Over the weekend, Turning Point USA hosted their America Fest 2021, which is basically their annual convention filled with political speeches from conservative politicians and celebrities. The event featured plenty of big names and other minor players. Among those speaking on the 4th day was Pastor Jack Hibbs, who gives the first speech for the session.
Hibbs makes the claim that Nicolaitans were people who attempted to lord over the people. This is in reference to the tyranny the left wishes to impose on America. However, this is not what the Nicolaitan heresy was in Revelation 2 that Jesus condemns. According to Bible Gateway, the Nicolaitan heresy derives from Nicolaus of Antioch, an early believer in the church mentioned in Acts 6:5 who would later betray the true gospel. This early church heresy deals with those who would take advantage of God’s grace and forgiveness provided by Christ’s sacrifice to wantonly commit sin. This is what Nicolaitans are in reference to Revelation. Nicolaitans were not attempting to impose their gods or tyranny upon fellow believers, but lead them into sins, most notably sexual immorality. Unrestricted Christian Liberty is a mockery of the gospel that further enslaves men to their sins, but this is not the point Hibbs articulates.
In fact, if one were to point to a biblical comparison to the Marxists, the Old Testament Baal worship would be the most applicable, not the Nicolaitans or the Judaizers. After all, we have a modern Jezebel for our Vice President. Moreover, the Nicolaitan Heresy accurately describes those who would wish to merge Conservatism with Liberalism to formulate a “Big Tent” to win elections. But who are the actual Nicolaitans in America: woke preachers, Richard Grenell, Log Cabin Republicans, and certainly those taking pictures with Lady MAGA at CPAC 2021. TPUSA also features contributors like Rob Smith, who is openly gay, advocates against Bathroom Bills, and is pro-transgenderism. In 2017, Smith wrote an op-ed for NBC detailing this and other beliefs antithetical to conservatism.
Those are the modern day Nicolaitans and there were plenty at America Fest to condemn. They prioritize “Big Tent” policies to transform conservatism into a movement about winning elections to (not) save America. Jesus does not preach a big tent, but a narrow gate. For far too long, Team GOP would prefer to promote degeneracy under the guise of freedom. If conservatism does not stand for Christian values, then it is nothing more than controlled opposition to the left, or liberals driving the speed limit. Turning Point USA cares more for low taxes and economic freedom than it does preserving the values that made America exceptional to begin with. Socialism sucks—cool t-shirt bro. But that does not win elections, nor does promoting sodomy win the culture war.
The great irony is that if Conservative Inc would stop peddling the same stale economic message and feigning fiscal responsibility, but rather focused strictly on the culture war, then they would win more voters, particularly those not fond of being called “Latinx.” It worked in Virginia, where Glenn Youngkin glommed onto a message contrary to his own to win. It was why Trump won in 2016 despite many not believing his authenticity at the time. It is why Ron DeSantis, not Kristi Noem, is becoming the face of the conservative movement.
Jack Hibbs played fast and loose with the history on this, and a variety of other issues in his brief sermon. God did not “invent” government but permits and ordains its existence to punish evils (Romans 13), and politics being man’s contribution to government is a stretch. Politics is like commerce. The term is used to categorize a particular set of human interactions which relate to attaining and utilizing power. In the Armor of God (Ephesians 6), it is the truth which girds the loins. Truth keeps the entire armor together, thereby preventing any loose garments from getting in the way. It undergirds even the Breastplate of Righteousness.
To his credit, he gives a gospel presentation, and he is not a Branch Covidian. Had he weaponized the platform of TPUSA to attack the Conservative Nicolaitans, that would have been ballsy and totally necessary. Jack Hibbs missed an opportunity.