Tag archives: Bible

Thinking Biblically About Cancel Culture

by David Closson

May 12, 2021

On “Worldview Wednesday,” we feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read our previous posts on Unity, Safety“Christian Nationalism”LoveCourageForgivenessthe Resurrection and the Social GospelLoyaltyIdentityReligious Freedom, and Communication.

Over the past few years, the language of “cancel culture” has become ubiquitous in our society. Social media platforms are cluttered with hashtags and campaigns urging us to “cancel” someone or declare that they are “over.” Whether the context is politics, sports, entertainment, or business, no one seems safe from the reach of the so-called cancel culture movement.

However, many people are increasingly becoming wary of it. When asked about cancel culture in a recent interview, comedian Dave Chappelle quipped, “I hope we all survive it.” Chappelle’s passing comment points to a growing awareness that a movement that might have begun with good intentions has taken on a life of its own, resulting in a variety of unintended consequences.

What is cancel culture? How should Christians think about the notion of “canceling” people, institutions, or ideas?

A thirst for accountability. Broadly speaking, “cancel culture” refers to a coordinated effort to silence, shame, and sideline (i.e., “cancel”) an institution or individual on account of views, opinions, or beliefs that someone else (the cancelers) deems socially unacceptable. One online dictionary defines cancel culture as “the practice or tendency of engaging in mass canceling as a way of expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure.”

In other words, cancel culture encourages people to withdraw their support from and actively oppose public figures or organizations that step outside what the mainstream—or a sizable faction—of society thinks is socially acceptable. Seen in its best light, cancel culture is an attempt to hold people with large audiences and platforms accountable when they do or say bad things. However, cancel culture has a dark side.

A lack of forgiveness. It is important to hold people accountable. When public figures misuse their power or platforms, it may be appropriate to speak out publicly against their ideas or decisions. However, cancel culture (as it is being practiced today) does not merely encourage people to reconsider their biases or apologize for past actions. Nor does it help people thoughtfully handle disagreements. Rather, the impulse behind cancel culture is to impose a figurative capital punishment on the reputation of anyone who holds political, cultural, or religious beliefs deemed offensive to the cancelers. Cancel culture seeks to exclude the canceled from future participation in the public square, with little to no hope of reprieve.

Consider a few recent examples. Last summer, Boeing Communications Chief Niel Golightly was forced to resign after a colleague complained about a 1987 article he had written, in which he had stated that women should not serve in combat. Despite Golightly having since changed his opinion on the subject, Boeing forced him out of the company.

J.K. Rowling, the celebrated author of the Harry Potter series, faced intense backlash in July 2020 after tweeting her belief that biological sex distinctions are real.

Just last week, Promise Keepers CEO Ken Harrison faced criticism for explaining that his ministry supports a biblical understanding of marriage and human sexuality. A USA Today editorial castigated Harrison for his comments and called upon AT&T Stadium and the Dallas Cowboys to rescind the ministry’s contract for an upcoming event.

Issues related to marriage and human sexuality usually provoke some of cancel culture’s strongest reactions. Moreover, a common theme in these examples is the extreme vitriol thrown at those whose views are deemed outdated or bigoted. In other words, if you disagree even the slightest bit with cultural progressivism (see the J.K. Rowling example), you are at risk of not only being canceled but also being labeled as hateful.

How should Christians think about all of this?

Christians should not be surprised when their churches, ministries, or beliefs are the object of criticism or outrage. According to recent research, only six percent of Americans hold a biblical worldview, which means most Americans do not think about issues such as marriage and human sexuality from a perspective influenced by the Bible. Thus, those who retain a biblical worldview are increasingly viewed by our society as being different, old-fashioned, or even dangerous.

Christians should expect to face opposition or marginalization for holding views in line with the Bible. Jesus forewarned us that there would be opposition. In his final extended conversation with His disciples before being betrayed, Jesus said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18). The apostle Paul affirmed, “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12). Furthermore, Paul explained that the gospel is a “stumbling block” and “folly” in the eyes of the world (Rom. 9:33, 1 Cor. 1:23). Thus, Christians should not be surprised when their biblically informed beliefs are mocked or dismissed. However, we also ought to regularly examine ourselves against Scripture and make sure the reason we are being opposed is due to godly, not sinful, behavior (Mat. 5:10, 1 Peter 2:20).

The Bible teaches that no one is without sin. Scripture tells us that sin is wrong and that our actions have consequences. It also teaches that no one is without sin except for God. As Paul explains, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). In other words, all humans deserve to be “canceled.” Scripture also tells us that human beings are not qualified to pronounce ultimate judgement upon one another. None of us can determine that someone else is irredeemable. God, not us, is the judge (Mat. 7:1-5). Whereas cancel culture elevates the passing whims of an outraged mob to the role of judge and jury, Christians recognize that God is the ultimate arbitrator of right and wrong.

The Bible teaches that no one is beyond hope or forgiveness. Scripture teaches that “If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). This is in direct contrast to cancel culture, which usually denies the possibility of forgiveness, even when repentance is present. Christianity not only teaches that sinful people can receive forgiveness from God but that we also receive, through the Holy Spirit, the power to forgive each other. This is why Paul says in Colossians 3:13 to “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Cancel culture is incompatible with a biblical understanding of sin and redemption. Cancel culture teaches a message antithetical to the gospel. It denies the possibility of grace, forgiveness, and redemption. It rejects God’s role as judge of human hearts and actions. In almost all recent examples, it singles out biblically based beliefs for scorn and censure. As Christians, we are called to be part of the ministry of reconciliation, not cancellation (2 Cor. 5:11-21).

