(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the New International Version)
Christian nationalism is the belief that a nation is defined by Christianity, and that the government should take active steps to keep it that way (Paul D. Miller). A troubling trend among some Christians is an increasing reliance on the use of political/social activism to enforce the practice of Christian values in the public space. This has sometimes resulted in hate speeches and xenophobic attacks against people of other faiths, as well as against other Christians not considered conservative enough. Christian nationalism is thus seen by some Christians as the only way to prevent the take over of Christian nations by liberalism and worldliness.
From the biblical point of view, is it lawful to use such means as political activism and coercion/intimidation in the evangelisation of the world and the discipling of men for Christ? Is the kingdom of God on earth to be established and expanded through political and cultural revolutions? We shall examine the Scriptures to understand the nature of God’s kingdom and how to occupy and carry on with the work of the Great Commission as we await the return of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
St. Matthew 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.
St. Matthew 28:17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
St. Matthew 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
St. Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
St. Matthew 28:20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The Great Commission the Lord Jesus Christ gave his disciples was to go into the world, preach the gospel of salvation to all people, and make disciples for him among all nations. The means to achieve this mandate was clearly and unambiguously spelt out by the Lord. Winning souls from all nations for Christ is to be done through the power of the Holy Spirit. In fact, Christ forbade his disciples from launching out on this mission without first getting filled with the Holy Spirit. Only the gospel preached with the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit will produce the kind of disciples Christ desires. Biblical Christianity is not to be grown or propagated by oratorical skills, humanistic psychology or by the use of force or threat of it. World evangelism is not to be achieved by activism or through political pressure groups. The Lord intended Christianity and its influence to permeate the world through only one means-the out-living of a gospel preached and vindicated by the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit!
St. Luke 24:46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,
St. Luke 24:47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
St. Luke 24:48 You are witnesses of these things.
St. Luke 24:49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
The Acts 1:4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.
The Acts 1:5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
The Acts 1:6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
The Acts 1:7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.
The Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
St. Mark 16:14 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
St. Mark 16:15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
St. Mark 16:16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
St. Mark 16:17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;
St. Mark 16:18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
St. Mark 16:19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.
St. Mark 16:20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel —not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2:1 And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.
1 Corinthians 2:2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
1 Corinthians 2:3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling.
1 Corinthians 2:4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,
1 Corinthians 2:5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
We need to understand that the kingdom of God is not of this world’s system. No country on earth is God’s country (with the exception of Israel that God chose in the Scriptures as his own nation and an example of a theocracy). Christians are not called to build theocratic Christian nations on earth that will form the kingdom of God. Our Commission is to get men and women saved out of all the corrupt and doomed nations on earth, and make them citizens of the heavenly country. We’re not to fight physically to take hold of earthly nations and turn them into the kingdom of God, either through activism or by force. We’re to save ourselves and others from the wrath of judgement coming upon the whole world and the whole nations on earth. One of the greatest evangelists of all times, DL Moody, captured this so wonderfully with his famous quote: “I look upon this world as a wrecked vessel. God has given me a lifeboat and said, ‘Moody, save all you can”. That’s what we’re called to do- to save all we can, and not to try to build “holy empires” for God on the foundations of condemned nations!
St. John 18:33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
St. John 18:34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”
St. John 18:35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
St. John 18:36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
St. John 18:37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
The Acts 2:37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
The Acts 2:38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The Acts 2:39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off —for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
The Acts 2:40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
1 Thessalonians 1:8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia —your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it,
1 Thessalonians 1:9 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,
1 Thessalonians 1:10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead —Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
Hebrews 11:9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.
Hebrews 11:10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
Hebrews 11:13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.
Hebrews 11:14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.
Hebrews 11:15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.
Hebrews 11:16 Instead, they were longing for a better country —a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
The danger of Christian nationalism is in assuming an earthly kingdom of God already in existence, within defined physical boundaries of Christian nations, that must be defended and protected at all costs from satanic invasion. Christian nationalists see their countries of sojourn as the kingdom of God already, and thus use all manner of unscriptural means to “occupy them for Christ”. They fight off every other group of people not adhering to the Christian faith, to silence and make them irrelevant. They think that by using any and every means to suppress others not believing in the Christian faith, they’re promoting the kingdom of God. Like the misguided Peter before the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Christian nationalists believe it’s okay to use the power of the sword and other carnal weapons to enforce the Great Commission and protect Christ’s interests. I’m sure the Lord’s response to Peter’s zeal without knowledge, as well as his response to Pilate, will help reveal his mind about his Kingdom and how not he intends to bring it about.
St. Matthew 26:48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.”
St. Matthew 26:49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
St. Matthew 26:50 Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him.
St. Matthew 26:51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
St. Matthew 26:52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.
St. Matthew 26:53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?
St. Matthew 26:54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
St. Matthew 26:55 In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me.
