December 14, 2017

Randy Thompson: Jesus Christ or Jesus Caesar?

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Note from CM: We’ll reflect on Ash Wednesday tomorrow, after I return home. Thanks to Randy Thompson for helping out with today’s post.

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Jesus Christ or Jesus Caesar?
An Open Letter to Senator Ted Cruz

“Just spend a minute, saying, ‘Father God, please continue this awakening, continue this spirit of revival,’ Cruz said. ‘Awaken the body of Christ to pull us back from the abyss.'”

• Senator Ted Cruz, at Crossing Life Church, Windham, NH
Reported by WMUR-TV News, Manchester, NH

February 2, 2016

Dear Senator:

Clearly, you are a man of prayer, and that is a good and honorable and God-pleasing thing to be. Likewise, it is a worthy and noble thing to pray for one’s country, especially if one believes that one’s country is at the brink of the abyss and about to fall in.

Honestly, I have no problem with your concern about the abyss, although I’m not sure we would completely agree on what, exactly, the abyss is, and why we’re on the brink of it. However, I’m writing you about another matter, a problem I have, Senator, which I hope you can shed some light on. You see, it appears to me that you are running not so much for the Presidency of the United States, but to become its Messiah.

Recently, at one of your rallies here in New Hampshire, at a church in Windham, you began to pray and encouraged those present to pray with you or for you, I’m not sure which, and what you asked them to pray bothered me. Specifically, you asked everyone to pray that “this awakening” would continue, and that God would continue this “spirit of revival.”  Now, forgive me if I’m missing something here, but I got the distinct impression that the awakening you referred to was not what Jonathan Edwards or George Whitefield would understand by that term. Nor was the revival you mentioned the yearly event that good Baptists know and love.  Rather, the awakening and revival you wish God to continue and people to pray for is your presidential campaign.

That, Senator, is my problem. And, I believe, it’s a big problem because it’s a spiritual problem. Because you are a godly man and presumably not indifferent to spiritual problems, especially of a political sort, let me explain why I believe this is a big deal.

I suspect you have a pretty good idea of where I’m going here. I’m sure my remark about your running to be the country’s Messiah tipped you off. To put it simply, I believe it is a dangerous thing to blur the distinction between the Kingdom of God and any nation state, including the United States. No matter how exceptional America might be, it is not the Kingdom of God. Because of this, your candidacy is not an “awakening” or a “revival” as those terms are commonly understood by American Evangelicals. “Revival” centers either on a spontaneous surge of enthusiasm for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or it is an attempt to ignite such an enthusiasm. Either way, it focuses on spiritual rebirth centered on the person of Christ. To tell people in an Evangelical church, that they should pray for “this awakening” and “this revival” to continue is to subtly change the meaning of these words. As you used these terms. “awakening” refers to a surge in the polls of your candidacy, and “revival” refers to the enthusiasm among your followers that accompanies such a surge. God’s favor and God’s blessing are being invoked here, and I’m left with the sense that the awakening and the revival to which you refer is an awakening and a revival of the Gospel of Ted Cruz.

Please know that I’m not saying that this is your intent.  On the contrary, I think you’re too bright and too theologically astute to go down that road. However, you are doing politics using a religious vocabulary, and I think that is a dangerous thing to do, for I fear that you are making it easier to for many people to confuse being a citizen of heaven with being a citizen of the U.S, or, God forbid, the opposite, confusing United States citizenship with being a citizen of God’s heavenly Kingdom. People have a hard enough time as it is keeping Augustine’s Kingdoms separate in their thinking, and you aren’t helping them, to say the least.

This is a big deal to me because I believe there’s a huge difference not between you and Jesus, but between Jesus Christ and Jesus Caesar. Jesus Christ creates Christians. Jesus Caesar creates other Caesars, who then return the favor by re-creating Jesus in their own image. Jesus tends to stay relevant and current this way, trotted out when needed to give legitimacy to all political causes. The Liberal Protestant bureaucrats of the mainline churches trot out Jesus to legitimate progressive agendas and leaders, and have done so for decades. Maybe inspired by Jesus’ usefulness in this way, Conservative Evangelicals are now doing the same thing.  Over the decades, Christian people have demonstrated an astounding aptitude for accommodating Jesus to wildly diverse political agendas.

And then there’s you, apparently now the anointed centerpiece of an “awakening” and a “revival” of this old time Jesus Caesar religion. Senator, do you remember the “German Christians”?  Alarmed by the perceived decadence of German culture after the World War I, upset by social and economic upheavals of the 1920’s and 30’s, and fearful of Communism, they found that Jesus Caesar wore a little mustache  and talked a lot about the need for strong leadership. Sound familiar? I know that you do not wear a mustache and don’t expect people to greet you with an upraised arm salute, but do you see what happens when people confuse heaven and earth, God’s Kingdom and earthly kingdoms?  The earthly kingdoms get delusions of spiritual grandeur, they become intolerably self-righteous, and then do horrible things to folks who don’t share their “righteousness.”

You have strong convictions. I may or may not agree with them, but having thought-out, prayed-about convictions is a good thing, provided you hold them with a humble, gentle, and listening heart. (You have prayed about what you believe, right? Just curious, but has God made any suggestions? Has he pointed out any Scripture passages? If so, I’d love to know what they are. But, no out-of-context, cheap fundamentalist proof-texting, please. That only works with fundamentalists.)

You have strong convictions. (Sorry, but I got carried away in that last paragraph, so here we go again.) But, convictions become something scary and dangerous when they are rooted in self-righteous delusions of grandeur where God shows up so He can be on your side.

Senator, if you are elected president, the Kingdom of God will not  arrive on inauguration day.

There will be no gay people dancing in the streets because they are now ex-gays.

The global conspiracy of climate scientists to promote global warming in order to increase government regulation and expand Federal bureaucracy will continue, with melting glaciers making this conspiracy all the more plausible.

We will not magically have clean air and water because you abolish the Environmental Protection Agency.

You’ll bomb the hell out of ISIS, only to discover that ISIS is like a deadly virus, and your bombing has spread the virus all over the civilized world, or what passes for it.

Bernie Sanders will still be one of the senators from Vermont, and there will still be a lot of people who admire him. (There’s a lot to like about Bernie, by the way; he’s a likeable guy. You really ought to get to know him.  He has some interesting ideas, and they seem to be his, not God’s, although God has a way of surprising us in such matters. If he ends up getting elected president, I have a letter in mind for him as well. While I’m thinking about it, I wish you’d work at being more likeable, like he is. Just a suggestion.)