Thinking Biblically About Communication

by Joseph Backholm

May 5, 2021

On “Worldview Wednesday,” we feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read our previous posts on Unity, Safety“Christian Nationalism”LoveCourageForgivenessthe Resurrection and the Social GospelLoyaltyIdentity, and Religious Freedom.

Sadly, the polarization of the country seems to be polarizing the church as well. While factions are nothing new within the Christian church, new fault lines appear to be forming based on a host of tertiary issues including immigration, critical race theory, and Donald Trump. Unfortunately, those differences seem to be affecting the way we treat each other and speak to each other.

Even within the Family Research Council community, evidence of these divisions have appeared in the comment sections of our social media pages as people who claim to love Jesus speak to each other in ways that are clearly unloving.

Caring deeply about issues is a good. Ideas matter to God, which is why Paul instructs us to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). As Abraham Kuyper described it, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” While it is appropriate to have opinions about immigration, critical race theory, and Donald Trump, it is even more important to make sure that our thoughts are motivated by the Spirit and not the flesh.

Ideas matter because ideas can be lethal. As James explains, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death” (James 1:14-15). Death is often the result of a malignant idea that has had the time to mature.

Nevertheless, the seriousness with which we should take the battle of ideas should not blind us to the fact that there are rules of engagement God expects us to honor. After all, “life and death are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21). Our words have the power to give life: “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body” (Proverbs 16:24). In the same way, harsh words spoken in anger can leave wounds that never fully heal.

The power of the tongue is one of the reasons our ability to control our tongues is foundational to a surrendered life. As James explains, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless” (James 1:26). Solomon tells us in Proverbs that “the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs12:18).

An important question for every Christians to ask is this: do my words bring healing? 

Fortunately, there is no shortage of instruction in Scripture on this point: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:6). Also, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ecclesiastes 4:29).

These reminders do not mean that God forbids direct communication or saying things that will bother people. Jesus referred to the Pharisees as a brood of vipers (Matthew 12:34) and “whitewashed tombs which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean” (Matthew 23:27-28). He also told them that their father was the devil (John 8:44).

While these are hard truths, they were spoken for the benefit, not the harm, of the hearers. Jesus was not speaking out of anger, pride, or frustration over who they voted for but out of a desire to help them see their situation as it really was so they could repent.

In contrast, though we may speak truth, we do not always speak truth in love. Instead, we are often motivated by a desire to win the argument, exact a rhetorical pound of flesh, or silence someone who has become bothersome. But as Proverbs 29:11 reminds us, “A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back.”

This is the difference between us and Jesus.

The call to speak truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) is challenging because it is impossible to fake love. What we feel about someone will inevitably reveal itself in our interactions with them. As Jesus reminds us, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).

Whether we are speaking to other Christians with a different perspective or people who are hostile to the gospel, the key to speaking truth in love is to actually love the people we engage with—even if we disagree with them about everything. In many cases, this requires us to change the way we see the people we engage with.  

If we see someone primarily as a heretic or political enemy, we will inevitably treat them that way. If we see someone as a threat to our children and our way of life, we will treat them as if they are a threat. However, if we see them first and foremost as people made in God’s image—whether they are deceived or not—we will see them as loved by God and therefore deserving of love from us. From this perspective, we will see people who may disagree with us not as a roadblock to our goal but as the goal itself. After all, Jesus came to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

If we win the argument but lose the person, have we really won anything?    

In addition, showing grace and kindness to those we disagree with makes it easier to admit our mistakes when it turns out we were the one in the wrong. If we act pridefully, it’s much more difficult to admit mistakes.

But even when we are right, our highest goal should not be to prove it. The reason we care about ideas is because we care about the impact that ideas have on people. That means people are the priority. The way we treat people, online or otherwise, should always reflect this truth.

Thinking Biblically About Religious Freedom

by David Closson

April 28, 2021

On “Worldview Wednesday,” we feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read our previous posts on Unity, Safety“Christian Nationalism”LoveCourageForgivenessthe Resurrection and the Social GospelLoyalty, and Identity.

Last week, Montana joined 21 other states in passing legislation that requires the government to have a compelling reason for violating its citizens’ sincerely-held religious beliefs. Montana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)—like the federal version passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 1993—says that when the government must restrict religious expression, it may only do so using the least restrictive means possible.

Lawmakers in Montana, including Gov. Greg Gianforte, were criticized for approving the legislation. This is not surprising; recent attempts to pass RFRAs in other states, such as Indiana in 2015, have elicited passionate responses. Although it received relatively little national attention, Montana’s RFRA was still opposed by over 250 businesses, including national corporations like Google, Amazon, and Verizon.

Why are efforts to protect religious freedom encountering so much opposition nowadays? The political left’s opposition to RFRA laws has become predictable. However, a well-known pastor and seminary chancellor recently stunned evangelicals when he called religious freedom “idolatry.” The United States of America was founded in part by those fleeing religious persecution, but it seems our society’s understanding of the value of religious freedom has been lost.

How should Christians think about religious freedom? Is religious freedom worth defending? Moreover, does the Bible provide a rationale for a policy of broad religious freedom?

First, it is important to define our terms. Religious freedom is the freedom to hold religious beliefs of one’s own choosing and to live in accordance with those beliefs. Religious freedom protects individuals’ ability to come to their own conclusions about matters of utmost importance—such as God, the world, and themselves—free from government coercion.

An important implication flows from this definition: religious freedom does not privilege one religion over the other. Religious freedom protects people of every faith and people with no faith affiliation. Although its detractors often characterize religious freedom advocacy as the attempts of a dominant faith group (e.g., American Christians) to acquire more power or rights, this is simply not the case. Properly understood, religious freedom levels the playing field and protects the conscience rights of everyone.

