Guilty of Christian Nationalism?
The latest critics of the Christian faith accuse Christians of being selfish, out-of-date, non-constitutional “Christian nationalists” who would impose all the Christian rules on everyone around them. Think Ku Klux Klanners parading through Washington, DC in the 1920s to defend “Protestant America.” Or the The Handmaid’s Tale or a Christian version of 1984. Christians will, they believe, impose an Old Testament-like Christian theocracy on all citizens of the modern state, in which only Christian truth is allowed and the death penalty is employed for various sinful acts. Christian nationalism is decried by many who cry “fascist,” or “domestic terrorist.” Some Christian liberals see their understanding of Christian Nationalism to be “a threat to national security and domestic cohesion,” and even “the greatest threat to the witness of the church.”
- Freelance writer David Bates tweets: “[Christians] will go after every office and seat, from the White House to school boards, city councils, even library boards…This is what fascism looks like in America in the 21st century.”
- Cari Marshall, a board member of the Texas Democracy Foundation, believes “Christian Nationalism” amounts to “domestic terrorism.”
- MSNBC host Joy Reid said via Twitter she was “glad to see the mainstream media beginning to make it plain [that] Christian nationalism poses a very real threat to American national security and social cohesion.”
- Adrienne Quinn Martin, the Democratic Party chairman of Hood County, Texas, was among many who used the term “White Christian Nationalism.” According to Martin, “You can’t compromise with people who view opposition as evil and believe they are on a mission from God. White Christian Nationalism has to be defeated, there is no middle ground.”
- Jemar Tisby, an antiracist black scholar, graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary, in an article entitled “Myth that Powers White Christian Nationalism” argues that “White Christian Nationalism is the greatest threat to the witness of the church and to the future of democracy in the United States.”
These visceral accusations reveal much about the present spiritual state of the culture. The more Western culture turns to pagan thinking, the less it identifies with its Christian past. The normativity of biblical truth dissipates, and what we used to call Christendom falls back under an onslaught of what we can begin to call “pagan nationalism.”
In Finland, a once deeply Lutheran culture, the Helsinki Court of Appeals charged Paivi Rasanen (medical doctor, government minister of the interior, member of the Finnish Parliament since 1955, and Christian believer) with three counts of “ethnic agitation” for publicly questioning the decision by the Evangelical Lutheran Church to support the Helsinki LGBT Pride events, while including a copy of the text of Romans 1:24-27. The court imposed monetary fines and insisted that her publications be censored. A district court in Helsinki recently dismissed all claims against her, but then the public prosecutor produced 26 pages of reasons to reopen the case. Paivi Rasanen’s fate is still wide open.
In America, pagan nationalism shows up in the politicization of anti-biblical morals. Common moral binaries of the past, like normative heterosexual marriage and male-female distinctions, are denied. Instead of biblical morals influencing the policies of the nation, it is anti-biblical morality that is imposed on all, as is evidenced in the coming project of the [sexual] Equality Act, that will punish all who do not adopt the LGBT agenda. Already, the Christian College of the Ozarks is challenging a Biden administration directive that would force religious schools to open girls’ dorms, showers, and other private areas to males. If the college operates according to its beliefs, it risks devastating financial penalties. Over less obviously religious themes, the Biden administration has recently accused parents who do not want their children taught Marxist Critical Race Theory or radical gender philosophy as “terrorists” who must be controlled by the FBI and the Department of Justice. Thankfully, those who formed the Disinformation Governance Board were incompetent. On the surface, at least, this Board no longer exists. But one has to wonder which democratically-elected politicians would even consider that controlling and punishing public speech is a laudable moral value. But this should not surprise us, since some progressives reject even the central philosophies behind the founding of the country. So, the growing politicization of sexual morals and the rejection of traditional governing principles in the West are truly leading us down a path to the normalization of “pagan nationalism.”
Where will America go? It may seem to unbelievers that Christians are greedily taking power over all things social. However, it is pagans now doing this. Erica Carrico, a spiritual coach who trains women to be hard-driving entrepreneurs, suspects that if she’d lived 400 years ago, she would have been accused of witchcraft. “Women who were healers, who were connected to the moon cycle and nature, they were considered witches. … I love following the moon. I feel divinely guided by my intuition.” These coaches give us a glimpse of the allure and the hazards of 21st-century D.I.Y. pagan religion, which seeks to overtake “normal” cultural activities.