No, the Kingdom of God will not have arrived. You’ll take the oath of office on a big Bible, but it will be Jesus Caesar center stage among the celebrities, not Jesus Christ.

If you’ve read this far, Senator, I admire and respect your perseverance. I realize I’ve been a bit snippy here and there, but I hope gently so. If I hurt your feelings in any way, please know I didn’t intend to do so. Nor did I intend to insult you as a person, although I musts confess that I find some of your ideas worth insulting. I dare say you might well say the same about me.

It’s indeed fortunate that God is love, and is bigger than both of us, isn’t it?

If I may, let me close with a Bible reference. As you know, the Gospels of Matthew and Luke tell the story of Jesus being tempted in the desert by the devil. One temptation in particular stands out, and I think it’s worth thinking about.

The devil offers Jesus the whole world if he will only bow down and worship the devil. This temptation consists of taking over the world and doing so on the world’s terms. One can take over the world in only one way, and that is through power.  The Roman emperors used military power. But, politics is a means of gaining power too. The idea is, if we can get enough votes and enough allies, then we have power to accomplish our purposes. If we get enough money we can buy the best propaganda and influence the most people, and so we gain power to accomplish our purposes. Such is the logic and wisdom of the world. And you know what? It really does make sense. Except, Jesus didn’t think so.

What is most important about this story of the temptation of Jesus is that Jesus says no to the devil and to power. He takes a pass on conquering the world so he could do “good,” which too often turns out to be something delayed further and further into the future. You see, getting power is only the first step. You then have to hold on to it, and holding on to it is tricky business, requiring deal-making and compromises, where the good you intended to do ends up the good intentions paving the road to hell. Jesus said no to the whole package.

Instead this Jesus who taught that the poor, meek, hungry, and mournful are blessed, emptied himself, took on the form of a servant, went to the cross, and offered his life to death. Instead of doing something practical, like Jesus Caesar might, he did something supremely impractical that demonstrated that he was indeed Jesus the Christ. He chose death on a cross.

Contrary to all expectations, by giving all and losing, he won. And not only that, God, his Father, was pleased. Enough so, that He not only raised Jesus from the dead but set him over all earthly powers as well.

That’s good enough for me. A Jesus who strives for power ends up being just another Caesar. A Jesus who dies demonstrates that he loves me. God’s raising him from the dead demonstrates that God is present, and that God loves not only His Son, but me too. What the world needs isn’t political victories and victors, but a people who know that the only sane way of living is to lose one’s life for Christ and thereby gain it, who know that there is a love surpassing knowledge that Caesar cannot understand or offer, but which Jesus Christ can.

And, Senator, if there is to be an awakening or a revival, let’s have one with Jesus at the center of it, OK?

Comments

  1. Pellicano Solitudinis says:

    “Nor did I intend to insult you as a person, although I must confess that I find some of your ideas worth insulting.”

    Gold.

    This letter gets to the bottom of a great many things I find concerning about Ted Cruz (and Christian politics generally). I’m not from the USA but I take an interest in the American elections because the repercussions are global. I very much appreciate iMonk’s ongoing coverage of the candidates and their campaigns.

    • Nothing yet on Hillary or Bernie, plenty about Trump and Cuz. Still hoping, though.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        But why? There is a *real* distinction between these candidates. Hillary, Bernie, and Kasich do not make religious appeals – that makes them less interesting in religious terms. They are not calling out in the name of Christ to endorse their political legitimacy; they do not do that kind of thing. There is not much, in terms of Religion, to talk about with them. Trump and Cruz are the candidates using religion.

        • Randy Thompson says:

          Yes..

          Although, it certainly would be worthwhile writing another one of these to any of them.

          Did anyone hear at least some of Kesich’s speech last night? I was struck deeply by
          If you can find it, it’s worth a listen. My wife went to hear him at a town hall event in a neighboring town last week, and told me that last night’s speech was very much in keeping with what she saw/heard. I heard some very Christian values but without religiosity or jargon.

        • Kasich was my first choice because he balances his Democrat and Republican constituents and gets a 63% approval PLUS 30% of African Americans. He’s a pragmatist, but this cycle is not kind to pragmatists. Christie is another one, but he’s toast as well.

          This is why I’m hoping for a brokered convention, the first in modern history. After the first ballot the delegates will be free to vote their conscience and can do away with Trump and Cruz.

        • Oh? So items of MORAL import do NOT matter? We talk ONLY about religion? C’mon Adam, you may support one of those two but EACH have some moral issues that MUST be addressed, and if you cannot identify them, well, then look harder.

        • Agree. Cruz is an unsettling ideologue. Trump is a browbeater, a seventh grade mentality. The rest are just politicians for better or for worse.

        • Yeah, Kasich make very little appeal to religion. How’s that working out for him? I’ll excuse politicians a little pragmatism in this regard. I’m not voting for a pastor, and if this is what it takes for them to get the support of suckers, so be it. May the best candidate win, no matter how much pandering he has to do.

      • While the semi-liberal slant of the iMonk might be one reason, my guess as to why we don’t see more on Sanders and Clinton is because they aren’t promoting any sort of Christianity in their campaigns. If I match this site’s “continuting Michael Spencer’s legacy of Jesus-shaped spirituality” with Its recent focus on Cruz and Trump, what I’m getting is “here’s how NOT to do Jesus-shaped spirituality.” At least, that’s how I’m trying to take it. It’s been a bit too much for me, to be honest, but I’m not a contributor so my choice is to just skip articles that don’t interest me.

        • I think it’s a semi-liberal slant because so many of us came from a hyper-conservative background, which we escaped from and our refuges from. Post-Evangelical.

          So focusing on the conservative candidates makes sense to me.

        • Rick, this is correct. I’m trying to limit the conversation as much as possible to areas that intersect with our blog’s purpose. I thought Randy had an interesting take from the angle of “empire,” which by the way has been a rather significant focus of NT studies in the past decade.

          • Makes sense.

            Also, if I put on my Jesus hat (that is, look at who he tended to show righteous anger toward), it’s the Christian (or in his day, Pharisee) who SHOULD KNOW BETTER who deserves the most criticism.

            The one-note aspect of the political leanings here does at times bother me, but I’m guessing I would’ve been bothered by Jesus’ one-note aim at the Pharisees had I lived back in that day.

          • –> “…but I’m guessing I would’ve been bothered by Jesus’ one-note aim at the Pharisees had I lived back in that day.”

            For instance, I can hear myself saying, “Hey, Jesus…enough already! When are you gonna start picking on Caesar or Herod!?”

