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We all need to consider the phenomenon and rise of Christian nationalism. If you have not heard this term, please note that it is NOT simple patriotism, although some Christian nationalists may call themselves patriots. There is nothing wrong with a Christian having a proper pride of country, that is NOT what this is about, just to be clear. Rather it is a conflation of the cross and the flag.

Back in September 2020 I posted about a book from 2005: The Myth of a Christian Nation, How the Quest for Political Power is Destroying the Church by Greg Boyd. Boyd was writing about a problem that was then in a more rudimentary state, compared to now that is. Here is Boyd’s summary of the book’s thesis. It is too bad his concerns weren’t more heeded back in 2005!

“I believe a significant segment of American evangelicalism is guilty of nationalistic and political idolatry. To a frightful degree…evangelicals fuse the kingdom of God with a preferred version of the kingdom of the world (whether it’s our national interests, a particular form of government, a particular political program, and so on). Rather than focusing our understanding of God’s Kingdom on the person of Jesus – who, incidentally, never allowed himself to get pulled into the political disputes of his day – I believe many of us American evangelicals have allowed our understanding of the kingdom of God to be polluted with political ideals, agendas, and issues.” – page 11

I am attempting to better understand Christian nationalism myself, and here are articles or books you may find helpful:

♦ Christianity Today shared this piece from Tish Harrison Warren on January 7th: We Worship with the Magi, Not MAGAEpiphany reminds us that faith is not a prop for political power. An excerpt:

“Yesterday’s atrocity was in large part brought to us by the white, evangelical church in America. An emaciated and malformed evangelical political theology got us where we are now….The conflation of the Christian faith and Trumpism did not suddenly spring up in a vacuum four years ago. It arose through decades of poor catechesis and spiritual formation. Through false teaching that the American flag and the cross of Christ do not conflict. Through evangelical leaders who counted losing their souls a small price to pay for grasping political power.”

Read that excerpt and the article carefully. Can we lump all evangelicals together? Of course not. 20% did not vote for Trump, and some of the 80% did so only hesitantly. And certainly what happened Jan. 6th involved some extremists, but as Warren says, and I agree, an emaciated and malformed evangelical theology contributed to where we are now. The following source takes us deeper…

♦ I ordered this important book, but don’t have it yet: Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States by Andrew L. Whitehead, Samuel L. Perry. A review is HERE. It is considered the first comprehensive empirical analysis of Christian nationalism in the United States.

As stated in the review, focusing on the category of “white evangelicals” misses a powerful cultural force behind many of today’s political issues. They argue that a belief system they call “Christian nationalism” is behind it. Evangelicalism and Christian nationalism are not one and the same. The review indicates that solely blaming white evangelicals is simplistic, and the book shows that the situation is more complex. Yet evangelicalism helped this movement grow.

♦ Here is an interesting article from The Washington Post: Seeking power in Jesus’ name: Trump sparks a rise of Patriot Churches. The above book is mentioned. I was able to access the article without hitting a paywall. An excerpt from the article:

“The Patriot Churches belong to what religion experts describe as a loosely organized Christian nationalist movement that has flourished under President Trump. In just four years, he has helped reshape the landscape of American Christianity by elevating Christians once considered fringe, including Messianic Jews, preachers of the prosperity gospel and self-styled prophets. At times, this made for some strange bedfellows, but the common thread among them is a sense of being under siege and a belief that America has been and should remain a Christian nation.”

I bolded that, as it provides a summary explanation of Christian nationalism. Finally, here is a last link to share:

♦ Respected historian, professor, author, and Christian John Fea (whose blog is powered by wordpress) had this post: What is Christian Nationalism? Fea’s blog is worth following for thoughtful commentary.

Fea states: “Christian nationalism is defined by a fear that America’s Christian identity is eroding, a belief that the pursuit of political power is the way to ‘win back’ America, and a nostalgia for a Christian nation that probably never existed in the first place.”

⇒ ⇒ I hope these sources may be informative and helpful. Too many Christians are caught up in Trumpism, controlled by fear, and focused on political power…even if they are not full blown Christian nationalists. The Scripture repeatedly tells us to not be afraid, and warns about the dangers of power and pride. We worship the crucified God, the God who humbled himself and became human. The precepts of Christianity and the precepts of politics are at odds with each other.

Several years ago I taught an adult Sunday school class on The Beatitudes, and I am thinking I will get my teaching notes out and have a blog series soon.

People were astonished by some of the things Jesus taught, such as the Beatitudes… “If we are not, it is because we have heard Jesus’s teachings so often that their edges have been worn smooth, dulling their glaring subversiveness. If we would recover their original impact, we too would be startled.” – Huston Smith

First post on the beatitudes HERE.