Now that we have established what religious freedom is, we must ask ourselves: is it biblical? Can a biblical case be made for policies that protect religious freedom? In short, yes. Although no one verse in the Bible expressly demands religious freedom on its face, I would argue that the concept is implicit on nearly every page of Scripture.

How did I reach this conclusion? First, it is important to recall what Christian theology teaches about the interior nature of faith and the futility of coercion in matters of religion. Consider someone’s relationship with God. Although outside forces can certainly influence a person’s perception of God, a person’s inner beliefs are ultimately only known to the person himself (and, of course, to God). The spiritual nature of faith makes it impervious to outside control. This is why an aggressor can torture, abuse, and persecute a believer’s physical body without affecting that believer’s core beliefs. External pressure may be successful in producing outward conformity, but external forces can never change inward belief.

Scripture passages that underscore these truths include Jesus’ parable of the tares (Mat. 13:24-30) and the story of the rich young ruler (Mat. 19:16-30). In the parable, Jesus explains that the wheat (representing believers) and weeds (unbelievers) must be allowed to grow together. Although the unbelievers do not belong to the community of faith, they should be left alone because God’s judgment is eschatological (i.e., it will happen at the end of days). At the end of the age, God will root out the weeds (unbelievers) for their unbelief. Likewise, in the story with the rich young ruler, Jesus allows a potential disciple to walk away instead of coercing or scolding him. By honoring the man’s choice, Jesus underscored the personal nature of faith.

Further evidence that the Bible supports religious freedom is the persistent language of appeal and persuasion in evangelism. For instance, Paul reasons and debates with his listeners in Athens (Acts 19:8, 26). Throughout his ministry, Paul never attempted to force anyone to believe the gospel; he knew such a move would be futile and counterproductive. Rather, he used the means of persuasion and pleaded with people to follow Christ. Paul sought to be faithful with the gospel without being confrontational in encouraging conversion.

In short, the Bible can be said to support a broad conception of religious freedom.

As secular society increasingly misunderstands religious conviction, a growing number of people are content to restrict religious liberty protections. This is reflected in the opposition to the RFRA legislation passed last week in Montana—legislation modeled after a federal bill that once passed Congress with strong bipartisan support. Thus, there is an urgent need to explain to our society why protecting everyone’s ability to believe and live out those beliefs without consequence or restriction serves all people—religious and non-religious.

For a more extended treatment of the Bible’s teaching on religious freedom, visit frc.org/belief.

Thinking Biblically About Identity

by Joseph Backholm

April 21, 2021

On “Worldview Wednesday,” we feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read our previous posts on Unity, Safety“Christian Nationalism”LoveCourageForgivenessthe Resurrection and the Social Gospel, and Loyalty.

So many of our political debates are rooted in the concept of identity that there’s now an entire category called “identity politics.”

Some women’s rights advocates argue for “equal pay for equal work,” while others fight for female athletes’ right not to compete against biological males in sports. And although most people agree that racial equality ought to be the goal, there is significant disagreement about what that means. Terms like “white supremacy” and “Asian hate” assign oppressor and oppressed status based on who people are rather than what they have done.

At their core, these political debates flow from conversations about identity. How should we see ourselves? How should we see other people? Of course, identity is complex. Our identity is likely a combination of our country of origin, country of citizenship, the family we were born into, our race, sex, or even our athleticism or ability to sing. Some people define their identity primarily in terms of who they are attracted to.

For Christians, identity should begin with the fact that every person is created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26). The American experiment was built around a similar presupposition articulated by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” 

For Christians, our creation is where our identity begins, but it is not where it ends. In the first chapter of his letter to the Ephesian church, the apostle Paul describes the identity of a Christian. Paul explains that believers are blessed with every spiritual blessing; we have been chosen, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, grace-lavished, and unconditionally loved and accepted. We are pure, blameless, and forgiven. We have received the hope of spending eternity with God. In Christ, these aspects of our identity can never be altered by what we do (Eph. 1:3-14).

This is what it means to be a Christian, but it is not all that it means to be human. Some of us are male, others are female. We are different races, different sizes; we have different hair colors and eye colors, different abilities, types of intelligence, and interests. But for Christians, those characteristics are of secondary importance. As Paul notes in his letter to the Galatians, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:27-28, ESV). While not unimportant, Paul believed identity markers such as sex, occupation, and ethnicity were subservient to one’s identity in Christ.

When we make the mistake of making our secondary identity primary, we inevitably create divisions. If I believe the most important thing about me is my sex, I will see those of the opposite sex as primarily different than me. The same is true if my primary identity is determined by my race, athletic abilities, or political affiliations. But if I see myself primarily as someone created in the image of God, I will identify with others by what we have in common.  

Beyond that, the goal of equality is impossible unless our identity is rooted in our creation. There is no other basis on which one could reasonably argue that all people are equal. Consider this: in all other ways, we are different. We are not equally intelligent, talented, attractive, or capable. If our identity, value, and equality are not endowed by our Creator, they are nonexistent. The only other way of assessing human value would be based on our merits—our ability to perform a task, solve a problem, or contribute something meaningful to humanity. In these respects, humans are decidedly unequal.  

Once our identity is detached from our creation, it becomes easy to identify those who are different from us as not just different but inferior.

Misplaced identity explains, in part, why the most vicious and violent governments in history have also been the most secular and explains why eugenicists, past and present, have argued that the lives of people with disabilities are less valuable than the lives of those who have none. If our value comes strictly from our productivity and what we can contribute, those with disabilities are less valuable because they cannot contribute in the same ways other people can. Moreover, those with physical or mental disabilities require more resources from the community. However, if our value is inherent in our creation, those who devalue people with disabilities are tragically and fatally wrong.