        • Randy Thompson says:

          Rick, I appreciate your comment, but I don’t think of myself as being any more semi-liberal than I am semi-conservative. I’m probably both at the same time.

          Writing Bernie or Hillery would be well worth doing, and if I did so I’d want to say something to them along very different lines than I’d say to Cruz, Trump and company. I’m not quite sure what at this point, other than to point out that all the supposed good social policies imaginable can’t do much apart from a heart shaped by a tradition that places a high value on loving one’s neighbor as well as the God who motivates that love. Finally, without that tradition, our notion of “neighbor” gets ever smaller and ever more one that looks like and sounds like “me”!

          • I’m starting to wonder if a lot of it does come down to literally hating our neighbor. People who hate “Globalism” and other countries and want “America great again”. As if we are at the top of the pile of exceptionalism, the greatest country on earth, and all must bow down to our God given mandate to prosper and dictate.

            We hate our neighbor.

          • “I’m starting to wonder if a lot of it does come down to literally hating our neighbor.”

            There is most certainly some of this though I think you’re more on the mark with exceptionalism. There is a strong current in many corners of Christianity of promoting exceptionalsim, although it goes under other names–holiness, remnant, the sanctified–and, intentionally or unintentionally, it serves to pit us (“God’s chosen people”) against everyone else.

            I heard a sermon in which the pastor said fellowship is reserved for other believers; now, I don’t think he really meant that we aren’t supposed to associate with others but that relationships between believers are more authentic and true (which I would disagree with but that’s another subject) but, the result of this type of preaching is we start believing we are more deserving of God’s grace and “those outside the camp” are less so, that God’s favor is reserved for especially for us–it is the same mistake the Pharisees made and we are all prone to it.

            This theology, and the human nature behind it, has been a part of this nation since the beginning as we discussed last week. It is going to take quite some time, I’m afraid, for its dominance to diminish but I do think it has somewhat loosened its grip on American Christianity, witness the popularity of this and similar websites as well as the voices of Christian authors who aren’t as worried about “policing the camp” and more concerned with carrying the Gospel to the least and lost in our society.

          • Stuart,
            I don’t think it is a hate your neighbor thing as much as it is a self-preservation thing. If America is great (meaning strong military, strong economy, good job market), then people feel secure. I don’t think it is so much that people want to see other countries do poorly, they want the security of knowing their country is doing well. The Jewish exiles were told to pray for the welfare of the city they were exiled in, because in the city’s welfare was their welfare.

        • Semi-liberal?

      • To be honest with you Oscar, I think its because you are thinking about this in political terms; while the blog is dedicated to something else. This piece happens to intersect politics.

  2. Is it just me, or does that statue look a lot like Vladimir Putin?

  3. Cruz IS a piece of work. I’ve disliked him since his speech at Liberty earlier in the year. He had a preacher-like tone to him that just bothered me. Still don’t like him.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      Cruz is a HUGE Star Wars fan [no doubt his “awakening” is partly a call-out].

      The Star Ways League presented him with a light saber – which he was very excited about – but then he declined to take the Jedi pledge. Look around You-tube, it is a great bit of political theater. His preacher vibe evaporates as he geeks out. Everyone one I hear about him from really likes the guy personally; even if they despise his political positions.

    • Yes. I am very surprised there is not more talk about his speaking style. It comes across as if it is a sermon he practiced for 100 times. Too dramatic. Too smooth.

  4. I believe it is a dangerous thing to blur the distinction between the Kingdom of God and any nation state, including the United States. No matter how exceptional America might be, it is not the Kingdom of God.

    And right there is the root problem, the disagreement that separates us from the Cruzes and their supporters. We can conceive of a Kingdom of God that is not coeval with the United States. They cannot.

    How that gap is to be bridged, I don’t have the slightest clue.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > And right there is the root problem, the disagreement that separates us from the Cruzes and their supporters

      I agree; that is the root. And the trunk of the tree is that Abyss rhetoric. Personally I can shrug off the root, it can lie dormant and do nothing; people believe all kinds of whack-a-doodle things about Heaven [I learned yesterday that the seas in Heaven will be saltless] and Prophecy (the feet of clay with ten toes representing…., etc…)

      The trunk of this tree is what frightens me. So your job is uncertain, your health insurance expensive, you haven’t gotten a raise in a long time, and there is congestion on the highway…..so…. that means the nation is teetering on an abyss of moral depravity. This is Intellectual Depravity, nor Moral Depravity.; someone who talks about the United States teetering on the brink of an abyss is *sick*, only a fevered mind can move from that evidence to this conclusion. And the conclusion has all the substance of a fever dream – the answer to any of these issues is to… have a tantrum, knock stuff down, and tear stuff up. Yea, I would say “Do that and see how it works out for you”, but unfortunately I have to live here too.

      • How can “the seas in Heaven be saltless” when there will be no more sea (Revelation 21:1)?

        Although there will be a river there (Revelation 22:1) — I wonder where it ends if not into a sea….

        • oh lord the dumb rantings and ravings i heard in my charismatic days…stuff like how anyone with a tattoo won’t be allowed into the actual city let alone the presence of God because God hates tattoos…that there will rise out of the earth a real literal actual highway that everyone will be forced to walk to come see God…that all believers will become kings and queens and rulers of their own citystates that report back to God…so many dumb things brought about by insomnia, post-60s acid burnout, late night cable, and a bible.

      • No, no, Adam… you didn’t really learn that the sea will be saltless in heaven…that’s just what Randy Alcorn said. You can forget you read that now.

    • Andrew Zook says:

      Yep… sadly true and very deeply embedded for some. It’s frustrating, especially when people who claim to follow the Bible, can’t see that their mixing the two is no where in the NT – at all. It’s just not there… but the lie has been told so often, with the help of the most strenuous semantic gyrations and leaps of logic…
      I know personally the great sense of freedom and peace that comes into one’s heart/soul/life when you no longer have to force the two together, and I really wish they could experience the same exhilaration.

      • the lie has been told so often, with the help of the most strenuous semantic gyrations and leaps of logic…

        It’s not so much told as assumed and absorbed. A lifetime of seeing the American flag at the front of the church, right next to pulpit and altar; a lifetime of celebrating the American “church year”, where Mothers Day and the 4th of July are just as prominent liturgically as Easter and Christmas; where politicians are regular “guest speakers” in the pulpit; and, as noted in the current IMonk review series, moralism and culture wars are the topic of most sermons. It’s something of a miracle that I escaped from it…

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        “””I know personally the great sense of freedom and peace that comes into one’s heart/soul/life when you no longer have to force the two together, “””

        This!

