On July 4th of this year, Dr. Charles Stanley and In Touch Ministries had a special guest speaker for their holiday program: Newt Gingrich.
I was told by a friend to click on the In Touch website to hear his message. Of course I checked it out. I was really curious. Newt Gingrich speaking in a Baptist church? Had he become a Baptist preacher? I thought that perhaps he’d gotten converted and was giving his testimony of how he’d found Jesus. After all, wasn’t he the man who had to resign as Speaker of the House because he was having an affair (at the same time that he was leading in getting Bill Clinton impeached for lying about his affairs)?
Well, no, he didn’t want to talk about Jesus. He was pushing his new book: Rediscovering God in America. Now I haven’t read Newt Gingrich’s book, but I did listen to his “message” for about ½ hour before I gave up. It was a typical hodgepodge of patriotism, militarism, Republicanism and religiosity. He talked a lot about the flag, the military, America, the Bible and even God. He actually did mention Jesus Christ once, but only offhandedly.
Although he is a professor of history, his understanding of history seems to be as weak as his understanding of the Bible. Either that, or he is deliberately playing fast and loose with both.
Gingrich paints a picture of our founding fathers as men of God, and undoubtedly many of them were. But for many, their faith was not in the God of the Bible, the God who gave His Son.
One of his favorites is Thomas Jefferson. Gingrich admits that Jefferson was a Deist but insists that Deists really believed in God as Creator. However what Gingrich doesn’t explain is that Deists did not believe in God as One who is involved in the affairs of men or in God as the One who sent His Son as Savior of the world. I have a copy of Jefferson’s “Bible.” For his edition he removed all references to miracles and to the deity of Christ. (He missed a few.)
Gingrich paints a picture of a godly America that I believe exists only in the wishful thinking of some people. And his call for America to rediscover God does not go far enough. America does not need to “return to God.” The American people need Jesus Christ who died for our sins and rose again. And so does Newt. And America needs churches that proclaim Christ and not Gingrich’s generic god.
I have a problem with patriotic services in church. I find none of this in the New Testament. I don't find Jesus or Paul or John or any other New Testament writer calling their nation to repentance and responsibility. And the Roman Empire in their day was as immoral as, or worse than America in our day.
As a Christian citizen of both the Kingdom of God and of the USA, I recognize that I have dual responsibilities. In fact, in a representative democracy such as ours we have a greater responsibility. But our responsibility is to "do all things to the glory of God." That includes how we vote, hold office, etc.
As far as Mr. Stanley's having Newt speak, I didn't see any indication that tells us Newt is a believer. His past actions, his ignorance of the Word of God, as well as the fact that he does not acknowledge Christ would seem to disqualify him, if not as a believer, at least as someone who should speak in church
There are too many people in this country who think that being an American and being a Christian are the same thing. This kind of preaching only adds to the confusion and muddies up the Gospel.
I believe that the church in America has gotten sidetracked often throughout our history because we have blurred the distinction between three entities: the church, Israel and our nation. The Israel of the Old Testament was a theocracy. In a sense we could say that “church” and “state” were one. But not so today. The church’s task is not to create or “restore” or “revive” a godly nation. That’s impossible. History is full of failed theocracies. We don’t need one here!