Is Christian nationalism an acceptable ideology?

Christian nationalism is a phrase that has picked up a lot of steam, especially among politically active evangelical Christians. Some have intentionally distanced themselves from the term, while others have begun passionately embracing it as their political ideology. This disagreement begs two important questions: What does Christian nationalism even mean, and should Christians embrace such a thing? 

According to Tom Ascol, president of Founders Ministries, Christian nationalism is best defined as an ideology that “asserts that there is something identifiable as an American nation, distinct from other nations, … defined by Christianity, … and that the American people and their government should actively work to defend, sustain and cultivate America’s Christian culture, heritage and values.” In short, America is historically a Christian nation, and its people and governments should work to maintain that heritage. 

However, critics of Christian nationalism say that America is not a Christian nation. According to Pew Research Center, only about half of American citizens report that religion is very important in their lives. 

The issue is that secular neutrality is not possible. Ultimately, there must be some moral foundation for a nation’s laws and values. If it is not Christianity, then it will be replaced by something else. Based on recent Supreme Court cases such as the Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case, these replacements will likely be Marxist in nature and hostile to Christianity. 

Is calling the United States a Christian nation accurate? The Supreme Court thought so, based on its 1892 ruling in the Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States case. The history and heritage of this nation are so deeply rooted in Protestant ideals; it makes no sense to refer to it as anything else.

Many on both sides of the debate have tried to tie nationalism to ethnicity and race. This is extremely unbiblical. Every tribe, nation and tongue will be in the kingdom of God.

Scripture calls us to patriotism and to honoring the nation we live in. 1 Peter 2:17 commands us to “honor the emperor.” But does patriotism mean favoritism? 

Adrian Rogers, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, focuses on this question in a sermon on Christian citizenship. He compares the love of your country to the love of your family. Just as having a special love for your family doesn’t mean you hate other families, having a special love for your nation doesn’t mean you hate other nations.

The ideas and principles of Christian nationalism are inspired by Scripture and can be used for good. Concepts such as the love of one’s nation and the promotion of biblical morality are concepts every Christian should strive to achieve. To paraphrase Abraham Kuyper, every square inch of creation belongs to Christ to give him glory. Since all of creation was created to showcase Christ’s glory, we should strive to do the same with the nation we live in.

Hughes is an opinion writer for the Liberty Champion. Follow him on X

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