is very likely that it would destroy the Republican party, but also would end up losing the presidency, and the Senate and perhaps the House as well. When I think about the future of the country and think about our children, grandchildren, and the possibilities of what would happen to them with a Supreme Court that had between 2 and 4 progressives on it, that was a thought more than I could bear.
JR: You just emphasized how a brokered convention could be damaging to the nation, and made it clear that a nanny state that people are dependent upon doesn’t help them, it actually hurts them, and so you felt having a clear winner was the best way to offset what is often described as the political left and the negative influence they have. Is that correct?
BC: I think if the will of the people is thwarted by the political establishment, it will create so much resentment and it will basically hand the election over to those who will probably ruin America for the next many generations.
JR: Do you think Mr. Trump is the man that can actually help turn the tide? Many are surprised that you would endorse a man who has seemed angry and demeaning of various individuals and many times women. There is a series of statements that he actually made toward women that are a great concern to women and voters overall. How do you handle that?
BC: Those statements concern me as well, but they don’t concern me as much as the possibility of turning the nation over to socialists who will completely destroy it. The way I look at it, even if he turns out to be a terrible president, we’re only talking four years, as opposed to multiple generations. …
JR: You indicated that there are two Donald Trump’s and referenced that he was very “cerebral” when you talked to him. Is that implying that he’s not engaged when he is speaking and he’s speaking off the cuff, shooting from the hip without giving serious thought to what he is saying?
BC: Remember, he is an entertainer who has been a reality TV host and been very successful in doing that. He knows how to play to the crowd and how to play to the camera. If anybody thinks that someone who does that on television is actually demonstrating their true persona, they don’t know a lot about it.
JR: The Bible says clearly, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” Some people see him as double minded, a loose cannon. How do you respond to that and is there anything you can do about that?
BC: You can obviously continue to work with him and talk with him about being presidential and speak to all of the people, instead of just speaking to the angry people. I believe you’re going to see that. You’ve already seen it to some degree. In the last debate he wasn’t nearly as confrontational, although he told me he was tempted to be, but he remembered about being presidential.
JR: I saw a slight change in temperament right after you were with him, but it seems as more time has passed, he has gone back to the abrasive, very confrontational Donald Trump. The Bible is very clear in saying, “The wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God.” This out of control, excessive, mismanaged government is enough to make us all justifiably angry, but anger will not correct our course. We’ve got to move past that. Would it be one of your goals to move people past that anger and teach them to channel their frustration appropriately, and do you think you’ve got the influence to do that?
BC: I would certainly hope so. I would hope that’s the reason the Lord has provided me these opportunities. When you look at Pharaoh, he probably was not the person most Christians would have chosen to be their leader, but because of the influence of Joseph, wonderful things happened in Egypt. You could say the same thing about Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar probably would not have been the person most Christians would have chosen to be their leader, and yet there was a great influence of Nebuchadnezzar with Cyrus, Belshazzar, all of them. There clearly are things that can be done through influence and we have to sometimes trust in the way the Lord sees it because His ways and our ways are very different. As it says in Isaiah 55, “His ways are much higher than our ways,” and we can’t necessarily understand them, but we must always try to do what makes sense and what is right.
JR: You and I both grew up fatherless, and in so many ways challenged, and yet we didn’t depend on others. We exercised what freedom offered, took advantage of the opportunities, and have experienced a life of blessing and the privilege of being a blessing. In our discussions, we have agreed that it’s going to take a spiritual awakening to correct our nation’s perilous course. I believe the power that leads to awakening is the same power that must transform the hearts and minds of people, including our leaders, which would apply to Donald Trump. My opinion and prayer is that he needs a very obvious transforming encounter with Christ and the supernatural power essential for an awakening. Do you believe there is a need for that in Donald Trump?
BC: I believe there is a need for that in Donald Trump and probably in all of us. I would love to see that happen.
JR: Some Christian leaders I know very well who’ve met with Mr. Trump say they believe he actually would be very teachable if the truth was delivered to him directly in love. Do you sense that?
BC: I do absolutely.
JR: I want to reemphasize along with many people who pray, I believe that’s essential and I think it really has to happen.
BC: If I didn’t think there was that possibility, I would say, “Let’s just go down with the ship,” and wouldn’t even try.
JR: Do you think that I am right by encouraging Christians who may choose to support different candidates that they must not allow the enemy to cause them to make an enemy out of a person who may see differently for the moment, but we remain a family seeking the will of God our Father and that’s really important? Just like you and me right now, you know up until the time you endorsed, I was encouraging you not to and yet I still have great love for you and I’m going to continue to pray that your influence and my influence will somehow bring to pass the will of God in Mr. Trump’s life and in other’s lives.
BC: Absolutely. It’s very important for Christians to recognize that everybody is going to come to different conclusions. I always say, if two people agree about everything, one of them is unnecessary. We’re all necessary, but we shouldn’t allow differences to divide us.
