They have swallowed the Holy Spirit, feathers and all!
– attributed to Martin Luther
The past couple of weeks have shone a bright spotlight on Texas Senator Ted Cruz, his opposition to the Affordable Care Act, and the government shutdown. Methodist pastor Morgan Guyton has written a fascinating portrayal of the theological roots of Cruz’s views in his article, “The Theology of Government Shutdown: Christian Dominionism.”
In the piece, he raises concerns about how certain segments representing the Christian faith have been gaining influence in U.S. politics. Complementing reports from the past couple of years regarding the New Apostolic Reformation (see here and here and here), Guyton reinforces the observation that the “Christian Right” has morphed into a movement that is receiving renewed energy from Charismatic/Third Wave beliefs, practices, and networks.
He focuses his attention on Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, a preacher in Purifying Fire Ministries, founded by Suzanne Hinn. The elder Cruz is his son’s chief mentor and advisor, and they traveled together this past summer speaking out against “Obamacare.” This article in National Review, describes the growing influence Rafael has been having on Tea Party conservatives.
Morgan Guyton references a sermon Rafael Cruz preached last year at New Beginnings Church in Dallas. He spoke as part of a series Pastor Larry Huch called, “Getting to the Top and Staying There.” Huch introduced Cruz with these words:
We’ve been doing this series here that God laid on my heart: Getting to the top and staying there. A message for us as individuals, the kingdom of God, but also for America. It’s not enough to get there. We need to stay there. It’s not a coincidence that in a few weeks, we go into what’s called in the Bible Rosh Hashanad [sic]… It will be the beginning of the spiritual year 2012. The number 12 means divine government. That God will begin to rule and reign. Not Wall Street, not Washington, God’s people and His kingdom will begin to rule and reign. I know that’s why God got Rafael’s son elected, Ted Cruz the next senator.
But here’s the exciting thing… The rabbinical teaching is… that in a few weeks begins that year 2012 and that this will begin what we call the end-time transfer of wealth. And that when these Gentiles begin to receive this blessing, they will never go back financially through the valley again. They will grow and grow and grow. It’s said this way: that God is looking at the church and everyone in it and deciding in the next three and a half years who will be his bankers. And the ones that say here I am Lord, you can trust me, we will become so blessed that we will usher in the coming of the messiah.
Cruz then preached on Revelation 1:5-6, asserting that Christians today are called to be either “priests” or “kings.” In the Bible, the priests were those who worked specifically for the temple and represented God to the people. Kings, on the other hand, “were anointed to take dominion. Kings were anointed to go to war, win the war, and bring the spoils of war to priests so the work of the kingdom of God could be accomplished.”
Applying this to today’s believers, Cruz says:
Our churches unfortunately are very focused on only one of these anointings and that is on the priestly anointing… Those of you who think you don’t have the anointing to teach the word of God, to be teaching Sunday school, you’re second class citizens. And so you begin to lead frustrated lives… The majority of you… your anointing… is an anointing as king. God has given you an anointing to go to the battlefield. And what’s the battlefield? The marketplace. To go to the marketplace and occupy the land. To go to the marketplace and take dominion.
Guyton concludes by giving a summary interpretation of what he heard in these messages from Huch and Rafael Cruz, and how it applies to the recent efforts of Ted Cruz in Washington:
So to pull all this logic together, God anoints priests to work in the church directly and kings to go out into the marketplace to conquer, plunder, and bring back the spoils to the church. The reason governmental regulation has to disappear from the marketplace is to make it completely available to the plunder of Christian “kings” who will accomplish the “end time transfer of wealth.” Then “God’s bankers” will usher in the “coming of the messiah.” The government is being shut down so that God’s bankers can bring Jesus back.
Common teaching in the amorphous movement known as the New Apostolic Reformation says that Christians are to exercise dominion in terms of the “Seven Mountains” of culture: business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, the family, and religion.
This terminology has drawn widespread criticism, leading many Christians to deny that “dominionism” is about seizing control and exercising power. Rather, it is about involvement and influence.
In an article defending the NAR, C. Peter Wagner, who named the movement and is recognized as one of its apostles, defines “dominionism” in the following terms:
This refers to the desire that some of my friends and I have to follow Jesus and do what He wants. One of the things He does want He taught us to pray for in the Lord’s Prayer: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This means that we do our best to see that what we know is characteristic of heaven work its way into the warp and woof of our society here on earth. Think of heaven: no injustice, no poverty, righteousness, peace, prosperity, no disease, love, no corruption, no crime, no misery, no racism, and I could go on. Wouldn’t you like your city to display those characteristics?
But where does dominion come in? On the first page of the Bible, God told Adam and Eve to “fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, etc.” (Genesis 1:28). Adam, Eve, and the whole human race were to take dominion over the rest of creation, but Satan entered the picture, succeeded in usurping Adam’s dominion for himself and became what Jesus calls “the ruler of this world” (John 14:30). When Jesus came, He brought the kingdom of God and He expects His kingdom-minded people to take whatever action is needed to push back the long-standing kingdom of Satan and bring the peace and prosperity of His kingdom here on earth. This is what we mean by dominionism.
Wagner insists there is no NAR organization; it exists as a relational network of people with a like-minded, Spirit-led vision. Those in the network do share a common Charismatic/Third Wave theology. This perspective emphasizes: (1) governing apostles, (2) prophets who speak revelation from God, (3) dominion theology, (4) prosperity/Word of faith theology, (5) supernatural signs and wonders, and (6) a strong emphasis on spiritual warfare.
Call me old-fashioned, but it sounds like a volatile and undesirable mixture to combine naive Christian nationalism (think David Barton) with “Spirit-filled” religious enthusiasm (think Rick Joyner or other charismatic megachurch pastors).
Their view of the United States is that:
- The U.S. once was, and should once again be, a Christian nation.
- It is the Christians’ duty to “take back” the country from secularism, moral degradation, and socialism.
Their theology calls people:
- to see themselves as God’s anointed soldiers on the front lines of spiritual warfare;
- to believe that they are called and responsible to “change the world”;
- to submit to a charismatic oligarchy who bring new revelations from God to them;
- to seek dominion in their culture through a faith that is guaranteed to secure prosperity, blessing, power, and influence.
That’s swallowing the Holy Spirit, feathers and all. And chewing up the bones.
I tend to think it might lead to people who will not play nice with others.
And the worst part of all is that they totally miss the message of Jesus. They actually believe that Christians are going to win by winning.
There’s a cross hanging front and center in my church that begs to differ.