I recently came across an article that was saturated with the ideology of Christian nationalism. While the author does not sound extreme, and I trust he is sincere, the beliefs he espouses are rampant within Christian nationalism. Among them is the belief that the United States has a covenant with God. In his article he compares the United States to Old Testament Israel. He writes the following:
In the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses reflects deeply on the kind of character and activities loved by God and the type of behaviors and pursuits scorned by God. The first bring blessings, while the latter lead to reprimands. Like ancient Israel, America is in dire need of a covenant renewal. Obedience and knowledge of His Word are keys to a covenant relationship that equips “kings to reign and rulers to decree justice.”2
The fallacy in his position is comparing America to ancient Israel. The United States is not a covenant nation as Israel was. God personally chose Israel and made covenant with them and through Israel God brought the Messiah, Jesus, into the world.
For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? ~ Deuteronomy 4:7-8
God gave the law to Israel, not to America! And even so Israel could not keep God’s Law. Why then would any Christian think that America could keep God’s law? Israel is the only covenant physical nation that God has ever raised up as his own possession.
I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. ~ Romans 9:1-5
Notice that Paul says concerning Israel: to whom pertains… the giving of the law.
Israel was given the law, and the responsibility of upholding God’s law so that all nations would know that there is a God in Israel, but Israel failed in this commission, because no nation can uphold God’s law, not even Israel. Thus God sent the Messiah, Jesus, to be the Savior of the world.
The church (God’s people in the Messiah) is the body through which the grace of Christ is ministered to a lost and dying world. We are called to be people of reconciliation, bringing healing and hope to the world through the love, mercy, and grace of Christ. We are not commissioned to enforce the law, which is the agenda of the Christian nationalists, who themselves do not keep the law – this is exactly what Paul deals with among the Jewish nationalists in his day in the early chapters of Romans.
Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. ~ Romans 2:17-24
Rather than dealing with adultery, fornication, and other sins in their own house, christian nationalists would rather make “political emenies” against the likes of the LGBTQ community, because after all, the LGBTQ community are violating “God’s law.” Such hypocrisy is clearly seen by those outside the church and as Paul says, the name of God is blasphemed among the gentiles because of you.
In the same article I mentioned above, the the writer also makes the following statement:
When we fail to pass the Christian culture along to the next generation[s], then the nation, as Ephesians 4:14 warns, will be “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.” [NKJV]
Christian culture is not what needs to be passed on to the next generation. The truth of the gospel needs to be passed on. Christian culture often turns people away from the gospel because Christian culture can often be legalistic, judgmental, religious, cliquish, and hypocritical. Furthermore, there are so many sects of Christianity, which form of Christian culture do you choose to pass on? People need Jesus not Christian culture.
Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:14 are not for the secular nation in which we live. Paul’s words are for the body of believers who are to grow up in Christ. This is precisely what is not happening if we think the church is called to christian-ize society within the nation though political means.
Christian nationalists want to enforce their culture & morality on the rest of the nation because they have no interest in the real work of evangelism. It’s much easier to oppose gay marriage, rather than show the love of Christ to gay couples.
Being judgmental, condemning, self righteous, and legalistic, requires no prayer, no dependance on the Holy Spirit, and no growth in grace. Walking in the truth of the gospel does.
The gospel reminds us that we are strangers and pilgrims in this world, and our true citizenship is in Heaven. The gospel also tells us that we are ambassadors for Christ, through whom God calls people to be reconciled unto him. These two truths are in no way compatible with the spirit and message behind Christian nationalism which seeks to christian-ize society with their version of God’s law.
The church is not called to Christian-ize society. Rather we are called to shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation. And how do we do that? By loving our neighbor as ourselves.
Rather than being enforcers of our version of the law (condemning others by cherry picking verses, and using the Bible to undergird our prejudices), we are to be people of grace. For the person who offends the law in one only point is guilty of all James 2:10). None of us can point the finger because God has concluded that we are all under sin so that he can have mercy on us all – we all need Jesus.
Thus we embrace the love of God! For if we embrace the royal law of love according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, we will do well! ~ James 2:8
Follow the way of love and people will follow you to Jesus.