Baptists and Christian Nationalism

Should Baptists Rethink Their Disdain of Establishment?

It is hard to think about Baptists without thinking about their critique and rejection of Christendom and its established churches.  From the Baptist perspective, partnership with the state corrupted the church and cheapened faith, thus leading to widespread hypocrisy and a watered down, nominal form of religion.  In the same way the Reformation sought to redirect the church toward scripture, the Baptists sought to return to a more scriptural model of the church unbound from the state and to a model of baptism more appropriate to the pattern observed in the New Testament.  No longer would baptism essentially coincide with entering the civil political community.

On this understanding, God has given the church the tasks of evangelism, worship, and discipleship. He has given the state a mission that is moored to the temporal.  It is geared toward protection more than perfection.  This can be overstated, but I think the general idea is correct.  

What makes government different from every other institution of human society is its legal monopoly on the coercive use of force.  This coercion is suitable for the restraint and punishment of various threats such as crime and invasion, but it is inappropriate to matters of faith.  

A coerced faith is without value and promotes hypocrisy and violence to the conscience.  Roger Williams famously described forced religion as a stench in the nostrils of God.

While the idea of a Christian establishment in the government holds fascination and appeal for believers, the historical precedents are not encouraging.  The places that held onto (or continue to hold onto) established churches are the places where secularism is at its strongest point and where the church is weak and often compromised.  See the Churches of England and Sweden.  While I don’t often quote Karl Marx, I can’t help but mischievously appreciate his observation that the Church of England would rather compromise 38 of its 39 articles before it would give up 1/39th of its income.  That may be unfair, but it sums up much of what we have seen from churches tied too closely to government authority.

In short, church establishments violate freedom of conscience and tend to promote compromised religion.  There are good theological, philosophical, and pragmatic reasons to oppose them.

If you accept the idea of religious liberty, that leads to other ideas about the nature of the state.  If we believe that religious liberty should exist, then that means there is an area in which the state is forbidden to act or in which its actions are constrained in some way.  To say that the state can and should be constrained is to reject the concept of a total or comprehensive government and to embrace the idea of limited government.    

If we agree with the idea of limited government, then the question is what are the different ways it might be usefully limited without crippling it and preventing it from carrying out the tasks with which it is entrusted and which we need it to accomplish.  It is not surprising that as I consider the question, I come to American style conclusions, but I think it is more than my cultural location which leads me to think that a belief in religious liberty sits well with other features found in limited governments such as free speech, a free press, the right to assemble and petition, etc. Religious liberty protects the idea of the individual as someone who has important interests (such as their soul) that can legitimately be distinct from the state.  These things flow together.  

It is also important to understand that part of what drives the insistence upon a limited state is our recognition that human beings are sinful, which includes those who wield power as ministers of the state.  Given our understanding of government as the institution in society with a unique license to use coercive force, then Christians should appreciate the necessity of limitations and boundaries upon the exercise of that coercion.  One can also see why free speech and other associational rights are needed to protect the ability to criticize the state and to try to correct it.    

If I were to attempt to develop a useful phrase to describe an appropriate Baptist view of the state, I might say we believe government can draft you into an army, but not a religion.  I would add that Baptists easily resonate with the need to hold the state accountable to laws rather than to men and should protect citizens — a better designation than subjects for human beings made in God’s image and sharing in rule over the creation — in their capacity to give and receive justifications for state action.    

What I’ve set out so far are fairly wide parameters for the state.  There are many possible variations in terms of policy and political arrangements within the boundaries I’ve set out. I actually don’t think there is a great deal to say in terms of specifying what they should be. The reason for that is that the great majority of the activity in which the state engages occurs within the zone of prudence. In other words, these things don’t take on the character of theological doctrine where compromise risks heresy.  I think that David VanDrunen is convincing when he argues that the state should largely operate along the lines of practical wisdom.  As an example, he points to the emphasis one sees in Proverbs on industriousness.  A Christian should probably try to encourage his/her government to use wisdom in policymaking, of the type that would not undercut industriousness.  But this kind of wisdom can be possessed by any human being.  It is of the type that Roger Williams said he found among the Indians, which led him to believe there are general principles of leadership and rule that are beneficial to all peoples.  

The other point that VanDrunen makes about the Christian view of the state (and one which I think is wise for Baptists to adopt in light of their primary concerns) is that we should encourage it to be modest.  He uses the language of “protectionist” rather than “perfectionist.”  The state should be modest in its evaluation of the common good and of justice and of its own ability to achieve those things, especially given that its force is coercive in nature and that the users of that force share the sin nature.  The governments that have been the most ambitious in pursuing some high vision of the common good or justice have tended to be the greatest violators of human rights.  Virtually all of history’s greatest villains have had government power behind them.  Three of the most ruinous – Hitler, Stalin, and Mao – inhabited the same century and aimed at almost eschatological outcomes.

