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Rafael Cruz, Christian America and Jingoism

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“The power of the American people when we rise up and stand for liberty knows no bounds.”—Senator Cruz

(About two years ago) 

I was unsure what the recent Restoring Christian Values Brunch would present to its audience. With a gym full of 100 people, patriotic pictures, life-size cutouts of the Founders, and a life-size liberty bell, I was suspicious.

During the brunch, I quietly sat at my table, eating and listening to the interesting conversation between a man representing a parachurch outreach for European Muslims and a Messianic Charismatic Jewish pastor (who sat next to his co-pastor wife).

Shortly thereafter, pastor Rafael Cruz, father of Senator Cruz, began his talk, entitled, Why Pastors Need to be Involved in the Political Arena. It lasted about an hour.

He quickly proceeded to summarize his concerns with pastors remaining silent on social issues. From the creation of the 501c3 status in the 50s, he traced several social and legal landmarks of decay (from abortion to homosexual marriages) and lamented the silent church each time. 501c3 had silenced the pastors.

To the praise of clapping hands, he noted in passing that he likened Glenn Beck to John the Baptist, as one “crying in the wilderness.”  He then challenged the pastors who will not preach on social issues. They claim their call is to “preach the Gospel” but the Gospel is the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:26). They are “hiding behind their pulpits.”

He asserted that 29 of the Framers were seminary trained, with many of them being pastors. These were part of the Black Regiment, preaching resistance while participating in war. To an accepting audience he claimed the Framers were “seeking divine revelation.” In fact:

“That’s why both documents [Declaration and Constitution] have lasted over 200 years because they are divine revelation from God.”

What hubris! My back straightened. My lips frowned, almost shouting out in exasperation. The only thing keeping me there was the need to write up a full article—that and my instinctive knowledge that his loose talk about divine revelation meant more than he likely intended.

The otherwise hodgepodge talk continued with the refrain that pastors hiding behind their pulpits have contributed to America’s demise. Actually, it was “Evangelicals” who were not voting. (“Evangelical” being defined in “stringent” terms [his word, not mine] as bible-reading, church-attending, and God-praying people).

Then the talk finished on a dramatic note: each attendee was asked to look at his neighbor and repeat an unplanned public pledge before a complete stranger:

“Relying on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor to do all we can to restore liberty in this country, and to establish the kingdom of God for His glory, so help me God.”

There were good observations, comments and bible usage (especially of the Proverbs), yet I could never recommend such a talk to the average Evangelical. It has too much Christian America and not enough Christ in America. It had too much divine word of Man and not enough Divine Word of God. And much of what was pronounced was toward an audience that poll after poll paints as biblically ignorant.

A 2008 Pew poll noted 57% of Evangelicals believe there are other ways to heaven than through Christ. And the Barna polls paint an equally ugly picture about many Christians’ worldviews that have much world but little view of sound doctrine.

Should this stop them from voting, debating and straining to keep America from sliding into the abyss? Not at all.

But it is a strong reminder that the rhetoric of too much Evangelicalism is more jingoistic than realistic. That maybe we are losing America because we idolized her.

Consider these unbiblical sentiments:

The Constitution and the Declaration are “divine revelation from God.”
American power can be boundless.
We are a chosen nation of God.

As Cruz asserted at his Liberty University speech: “That’s the promise of America. That is what makes this nation an indispensable nation, a unique nation in the history of the world.”

Maybe such sentiments reflect a striking rhetoric for effect. Or maybe he is channeling Falwell Jr.

But if such strong rhetoric is promiscuously used, enough people start believing it. And that spells trouble.

The Constitution is not “divine revelation” like the Bible. And America is not special like old Israel.

This is not to say that Cruz is an unworthy candidate. No. Rather this is a reminder to exalt God’s truth and to eschew extreme nationalism—jingoism.

There is a way to be a good patriot. But promoting such sentiments is not it.

America’s political house is out of order. But churches ought to get their own houses in order lest they succumb to a dangerous form of jingoistic idolatry . Only when the church boldly proclaims the truth of Christ will the truth of Christ change lives.



 

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