In 1517, a 34-year-old Catholic priest nailed a document to the door of Wittenberg Castle church. That document was Martin Luther’s “95 Theses” discussing how the Bible is the central religious authority for Christians and how we can only attain salvation by grace through faith, not by works. These principles are in the Bible, but in those days, only clerics had access to it. The Catholic Church itself had grown used to other traditions, such as selling “indulgences” to obtain absolution for sin, and venerating “relics” of long-dead saints.
Luther saw these practices as corrupt and sought to discuss how to reform the church from the inside. After all, he dedicated his life to the priesthood. For his efforts, he was declared a heretic. You see, Pope Leo wanted to renovate St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and Friar Johann Tetzel sold indulgences in Germany to support the building fund. Hauled before a papal commission, Luther refused to recant, and Pope Leo X excommunicated him in 1521.
Thus was born the Protestant movement, not by Luther’s actions, but by the actions of the pope and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.
Wednesday night, Sen. Ted Cruz stood up at the podium of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. He had been invited to speak there by the then-presumptive nominee Donald Trump, in a meeting with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and other GOP leaders. The invitation had no strings attached, and no requirement to endorse Trump. Attendees at that meeting reported that Cruz accepted on the spot. Cruz indicated that he had no intention of publicly endorsing Trump.
No speech at a heavily-scripted convention is ever given without first being approved by the RNC and the nominee. It just doesn’t happen. Cruz’s speech was seen and approved by the Trump campaign. Campaign manager Paul Manafort let Cruz know that if he didn’t change his speech and endorse Trump (which was not a requirement to speak), then Cruz would suffer consequences.
Erick reported that these consequences included: Being booed on the stage, being criticized by specific media and talk radio personalities, and having cover stories planted by the RNC to indicate that Cruz altered his speech. Cruz did not endorse Trump from the stage, and all of Manafort’s threats have come to pass.
Trump had the power to require an endorsement from Cruz as a condition of speaking. Instead of holding to that, Trump tried to trap Cruz into an endorsement against his own conscience, placing him in the same situation as Martin Luther: Recant or be cast as a heretic. Why would Trump do this? Why does he need Cruz’s endorsement in the first place?
He needs it because Cruz represents to Trump and the GOP what Martin Luther represented to the Catholic Church. Cruz said “don’t stay home in November.” He said “If you love our country, and love our children as much as you do, stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom, and to be faithful to the constitution.”
What Trump and his supporters wanted from Cruz was an indulgence. His supporters wanted absolution for their candidate. They wanted to hear Cruz recant. They wanted their consciences assuaged for their support of Trump. Cruz did not offer that. He offered a defense of conservative principles, and the mores of the Republican Party. He attacked Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. He urged people to vote. And Trump supporters booed him for it.
They were given instructions to boo if it appeared Cruz would not offer a by-name endorsement to Trump, which, again, was not a requirement for Cruz to speak. Cruz did his best to support his party, and stand on conscience. But he would not offer an indulgence.
If Trump’s supporters truly believe that their candidate is a man who will defend our freedom, be faithful to the constitution, protect our God given rights, and stand for liberty, then Cruz offered the most comprehensive endorsement of Trump he could give. What he did not do is connect the dots—he left that for voters to make up their own minds.
With matters of religion and faith, we should let the Bible be the guide to each individual soul. It’s best to let grace find its way to a conscience. Nobody can sell a ticket to heaven. Nobody can tell you who to vote for. Cruz did the right thing, like Luther, and will suffer for it.