The Nazi’s “Final Solution” was made possible by a naturalist, Darwinian worldview that allowed them to identify an entire race of people by how they were different. The Chinese Communist genocide against Uyghur Muslims happening today is made possible because the Communist Party leaders identify Uyghurs first and foremost by the ways in which they are different.

One of the few things that seems to unite Americans today is the belief that we are divided. Part of our division may lie in the way we see ourselves and others. It’s much easier to remain divided if we divide the world in terms of blue or red, black or white, gay or straight. Let’s take God’s advice and start seeing each other primarily as image-bearers of God and see how that goes.

It’s hard to imagine it would get worse.

The Chosen: A Fresh, Personal, and Faithful Presentation of the Gospel

by Dan Hart

April 15, 2021

If ever there was a time that needs fresh witness to the truth of the gospel, it is our current moment. As the uncertainties of government overreach and simmering social and political tensions continue, the human heart can’t help but yearn for stability and reassurance. It’s a time when Jesus’s beautiful words in Matthew’s Gospel have never been more desperately needed: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Depicting the fulfilment and peace that only Christ can bring to a post-Christian culture in a compelling and original way is no easy task, but one filmmaker has found a remarkable way to succeed. With The Chosen, a new drama series based on the life of Christ, writer/producer/director Dallas Jenkins has breathed new life into the biblical epic genre in a groundbreaking way.

The Chosen is the first ever episode-based series about the life of Christ. In order to produce the series, streaming video company VidAngel and Jenkins decided to use online crowdfunding. It became the biggest crowdfunded film project ever, with over $10.2 million raised by January 2019. In April and November of that year, the first series of eight episodes was released online, and they have been viewed almost 50 million times in 180 countries. The Chosen’s producers have already raised another $10 million for the production of the second season, with the first three episodes now released. The producers are planning to continue crowdsourcing for the foreseeable future, with the goal of producing seven seasons in all.

The great strength of The Chosen is its emphasis on relationship and relatability. The series starts by portraying the disciples and Christ’s other followers as honest, searching, flawed, and often humorous men and women who are trying to make their way as faithful Jews in a harsh Roman-occupied world. Peter and Andrew struggle to figure out how to pay their taxes as poor fishermen, Mary Magdalene grapples with demons and finding direction while trying to move past her former sinful lifestyle, and Matthew is a highly eccentric and reviled tax collector who wrestles with social stigmatization. With great emotional depth and feeling, The Chosen beautifully shows how Jesus breaks into the lives of these ordinary men and women and sets their hearts ablaze with a longing for truth and a burning desire to follow Him.

Much of the success of The Chosen can be attributed to the deeply human and pastorally empathetic portrayal of Jesus by actor Jonathan Roumie. With past film depictions of Jesus often emphasizing His stoic authority and divinity, the great strength of Roumie’s depiction is that he lets Jesus be approachable and sympathetic without sacrificing Christ’s sovereignty. In a scene drawn from Luke 5, Roumie’s Jesus laughs with joy and revels in the moment as He watches Simon and his brother whoop and holler as they struggle to drag in the miraculous catch of fish. In one poetic shot, Jesus is so moved that He glances up to the heavens, as if He Himself is in awe of the wonderful work of His Father. A few moments later, Simon cannot help but fall at Jesus’ feet and mumble about his unworthiness. Jesus’s face is seen from a low camera angled up, clearly establishing His divinity as He responds to Simon’s inquiry (“You are the lamb of God, yes?”) with a simple, “I Am.” But then Jesus crouches down to Simon’s level, and with a penetrating yet compassionate gaze, extends an invitation: “Follow Me.” The scene masterfully combines the human and the divine.   

Other scenes breathe new layers of meaning into familiar gospel stories. As Jesus stands in front of the stone jars of water at the wedding at Cana, the scene is intercut with a wedding guest describing the work of a sculptor: “Once you make that first cut into the stone, it can’t be undone. It sets in motion a series of choices. What used to be a shapeless block of limestone or granite begins its long journey of transformation, and it will never be the same.” The metaphor is a perfect one: by turning the water into wine, like a sculptor’s first cut, Jesus knows that his public ministry will begin, and there will be no turning back. “I am ready, Father,” Jesus murmurs, before dipping his hand into the water, and taking it out with wine dripping from it.

The most pivotal scene from the first season is the encounter at night between Jesus and Nicodemus from John 3. Actor Erick Avari perfectly captures how a member of the Sanhedrin would have been torn between his position in Jewish society as a scholar of the law and what his heart is telling him about who Jesus really is. As Nicodemus’s incredulity and questions turn into awe and trembling before the Messiah as He unveils the heart of God’s salvific plan, the viewer can’t help but empathize with the Pharisee’s predicament but also be spellbound all over again by Christ’s immortal words of John 3:16. 

The Chosen isn’t without its flaws. Scenes early in the first season, particularly ones with Roman characters and costumes, come off as a bit gimmicky, and at times, the tone of some scenes in the first two seasons feel a little too comic and unserious. 

Still, for believers, The Chosen will deepen the vision of the gospels in your mind’s eye, and in the process may even deepen your faith. And for unbelievers, The Chosen is a personal, welcoming invitation to explore the Truth of the gospel. As the Scriptures say, time is short (1 Corinthians 7:29; James 5:8; Revelation 22:12), and the need for cultural renewal in Christ is staggeringly great. A tech-savvy, revitalized, and imaginative yet faithful presentation of the gospel could not have come at a better moment.

