According to a number of Facebook theologians, Ted Cruz's refusal or failure to endorse Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee wasn't simply bad manners at best or strategically imprudent at worst. Instead, such thinkers invoke this rhetorical incident to call into question the validity of the Senator's profession of faith as a Christian.
It is claimed that, earlier in the presidential campaign season, Ted Cruz promised to endorse whomever it was that voters (or moneyed secret societies dependent upon your view as to how this process is determined in the end) selected as the Republican candidate. At the time, it was believed that Donald Trump would never be triumphant and that this rhetorical stunt might be enough to forestall a third party bid on the part of the real estate tycoon that would likely result in Hillary Clinton winning the White House.
At the time, it seemed that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz might have had a considerable degree of compatibility. Some pundits and strategists even speculated that Cruz might have even made a good vice president on a ticket headed by Donald Trump.
Given Trump's New Yorker mentality, his preferred strategy consisted of repeatedly insulting his opponents into submission and compliance. By the time he got around to Cruz, it seems this verbal barrage could not be turned off.
A number of Trump's most scathing retorts against Cruz were actually aimed at the physical appearance of Cruz's wife Heidi and at Cruz's father for supposedly being part of the conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy. For unlike Trump, Cruz apparently takes serious the clause in the traditional wedding vows about marriage being until death and not until the first sign of crows feet.
Yet it would seem surprisingly to the most thoroughgoing and rigorous of Christians that PR stunts along the campaign trail are a far more serious matter than promises made before God at the marriage altar or loyalty to family.
Apart from a situation resulting in profound criminality such as treason, terrorism, or an act that would result in discernible quantifiable harm to an individual, one's foremost loyalties ought to be to one's family rather than the state necessarily. Even much less is owed to an individual that hasn't even as of yet been elected to public office.
Ted Cruz might have promised to endorse whomever the Republican candidate was to be once the dust settled. However, that promise was made before Trump disparaged Cruz's family in some of the most visceral ways imaginable.
Yet as of much concern to the spiritually inclined ought to be the elevation of this incident at the Republican convention to the level of a litmus test by which Senator Cruz's profession of faith is judged valid or not.
There are a number of different interpretations as to the procedural mechanics by which an individual attains the state of salvation according to the various confessional traditions within the Christian faith. However, at the most fundamental, a Christian is someone that has professed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for dieing upon the cross as payment for our sins and rising from the dead so that those that believe in Him might have eternal life in Heaven.
Nowhere in the historic creeds held by any legitimate denomination does it say anything about your mansion in the beatific beyond being forfeited as a result of renigging on your promise to endorse a particular presidential candidate should your relationship with this aspiring leader turn sour. Pietistic sticklers might snipe that Scripture dictates by someone's fruits that you will know a person and that faith without works is dead.
According to the concepts of the orders of creation and subsidiarity, for the smooth functioning of human society, God established certain spheres of authority to oversee the complexity of the world and that the authority closest to a particular concern ought to be the one to address the matter. As such, the loyalty that ought to be the strongest should be for immediate family such as one's spouse, children, parents, and siblings. In a properly balanced system, the loyalty and deference due a distant aspiring leader and even the offices which such figures seek ought to be minimal or perhaps even tentative at its most intense.
By conscious volition in terms of the marriage vows before God and men, the first loyalty of Ted Cruz is to his wife. Coming in at a close second is that to his father given that, from all indication, it seems that the two have an intact familial relationship. If anything, Ted Cruz's profession of faith should be called into question if he did not prioritize their honor by taking some kind of symbolic stand that realizes that, while there might not be any other electorally viable alternative to Hillary Clinton other than Donald Trump, in good conscience he cannot pledge fealty to the man.
The conspicuously devout that pride themselves on finding a Biblical text for nearly every life contingency will no doubt rush to the Old Testament and invoke the narrative of Jepthah as proof that the believer is obligated to abide by his promises no matter how outlandish. Jepthah in Judges 11:31 vowed that he would offer as a sacrifice the first thing he saw emerge from his domicile upon his return home if the Lord would grant him victory over the Ammonites.
It turned out that that would be his daughter. And to prove that he was a man of his word, Jepthah did kill her.
Religious enthusiasts will rejoice, “See! This is proof that Ted Cruz is obligated to fulfill his vow to Donald Trump and the Republican Party.” Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps those holding to this position ought to contemplate the implications of what they are advocating.
Jepthah made this vow to God. So are those critical of Cruz regarding this matter telling us that Trump is, in their view, God or deserving of the same unwavering loyalty that is owed to the Almighty?
Even in terms of the traditional wedding ceremony, the binding lifelong nature of that union is probably characterized as such more so because one swears this promise not so much to one's intended spouse as one is making this promise to and before a righteous and holy God. Since Donald Trump has been married three times with an undisclosed additional number of women before, during, and after each of these marriages, it is pretty safe to say that he does not rise to the same level of perfection as the triune Godhead.
Those that continue to insist that Ted Cruz is likely not a Christian or at least not a very good one need to be quite careful. For does not Scripture say that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God?
As such, does that not also include those leveling these kinds of accusations against Senator Cruz? If these critics continue to insist that they are without sin, does not I John 1:8 say of them that they are liars? If they are going to hold that the slightest shortcoming in the life of the professed believer is evidence of the likelihood that the individual is likely not a believer, might these types wallowing in self righteousness in regards to the Ted Cruz question be in danger of the hottest hellfire of all?
You aren't going to get through life without a few mistakes which theologians would categorize as sin. On the Day of Judgment would you rather stand before God having failed to uphold the honor of your wife and father or having failed to placate a presidential candidate that by that point probably doesn't even reside in the desired habitation of the Afterlife if he continues to insist that he has never done anything wrong in need of a Savior's forgiveness in the first place.
By Frederick Meekins
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