Donald Trump Grilled On His Christian Faith: 'I Try and Lead a Life Where I Don't Have to Ask God for Forgiveness'

Jul 25, 2015 02:50 PM EDT

Controversial businessman and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has received scrutiny from the press for his questioning remarks about Sen. John McCain's war record in Vietnam and publicly broadcasting rival Sen. Lindsey Graham's mobile phone number. However, he also had a provocative interpretation of his Christian faith.

In an interview conducted by Anderson Cooper of CNN on Wednesday, Trump was grilled about the tenets of his Christian faith. He admitted that he had never asked forgiveness from God.

"I try and lead a life where I don't have to ask God for forgiveness," Trump said. "Why do I have to ask for forgiveness if you're not making mistakes? I work hard, I'm an honorable person."

Trump added that while he thinks "repenting is terrific," he described asking for forgiveness in the holy Christian sacrament of communion.

"When I drink my little wine -- which is about the only wine I drink -- and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of asking for forgiveness," Trump said.

The real estate mogul insisted that his comments on communion were meant to be good-natured. He thought the audience took no offense to his remarks.

"We were having fun when I said, I drink the wine, I eat the cracker -- but we're talking about communion and you know what, the whole room was laughing," Trump said.

Trump told Cooper that he comes from the Protestant tradition of Christianity, in particular the Presbyterians. He mentioned that his pastor was the late motivational speaker Norman Vincent Peale, who according to Heather Clark of Christian News Network was best known for his teachings on the "power of positive thinking."

"I try not to make mistakes where I would have to ask for forgiveness," Trump said. "When I am asked a question like that, I don't like to make a lot of mistakes."

Cooper asked Trump if he felt the need to ask for repentance.

"If I make a mistake, yeah, I think it's great. But I try not to make mistakes," Trump said.

"You give millions to charity," Cooper quipped.

"I built the Vietnam memorial in lower Manhattan with a small group of people," Trump added.

According to Clark, Trump was previously asked at the Iowa Family Leadership Summit on whether or not he ever sought forgiveness for his sins.

"That's a tough question," Trump replied. "I am a religious person. People are so shocked when they find this out-I'm Protestant. I'm Presbyterian. I go to church. I love God and I love my church."

Shane Vander Hart of Caffeinated Thoughts wrote an open letter to Trump about the Christian theme of forgiveness. While he noted that it was brave for the businessman to admit "that you haven't asked God for forgiveness to a group of largely evangelicals," he pointed out that "we all need forgiveness."

"Our offenses may differ in number and perceived sincerity, but as we stand before a holy and just God none of us measure up," Hart wrote. "The natural reaction is that we try to balance the ledger so to speak with doing good things."

Hart added that while it was admirable to be "going to church and making things right," he pointed out that "they in themselves will not pay for our sin and satisfy God's justice."

"Our human activity can never make up for our sin," Hart wrote, citing Romans 3:23 and Isaiah 59:2. "There is no one walking this planet that truth doesn't apply to. What [do] we earn from our works as we try to work to earn God's forgiveness? Death."

Based on his interpretation of the Bible, Hart contended that "all of our work, without God's forgiveness, will just earn us death."

"We simply can't pay for our own sin even if we have billions of dollars," Hart wrote. "Those wages is paid in eternity - eternal death as we are eternal beings. The penalty for sin is death."

However, Hart cited Romans 6:23 in declaring that people don't have to pay for their sins.

"Jesus Christ came to earth in the form of man, but being fully God lived a sinless life on earth, and since Jesus was without sin (and the only One who has walked this earth without sin) He could fully pay the penalty for our sin," Hart wrote, citing John 3:16. "Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sin and my sin, and He did so willingly because He loves us and He wants a relationship with us. It's just that our sin is getting in the way of that."

Hart urged Trump and everyone else to confess their sins and ask for forgiveness as outlined in 1 John 1:9.

"He wants us to ask," Hart wrote. "As we confess our sin we need to repent, that just means to turn around, turn around from your sin and turn to Jesus. We then receive Him by faith as our Lord and Savior believing that Jesus died and rose again for our sin."

Hart explained in his open letter to Trump that "there is more to this life than accumulating wealth and power."

"I'm sure you've heard this before, but I know I needed to hear it several times before God opened my eyes to the truth of my condition," Hart wrote, recalling his own personal path to repentance.