Thinking Biblically About Loyalty

by David Closson , Laura Grossberndt

April 14, 2021

On “Worldview Wednesday,” we feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read our previous posts on Unity, Safety“Christian Nationalism”LoveCourageForgiveness, and the Resurrection and the Social Gospel.

In June of last year, news broke that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was releasing a state-approved “translation” of the Bible that would better fit the regime’s ideology. The message the CCP was sending to Christians in China was clear: your true loyalty must be first and foremost to the state. But what is a true biblical understanding of loyalty?

Loyalty can be defined as “a strong feeling of support or allegiance.” A close synonym is “faithful.” People typically think of loyalty as being an admirable quality and are liable to commend a person who exhibits loyalty to their family, country, friends, or authority figures. How should the biblically-minded Christian think about loyalty? Does God want us to be loyal?

A prerequisite to loyalty is the existence of relationships. Scripture leaves no doubt that God created us to be in relationship with Himself and others. First, we know that God is triune and the three Persons of the trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—have eternally existed in relationship with one other. Since human beings are created in God’s image (Gen. 1:27), we, too, are created for relationships, both with God (John 14:23, Rev. 21:3) and our fellow human beings (Gen. 2:18, John 13:34).

Scripture tells us that healthy, faithful relationships are one of the things that will make the broken road of life easier to navigate. As Solomon writes in Proverbs, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (17:17) and “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (18:24, ESV). In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon also notes the advantages of living life with other people:

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecc. 4: 9-11, ESV)

There are many examples in the Bible of people who demonstrated loyalty or faithfulness to each another. Ruth refused to leave her mother-in-law Naomi even after her husband had died: “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16, ESV). Jonathan was a loyal friend to David and protected him from his father, King Saul, who tried to kill David on multiple occasions. When David asked Jonathan for help, he replied, “Whatever you say, I will do for you” (1 Sam. 20:4, ESV).

God Himself is the greatest example of loyalty in His relationship with us. In 2 Timothy 2:13, Paul explains that being faithful is intrinsic to God’s character: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful— for He cannot deny himself.”

The Bible gives us wisdom and counsel on how, when, and to what degree to be loyal to different relationships. Children are told to honor their parents (Deut. 5:16, Eph. 6:1-3). Husbands are told to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25). Citizens are told to submit to the governing authorities (Rom. 13:1) and to seek the welfare of their city (Jer. 29:7). Christians are told to bear with one another in love (Eph. 4:2). It should be noted that one instance when our loyalty to people is not required, however, is when being loyal to them would be disloyal to God (Acts 5:24-32). Not only is God our ultimate example of faithfulness, but He is also the only one to whom our ultimate loyalty is due (Ex. 20:3).

Love and loyalty are related. The theologian Augustine said we must “Have rightly ordered loves.” Similarly, we must have rightly ordered loyalties. Strong loyalties to the wrong things will inevitably lead to disloyalty to the right thing. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Mt. 6:24, ESV). Where competing loyalties exist, one will eventually win out, revealing our deepest loyalty.

Friends, family, bosses, sports teams, political parties, and even trendy theories are competing for our affections daily. Our ultimate loyalty, as Christ-followers, must be to Christ, “the founder and perfector of our faith” (Heb. 12:2, ESV). We will be loyal to something; if not Christ, then things of this world will command our allegiance (1 John 2:15-17).

The issue of loyalty is immensely relevant for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. For example, the Chinese government recently launched a campaign to make Chinese Christians “more Chinese.” As noted previously, this campaign includes a “translation” of the New Testament that is friendly to communist ideology. The CCP leaders view Christianity as a threat to their regime because they understand believers’ loyalty is ultimately to God and not the state.

Although less explicit, the same thing is happening in the West as people “reimagine” Christianity and adjust long-standing Christian doctrines to make them seem more compatible with prevailing norms and ideologies. When people adjust their religion to fit their politics, it makes it clear where their ultimate loyalties lie.

It is important for Christians to recall 1 Peter 5:8, which says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (ESV). When our affections are misplaced, we lose the ability to be sober-minded. We must be mindful to love what is good in the proper manner and to the right degree lest our judgment becomes impaired, and we find ourselves at war with the truth. 

God wants us to be loyal to Him—to hate what is evil and love what is good. And it is only once we live in true and total loyalty to Him that we can have rightly ordered loyalty in our relationships with one another.

Thinking Biblically About the Resurrection and the Social Gospel

by David Closson

April 7, 2021

On “Worldview Wednesday,” we feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read our previous posts on Unity, Safety“Christian Nationalism”LoveCourage, and Forgiveness.

Around the world, Christians celebrate Easter as the most important day in history because it is the day Jesus conquered sin and death on our behalf by rising from the dead.

The resurrection is central to the gospel because without it, Christianity is nothing more than a social club. As the apostle Paul explained to the Corinthian church, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Cor 15:14).

However, on the day when Jesus’ resurrection normally takes center stage, Raphael Warnock, the Senior Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta and Georgia’s junior Senator, took to Twitter to share a very different message. On Sunday, he tweeted: “The meaning of Easter is more transcendent than the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whether you are Christian or not, through a commitment to helping others we are able to save ourselves.”

It is well-known that Raphael Warnock is a liberal politician. He ran on a progressive platform, and in his short tenure in the U.S. Senate, he has voted to confirm President Biden’s most radical nominees and expressed support for policies that would expand abortion and restrict religious freedom. But more than a voting record, Warnock’s since-deleted Easter tweet provides insight into how the reverend’s faith informs his politics, i.e., his political theology.