        “””and I really wish they could experience the same exhilaration.”””

        I keep trying to get people there; with some success. But it can be scary. Once you loose the mangled conflation of Religion and State/Culture/Society/whatever – – – things are way more complicated. If you are like me you find that fun, interesting, even exciting. Other people very much do NOT feel that: where is “the question”? “the answer?” Without that tortured conflation reality lacks a great-story-arc, it is ‘merely’ a whole mess of stories. Worst case scenario, as I have witnessed, is to loose that conflation [a good thing] but to retain the anti-institutional quasi-apocalyptic cynicism; that is not pretty. I wonder if many of Trump’s supporters, as I listen to them on the radio, are residents of this last group.

    • “How that gap is to be bridged, I don’t have the slightest clue.”

      Well for starters you try to keep these folks as far away from the reins of political power as possible.

      • Well when their VP campaign fails, they turn to reality tv while passing their political football offspring around, and get their base to repeat the truth often enough to believe it that the REAL reason they didn’t get elected is because most Americans are demonic and have a “spirit of abortion” upon them, so it’s really all those liberal feminist abortionists fault.

  5. Marcus Johnson says:

    Disciples: Now that you’ve assembled us, we’re ready to recruit an army to establish Judea as the Kingdom of God.
    Jesus: Nope. Go in pairs to the surrounding villages, heal the sick, take hospitality when offered, and say “The Kingdom of God is here.”

    Disciples: There’s a massive crowd here that’s seen you perform miracles and they’re hanging on your every word. Want to turn them into an army?
    Jesus: Nope. I’m going off to pray somewhere privately.

    Disciples: They’re coming to arrest you. Can we start fighting now?
    Jesus: Nope. Now is the time for sacrifice.

    That Jesus. Missed so many chances to rally the troops for a political takeover because spiritual things mattered more. He could learn a thing or two from Ted Cruz.

    • brianthedad says:

      +1

    • +2

    • Brilliant translations.

    • Randy Thompson says:

      Yes, a brilliant translation. Thanks!

    • This.

      I’m increasingly convinced that power and faith are totally incompatible.

      I have no idea what this means for Christians in politics.

      • I think political power and faith can occupy the same space, but only for a brief period of time. That’s because they’re traveling in different directions. The only way to get them riding in the same cart for the long haul (take Christendom in the Middle Ages, for instance) is to control what power and faith mean in the minds of the masses. If you put the Cross and the Red, White, and Blue together in the same media packages with sufficient frequency, then people will just start naturally thinking of the two together — and eventually regard the two as one.
        But Cruz is no Constantine. Though he might certainly like to fuse his brand of religion with the state, he will probably only succeed in widening the growing rift between the two.

  6. Brilliant and thought-provoking, Randy. Have you actually sent this to Mr. Cruz? I hope you have.

  7. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    Aside: Has Internet Monk ever had a post specifically about the Temptation Of Christ?

    Is the general consensus that this a parable or an event? Of course Evangelicals will say “Event!” But what about everybody else? The many people who question the ‘literal’ figure of Satan must have their own approach to these passages.

    I know the Roman Catholic approach is that this is a re-enactment of sorts of the temptation in The Garden – but this time with the better outcome. Is the Lutheran interpretation the same?

    I understand some of the gist of the temptation; but it has always bugged me as a hollow temptation [perhaps all temptation is ultimately hollow?]. Doubly so if you are a hard-core trinitarian [yet another logical mess created by trinitarianism] – Christ and the Creator/Father are ONE after all. Satan was tempting Christ with something which, in truth, he already had[*1]. Is this the Devil as the fool? Or Christ as the Victor? Or both?

    [*1] Christ was ministered to *by Angels* during his 40 day fast; something which does not happen when I fast.

    Is there much consideration by others given to George Barrett’s idea that the temptation was a critique, from a dark perspective, of Christ’s **method** of saving the world? Is there other literary evidence that this an intent of the text – it seems an appropriate, but perhaps overly sophisticated, reading.

    • Randy Thompson says:

      I have no trouble with it as an event, although for a long time my reading of the passage was affected by a Christian comic book of Jesus life I read as a boy, where the red devil with a tail was there with Jesus in the desert. I have come to read it as Jesus working through what it means to be God’s “beloved son.” While doing so, and while reflecting on Scripture passages that rise to the surface of his mind that are relevant to being God’s Son, he encounters demonic understandings of what those Scripture passages mean, or considers being God’s Son in terms of current Jewish messianic expectations, which ends up conquering the world and ruling it the world’s way on the world’s terms, which ends up, I think, serving the devil.

      A piece on the temptations would be great.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > where the red devil with a tail was there with Jesus in the desert

        There is a lot of that imagery in how it is used in pop-culture.

        > considers being God’s Son in terms of current Jewish messianic expectations

        Ah! A very interesting angle; almost embarrassingly obvious. Thanks.

    • I’d lean towards parable. Who recorded the events? Who did Jesus tell about these events? And why, just to show how great he is at not being tempted? Or did the Holy Spirit “just reveal” these things to the authors?

      And aren’t there other literary parallels to the Temptation? Swear I read that somewhere, that it was a common trope the authors lifted from Greek sources or something.

      • I always assumed with questions like this that Jesus and the disciples spent a great deal of time just hanging out together. Just like he one day up and says, “You know, when Satan fell from Heaven? I saw that. Man, he fell like a bolt of lightning. It was crazy. You should have seen it.”

        It’s a short trip from there to where Jesus might have one day said something like, “You know, I remember, back right after my baptism, I went into the wilderness because the Father had something to teach me…and then Satan shows up…”

        A memorable story. When it’s time to write stuff down, it makes it’s way in. At least that’s how I can see a lot of this stuff getting in there.

    • In the story it’s presented as a legitimate offer. God created the world, but it has fallen under the dominion of the Devil, and is his to do with as he pleases. This is basically the early church fathers “ransom” theory of the Resurrection.

  8. It becomes obvious that this is only a letter to Senator Cruz in a rhetorical sense. I would imagine that if he actually read it, he would regard it as further proof of the abyss he fears, and it would steel his resolve to gain control. So aside from the letter providing Randy a means of thinking thru these issues out loud, what is it going to accomplish? Whose mind might be changed on reading it? My guess is probably most likely that half of the Evangelical spectrum on the upwards side of average IQ, and they may not be rabid Cruzites to begin with, and most of them probably don’t hang out here.