As Christians, as the church, as Baptists, we should acknowledge that we will not produce a detailed Christian public policy deserving of an exclusive imprimatur.  It will be possible for us to argue that various policies are acceptable from a Christian point of view, but not to define specifics as THE Baptist or Christian policy.  We are better positioned to argue in terms of boundaries, and then to deal with specifics from the position of a more generic wisdom basis.    

I also want to highlight a point made by the Baptist Congressman Brooks Hayes, who wrote (in a century wracked by totalitarianism and authoritarianism) that Baptists can work with a variety of political regimes as long as they maintain religious liberty and freedom of conscience.  In so saying, Hayes underlined the great Baptist emphasis on evangelism and missions.  By remaining as politically open as possible, Baptists could maximize their opportunity to preach the gospel in the widest set of political communities possible.  

There are some extremely pressing problems into which Baptists can speak.  We have traditionally been eager to defend religious liberty, but the nature of the challenge has shifted radically.  We have gone from a union of church and state that threatened the purity of the church sponsored by the state to a union of state and ambitious secular progressivism that contemplates direct defeat of the church.

Let me offer an example.  Regrettably, I will venture into the now common drag queen controversy.  It offers a useful illustration.  Let us imagine a class of third graders in public school.  The day’s activity is that a drag queen will come in and read a children’s story comparing the change of a caterpillar into a butterfly to the transformation of a man into a colorful drag queen.  Parents might protest, but there would be considerable uncertainty as to the proper basis upon which to found their disagreement.  We no longer live in a society that is sure at all that drag queens should not encourage children to engage in a similar quest.  

Now imagine a second situation.  The teacher of a class of third graders in public school invites a local female merchant to come to the class and read.  She shares a Bible story and a song.  I think we generally understand that this second exercise is likely to be policed as an establishment clause violation.  Church-state boundaries are pretty scrupulously enforced in public education settings.  And we understand why.  If the Christian merchant were replaced by a Muslim one, some of us would be concerned.  

But how is it that the damage done to the parents of the children (and the children themselves) in the second class is greater than that done in the first?  Assuming there are parents of the first group of third graders who are troubled by the drag queen phenomenon, is the offense against their conscience and sensibilities any smaller?  The answer is obviously no.  But we also know what the rejoinder would be from secular progressives, which is that they can make no allowance for bigotry.

This takes me to another aspect of Christian and Baptist thinking about the state that doesn’t receive enough attention.  The United States has a well-established belief in the consent of the governed.  Had you proposed to the founding group that “consent” would become all, they would have been gravely concerned, as they generally worked against the possibility of majorities inflamed by their passions.  They acted structurally in important ways (the famed checks and balances, the timing of elections so that the entire government is never up for election at the same time, and federalism), but they also relied upon religion (as in the examples of the Northwest Ordinance and funding for missionaries to the Indians) to build and maintain virtue.  

Consent of the governed, unmodified by God’s authority and no longer tethered to his creation order, has become a kind of idol. Maybe it always has been. David Koyzis presents it as such in his Political Visions and Illusions.  We can observe that in previous times, voters and governments acted heedless of the existence of God’s image in African men and women to deny them their rights and to treat them as property.  The deafness of the current age (and corresponding shouting) has settled in with regard to gender, sexuality, and other matters related to personal autonomy such as the unjust taking of unborn lives.  It is important that Baptists engage the people in churches and those with whom we interact in evangelism and missions to understand the more authentic nature of government authority, which is that God’s authority is the source upon which all lesser authority depends.  When we recognize that, then we can understand there is a zone of action which is not simply open to our collective or majority wishes, whatever those may be.  

Attempting to fundamentally alter God’s creation order is the kind of betrayal that invokes Adam’s sin and the apparent arrogance of Babel.  There are two sources of government authority, but they are not coequal or freestanding.  Government by consent (and they are all governments of consent ultimately whether by virtue of election or revolution) sit on the foundation of God’s greater authority.  We live in a world that increasingly rejects the existence of any authority from God other than cheering us on in whatever we wish to pursue.  A society that specifies God’s role for him in such a way would seem to be in terrific danger.  

