- Written by Clifton Stuckey
- Published: 01 October 2013
Huffington Post has an interesting story on their Religion Blog, The Theology of Government Shutdown: Christian Dominionism. The article explores the link between Ted Cruz, the leading advocate for shutting down the government and a particularly nasty strain of Christian theology called Christian Dominionism. The link, it turns out, is a single degree of seperation from Ted Cruz, his father Rafael Cruz, an evangelist for Christian Dominionism.
Christian Dominionism, as I mention briefly in Theocracy in Texas, is the idea that when the Christian god gave “Adam & Eve” dominion over the world, he meant for "god's people" to rule the world. Christian Dominionists, sometimes called Christian Nationalists, believe it is not only their duty but their divine right to rule over the United States of America, as their god’s chosen country to carry out his will in the world.
From the description above, this might seem like a fringe movement, but it is not.
The theological ethos of Rafael Cruz's vision is in Christian dominionism; he talks about preaching a "message of dominion" that all Christians have received an "anointing as kings."
Cruz's primary text for his sermon was Revelation 1:5-6, which says, "To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father--to him be glory and power for ever and ever!" In Rafael's translation of the Bible, it says "kings and priests" instead of "a kingdom and priests." In the Greek, the word is basileian (accusative singular) and no manuscript variants are indicated, but never mind that.
The seamless move that Cruz makes without any justification is to say that because kings and priests were anointed in the Old Testament, that means there are two kinds of Christians today: kings and priests. Forget about the body of Christ and all the spiritual gifts identified in 1 Corinthians 12. Forget Jesus' exhortation in Mark 10 not to be like the Gentile princes but to be servants instead of kings. Cruz decries the way that churches have neglected their members' kingly anointing…
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.
And here's the thing. When you get a lot of people together in a megachurch, you can do some pretty impressive things with your mission projects. You can feed thousands of people and host ESL classes and job training programs and medical clinics. And I imagine that seeing your accomplishments could give you the hubris of thinking we don't need a government at all to make our society run; our church can be the new government.
I was raised in a conservative Christian household, attending a fundamentalist evangelical Southern Baptist church. The people attending this church were not wild-eyed crazies, but the leaders of the community: City Councilmen, School Board Members, business owners. The teaching of this church in which I was raised, and almost every fundamentalist evangelical church, is not all that different than Rafael Cruz’s message: government is fundamentally evil and should be minimized so that “the church” can take its place. And the reason “the church” should take the place of government: so as to force people to “bow before the Lord” in order to receive the benefits of society.
When government offers a social safety net it is allowing the sinful people of this world to receive help without submitting themselves to the god of these fundamentalists. When prayer is removed from government meetings, sinners are allowed to be shielded from “the fear of the Lord.” For fundamentalists that believe all of 'creation' must be brought to salvation, there is nothing more evil than allowing people to live without having Jesus’ saving power forced upon them.
I say all of this not to rant, but to offer a very real picture of the theology that a large portion of Texans are raised in and continue to believe. Even though most people raised in churches that teach this theology will not act to take power in government, they will vote for those that appeal to them with a similar message. This is why Secular Texas exists, and offers Texas Theocracy Watch as a service. And this is why the First Amendment exists. To guarantee us all freedom of religion and non-religion in our shared institution of government.