    While this piece might sway some, I would think it would be more effective overall to publish a succinct study of Dominionism and demonstrate that Cruz fits in as a true believer. This would be far more difficult to do. Dominionism is not an easy study, and there are many who if it was explained to them would say, what’s wrong with that, it’s just what we need. Julius Caesar was not Nero Caesar, tho the one did follow the other, with Augustus in between as an example Dominionism might point to positively. This ain’t easy. Maybe an instance where playing the Hitler card is actually appropriate.

    There was some clarification achieved by many toward the end of the last century between force and power, force being how the world system maintains order, and power coming ultimately from God. In this view, God’s power is the only means strong enough to overcome the force of our wayward egos, individually or collectively. It would help me to observe this distinction. To speak of what Senator Cruz is after as power muddies the water for me. He speaks of the Kingdom of God but is after control, and control is enforced by, well, force. Remember the Inquisition, done in the name of God. Look at the Islamic State. Scary.

    • While this piece might sway some, I would think it would be more effective overall to publish a succinct study of Dominionism and demonstrate that Cruz fits in as a true believer.

      DO IT. Please, this would be invaluable.

    • Randy Thompson says:

      It was indeed a means of thinking these things through.

      When I heard what Cruz said/prayed on WMUR-TV last week, I felt a very strong need to work these things through. I agree with you about this piece not changing anyone’s mind. But, if it helps some of us think on these matters more clearly, great!

      And yes, I too would greatly appreciate somebody writing on Dominionism. It won’t be me, however.

  9. Any Christian who sees politics as one in the same with religion scares me. Cruz is the embodiment of it, but there are others. I see very little difference between them and the Mullahs in Iran or what those advocating a Caliphate in the Middle East are attempting. Does God work through earthly means? Yes. Of course. Does God micromanage our elections and endorse certain politicians? No, but it is increasingly difficult to convince the church going crowd of this.

    • Little difference? Other than dogmatized violence agains women, apostates, and members of other religions. Little things, this.

      No, but it is increasingly difficult to convince the church going crowd of this.

      I doubt that. Highly doubt that. I think the fundy demograph Cruz panders to is a rapidly shrinking one. My experience on the moderate side of it shows staggering levels of failure for those parents to pass on their values.

      • I look at the ‘fundy demograph Cruz panders to’ as including a lot of hangers-on who are into the most brutal elements embraced by fundy teachings involving misogyny, Islamophobia, homophobia, isolation of children in families where abusive ‘discipline’ is applied even as small infants, etc.

        But the truth seems to be that this brutality is a part of what Cruz himself is . . . I am repulsed by him viscerally . . . and that ‘discernment’ is only re-inforced by everything I see and read and hear concerning him.

        He definitely does not pander to the better angels of our nature, no. Nor does Trump.

        Those extreme fundies and their hangers-on have long since left Our Lord for something unspeakable . . . their ‘fruit’ is hatred and bitterness, and a brutality expressed towards those not like themselves that borders on something of insanity, and something of an evil desiring to be expressed in action.

      • And yet I see Cruz and his theology making huge inroads into my local megachurches that my friends go to. Whereas 5 years ago, they’ve have seen right through him and denied him.

        But maybe that’s just in the Midwest.

        • Cruz can appeal strongly to moderates by minimizing his fundy-speak and emphasizing his political positions as pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-religious liberty, and pro-second amendment. Many moderates, including myself, are willing to overlook odd rhetoric for the right platform.

      • “Little difference? Other than dogmatized violence agains women, apostates, and members of other religions. Little things, this.” Miguel, I should have said “little difference in the mindset” not, so far, the actions.
        But that is what bothers me so much about this Jesus Caesar mentality. It’s a short road from beliefs to actions, and as both history and psychology show us, once the mob gets going, it destroys just about everything in it’s path, including itself.

        • There is truth to this tendency and the corruption of man which is capable of leading anyone to heinous acts. America doesn’t exactly have a spotlessly clean past either. But this idea that anything coming from the Falwell/Robertson type camp can hold a candle to the Medieval hell holes created by Sharia law is a bit ridiculous. Just LOOK at the Bible belt South. It ain’t perfect, but it ain’t Iraq either.

          • For whites.

            Nowadays.

            Historical truth again.

          • A guy on my facebook who leans right but is intelligent enough to listen to the left posted today about how America has slowly and quietly created the perfect conditions for a police state over the last 15 years, and this year we get to decide if or how we get that in totality.

            I’ve never feared the nicolai carpathia types. I always figured the antichrist would come garbed in religious robes. I don’t see evidence that the left would institute a police state. The only time I hear that is from the right directed towards the left, or when the right talks amongst itself.

            It’s surreal. Seeing the same tactics and strategies and rhetoric and sophistry I use to listen to and use myself now being turned against me.

            We’re a nation unequally yoked.

          • Christiane says:

            Hi STUART B.

            this: “I always figured the antichrist would come garbed in religious robes.”

            your comment reminds me of the ending of “The Second Coming” by Yeats:
            “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
            Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born? “

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I doubt that. Highly doubt that. I think the fundy demograph Cruz panders to is a rapidly shrinking one.

        But an animal is most dangerous when it’s been wounded.

        I remember something from military affairs & strategy (Sun Tzu?): to trigger panic in a trapped enemy, give him a single escape route that is closing fast. Like a collapsing company with all the executives trying to cram their hands into an ever-shrinking till.

  10. Jesus Christ creates Christians. Jesus Caesar creates other Caesars, who then return the favor by re-creating Jesus in their own image.

    You nailed it.

  11. “To speak of what Senator Cruz is after as power muddies the water for me. He speaks of the Kingdom of God but is after control, and control is enforced by, well, force.”

    Well, sure he’s after control; all politicians are after control. They have a vision of the purpose and function of government and how it should operate and seek control so as to establish that vision as reality. And, though we are a “nation of laws” and most obey those laws voluntarily, inherent in any “nation of laws” is the threat of force to ensure those laws are obeyed. The question is, which politicians vision of the purpose and function of government do I agree with most?

    I’m with you that what Senator Cruz (and the others on both sides of the aisle) speak of as power muddies the waters because the power they speak of is antithetical to the notion of power as displayed by Jesus. As Marcus points out above, when given the opportunity to seize this type of power, Jesus refused to do so.

    There was a day when I would have fallen for talk of “awakening” and “revival” but no longer. I’m still trying to work out exactly how to participate in the political process and, at the same time, refuse to seize power in the same manner Jesus did. As with most things, I’m pretty muddled anymore.

    • This was supposed to be in reply to Charles. Sorry.