Having offered a description of what I’m calling a Baptist view of the state and a challenge we face, I want to turn still further in the direction of problems faced by modern Baptists and to ask an important question about where we stand.  Eric Smith authored an outstanding book on the Baptist religious liberty advocate John Leland.  I asked him whether Leland could have foreseen that dismantling official Christendom would result in the development of an official secularism that simply cannot be characterized as neutral.  Slowly and over time, this supposedly neutral secularism eased Christianity into the margins where it could be gerrymandered away from legitimacy in law, government, politics, academic writing, business, and virtually any other field of endeavor outside of the church.  In these same places, ideologies such as Marxism, feminism, critical race theory, liberalism, and a wide variety of other frameworks of thought could operate without the limiting descriptor of religion being applied to them.  Complaints about this lack of neutrality have been largely unavailing   

Steven D. Smith, has written about the transformation of a positivistic secularism into what he describes as a pagan secularism.  This pagan secularism represents a tremendous threat to the church as it sees less and less need to make a pretense of neutrality toward religion and instead acts more aggressively toward it.  It has far more ideological range and romantic appeal than positivistic secularism.

Smith astutely observes that while the modern social and intellectual vanguard promotes their embrace of science and reason, they have been unable to live with the positivistic consequences of their view.  Instead of dwelling in the darkly comic (or flatly despairing) world of cosmic accident and values that can be based on little more than either power or aesthetics, they seek some form of sacredness to impart meaning and some sort of foundation to the rights they believe must exist beyond their imaginations.  The result is a move over time from the Christian separation of church and state toward a positivistic secularism (a brief stay because few can live with it) and then on to a pagan form of secularism.  That which is explicitly Christian is ruled out of bounds almost as a matter of course with little explanation other than an “everyone knows” sort of narrative, while the pagan secular sensibility (maybe like the one offered by Anthony Kennedy in his jurisprudence on sexual autonomy) thrives unfettered.  

We arrive at our current state.  The transcendent has come to be seen as dogmatic, intolerant, and as an infringement on liberty.  While the Christian tradition may have helped us to develop the foundation of rights, freedoms, and limited government we enjoy, modern pagans believe they can offer a sacred grounding without the transcendent baggage through their immanent religion.  This is the legal version of being “spiritual, but not religious.”  But the spiritual merely sanctifies the opinions and acts of the ruling class.  It’s the Tocquevillian dystopia, complete with ostracization via “cancellation.”

Facing this increasingly untenable situation, a number of influential figures are moving away from the separation of church and state and toward some kind of new Christendom.  I’ve even heard some use the term Christendom 2.0.  It is highly evocative.  Even a little exciting.  There is no doubt some attraction to the idea that we will take the gloves off and stop wearing the straitjacket imposed by political liberalism.

Many of us took note when Joe Rigney left his post as president of the Bethlehem College and Seminary on the basis that his beliefs no longer lined up with the Baptistic tradition and principles of the institution.  First, I laud the forthright and open way both parties handled the issue.  But second, the announcement contained critical information.  For Rigney, infant baptism has become an open question.  In addition, he looks for the Christianization of the civil government.  The announcement characterizes his political philosophy as “Christendom-building.”  Infant baptism, of course, traditionally goes along with the unified civil and ecclesiastical order.  

Some may have wondered whether Rigney would soon decamp for a place with more similar views.  That occurred.  He has taken academic and pastoral positions in Moscow, Idaho.  Canon Press published Stephen Wolfe’s The Case for Christian Nationalism.  The book is provocative and deserves credit for the sheer amount of conversation it has generated over things many believed had been long settled.        

The situation underscores the importance of serious Christians thinking through the state/church complex of issues.  On the left, we have progressives attempting to wholly delegitimize our views to the point of non-engagement.  To them, even natural law and practical wisdom illegitimately echo the Catholic magisterium.  On the right, Christians are looking back with longing at the old European Christendom.  There is little doubt that this sentimentality is driven in part by the shocking speed and aggressiveness of the various revolutions launched by partisans of critical theory and institutionalized by almost every elite institution (public and private) in the U.S.

The question, then, is are the Baptists the Baptists without the backdrop of semi-established or informally established Christendom?  If John Leland, for example, had known the place we’d reach in 2023, would he have persisted in his course?  Would his confidence in the separation of church and state and religious liberty have been as great?  

