That Was Not A Benediction: A Minister's Thoughts on the GOP National Convention

I have nothing to say about the convention as a whole. I only want to share my thoughts with the closing benediction at the convention, as this is what I am qualified to speak to. Other social commentators can discuss ad nauseum other aspects of the convention, such as the plagiarism of Melania Trump.

Pastor Mark Burns stood up in front of the GOP to give the benediction, but instead of offering a benediction he said these words—just after invoking the name of Jesus Christ and talking about unity:

The enemy is not other Republicans, but is Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party!
— Mark Burns

. . . *many dead ministers are rolling over in their graves . . .

I had to watch it over again at least three times because I was in such shock. A minister of the Lord Jesus Christ has no right to say what he said. A minister cannot invoke the United States of America (much less a party within its political infrastructure) as something that has God's divine stamp of approval. But, "Pastor" Mark Burns goes on to pray,

And we are the conservative party, under God, to defeat every attack that comes against us.
— Mark Burns


For those not familiar with a benediction in Christian liturgies (i.e. services), it's supposed to be God's blessing upon his corporate people. It's not intended to be a blessing upon an individual (Donald Trump) who is a political candidate for president. 

But that's not what I'm taking issue with here (although I do take issue with this too).

I am taking issue with this minister's invocation of God not to bless, but to curse others made in the image of God. Make no mistake. This was not a benediction.

This was an imprecation—a spoken curse. Upon Hillary Clinton. Upon the Democratic Party. By a minister, who instead of cursing his "enemies," ought to be blessing them. 

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
                                                                   Romans 12:14-17

Unfortunately though, Mark Burns has equated the kingdom of God with the Republican party, and he has defined all evil as that which opposes this man-made institution. In so doing, he has drawn lines that ought not to be drawn—especially by a minister of the gospel.

A political party in the United States is never going to be able to bring about unity or lasting peace. It also has no ability to transcend this nation in uniting all nations "under God." Only Jesus Christ is able to do that. 

The church is not made up of a political party, and it's not led by any political candidate or run by a single institution. The church has only one head—Jesus.

The only message capable of bringing enemies together is the gospel. The only person capable of uniting opposites is Jesus Christ. As the apostle Paul says, 

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the diving wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
                                                                   Ephesians 2:14-16

But this is the message that Mark Burns has forgotten. In praying such an imprecatory prayer, he has forsaken his ordination, his calling, and his Lord in exchange for the praise of men. His message is one that will make Christianity popular to some for a short while, while ostracizing everyone else. And then those select few in the GOP will move onto something else that advances their own cause. This is not Christianity. It's politics.

That was no announcement of benediction. That was a curse.

Nicholas Davis

Rev. Nicholas Davis is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America.

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