God in the Public Square – On Tone and Rhetoric

I read an article last week by a gentleman by the name of Paul D. Miller, avowing himself to be an evangelical who will not vote for Ted Cruz. I nearly did not write again tonight (bad Tera) because it’s been a trying day, and I honestly was not sure what would come from my finger tips if I approached the topics of candidate analysis or commentary directed at the church outside of politics. As I sat winding down, fighting with myself about the promise I have made to God regarding writing, this topic came drifting back up. Professor Miller seems to believe that Christians should be well, less Christian, when speaking in the public square or running for public office.

He lays out his credentials by claiming first a Baptist then Reform background himself, and stating his admiration for such giants as Thomas Jefferson, who he points out was a deist. And his support in 2012 for Mitt Romney, a Mormon, over the presumably more palatable to evangelical option to, Obama, because he attended a Protestant church for decades. And that he now advises and support Senator Rubio’s campaign, who is a devout Roman Catholic. After making his bones that he is an ecumenical kind of fellow, he goes on to say that Ted Cruz, by virtue of his outspokenness on faith, is unelectable and dangerously vocal about his faith…

I have to say this whole notion bothers me. It bothers me more since the gentleman is a professor of public policy and a research fellow on the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. His beef seems to be that Senator Cruz dared to highlight the plight of American Christians that have increasingly come under political oppression in this nation with two rallies. And that he included the faith aspects of his growing up years heavily in his campaign launch. He goes on to say he’d be a lot happier with Cruz if he was also speaking for those who are being penalized for their faith, regardless of their beliefs.

The things is, in this past few years, it hasn’t been people of other faiths that have been being hammered by the legal system in this country, having their churches burned or being beset by homicidal maniacs trying to kill people at their prayer meetings. That’s been Christians who have been faced with those troubles. And quite frankly, it is this attitude from so many in academia that has led to that state of affairs. It is this milquetoast approach to living our faith that has said on the one hand, we are right to say that secular humanists can’t deprive us of the right to speak and live our faith, but on the other hand, don’t speak too loud, lest they think you actually intend to exercise that right and be a Christian all the time, even in public office.

Declaration_independenceHe also takes issue with the fact that Cruz has articulated the idea that America has been uniquely blessed by God in the course of our national history. Um, I hate to break it to this professor, but that wasn’t actually Ted Cruz’s idea. That was an idea he learned from reading the founders, you know the ones, the guys that were there with the blessed deist Mr. Jefferson. Guys like Madison, Washington, and even Franklin (another who flirted with deism for much of his life). The ones who proclaimed, loudly and often, that our nation was built on a system that rested on a religious and moral people. The religion at the time being Christianity, by the way. The ones who in many of their documents prayed for and gave thanks for the Providence of God for the blessings of this country. The ones who began the practice of Christian prayer to open Congress. Yeah, those guys.

In other words, while I agree with the gentleman that we can no longer rest assured that everyone we meet is steeped in the traditions of Christian worship or grounded in sound biblical understanding, to dismiss the idea that we have been richly blessed by God over our history is nonsense. So too, if you are a Bible-believing Christian, is the notion that God did not have anything to do with our unique origins, or that He did not intend for us to be an instrument for Him, or that our exceptionalism has nothing to do with our relationship to God. Why? Because Scripture clearly states that God creates ALL governments and nations. That He uses them ALL for His purposes in His time. And that His people, and the nations they inhabit, are always dependent on their relationship with Him for their exceptionalism. Can you make other arguments about the various occurrences that were happening at the time of the founding leading to a unique nation? Of course. Do those other arguments negate God’s hand? Well, I tend to agree with Washington on that.

Here’s the truth. I’m not an evangelical. I’m a disciple of Christ, and typically called to minister to my fellow Christians rather than reach out to convert the unbelievers of the world. Perhaps that explains my lack of concern for how those who currently reject God perceive Ted Cruz. But, as a disciple of Christ, I also know full well that we are called to live our faith boldly wherever we go. We are called to be a witness to the power of God in our lives whatever calling God puts on it. We are called to defend the defenseless, and the faith. And I am weary of those within our midst who wring their hands and whisper cautions when men and women of God do just that.

Do I believe God will make Ted Cruz the next President of the US? Honestly, I don’t know. In truth, looking at the behavior of so many these last weeks, I’m not sure we deserve to be blessed with a man after God’s heart as our leader. But, do I believe God is using Ted Cruz and his campaign for His purposes? Absolutely. And as such, I will continue to offer him my support, prayers and encouragement. And I will pray that for once, the voices who speak God boldly in the public square prevail over those who have told us for decades to tone down our faith and dilute the Gospel. If we believe that Christ is who He says, then what poor love do we show our fellow man when we mute that Good News out of fear?

Oh, and by the way, I tend to agree with Ted Cruz about Christian voters. It’s time we get out and vote our values at every opportunity we have. According to Scripture, that’s actually part of our responsibility as citizens, participating in the life of the nation we have been sent to, and seeking its prosperity. Whether that means you vote for Cruz or not is between you and God. But I do hope you’ll pray about it, and then get out and vote your conscience, before we find ourselves without that precious blessing.

Be blessed and be a blessing.

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