There seems to be a resurgence of interest in a topic near & dear to my heart: applying Scripture to civil laws. This has been called theonomy, or more recently it’s been slapped with the label “Christian Nationalism”. The term Christian Nationalism is, itself, in a tug-o-war between, as I see it, three broad fractions.
The first being those who wish to use it at a slur, intending to intimidate any Christians who would dare to bring the Bible to bear on any discussion surrounding public policy (unless the position so happens to agree with their predetermined goal). The second group are those who really do fit the caricature drawn by the first, but, let’s be honest, they are––relatively speaking––a very small group.
Third, we find folks like you and me. You know, the sort of folks who know that America was overwhelming founded by Christians. These Christians set out to establish our nation in accordance with the laws of Nature and Nature’s God. They opened their meetings with prayers in the name of Jesus. They were overwhelmingly Calvinist, Protestant, and Bible following sort of people. In other words, this is nothing new, and all the slander towards us by the first group, attempting to intimidate us with mean names like fascists or racists, and to lump us in with those of the second group, should not cause us one moment of heartburn.
Though the term “theonomy” has come to be treated like an artifact from Chernobyl by the professors at Willy-Wonka Prestigious Seminary, sincere Christians cannot help but ask the question: “what does the Bible say about xyz issue?” Even progressive Christians still have this habit for using their position to advocate for what they perceive to be a Biblical or moral position.
My brother recently visited DC and sent me this lovely example of what I’m suggesting. A church weighing in on a political issue, I’m aghast…is this the Christian Nationalism we keep hearing about? If you were to ask the sashaying Bishop of this church, I’m sure he/she/they/ze would gesture politely to some verse. Even if wrenching it violently from the context, the Christian instinct is the appeal to Scripture, whether authoritatively or anecdotally. Theonomy is inescapable. Our battle is against those who insist that God Almighty not be the Theos behind our laws (nomos), they want demos in charge of things.
So let us imagine for a moment that a group of Christians charter a plane to go on a mission trip, and they crash land on a deserted island. As days turn to months, they realize no help is coming and they must begin digging in for a longer stay than hoped. They make some more permanent lodging. They formulate a temporary government. They build a chapel, and the youth pastor gets an unexpected promotion to senior pastor.
Now, say this group indeed was lost to society for decades. If this group’s descendants were to be discovered 80 years later, what would you expect to find? It wouldn’t surprise any of us if their civil government was founded around the 10 Commandments. An honest interlocutor ought to agree. Yes, you would expect a group of Christians to be governing their civil, ecclesiastical, and familial affairs according to Scripture. Could you accuse this group of people of being Christian Nationalists for forming their island nation according to the Scriptures? What if they required their governors to profess faith in Jesus Christ, and to hold to the historic creeds of the faith?
Of course, life doesn’t seem to be so cut and dried as that example. But the question remains, if a nation descended from Christians seeks to mold its government around biblical law, can we coax the secularist tyrants at the wheel of CNN and the DNC to nod their heads in understanding empathy? Fat chance.
According to Scripture
Christians must realize that they are being maneuvered into a position where appeals to “sincerely held religious beliefs” are no longer an acceptable defense in court battles against the encroachments of our tyrants. When man goes mad with power, he rages against the Lord and against the Lord’s anointed. They do not want you to be able to say you disagree with their policies and proposals on the basis that it violates Scripture’s clear teaching. They’ll stomach no rival authority.
Let them call us what they will. We have work to do. We have a Gospel to preach. We have just laws to pass. We have injustices to eradicate. And yes, we must and will do it all in accordance with the Word of God, and to the glory of Christ the Risen Savior.