There is a reasonable argument to be made that Baptists are one of the Christian groups with the strongest connection to political liberalism.  Political liberalism is the philosophy (or the set of arrangements or the practical development) that has given us the separation of church and state, religious liberty, free speech, freedom of the press, limited government, etc. It is political liberalism, really, that we could say Francis Fukuyama was talking about when he declared the end of history in the 1990s.  When the Soviet Union fell, it seemed to be the death knell of totalitarianism and a concession that political liberalism would be something like the last model for government regimes.  Part of political liberalism would be a plausibly neutral secularism.  This was, after all, a time when it was believed that faith-based initiatives might be part of a constructive public policy.  Certainly, it seemed that aggressive, atheistic secularism had been repudiated by the Soviet failure.  

Instead of the chastening of secularism that seemed possible at that time, we’ve seen a version of events play out that empowers the pagan secularism Smith has written about and which has left the church and Christians increasingly marginalized and vulnerable.  So, again, I ask.  Are our beliefs about church and state and Christendom the same in this new environment?  

To conclude and to circle back to my earlier comments on the Baptist view of the state, I would argue that the Baptist view of the state is the limited state paired with a regenerate church.  As political liberalism becomes more unstable and as our unofficial, non-established Christianity ebbs, we see more people reconsidering the abandonment of this Baptistic viewpoint in favor of a Christianized civil order.  To do so, I would argue, is a dangerous step that reinvigorates the idea of the total state as opposed to the limited one.

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Hunter Baker , J.D., Ph.D. is the provost and dean of faculty at North Greenville University in South Carolina. He is the author of The End of Secularism, Political Thought: A Student’s Guide, and The System Has a Soul.

29 thoughts on “Baptists and Christian Nationalism

  1. I think that our engagement with government should be guided by a Thomas Jefferson quote that he found was easier said than done. Jefferson said the following from his 1801 Inaugural Address:

    All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.

    The guideline to majority rule which Jefferson lays out is the need to safeguard equal rights by promoting laws that protect this rights. This concept of equality must be the pursuit of enough citizens for it to be the pursuit of the government. That is because in a democratically determined representative governments, just as art reflects life, so too do politicians reflect the citizenry. That is a point that George Carlin makes when he explained why he didn’t mock politicians.

    But equality must exist in the other foundational American institution, the Marketplace. Equal participation and access to the Marketplace must be protected by laws. And access to the Martetplace just doesn’t consist of the ability to buy goods, it also includes the ability to acquire services. And that last point is what Christian bakers, florists, and photographers forget when members of the LGBT community arrive as potential customers.

    And so what should guide the Christian citizenry? Currently, we are so concerned with being marginalized in the present that it becomes easier and easier for us to forget and thus repeat our past mistakes of having marginalized others in the past. We could say that when we marginalize others, we reject Jefferson’s warning cited above. And so at this point, we might want to consult the Scriptures as to how we should relate to unbelievers in society.

    Some of us want to send out of ours and society’s sight those whose lifestyles we find to be not just distasteful, but downright disgusting. The question is this, do efforts to marginalize such people not just ignore Jefferson’s warning, but go against what the New Testament says should be the way in which we relate to unbelievers. Here we should note what is said in I Corinthians 5. That the only people we are called to shun are not unbelievers, but those who profess to be believers who engage in certain behaviors such as sexual immorality and being greedy or verbally abusive among other acts. And so we need to consider how what Paul said there should guide the tolerance that we should promote in society.

    Here, we might want to keep in mind what Jesus tells us in the Gospels. What did Jesus tell us to do when an audience rejects what we say when evangelizing? Didn’t Jesus tell us to just move on? And didn’t Jesus warn us against ‘lording it over’ others? Though that directive concerned how followers of Jesus were to treat fellow followers of Jesus, there is no reason why we should not apply that toward unbelievers as well.

    We might also want to consult the New Testament in terms of whether God shows partiality. Romans 2 tells us that He doesn’t. and so when we judge others as if we are innocent, Paul presents a terribly frightful future reality check for us. It’s God’s judgment.

    The dichotomy that is often presented to religiously conservative Christians today is that we have a choice between working for varying amounts of Christian privilege in the laws that are passed or we should just shut up and pay our taxes. And by Christian privilege, I just don’t mean that Christians are favored with benefits that unbelievers are denied. I also include working to pass laws that impose Christian values on others which are not protecting equal rights. Obviously laws that protect against theft or violence are necessary to protect one’s rights. But laws that impose Christian sexual values on unbelievers are not. Blue Laws neither protected nor promoted equality.

    There is a precedent set for how to avoid the above dichotomy. That precedent was provided by Martin Luther King Jr and SCLC. And the basis of that precedent was that they worked for rights and benefits for others as well as themselves. Whether we examine their struggle for equal rights and equal status or their work to provide relief for the poor, they worked for unbelievers and believers alike. And for doing so, some Christians called them ‘Communists’ among other things. But just perhaps, the precedent set by the activism of King and the SCLC gives us a picture of what Christian participation in government should direct its energies toward. And if we look back at that time period, we find that they had many allies from all walks of faith, including those who had no religious faith. That is because the benefits that King and the SCLC worked for equally benefited believers and unbelievers alike.