To be clear, there is nothing “more transcendent than the resurrection of Jesus Christ” as Warnock believes. The message of Easter, the very center of Christianity, is that God took the initiative to save sinners because sinners cannot save themselves. As Paul explains in Ephesians 2:1, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked.” However, because of God’s love, verse four says, “when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together with Christ.” As Paul explains elsewhere, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). In other words, Christ died as a sacrifice for sin. Through his death and resurrection, Jesus reconciled us with God (2 Cor. 5:18-19).

Jesus is not simply the foundation of Christianity; He is the foundation of reality. Paul, in the book of Colossians, summarizes the centrality of Christ, writing: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15-17). Concerning salvation, Jesus said of Himself, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Scripture is clear that we cannot save ourselves by helping others. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Of course, Christians are called to do good works. A verse later, Paul writes, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” However, the suggestion that “through a commitment to helping others we are able to save ourselves” is contrary to everything the Bible teaches about salvation and strips the empty tomb of its power.

As an American, Raphael Warnock is free to believe and teach whatever he wants. However, as someone who serves as a minister of the gospel, he is not free to say whatever he wants about Jesus, the resurrection, and salvation. Like all who profess to be Christian, he is bound by Scripture. His message of salvation through good works directly contradicts the gospel of Jesus Christ which promises salvation on the basis of Christ’s completed work. Faith in Jesus, not works, is the only way to be saved (Acts 4:12).

While Senator Warnock’s assessment of Easter is not biblical, it is nevertheless consistent with competing belief systems like liberation theology and critical race theory. In fact, his tweet is an outworking of theological systems (liberation theology and the social gospel) which prioritize social justice over orthodox doctrine. These systems teach that the greatest problem in the world is injustice and that the solution is political revolution. For example, liberation theology, which reconstructs Christian theology through the lens of “oppressor and oppressed,” identifies different problems and different solutions than the gospel does. In that world, it is possible to “save ourselves” by “helping others” because once we have eliminated injustice we have been saved.

But Scripture has a very different understanding of what our greatest problem is and the solution to that problem. While God hates injustice, injustice is simply the fruit of a sinful, rebellious heart. The real solution is a changed heart, and that is something no political revolution can accomplish. Only Jesus can convert and change sinful hearts. As bad as Senator Warnock’s policy preferences may be, his theology is even worse and likely the source of his confused policies. Simply put, we cannot save ourselves. Therefore, for the sake of your eternal destiny, trust Scripture which says, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9).

For more on this topic, don’t miss the author’s interview on Washington Watch.

Thinking Biblically About Forgiveness

by Joseph Backholm

April 1, 2021

On “Worldview Wednesday,” we feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read our previous posts on Unity, Safety“Christian Nationalism”Love, and Courage.

There’s a tension, it seems, between justice and forgiveness. A world without justice devolves into lawlessness, but a world without forgiveness is cruel and harsh.  

Does justice demand that the perpetrators of particularly heinous crimes, such as the man who bombed the Boston Marathon, receive the death penalty, or is capital punishment a form of vengeance that God forbids? More broadly, our culture’s on-going conversation about race, and the growing popularity of critical race theory, forces us to consider whether forgiveness for past wrongs is required by Christian charity or a way to minimize the significance of past injustice so that current injustice can endure.

In this cultural moment, there is a hesitancy if not outright hostility to the concept of personal forgiveness. The very logic of “cancel culture” is that some ideas and opinions are so repugnant that the offending ideas need to be removed from public discourse and that anyone who holds them must “canceled,” i.e. deplatformed and silenced. Forgiveness is often seen as a sign of weakness or even a threat to true justice.

So, how should Christians think about forgiveness?

We begin with the awareness that since God is both just and forgiving, justice and forgiveness are not in conflict. Forgiveness should matter to Christians because it is part of God’s character. King David proclaimed, “You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you” (Ps. 86:5, NIV). Since our goal as Christians is to emulate God’s character (Eph. 5:1), that means we must be forgiving.

God is forgiving, but He is also just. His justice requires punishment for sin. It is not cruel or unforgiving to hold someone accountable for their actions. This is what true justice demands. Loving parents forgive their misbehaving children but also discipline them because permissiveness is not loving.

But it is important not to confuse punishment and discipline with revenge. Done well, punishment and discipline are for the benefit of the offender, or possibly, those who need to be protected from the offender. Revenge has a different goal. Revenge is done to gratify the person giving the punishment.

God is pro-punishment, but He does not want us seeking revenge. The apostle Paul wrote, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19). It should also be noted that capital punishment is a power given only to the governing authorities and not to individuals (Rom. 13:4).

Discerning whether we are acting out of a godly desire for justice or a sinful desire for revenge starts with checking our hearts. Are we seeking this person’s good or their demise?

After Paul reminds us that revenge is for God alone, he suggests that forgiveness is evidenced by a genuine desire for their good: “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:20-21). In these verses, Paul assures us that we don’t need to take revenge because God will right all wrongs in the end. Since God guarantees justice in the end, we are free to pursue forgiveness.

Forgiveness is essential to the Christian life because forgiveness is what made the Christian life possible in the first place (Col. 1:13-14, Eph. 1:7-8). At the heart of the gospel is the idea that we have been forgiven a debt we could never have paid ourselves (Rom. 6:23, Eph. 2:8-9). Christ extended the ultimate gift of forgiveness and we are commanded to extend forgiveness to others:

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Eph. 4:32)

Also:

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Col. 3:13)

If we who claim to be Christians find ourselves unable to forgive others, this calls into question our awareness of how much we have been forgiven:

But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Mt. 6:15)

Also:

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (Luke 6:37)

This does not mean that God’s forgiveness is conditional or dependent on something we must do. After all, we cannot earn our salvation (Eph. 2:8-9). However, our unwillingness to extend forgiveness may imply that we do not fully understand our own need for forgiveness—or the heart of the gospel.

