The following letter was written by St. John’s Lutheran Church Senior Pastor Rhodes Woolly
There’s been a lot of attention this week about the phrase “Christian nationalism” after a member of Congress said that “we” (ie, her party) “should be Christian Nationalists.” She explained. “I love my country and I’m a Christian … and there’s nothing wrong with leading with your faith.”
She’s absolutely right: Christians should lead with their faith. But “Christian nationalism” is so much more than that — a phrase that comes with a ton of historical baggage.
… which is why I wasn’t surprised when she was immediately accused on social media of being a “Nazi.” Nor was I surprised when she scoffed at her accusers: “They hate America, they hate God, and they hate us.”
Um, not a good way to start a good conversation … if, in fact, that’s what they wanted to start, which I doubt. After all, tribalism (ie, modern day politics) depends on angry demagoguery, not healthy conversation.
So how do we talk about “Christian nationalism?” Is it good, bad, worth our concern? It’s definitely worth our concern, but first let’s clarify what we mean by the phrase. Christianity Today (CT) published an excellent article on the topic in 2021. CT was founded by Billy Graham, so it’s always had a rather conservative bent to it; but it also has a strong reputation for tackling tough topics with great care. This article is a good example, diving deeply into the complexities and history of a phrase that, on the surface at least, sounds rather innocent.
Just click Christian Nationalism
What speaks to you in that article? Do you have a clearer understanding of Christian nationalism? Is there cause for concern? Why or why not? These are important questions, especially for Christians, so let’s be the ones who model healthy, informed dialogue rather than mean-spirited, uninformed rhetoric.
It’s a start … but any good movement has to start somewhere!
- Pastor Rhodes Woolly