    • Dominionism goes by many names, Theonomy, Christian Reconstruction, Kingdom Now, and others. Whatever it might be called or what face it puts on, Dominion Theology is an ideology. It’s goal is theocratic control of all government and society according to their interpretation of God’s will. The Western world was under theocratic control from Constantine to Luther. I would not want to have lived during that time in the Western world. Whatever the plusses and minuses of Lutheran theology, or of Roman theology for that matter, we owe Martin a great debt for kicking out the jams. Dominionism wants to put those jams back in place with them as the mediator and judge between God and humanity.

      I do not believe there is any way Senator Cruz could become president, even by stealth and theft, but people need to be educated as to the danger of Dominionism. As with most ideologies, the end justifies the means. It is always ready to pop up in one guise or another, and it has great appeal to those who move at the level of authoritarianism, especially during times of stress and change. As a whole, we have grown beyond the need for that sort of societal control, but people grow sleepy and complacent and forget past lessons and are easily frightened. Absolute control corrupts the best of intentions.

      There may have been times when a temporary tyrant with absolute control was necessary for survival. Too often temporary has turned into permanent. Dominionism at least is up front in wanting to be a permanent solution. I don’t think so.

      • Randy Thompson says:

        A great summary! Thanks.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Dominionism goes by many names, Theonomy, Christian Reconstruction, Kingdom Now, and others.

        I call it “Handmaid’s Tale For Real”, “Handmaid’s Tale as How-To Manual”, and “Just like an Islamic Republic, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”

  12. Please clap.

    • I can’t talk about politics with my friends. If I ever share an article or point something out or dare to disagree, the response seems to always be along the lines of “Why do you hate me/my family/my God/my country/my business?”

      I wonder why people who call themselves my friend think I hate them.

      Too acquainted with friendships that are based solely on mutual agreement on religion/politics. Best friends once that ground is established. There’s the door when it’s not.

  13. Steve Newell says:

    Many people strongly believe in American Exceptionalism. With that, many will think that the US has “most favored nation status” with God. This is nothing new; it was evident in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. It gained traction in the Cold War. Many people conflate historic Christianity with “American Christianity”.

  14. I think I’m a pretty cynical and skeptical guy, but Cruz’s rhetoric in this regard do not bother me much at all, and certainly not because I’m sympathetic to his theology. He’s a very intelligent and articulate man, and a very well prepared debater. I think he knows exactly what he’s doing, and is merely pumping up the troops using the vocabulary and cultus of his Bible belt religion. The facts are that if Evangelicals all rallied around and voted for a single candidate, they could probably have whoever they wanted. This just judging from the statistics of how many stay home and decline to vote. Every serious Republican candidate has known this and sought to motivate greater participation from this demographic through whatever tools they know how to use.

    Honestly, Obama had just as much of a messiah complex and persona in his campaign, albeit without the jargon of the religious right.

    Seriously, though. Hitler? You’re comparing him to Hitler just because he’s a charismatic and ideological leader? Hitler led people down the path of racism and genocide. Seriously, that is your comparison to Cruz? That kind of rhetoric is a low that he doesn’t stoop to. Pot, meet kettle. And no other current politician has a stronger degree of similarity to Hitler in those regards? Exactly what “horrible things” are you expecting Cruz to do, oppose gay marriage? ‘Cause that’s almost as heinous as the Nazi gas chambers?

    I’ll give you this: He sounds like he needs to read Agustine’s “City of God,” but I think he knows exactly what he’s doing. It’s calculated strategy. Sure, he has a platform resembling “Biblical values,” but he is not about to start rescinding religious freedoms for non-Evangelical groups, given the chance.

    There will be no gay people dancing in the streets because they are now ex-gays.
    The global conspiracy of climate scientists to promote global warming in order to increase government regulation and expand Federal bureaucracy will continue, with melting glaciers making this conspiracy all the more plausible.
    We will not magically have clean air and water because you abolish the Environmental Protection Agency.
    You’ll bomb the hell out of ISIS, only to discover that ISIS is like a deadly virus, and your bombing has spread the virus all over the civilized world, or what passes for it.

    Duh. Cruz knows this. Enough voters to potentially put him in office do not. Should he decline their vote? I do not believe Cruz has endorsed ex-gay therapy or anything (and if he has, as president, I’d wager Russell Moore could get to him about that).

    What is most important about this story of the temptation of Jesus is that Jesus says no to the devil and to power.

    A Jesus who strives for power ends up being just another Caesar.

    Yes. It does not follow that government office is not a legitimate vocation for Christian disciples, Worldly power is not the kingdom of God, but at the same time, worldly rulers are accountable to Him who has entrusted them with their responsibilities. We should want and pray for people in those positions who are beholden to the eternal truths of God (I’m speaking ethics, regardless of religion) rather than the shifting zeitgeist. And in our political system, that necessarily involves playing the game. Sure, Cruz could do it with better theology. Southern Baptist is as Southern Baptist does. When his “doctrine” gets preached in my church I’ll have a serious problem. But until then, I can take him with a grain of salt for representing the tradition he comes from, and focus more on his political platform than his theological gimmicks. Sure, I’m not thrilled about them. But they just don’t bother me that much. The left uses Jesus as a puppet just as much, sans revivalist jargon of course, but you pretty much even admit this in your article.

    • Further, I’ll give you this: If I identified myself as an Evangelical, Cruz would probably bother me much more in this regard. I would feel like I am associated with his bad views by virtue of my religious similarity, and feel a strong urge to distinguish myself from it.

      But ultimately, I’d be asking questions along the line of what it is about Evangelicalism that produces this rather consistently. Lutherans tend to do remarkably well with two-kingdom theology, especially in the more confessional branches. Of course, this may be why we will never put one of our own in the oval office, but they could at least pander to conservative Evangelical morality on issues of life, marriage, religious liberty, etc…

    • Hitler led people down the path of racism and genocide.

      But what I hear Cruz say, and where I know he comes from theologically and ideologically…sounds almost the same. And it’s the same for every GOP candidate.

      And that’s what scares me.

      • If you think any of the GOP candidates are morally capable of leading to the development of an American Nazi regime, you are paranoid. Very paranoid. I think we’ve become too accustomed to Obama’s excessive politeness to those who ought to be declared our enemies, so much that when somebody simply stands up and calls a thing what it is, people cringe because it feels harsh.

      • >>And it’s the same for every GOP candidate.

        Stuart, I hope that’s just more of your off-the-wall, broad-brush hyperbole. If you truly believe that all of the Republican candidates are as dangerous as Hitler, you really need to take a break.

        • Nah, I don’t. Not in the least. But I do recognize familiar emotions and sentiments that could, in some really bad situations, lead there.