God’s promise of future justice and our personal experience with His forgiveness informs how Christians think about both justice and forgiveness. God is just, and even if justice escapes us in this life, we know He will one day right all wrongs. Whether we are debating capital punishment, racism, or cancel culture, forgiveness is not merely a way to improve human relationships but a means to show others what Jesus has done for us. For Christians, a life marked by forgiveness is a sign of God’s grace and a testimony to the world of the gospel’s power.

Thinking Biblically About Courage

by David Closson

March 24, 2021

On “Worldview Wednesday,” we feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read our previous posts on Unity, Safety, “Christian Nationalism”, and Love.

As cultural winds blow ever stronger against biblical orthodoxy on human sexuality, some states are pushing back by passing bills protecting youth from harmful gender transition procedures and protecting women from being forced to compete against biological men in sporting events. One such piece of legislation, South Dakota House Bill 1217, was recently approved by the state legislature and sent to Republican Gov. Kristi Noem’s desk. However, Noem shocked conservatives by vetoing the bill.

Noem suggested revising the bill to support protections for middle school and high school girls but not extending the same protections to older women, specifically collegiate athletes. This attempt to craft a “win-win situation” in the face of opposition might seem courageous to some. But the mere presence of opposition from some quarters does not automatically mean you are being courageous—or are doing what is right. A biblical and philosophical examination of courage requires us to dig deeper.

What is courage? The philosopher Aristotle, who believed that moral behavior was found in the mean (or moderate position) between two extremes, argued in his ethical treatise Nicomachean Ethics that courage is the mean between the feelings of fear and confidence. Merriam-Webster defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” C.S. Lewis wrote in The Screwtape Letters that “courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” In other words, the courageous person has poise and the fortitude to do the right thing, in the right way, at the right time. Despite potential blowback, the courageous person stays the course and pursues what they know is right.

Is courage a virtue Christians should pursue? Yes. Throughout the Bible, God’s people are called to trust Him and obey His commandments, regardless of the consequences. Psalm 27:14 reminds us, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” and again in Psalm 31:24, “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!” We are exhorted to be courageous not because the things we are called to do are easy, popular, or will make us successful in the earthly sense, but because God has commanded us to fear Him rather than men (Acts 5:29).

When Joshua succeeded Moses as the leader of Israel, he was understandably overwhelmed. Yet God charged him to be courageous: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Josh. 1:9). The pressure facing Joshua was immense. Leading the quarrelsome and obstinate Israelites into the Promised Land was no small task. Thus, as Joshua stepped into his new role, God called him to be courageous, to exhibit strong moral and mental fortitude as he took on the mantle of leadership.

Queen Esther also had to choose to do the right thing in her time, at great personal risk. Encouraged by her cousin Mordecai, Esther approached the Persian king to petition that her peoples’ lives be spared from genocide. Although nervous, she understood the gravity of the situation and was willing to lay down her life for a noble cause. “If I perish, I perish,” she said before venturing into the king’s throne room (Est. 4:16). By God’s grace, her courage was rewarded, and both she and the Jewish people lived.

Likewise, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were commanded by the pagan king of Babylon to bow down to a golden statue and worship. These men knew that it was a sin to worship any man or image other than God, so they refused, and the king commanded that they be burned alive. Before they were led to the furnace, they expressed their belief that God could deliver them. But they told the king, even if God allowed their death, “be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Dan. 3:18). Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were willing to die obeying God rather than sin in order to avoid death.  

The example of these Jewish exiles is instructive. We are called to do the right thing and be courageous not because God will necessarily save us but because it is what is right and honors Him. Many brothers and sisters in the faith have lost their homes, family, friends, possessions, jobs, and even lives because they chose to be courageous and obey God. Although that was the price their courage required, their reward is much sweeter (2 Cor. 4:16-18).

Christ is our ultimate example of courage. Jesus was tempted in all the ways we are, yet He never sinned (Heb. 4:15). Despite constant rejection, criticism, and unbelief, He poured Himself out and ministered to sinners. He exemplified the greatest act of courage when He went to the cross and paid the price for our sin.

Courage requires that we fear God above man, know His word, obey it, and practice wisdom and discernment. Paul exhorts us to take up the whole armor of God so that we will be able to stand firm in the evil day (Eph. 6:13). The late preacher Billy Graham once said, “Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.” He’s right. Courage is contagious, and even though most of today’s politicians lack courage, Christians should strive to be courageous because God “gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim. 1:7). As we seek to be more like Christ, we can all start by being courageous and doing the right thing for its own sake and thereby encourage others to pursue the virtuous life.

Thinking Biblically About “Christian Nationalism”

by David Closson

March 4, 2021

On “Worldview Wednesday,” we feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read our previous posts Thinking Biblically About Unity and Thinking Biblically About Safety.

The phrase “Christian nationalism” has been receiving a lot of attention in American public discourse recently. Conversations about this ideology predate the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6; however, there has been renewed interest in the topic since these events transpired. But what exactly is Christian nationalism, and is it something that Bible-believing Christians should support or oppose?

First, we must define our terms.

What Is Nationalism?

Webster’s dictionary defines nationalism as “loyalty and devotion to a nation.” Strong identification with one’s nation and its interests signifies a commitment to nationalism. Colloquially, nationalism and patriotism are considered more or less synonymous.

However, an excess of nationalism can have a dark side. It should be noted that, wherever there is strong nationalistic fervor, great care must be taken to uphold individual rights and the interests of those who do not hold political power at a given moment. Enthusiasm for one’s country and culture must never be prioritized over the human dignity of others. At various points throughout history, excessive nationalistic zeal has led to the exclusion, marginalization, or outright persecution of minority groups within nations. This likely describes what is happening today in the Xinjiang province of China, where the communist government has been committing genocide against its Uyghur Muslim minority.

