Manage episode 348109197 series 3056251
Mark David Hall, invited to speak recently to The Institute on Religion & Democracy by Mark Tooley on The "Threat" of Christian Nationalism, takes the position that, as defined by the critics, so-called "Christian nationalism" is largely a bogeyman term designed to shame conservative American Christians into not trying to influence politics and the public debate in the U.S.
No one was calling themselves this, Hall points out, prior to the relatively recent push to stigmatize Trump voters and supporters as something nefarious, dangerous, and virulently racist.
Doug Wilson and Stephen Wolfe are imprudent for embracing the term, in his view. Yet he recognizes that those with post-millennial eschatology are typically more likely to shrug about being called this ugly thing. For their part, they may be unwise, but they are basically harmless, and certainly not an existential threat to America’s constitutional order or the church. And, in any event, Christian nationalism should be rejected because, for one thing, it’s unconstitutional, and Congress can’t endorse one religion over another; and for another thing, it’s unbiblical, since we should only do unto others as we want them to do unto us.
Respectfully, I think this a rather superficial incorporation of Christian faith into political engagement. What would be more robust would be expanding his reference of Abraham Lincoln as not saying God is on our side. The rest of what Lincoln said is that we want to be on God’s side, since God is always right.
The Carl Henry Institute for Evangelical Engagement also recently produced a panel discussion. Titled Baptists and Religious Liberty, and featuring Matt Emerson, Cory Higdon, Jonathan Leeman, Joe Rigney, and Andrew Walker, the breadth and depth of the subject is discussed through historical, political, philosophical, theological, and pastoral lenses.
Baptists have been persecuted in centuries past for being non-conformists, and have long advocated for religious liberty as a result. Yet religious liberty has to be framed within a particular context, and we want to avoid the error of presentism, and the temptation to colonize the past.
Similarly, Leeman offers an excellent framing of the current situation for conservative American Protestants. On the one hand, you have what he calls the Helm’s Deep approach to accepting the new redefinition of religious liberty, popularized under Barrack Obama, as Christians needing to butt out of everyone else's private moral framework. On the other hand, we have those who are harkening back to the more historic Protestant Magisterium.
Joe Rigney, for his part, argues this latter view. All the various spheres of legitimate authority instituted by God - the family, the church, and the state - are instituted for our benefit. Moreover, all three spheres can know this is their job from God, and they can attest openly to their knowing it, all without crossing the line from governing behavior to legislating belief.
But Leeman featured in another similar debate recently, at Colorado Christian University. Facing off against Bradford Littlejohn, founder of The Davenant Institute, on Religious Liberty and the Common Good, Leeman comes out strongly against government along the lines of the "First Tabularians," or Christians who want government to legislate according to the first table of the Ten Commandments.
At the end of the day, it turns out the whole business really comes down to how we feel Constantine affected the purity and testimony of Christian life, for good or ill. The Helm's Deep crowd believes it was for the worse.--- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/garrett-ashley-mullet/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/garrett-ashley-mullet/support