St. Matthew 26:56 But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.
Ephesians 6:11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Ephesians 6:13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
2 Corinthians 10:3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.
2 Corinthians 10:4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:6 And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
As long as the Lord has not returned to take over the kingdoms of this world and to rule and reign over all nations in righteousness, we can only pray and labour in soul-winning, to harvest and prepare citizens of the kingdom, while waiting for the coming of the Kingdom. As long as the kingdoms of this world have not become the kingdom of our God and his Christ, our reign on earth is still futuristic. The earth the Lord promised the meek for an inheritance is not this present sin-cursed world that’s headed for destruction. All we’re seeing now will be burnt up with fire, including all our beloved nations, simply because this is not yet the kingdom of God. All these kingdoms must give way first before the kingdom of God is established on earth. It’s not for us to know the times and seasons which the Father has set by his own authority to bring about his kingdom. Our task is to receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit and to witness for Christ, not by activism but by evangelism; not by political revolutions, but by the preaching and the living out of the Gospel. That’s how we’re to occupy till the Lord comes back!
Philippians 3:18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.
Philippians 3:19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.
Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,
Philippians 3:21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Colossians 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Colossians 3:3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
Colossians 3:4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
2 Peter 3:1 Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking.
2 Peter 3:2 I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.
2 Peter 3:3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.
2 Peter 3:4 They will say, “Where is this ’coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”
2 Peter 3:5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water.
2 Peter 3:6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.
2 Peter 3:7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
2 Peter 3:8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
2 Peter 3:11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives
2 Peter 3:12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.
2 Peter 3:13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
To fight to seal off our “Christian nations” from infiltration by non-Christians does not promote the reaching out of all nations for Christ. In fact, that would amount to denying ourselves the opportunity of reaching out to people whom we could never have been able to make contact with. To seek to subdue all dissenting voices by force and intimidation is to miss the opportunity of engaging and converting unbelievers by the love of God and by the preaching of the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. What will secure our nations for Christ is not violent political activism, hateful bigotry or xenophobic attacks on foreigners of other faiths, but a revival of true religion. It was the great revival in Wales (1904-1905), midwifed by Evan Roberts, that led to the voluntary closure of pubs and night clubs, and their conversion to worship centres. That heaven-sent revival also resulted in a 50% reduction in cases of drunkenness recorded by the police during this period in Wales. This was not achieved through the carrying of placards or by physically attacking and harassing people inside pubs and clubs. The same revival emptied police cells and kept police men idle for a long period of time, because criminals had been converted to Christ and criminality had dropped significantly.
Paul’s effective Spirit-led evangelism in Ephesus also led to people giving their lives to God and subsequently destroying all tools of their previous devilish trades. No political activism or use of pressure groups was involved. No fighting with carnal weapons was needed in subverting the kingdom of darkness and liberating the souls of men here, just effective evangelism in the power of the Holy Spirit. Rather than carry placards and guns to threaten doctors and nurses in abortion clinics, let’s call down revival from above that will convert the hearts of men and women and make them stop patronising such clinics. Our prayers of faith, coupled with the preaching of the word in the power of the Spirit, will achieve more for the kingdom of God than the million-man marches and demonstrations against evil we often see in the streets. The early church were a minority with no political voice in the land, but they had a powerful voice in heaven, as well as the power of the Holy Spirit, through which they turned their world upside down for Christ. That’s the way the original gospel was intended to change the world!
The Acts 19:11 God did extraordinary miracles through Paul,
The Acts 19:12 so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.
The Acts 19:13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.”
The Acts 19:14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.
The Acts 19:15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?”
The Acts 19:16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.
The Acts 19:17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.
The Acts 19:18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done.
The Acts 19:19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas.
The Acts 19:20 In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.
2 Chronicles 7:12 the LORD appeared to him at night and said: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.
2 Chronicles 7:13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people,
2 Chronicles 7:14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
James 5:17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.
James 5:18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
In conclusion, the mandate of the Great Commission the Lord gave the Church is to be carried out only through the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The Christian’s task on earth here, while awaiting the return of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, is to preach the gospel to all creatures, win as many souls as possible for Christ and prepare those souls to be worthy disciples of Christ and citizens of heaven. We’re not called to use political activism or the power of the state to enforce Christian values on others who don’t believe in our faith. We’re not called to create theocratic Christian nations on earth that must be secured and defended by carnal means, to ensure unbelievers don’t come in or thrive inside. All we’re called to do is use the power of the Spirit to persuade men and women of every colour and race to turn from darkness to light, and from Satan to the living God, in order to escape the wrath of God coming upon the world of unbelievers. Christian nationalism (that leans on the state to enforce Christian values in the public space and seeks to create Christian theocratic societies) is thus not a scriptural means of propagating the gospel and spreading Christianity, because it relies on means not approved or endorsed by the Scriptures.