JR: The Bible is clear, “iron sharpens iron,” that implies friction. I see this whole process as that friction, but it seems that when friction comes Mr. Trump’s way, rather than seeking the potential honing and sharpening effect, he tries to discredit, damage and in many ways destroy anyone who disagrees with him. That concerns me deeply.
BC: It is very concerning, and you notice that was not the tack that I took, but by the same token, the tack that I took was not successful and the tack that he took, was successful for him. There is a pragmatism that goes with that. The fact of the matter is, we don’t know the end from the beginning. We think we do, but we don’t. What we have to do is go with it and trust. That’s where faith comes in. If things are not going the way we think they should go and we become disillusioned, we have to recognize that God has complete control. Frequently it’s always the darkest before dawn.
JR: Mr. Trump seems to appreciate talking about evangelicals and he’s excited about them which says to me that there’s something that attracts him and it’s bigger than the numerical value. He seems to have some respect for them and he has opened the door. I have told pastors it would not be wise to slam the door in our own face, we should be praying for him and for all candidates and speak the truth that will make a difference. Is that what you are hoping to be able to do as it relates to Mr. Trump — to really speak to him those things that he really needs to hear?
BC: I think one of the ways that you speak to people is through your life, the way you treat them, the way you talk to them, the way they see you treat others. It says in Matthews 7:20, “By their fruit you will know them.” At his press conference last Friday he said he was duly impressed by the way I responded after he attacked me. I think people do notice these things.
JR: Actions speak louder than words, and I don’t think I am exaggerating when I tell you that many real serious Christians who understand the correction necessary in our nation, are very, very concerned about the way he responds. I think in order for him to move the American people, Donald Trump is going to have to be changed in many ways in his expressions, and I feel that very deeply.
BC: I think that would be extraordinarily helpful, no question about it, in the same way, for instance, it would be very helpful for our current president to express himself in different ways. Even though we may not agree with him, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be praying for him and hoping for him and treating him in a Christian manner. That’s the thing that is probably going to attract him more than anything else; it’s not opposing him and calling him horrible names that’s going to attract him.
JR: People don’t listen to those who’ve not been convincing in the fact that they love them deeply. If you want to have an effect on someone, I believe they have to sense that love. I would suggest to all believers that if Saul of Tarsus could be transformed into the apostle Paul through a spiritual encounter, we should pray that for all of our leaders, and since Mr. Trump is one of the points of this discussion, I say we pray to that end. I think if he is not transformed by that power, he will not in fact contribute, he will add to the chaos. I think to bring it into a little more modern time, we need a transformation like Augustine experienced that the whole world cannot deny, and he was perhaps one of the greatest influencers since the New Testament day. I’d like to see that happen again!
BC: I would love to see that happen also, but I do think it’s important for people to understand that the alternative to him is going to be something that they really will not be able to stomach, them or their children or grandchildren. I think people lose sight of that.
JR: We’ve had more really qualified candidates running this year on the Republican side and many who really love God and understand His ways and could be beneficial as contributors to the future of our country. Do you agree that we’ve really had some highly qualified people running?
BC: We’ve had some terrific people, no question about it.
JR: I pray they’ll be involved in the leadership.
BC: Unfortunately, we live in a strange time. We live in what I call the “Roman Coliseum time,” where Rome was being destroyed and the people were just interested in going to the Coliseum and seeing the carnage. That’s sort of where we are as a nation right now. I’m hopeful we can get to a much better place, but we have to deal with it where we are and work very hard to make it work for us.
JR: Let’s you and I continue praying together that the Christian family, the body of Christ who should reveal the heavenly Father clearly, will not spend unnecessary time sniping one another. Although you and I disagree on the decision you made, we agree on our prayers. Do you sense that there is the appropriate love in my heart for you and the desire that we actually still seek to walk in unity? Do you sense that desire for unity?
BC: Absolutely. That is one of the things that I have been pushing lately, to help people get beyond their differences and look at the big picture. This seems to be a very difficult thing for people to do, but when their hearts are united to Christ, it becomes much easier.
JR: I refuse to cut myself off, or cut off a member of Christ’s body that may not be functioning the way I think is best. I will encourage unity and understanding, and trust God for the miraculous that we must have. Would you be comfortable expressing your heart to our Father right now as we close this time, praying what’s on your heart for Mr. Trump and for the nation?
BC: Kind Father in Heaven, we are grateful for the fact we live in a country that enjoys freedom, a country with a Constitution that you helped draft. Help us to realize that we are called the “United States of America,” not the “Divided States of America” and our strength lies in our unity. And that none of us is 100% right, but you are 100% right and that we need to do everything that we can to rely upon you, put our faith in you and to let that be the guiding light to our lives. Let that be the case with all of the leaders of our nation, help them to recognize their need for you. Help each of us recognize our need for you. Help us to be able to humble ourselves and pray, and seek your face and turn from our wicked ways so you will hear from heaven and forgive our sins and heal our land. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
JR: Thank you, Ben. I love you and Candy. Thank her for her steadfastness and know that we will continue to walk much of the time on our knees and lift up God’s truth and His Son Jesus.