    • Randy Thompson says:

      I hoped I made it clear that I was not comparing Senator Cruz to Hitler, which would indeed be a cheap shot. My point was, or tried to be, that the road he is on is a dangerous one and can lead to bad outcomes. That’s what I was trying to get at. I worry about Christian people trying to create their version of heaven on earth.

      • Yeah, I followed that. But that “road” is one that nearly every politician tries in one way or another. For pete’s sake, Hitler wasn’t even very religious. He quoted Luther and others as expedient, but a theocracy was the last thing on his agenda. If anything, secularists are traveling that “road” a little more his style. Everyone is striving for their understanding of utopia. That is the point of politics and government: how do we make things better? We must define what better looks like and then the steps to get there. This “on the way to dictatorial power” line of rhetoric gets whipped out by both sides to create panic when expedient. Cruz’s utopia is not a terrible place. Slanted towards Evangelicals, yes it is. But militaristically intolerant of others, he is not. Unless you are threatening the safety of the American people. That he is intolerant of, and kudos to him for it.

        Hitler’s utopia has no Jews. Cruz’s utopia has no gay marriage or abortion. Sander’s utopia is making America look more like Europe. We’re not on the verge of a takeover by an evil empire hell bent on world domination. Cruz has a week two-kingdoms doctrine, but what do you expect form someone with his background? He may be slanted towards his tribes and espouse their traditional morality, but you better believe he’ll go to bat for the religious freedom of all Americans. That’s hardwired into his historical narrative: Baptists were historically the earliest and strongest contenders for religious liberty.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Honestly, Obama had just as much of a messiah complex and persona in his campaign, albeit without the jargon of the religious right.

      Obama and his campaign managers were able to pull off a Messiah Poltics strategy, a very difficult maneuver presenting the Candidate as Savior — the Man on the White Horse who rides in and Makes Everything Perfect. takes a desperate populace, a Candidate who has to use his charisma and look benevolent and in charge without actually committing to anything (“HOPE! CHANGE! HOPECHANGE!”). At that point, the voters will project their desires and dreams onto the Candidate/Messiah.

      Ross Perot (the Donald Trump of his day) tried and failed at the same in 1992.

      Now the Trump is trying Perot-style, but with a lot more bluster and volume.

  15. Ronald Avra says:

    ‘What the world needs isn’t political victories and victors, but a people who know that the only sane way of living is to lose one’s life for Christ and thereby gain it, who know that there is a love surpassing knowledge that Caesar cannot understand or offer, but which Jesus Christ can.’ I never like statements like that; they’re true, but I never like them.

  16. Now, forgive me if I’m missing something here, but I got the distinct impression that the awakening you referred to was not what Jonathan Edwards or George Whitefield would understand by that term. Nor was the revival you mentioned the yearly event that good Baptists know and love. Rather, the awakening and revival you wish God to continue and people to pray for is your presidential campaign.

    With all due respect, I believe the author is jumping to conclusions with this statement. How do we know what kind of revival Sen. Cruz was describing? And if the revival referred to the senator’s presidential campaign, then what is the significance of his distant third-place finish in the New Hampshire primary?

    I haven’t yet decided if I will vote in the presidential primary, nor whom I will support if I do so. (I’ll have to make that decision soon since I live in one of the “Super Tuesday” states.) To be honest, the majority of the Republican candidates do not impress me, nor do either of the remaining Democratic candidates. If I vote, I expect to decide on the basis of issues other than a candidate’s beliefs about revival.

    • Even if he was referring to that revival, I think history has shown there wasn’t nothing Great about that awakening…let alone anything from God in it. America and Christianity would have been better off without it.

    • Randy Thompson says:

      Larry, the question you raise did occur to me. The Cruz quote to which I refer came from a rally at a church here in New Hampshire the day after the Iowa Caucuses. From what I can see, it was not a worship service, but a political rally taking place on a Tuesday afternoon. I can find no other context in which to make sense of his remarks, especially coming a week before the New Hampshire Primary.

  17. Wow. I consider myself apolitical, in terms of party affiliation. I tend to vote for individuals whom I believe will work the hardest for my local area, my state, my region, and my country, in that order. I find it ironic here that a lot of folks are comparing Cruz to Hitler, when 8 years ago, when Paul Broun (a loon himself, even though he’s from my home state…I didn’t vote for him, so don’t blame me) did the same to Obama, and was villified.

    Fact is, before this race is done, we will see plenty of pandering to religious groups. Hillary did a woeful interpretation of “I Ain’t No Ways Tired” a short time ago in order to appeal to African-American Christians. Obama sang perhaps the worst version of “Amazing Grace” I’ve ever heard at one point. Bernie will make a visit to a synagogue, an Episcopal Church, and a mosque all in the same day at some time or another (There’s the making of a good joke in that somewhere…). Trump will pretend to know how to pronounce “Ephesians” and fail miserably. I recall a time during the Bush/Gore race when they traded visits to churches, back and forth, over the course of several weeks. Bush should’ve known that wouldn’t work. How could he hope to ever outplay the guy who invented the internet?

    Politicians pander. Does Cruz believe everything he says? I don’t know. I’m not overly impressed with him, because frankly, his voice is kinda grating. I’m not impressed with Bernie’s ideology, or Hillary’s level of honesty. I’m not impressed with Trump’s boisterous, confrontational nature. I don’t know if I’m impressed with any of these candidates, honestly. I’ll probably decide which one to vote for while I’m standing in the booth.

    I think we can all hope for a “Cincinnatus at the Plow” to emerge (shame if you don’t know who Cincinnati is named for), or that a Willie Stark from “All the King’s Men” would emerge and bring down the wickedness that is ingrained in American politics…Fact is, though, a man with rough and dirty hands isn’t going to win any election anymore, and even Willie was soiled by the system in the end. Politics is a game, and the person who talks the best game and keeps their secret handshakes under the table are usually the victors. I hate political pandering, but let’s not pretend that both parties don’t participate. They all do. Cruz is just more blatant about it. He’s targeted a population that grew up knowing the days of the religious right, and he’s using the language that they want to hear. Does that make him Hitler? Probably not. Probably not even close. Obama wasn’t, either. Honestly, I don’t think either one of them has the brains, creativity, toughness, or mass appeal to ignite a cult of personality and culture of fear the way Hitler did.

    • Exactly. Well said! Your panoply of pandering predictions was hilarious, too. I’d put money on your Trump story.
      I also feel that none are tremendously impressive. I do like the way Cruz handles himself in debate, though. I’d rather see him up against Clinton/Sanders than Trump, Rubio, or Kasich. Of course, being a good debater isn’t the ultimate consideration for who is most apt for office.

