Ecumenical Nationalism

The second chapter of Judges opens with the Angel of the LORD – the Messenger of YHWH, the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ – visiting with the leaders of Israel and giving them a stern warning, reminding them of their duties to God. He tells them,

and as for you, you shall cut no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not listened to My voice; what is this you have done? (Judges 2:2).

He goes on to say,

“Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they will become as thorns in your sides, and their gods will become a snare to you.’” (Judges 2:3).

As early as Exodus 23:20-33, God’s people were to “cut no covenant” with the pagans in the land they were to conquer (Exodus 23:32), but instead they were to “tear down their altars,” in other words, totally eliminate their false worship. If that didn’t happen, those very same pagans would not be driven out by God, but instead, would become thorns in the sides of Israel and their false gods would ensnare them.

That prohibition doesn’t change when we come to the NT. While the focus is upon the church rather than a physical nation with borders, the warning remains the same: God’s people are to separate from unbelievers and the world, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. The church risks not only becoming irrelevant when they compromise with worldlings, but incurring the wrath of God.

Living in America

While on the one hand, God’s people are to remain separate from the world, on the other, they are called to engage the world with the gospel and make disciples of the nations (Matthew 28:19,20). Such a commission obviously entails the Christian coming into contact with the ungodly world, and if we believe the promises of our risen savior, sinners will be saved and their lives discipled in the Faith. That in turn means nations are impacted and transformed by the gospel for Christ’s sake. The clearest example of that transformation is a society, culture, and government filled with saved people who build a nation that reflects God’s laws and the ethics expected of the people who live according to those laws.

That of course is an ideal situation; but it isn’t completely realized this side of the millennium given that our Lord is pleased at this time to allow the weeds to grow up among the wheat. Still, our goal as the church of the living God is to remain salt and light, and if that salt and light is faithful to Scripture, the gospel, and obedience to Christ, it will have great influence in the world, including the politics governing the nation.

The United States, however, is unique in that our governing constitution allows religious freedom for the citizens, and places restrictions upon federal and state government from legislatively limiting how individual religions practice their faith.

But those constitutional ordained state/religion boundaries were tested the last couple of years when the government overstepped their limitations and began dictating to religious bodies how and when they can conduct and practice their worship. The government ruled against all manner of religious peoples, but mostly against Christians and the various denominations and sects. Moreover, a prevailing godless spirit has also crept in among the general populations of our society and manifests itself in the form of such things as pervert men dressed as women reading to school children, as well as mentally ill men forcing their way into women’s spaces, especially competitive sports all to the thunderous applause of our media and pop culture elites. Things are only made worse when such insanity is emboldened by government officials, and in some cases, state law, for their intrusions.

Religious people can certainly sense what they understand is the demise of our way of life, so they seek alliances with those groups, that while they may wildly differ with each other on important particulars, like say how one is saved, and who God is, and whatnot, they are like-minded on such things as men are men, women are women, and against such things as the medical mutilation of gender confused children by their deranged parents (usually the single wine mom).

But how far and to what extent do those alliances extend?

Consider this meme,

The meme was accompanied by these comments:

Catholics and Protestants can unite as co-belligerents in Christian Nationalism. Why? Because it’s about enforcing the second table of the law which relates to proper treatment of our fellow man and not the first table which relates to proper worship of God.

In the last few years or so, secular, worldly folks have taken up labeling any religious, Bible-believing conservative a “Christian Nationalist” who may express patriotic, American ideas and insists that Christian faith is important for defining our values as Americans. They further affirm the historical reality that God’s moral law undergirds our constitution and that Christians morals have always manifested in our society’s ethics. Getting marked out as “Christian Nationalist” is supposedly a terrible thing, but what secular folks claim is Christian Nationalism is what garden variety Christians have always believed is necessary for maintaining the spiritual health of our American nation. There is nothing at all sinister or “against Christ” with those convictions.

Whether or not “Christian Nationalism” is genuinely a “thing” especially one that is brand new on the American scene, is outside the scope of this brief blog article (I don’t believe it is in case anyone is wondering). There are, however, certain groups of Reformish folks who have actually embraced the slur and advocate for believers to join their cause as Christian Nationalists. Establishing Christian Nationalism, however, may involve more than just committed Christians, but also an alignment with other non-Christian conservative groups, as well as heretical, outright false religionists in order to usher in that Christian nation. I believe such an alliance will incur the wrath of the Angel of the LORD. Let me respond to the twitter comments accompanying that meme in order to explain.

FIRST, any genuine unity a Christian seeks with other parties is a unity around doctrinal truth and conviction. Hence, a Christian, as I noted in our introduction, is not at liberty to strike hands with unbelievers. More so if the unbeliever is a false religionist. In that alliance, there are two or more participants with fundamentally different theological worldviews. My vision of God is gonna be different than a Mormons or a Hindu, for instance.

SECOND, Catholic and Protestants fundamentally disagree on soteriological grounds. Meaning, their understanding of man’s sin problem, the foundational cause of much of our political and societal ills, and the solution to that problem, is at its root opposed to what historic Christianity and Protestantism believes. Additionally, our ultimate authority informing our theological convictions are not the same. Catholics will reject out of hand the idea of Scripture alone as our governing authority in matters of theology, let alone political engagement.

THIRD, the second table of the law, the so-called table that is meant as instructions informing our place among our neighbors and our treatment of them, cannot be separated from the first table of the law, the declaration of who God is and our obedience and worship of Him. The reason why we don’t cheat our neighbors, murder them, or lie against them, is because our ethics are anchored in the holy character of God as revealed in the first table. God’s law is a unified whole. The second table, the neighborly ethics, cannot be enforced apart from our submission to the first.

FOURTH, God’s law condemns us. While it is true the second table of the law reflects God’s holy morals and the ethical expectations of His people, ultimately, keeping those laws are a matter of a changed heart. Man is in need of having God write His laws on his heart (Deuteronomy 30:6, Jeremiah 31:33, Hebrews 8:10, 10:16), and that is a divine work accomplished by the preaching and teaching of the gospel.

May we keep those truths in mind as we seek God’s empowerment for reclaiming our American culture for the gospel’s sake. That is not accomplished by striking hands with individuals diametrically opposed to the gospel we proclaim and who do not worship the true and living God. They will only become snares and thorns to us if we do.