We find ourselves in an increasingly divergent clash, not of nationhood but of ultimate worldviews. Certainly the accusation of “Christian nationalism” fails to do justice to the Christian vison. The goal of the Christian faith is not social control but recognition of the cosmic lordship of God the Creator and Redeemer over all things, including all nature and all nations. The immensity of the Christian view of God cannot be reduced to nationalism. The biblical worldview is gloriously cosmic. On the other hand, the goal of pagan nationalism is a neo-Marxist political take-over, whose very “this-worldly” goal has led to sorrow, destruction, murder and poverty every time it has been tried. While biblical theology seeks the future transformation of the universe, the systematic rejection of God seeks by forceful change to gain mere earthly political power and wealth. The White House “Proclamation on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Pride Month” (May 31st, 2022) reveals, according to Christian commentator Robert Knight, the Left’s strategy to “turn America into a place where no one dares espouse traditional morality. Their ultimate aim is to criminalize Christianity, not to usher in tolerance.” President Biden threatens to withhold school lunch funding from schools that don’t follow his LGBT agenda. Indicating the massive opposition of two worldviews and morals, President Biden, with no real understanding, declares to the LGBTQI community:
I will always have your back as your President so that you can be yourself and reach your God-given potential. Today and every day, my Administration stands with every LGBTQI+ American in the ongoing struggle against intolerance, discrimination, and injustice.
A similar deep opposition of “values” is appearing where school district policies require teachers to use the “chosen” pronouns of “gender-expansive or transgender students” instead of terms consistent with each student’s biological created sex. This is an ideological revolution that opposes the worldview of binary reality, led by non-binary gender forces that reject the male/female distinction. This “new” convention, masquerading as human rights, is a totalitarian attempt to dictate participation in a denial of objective reality where a distinct Creator is the author of all things created. It is pagan nationalism that will begin to persecute those who oppose it—just as atheistic Marxism has always done.
The biblical worldview, for reasons of redemptive revelation, was at one time focused on a specific chosen nation, Israel. However, in Psalm 117:1, we see a vast, panoramic view of reality. The psalm calls “all nations and all peoples to praise the Lord,” because the Lord is the ruler of the entire cosmos.
At a time when white Christian opinions are dismissed as racist or self-serving nationalism, it is good to hear from black Christian scholars who get to the heart of the issue. Delano Squires who works with Jason Whitlock on BlazeTV’s “Fearless with Jason Whitlock,” is not willing to reduce the Christian faith to nationalism. In this life, he says, we must come face to face with the God of the Bible since we may never forget that “the Designer is the Definer.” He goes on:
I believe a nation that acknowledges God in its policies, principles, and pulpits will be better off than one that doesn’t. I believe that politicians who operate in wisdom while acknowledging the limits of their power and knowledge govern more effectively than those who think they are all-knowing and all-powerful. The worldview that treats gender differences—in both form and function—as arbitrary and insignificant yet treats race, especially the fusion of skin color and sin nature characterized by “whiteness,” as baked into human nature has no chance of understanding the complex relationship between spiritual conviction and public life.
Some believe we can avoid the charge of “Christian nationalism” by simply “sharing the gospel,” and staying out of cultural involvement. To be sure, at its center the gospel is about personal redemption and eternal salvation but cultural implications are a part of the gospel and we may not avoid pointing them out. It is essential to see that God the Savior is also our Creator. The Scripture demands that true believers “worship and serve the Creator” (Romans 1:25). Worshiping the Creator means honoring his creative work. We know this because Paul immediately adds to his programmatic statement the implications for sexuality in the very next verses, vv.26–7: “For this reason [the failure to worship the Creator] God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” R. C. Sproul characterizes homosexuality in the Apostle Paul’s depiction here in Romans 1 as “the sin most representative of the radical nature of our fall.” If the Apostle Paul, while showing love to sinners, includes this in his gospel preaching, so must we.
The word of the Lord to the exiles in Babylon (BC 598–38) regarding their cultural obligations, including monogamous heterosexual marriage, is explicit and still applies today:
Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. (Jeremiah 19:5–7).
Paul encourages Timothy to be a “good servant of Jesus Christ,” and to point out to the brothers that “everything God created is good…because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. Timothy must remind people that “God is the Savior [or benefactor/Creator] of all men, especially those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:10). This is why Jesus taught: But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matt 5:44-45)
This is what all people still need to see and hear—God as the Creator and benefactor of all—for the well-being of all, for their knowledge of sin, and for the honor and worship of God.
Jesus, not Caesar, is Lord of all. If this is “nationalism” I am guilty.
 David Bates, @DavidBWriter. I am indebted to an article on this subject by Art Moore: see https://www.wnd.com/2022/05/news-media-giant-warns-rise-white-christian-nationalism/
 R. C. Sproul, Romans, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2009), 51.