Donald Trump invited to speak
Real estate mogul and reality television star’s upcoming appearance in convocation has students talking
Donald Trump, real estate elite, author and television host, is speaking at Liberty University’s convocation Sept. 24. Although the news did not create much of a stir on-campus, it did have Liberty’s outside critics trying to create a false controversy.
Trump was asked to speak in convocation—not to bring a deep theological lesson, but to provide words of wisdom. The goal of a university is to educate and enlighten students, and a Christian university should be no different in that regard. A proper university will seek to educate its students by bringing them leaders in various fields to teach in their area of expertise, which is something that Liberty University does in its weekly convocations.
“Almost every convocation speaker is controversial to some group, but it’s not edifying to the body to emphasize the controversial nature of the speaker when there’s so much to add by their coming,” Liberty’s Vice President of Executive Projects and Spiritual Programs Johnnie Moore said.
Moore explained that there have been many speakers whose presence during convocation have raised outside questions of controversy over the past 40 years. The controversies may be large, as was the case with Ted Kennedy’s appearance in 1983, or as minimal as a pastor whose theological beliefs are slightly different from that of the university or some of its students.
The point is that while no one should expect to hear a sermon on theology from Trump, he does have an abundance of knowledge to offer students. Trump is a business and real estate titan, and students will greatly benefit from his knowledge. Trump also has a loud voice in politics and economics and is an ardent defender of fiscal conservatism. Any opportunity to hear from Trump in a political year should be a cause for excitement for students.
And for every action, there is assuredly a reaction. It is not just the fact that we should let Trump speak, but we should also realize that it is our responsibility to listen attentively to what he has to say.
Realize that it is the duty of a Christian intellectual “to take every idea captive,” as 2 Corinthians 10:5 states. That means that it is our responsibility to analyze information and hold it up to the Christian worldview to assess its truth. Shutting oneself away from other viewpoints is detrimental to a Christian’s call to be “in the world but not of it.” By doing so, your mind remains unequipped to analyze foreign philosophies.
Liberty obviously saw many productive reasons for Trump to speak in convocation, but the most important reason was probably for his profound business expertise. Arguments against Trump speaking at Liberty disregard the purpose of a university and assume an unachievable standard of moral perfection in human beings. It does not take a perfect man to teach, just one who knows what he is talking about.
Admittedly, Trump has never had a boy scout image. He is known to occasionally let a few expletives fly on his hit show “The Apprentice.” Bitter public feuds with the likes of Rosie O’Donnell, Arianna Huffington, Rihanna and various others have also contributed to shaping Trump’s reputation in the eyes of some.
However, the news outlets, which chose to cite “major controversy,” seem to be off-base.
“Actually, I have not received a single complaint about Trump,” Moore said. “I’ve also been monitoring social media since we announced his coming, and out of thousands of posts—literally—I have only seen a couple that had any question about Trump’s coming to Liberty.”
One certainly does not have to be a paragon of perfection to be a great teacher or have something useful to say. Truth can be revealed through secular art, music, literature and even in the words of a New York businessman.