What Is Christian Nationalism?

A broadly agreed-upon definition of the phrase “Christian nationalism” does not currently exist. However, it is commonly used in reference to a person conflating their Christian and American identities. Christian nationalism views one’s Christian and American identities as one and the same; a person’s American identity is inextricable from their Christian one. Christian nationalism considers being a “good American” and a “good Christian” as synonymous.

Some who adhere to Christian nationalist ideology argue that America’s very social fabric is overtly defined by Christianity and believe those in government ought to take proactive steps to keep it that way by force of law. In other words, they believe Christians deserve a privileged position in society. While America was certainly influenced by Christian principles at its founding and owes a debt to Christian notions of equal rights and human dignity, the impulse of Christian nationalism to exclude ethnic or religious minorities for the purpose of accruing more power runs counter to the Bible’s expansive view of religious liberty. 

Keeping these definitions in mind, we can draw a few conclusions:

1. Measured patriotism (defined as a love for the ideals and values of one’s country) is good.

Although not perfect, the United States has arguably been one of the greatest forces for good in world history. Whether it has been supporting democracy around the globe, championing human rights, providing billions of dollars in economic and humanitarian aid, or exporting life-saving technologies, America has been at the forefront of improving the quality of life for many around the world. American advancements in medicine, technology, and science have lifted countless people out of poverty, created cures for diseases, and expanded human knowledge in fields ranging from microbiology to astronomy. James 1:7 reminds us that every good gift comes from God, and American Christians should praise God for how He has used our nation to help those beyond our shores.

As historian Thomas Kidd notes, while Christian nationalism (properly defined) is misguided, “measured patriotism still seems appropriate, and somewhat unavoidable for most Christians.” Within proper bounds, if directed toward morally good ends, patriotism should be encouraged. It is appropriate for Americans to feel love and affection for the honorable things their country has stood for and done. Moreover, rather than viewing everything our nation has done through rose-colored glasses, we should engage in the type of patriotism that calls our nation to be even better. Seeking the welfare of one’s city or nation (Jer. 29:7) is a practical way for Christians to obey the commandment of loving one’s neighbor (Mk. 12:31).

2. Christian nationalism (defined as conflating one’s Christian and American identity) is wrong and ought to be rejected.

When a Christian’s devotion to their country becomes the prevailing and all-encompassing passion in their life, something has gone awry. Like all good things, love of country can become an idol if it supplants the ultimate allegiance owed exclusively to God. Christians should love what is honorable about their country, but their devotion to it should have limitations.  

How do we know when love of country has crossed the line? At what point does patriotism become idolatrous? Thomas Kidd, referring to Matthew McCullough’s work, argues that American patriotism crosses the line into Christian nationalism when it gives “an exaggerated transcendent meaning to American history.” In other words, if the “American nation has taken a central place in our understanding of redemptive history” (emphasis added), we have entered unbiblical territory. As much as America means to us, it must not become the central defining factor in our lives. God’s Word forbids that.

To be clear, Christians should actively participate in the political process. Scripture teaches that believers have a responsibility to engage in “good works” (Eph. 2:10). For American Christians this means stewarding their political responsibilities by voting for and supporting candidates and causes that advance biblical values in the public square.

America has been (and hopefully will continue to be) a great blessing to the rest of the world. Still, Christians must be careful not to ascribe a status to the United States that is not warranted by Scripture.  

3. The broad use of the term “Christian nationalism” is being used in an attempt to silence American Christians.

Christians can engage in the public square without it being Christian nationalism. Unfortunately, the ideological Left has seized upon the “Christian nationalism” buzzword in an attempt to belittle all American Christians and drive them from the public square. In most of their discussions about Christian nationalism, the term is rarely defined. This is by design. In the aftermath of the January 6th attack on the Capitol, many on the Left have exploited the disordered nationalism of a few to call the motives of politically engaged Christians into question.

Most American Christians love their country and do not subscribe to a political ideology that seeks to marginalize other Americans based on faith or doctrinal differences. The overwhelming majority of believers do not wish to impose any sort of theocracy on their fellow citizens. However, these realities make no difference to those who wish to cast a shadow of doubt on Christians’ true intentions and beliefs.

For many on the ideological Left, this is the end game. By equating Christians with fanatics and conspiracy theorists, secular progressives believe they can more easily “cancel” Christians and exclude them from society and the political process. By radicalizing the term “Christian nationalism,” many see an opportunity to further the narrative that Christian political engagement is dangerous for America and motivated by evil.

This means that although Christian nationalism (properly defined) ought to be opposed within Christian circles, there is a larger agenda behind much of the recent public condemnation of it. This is a crucial point for Christians to understand. Those who invoke the phrase “Christian nationalism” as part of their political fearmongering have one goal: to scare Christians from engaging on important issues and give others a reason to distrust Christians.

But as Christians who recognize our dual calling as citizens of the City of God and the City of man, we must recommit to speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) and living peaceably with our neighbors (Rom. 12:18) when engaging in the public square. Now, more than ever, our witness is needed, and we must not be silenced by those who want to drive us out.

Intentional Christian Citizenry

Debates on Christian nationalism require the very best of Christian thinking. They also require discernment and awareness of the prevailing political and cultural winds. Those who follow Jesus are commanded to take “every thought captive” in order to follow Jesus faithfully (2 Cor. 10:5). This admonition applies to every political and moral question and situation, including Christian nationalism. May our efforts to be intentional Christian citizens be marked with love, faithfulness, and wisdom.

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