It is time for Christians to acknowledge that modern Christianity has been badly damaged by the pagan values of the Enlightenment. For the first 1600 years of the Church, our fathers in the Faith and the flesh held as central to the Christian life two principles that spanned all denominations and sects. First, God’s will must be central to the life of every man and every Nation. Second, God’s providential hand is powerfully active in Creation every day.
When the first brave European explorers set foot in the New World, they fell to their knees on dry land and thanked God for bringing them safely across the unknown, treacherous sea. The next thing they did was to claim those lands for God and King. Both of these acts are a direct reflection of these two principles. They came here for God’s glory, and they made it here by God’s mercy. None of those men would dare place any other factor above these. Even the ones who also sought fame and wealth confessed that it would only come to them if God granted it.
The first Thanksgiving meals and days of worship in the 1620s were–like the harvest festivals of Europe that stretch back before recorded history–explicit thanks given to God for the bounty of nature that sustains every man. Every agrarian society, pagan and Christian alike, has acknowledged that weather, pestilence, and the health and growth of the crops are all entirely in God’s hands. We do not pray “Give us this day our daily bread” for nothing.
Fast forward 150 years from the first Thanksgiving, and things in the Colonies have taken a dramatic spiritual turn. The Enlightenment has been raging on the European continent for nearly a century. John Locke’s philosophy laid the groundwork for mechanistic Deism, or the clockmaker theory. In this fundamentally new religion, a non-Trinitarian “God” created the universe, natural laws, and forces. He set them in motion, and then withdrew entirely to watch from a distance. This was the religion of men like Thomas Jefferson, who denied Christ’s Divinity. Jefferson was so convinced that Jesus isn’t God and that there were no miracles, that he chopped up, rearranged, and censored the Gospels until they reflected the solely human Jesus of his pagan mind.
Another principal architect of the Colonies’ revolt against England was James Madison. Immediately before helping to foment the Revolution, Madison was shaped directly by the philosophical teachings of the Scotsman John Witherspoon, who had just arrived to run what is now known as Princeton University. Witherspoon imported the very latest Enlightenment radicalism onto our shores, and his students reveled in the new and exotic wisdom from the Continent. Madison and Jefferson together championed Locke’s firm conviction that Christianity must be expelled far from the halls of government, in the name of progress.
Despite the fact that these foreign, pagan beliefs were contrary to the Christian morals of the majority of the Colonies’ population, they were imposed from the top, and then spread as the founding myth of this new Nation. The winners wrote the history books, and nine generations later, everyone knows that of course, we have to keep Faith away from politics. The alternative is simply unthinkable. And this is the status quo of “Christianity” in America and the West today. This pagan Enlightenment principle is a foundational belief across virtually all denominations, regardless of where they fall in other “liberal/conservative” doctrinal battles.
We’re told that to be a 21st century Christian is to go to church, remain faithful in our beliefs, raise our families well, and be a spiritual and earthly blessing to those around us. That is all well and good, except for one critical thing: we’re told that is as far as we can go. Don’t like what’s happening to your Nation? That’s your right privately, but you’d better keep politics out of the pulpit. You can say your prayers, and you can hold your charity drives. And if you’re really upset, you can hold a prayer vigil or maybe even a march. But you may go no further. Anything beyond these passive means, and you’re committing the cardinal crime of “mixing church and state.” Stick to your prayer and soup kitchens, and leave the politics to the politicians.
The idea of Christian Nationalism is a lightning rod for all sides. The left is terrified because if this Nation returned to its God-fearing, God-worshipping, God-serving roots, it would undo their centuries’ work inside of a decade. And many conservative Christians are freaked out by the notion simply because we’ve been programmed that way. But to be fair, there are some very good reasons to be wary of the idea.
The most obvious objection from a Christian is that it opens the door for someone unscrupulous to cloak himself in Christian garb and take advantage of the latest fad; and frankly, they’re correct. This is happening right now on the right, where multiple big personalities have latched onto the burgeoning popularity of open Christian belief so that they can raise hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from Christian supporters who just want a voice speaking for them. But the solution for grifters isn’t silencing all Christians. The solution is for the faithful to exercise spiritual discernment. As 1 John 4:1 records, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
The second and more theologically sophisticated objection is hinged on Jesus’ own words, “My kingdom is not of this world.” This is a very good objection because the confusion of political and spiritual power plagued Christ’s entire earthly ministry. The Israelites had been punished by God for their disobedience and unbelief, and subjected to many centuries of rootlessness, subjugation, and political persecution. Jesus made clear to all that He did not come as an earthly ruler to free the Israelites from Roman rule, but as a Heavenly ruler to free all mankind from our bondage to sin and death. That is all true and correct, and not one word of it rebuts the idea of Christian Nationalism. God’s command to all believers is to be a faithful servant in whatever your calling is in life. He commands fathers to be faithful fathers, husbands faithful husbands, wives faithful wives, children faithful children, masters faithful masters, slaves faithful slaves. Our duty to God is to bear His image faithfully in the world for the benefit of those around us.
This duty to God must necessarily include the political sphere. Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” Can a husband fulfill his duty to love his wife as Christ loves the Church if he won’t lay down his life for her? The scope of such duty goes far beyond “well maybe if someone breaks into my house.” The same duty holds if someone breaks into your Nation. This duty is fundamentally political. Can a father and husband be faithful to God if he does nothing while evil men overrun his Nation? No.
What then is Christian Nationalism? It is the acknowledgment that God’s will must be central to the life of every Christian. It is the acknowledgment that every temporal blessing comes from God. It is every man leading a faithful life as husband and father, not only under his roof, but in his neighborhood, his community, and the Nation into which God created him. It means we don’t stop being Christian when we step out our front door in the morning, and we don’t keep it a secret.
Some say that Christian Nationalism is contrary to the Gospel. This is because they don’t actually know what the Gospel is. The Gospel is utterly meaningless without the Law. “Jesus died for you” means nothing to someone who does not understand what sin is, why sin matters, or against Whom sin is committed. The only way we can possibly spread the Gospel message is to also spread God’s Law. To do so is Christian love.
For the believer, God’s Law is the rule for our lives, not condemning us, nor justifying us, but showing us how to live in accord with God’s will; it is a source of joy to live in Christ. For the believer and ignorant unbeliever alike, the Law is a mirror that shows us our own sin, revealing our need for a Savior and forgiveness. And for the malevolent unbeliever, the Law is a curb, binding his wickedness from harming those around him. The faithful Christian who has been taught God’s will has no choice but to bring that understanding to bear in forming the curbs of the political law which preserve godly order and civilization itself. This is Christian Nationalism.
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