    • Politicians pander. Does Cruz believe everything he says? I don’t know.

      Hmm… I think sometimes people can convince themselves of anything. There’s a scene in Seinfeld where Jerry tries to get George to teach him how to lie, because George does it so well. George didn’t really want to give away secrets but in the end he said, “Jerry, just remember… it’s not a lie if you believe it.”

  18. brianthedad says:

    This came across my twitter feed recently, Donavon Riley quoting Robert Capon:
    “The Devil wants power to be used to do good; Jesus insist that power corrupts and defeats the very good it [power] tries to achieve.”

    Which led me to recall a CS Lewis quote:
    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

    I don’t doubt that people with power can do good. I simply get a nervous feeling about people who say they need to be in power so they can do some good.

    • Randy Thompson says:

      Well said.

    • But this is essentially an anarchist argument. It implies that nobody should have power, and that power itself is necessarily evil. therefore we should not have any government for fear somebody have power.

      Power isn’t evil. It simply amplifies and magnifies the evil within the heart of the person holding the power. The solution isn’t to give power to nobody, and the solution isn’t to let all the worst guys get the power.

      Good government is a blessing from God that we should earnestly seek after. It will require some good guys getting their hands dirty. Jesus is not anti-power. After becoming the servant of all, he sat down at the right hand of the father. It’s a both/and with him, not an either/or. We need to emphasize the former aspect, because that is what we saw in Him when he walked the earth.

      But governments do exist, and they aren’t always the problem. Some governments are more problematic than others. We should strive to improve our government as a part of our legitimate vocation of being good citizens. Love of neighbor means protecting the neighbor from those who would use political power for their harm. Give it rather to the guy who will help.

      Remember, Jesus had no problem with paying taxes, either. They are Ceasar’s due, he says.

      • “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” does not necessarily mean that Jesus had no problem with paying taxes, or that they are Caesar’s due. Neither did Jesus say that because the coin bore the image of Caesar it belonged to him. The statement Jesus made is actually quite paradoxical, and multivalent. There is something very koan-like in this answer.

        • Actually, if you look at the teaching on government in the rest of the NT, I think it is very safe to say that Jesus had no problem with taxes. He commands his disciples to live at peace with all men and respect the ruling authorities. Jesus seems very pro-government, and gladly allots them the power of the sword for the discouragement of evildoing.

          • I wonder if you’re reading the same New Testament that I do. Revelation, and other parts of the Epistles, depict Roman rule as demonic; it’s most powerful representative in Palestine, Pilate, is exposed by the Gospels as a cynical power-broker and sophist incapable of, and unwilling to, recognize truth. The ambivalence of the NT with regard to government is like that of the one to whom it witnesses.

          • Right, Robert. Key word: “Roman.” Not all rulership. Roman rule, not the Jews, crucified Christ. Here’s what the New Testament has to say about it:

            Romans 13:1 – obey the government God has put over you.

            John 19:11 – Jesus says that Pilate’s power is given to him from above.

            Luke 3:14 – John the Baptist gives exhortation to the rule of law on how to fulfill their vocation with justice.

            …do you need more?

            The greater problem is that your anarchist position posits evil as a substance external to the person, which we can identify and avoid. Those people over there with power, THEY are evil, but us powerless folks are righteous.

            That’s not how it works. Evil is not a substance, like alcohol. It is a line that cuts through the heart of every human being. Power will reveal this in any man, in addition to providing additional temptations. But there will always be people with power, and they are accountable both to God and the people they govern to use such authority for the benefit of all. Just because it rarely happens doesn’t mean it shouldn’t. It just means that all men are sinners.

          • How is it that we recognize the government God has put over us? Is the side with the most power the government that God has put over us? If the government of the US falls in a coup, and a new faction with a new form of government takes over by force and rules the nation, to whom does the Christian owe her obedience? The new government, or the old?

          • Well those are good questions. But how would one be loyal to a fallen government?

            Our primary allegiance is to the kingdom of God, which means we must always be on the side of justice and peace. Love of neighbor is the primary criteria, rather than self interest. Christ did not come to bring political revolution. Christians can and have gotten caught up in that, and they have confused those happenings with their religious duties. We are told to live at peace with all and do what is honorable in the sight of all.

          • How would one be loyal to a fallen government? In history, this happens all the time. As an example from our own history, when the American colonies declared independence from Britain, who should Christian residents have recognized as the government God had put them under? You are aware that Christians were found on both sides of the answer to this question, and that many continued to be loyal to, and fought on the side of, the British after the American revolutionary government declared independence. Neither the New Testament nor systematic Christian theologies provide sufficient resources for answering such a question. Christians must make that decision from within historical situations that the New Testament never imagined, and that theologians are not competent to render predetermined judgments on.

      • I think that a Christian can serve in government the same way a Christian serves in the workplace, by being a good employee, and not by using his faith to gain an advantage. The seduction of this world is very real and something our Lord fought against all through his life. Evangelicals of the 80s and 90s were trained to seek political power at all costs, and now we have Mr Cruz who is probably more pious than Mike Huckabie, a real believer who does not compromise and will see his ideas through calmly without any regard for anything else. Creepy.

    • brianthedad says:

      Whoa… Back the truck up. Not an anarchist. Not by a leap. You misunderstand me. Mainly because I wasn’t clear in my haste to be brief. The ‘good’ I reference isn’t the good we enjoy from a stable, healthy government run by intelligent, earnest people. The good I was referring to is of the ‘do-gooder’ type often associated with the moral crusader, culture warrior type. I’m not a Cruz fan. Too preachy for me. Too much ole-time religion rhetoric. His wife’s rhetoric that Ted is showing us the face of God with his campaign for the candidacy is too much for me (http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/heidi-cruz-face-of-god). How much dirtying of the hands is acceptable for a Christian running for office? Is it OK to outright lie about your position on a bill during its debate so the end result is that the bill is voted down, but you can say you supported it (or killed it, depending on audience) later, so you can stand a better chance winning a higher office later to gain more power to do more ‘good’? I’m not sure who i’ll vote for, but I didn’t want to be misunderstood.

      • Capon is the anarchist, not you. I agree fully with your last sentence in your original post. I get the same nervous feeling. Politics suck, and government by sinners is always nasty, but there really isn’t another choice, unfortunately.

  19. “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.” – Friedrich Nietzsche.

  20. The ash is a cross
    and the cross is a dying,
    the dying, new life.