    We have two main secular institutions in America: our democracy and the Marketplace. The main value that emanates from the latter institution is that of seeking one’s own interests. I’m afraid that all of those who promote Christian Nationalism or lesser degrees of Christian control over the nation have passionately embraced that value. We should note the number of times that the New Testament adamantly rejects and opposes that value. And so why is it that the Christian push for influencing government so strongly exhibits that value? I can tell you from my years in activism, that the existence of that value in the Christian attempts to influence government do not go unnoticed by many unbelievers. And if they notice trait in us, how do you think they will respond to our attempts to share the Gospel with them?

    1. Well they certainly shouldn’t reconsider their disdain for Curt “Wall-o’-text” Day, that’s for sure.

        1. “And access to the Martetplace just doesn’t consist of the ability to buy goods, it also includes the ability to acquire services. And that last point is what Christian bakers, florists, and photographers forget when members of the LGBT community arrive as potential customers.”

          Given that this line is fundamentally dishonest about what’s actually going on, it’s as Spirit-filled as your comment is.

          Your position, as near as I can tell, is that Christians are supposed to, somehow, demonstrate the love of God by facilitating events that directly go against God’s law. I find this line of logic to be utterly baffling.

          1. Tom,
            What is so dishonest about what is going on?

            What is it that I am saying here? I am saying that we should protect the equal rights of the LGBT community both in politics and laws as well as in the Marketplace. That is the goal. And so if we provide goods and/or services in the Marketplace, then we should so without discrimination. To fail to do so is to practice part of what was practiced during Jim Crow only we would be targeting another group. And if we do partially repeat what was practiced during Jim Crow, we will have signficantly harmed our ability to evangelize to that community. In fact, the persecution of the LGBT community during Christendom has already harmed about ability to share the Gospel with at least some in that community

          2. I’m sorry, in what universe do you have the gall to think it is right to compel a private citizen to provide what they see as support for an event or belief whose ends they disagree with because they are ends you are totally fine with?

            It’s also pretty clear that your position here is based on the fact that you disagree with 2,000 years of Christian belief regarding the moral legitimacy of LGBT practices, rather than an actually consistent principle of being against discrimination, and I’m still waiting for you to explain how it makes it easier to share the Gospel by providing services to an event that furthers goals antithetical to the Gospel. What’s next, saying that in order to bring the Gospel to progressives pro-lifers need to be willing to cater NARAL events at a discount?

          3. Tom,
            In the same universe that dismantled Jim Crow. If you remember, many Southern Christians believed that white supremacy and segregation were supported by the Bible. And so for them to integrate in the public square and the Marketplace was to force them to violate their beliefs.

            It is the same universe that both regards and seeks to treat those from the LGBT community as being fully equal in society and uses the Marketplace as almost the sole place where members of society can obtain goods and services.

            Therefore, I believe that your question about which universe should not imply a universal quantifier. Rather it should explicitly state or imply an existential quantifier so we could examine your question on a case by case basis. And so is it Christian to discriminate and participate in the marginalization of those from the LGBT community?

            Also we don’t have 2,000 years of Christians of living in democratic societies that include equality where they must coexist and be shoulder to shoulder with those from the LGBT community who have just emerged from being marginalized. However, we do have Paul’s comments in I Cor 5 where he said that we are not to treat sexually immoral fellow believers as we treat sexually immoral unbelievers. What is clear from that passage in I Cor 5 is that we are to shun the former group but not the latter group.

            In addition, most of the 2,000 years you cite occurred during Christendom in which multiple instances of biased-based discrimination, abuse, and exploitation contributed to the birth of the black sheep of Christendom’s children: Critical Theory and Post Modernism. Both of which are, in large part, reactions to the wars, abuses, and exploitation practiced during Christendom. Your appeal to tradition without the Scriptures is more of an authoritarian appeal. Here you might want to consult what the Frankfurt School says about authoritarianism. Those in that school learned about authoritarianism up front and in person as they were responding to the rise of fascism, including Nazism, in Europe. And they studied authoritarianism in an effort to avoid it in the future.

          4. Your utter misunderstanding of the history of the Church, determination to march in lockstep with the culture, and willingness to use the power of the government to compel people to support ideologies you like while claiming to be opposed to authoritarianism have all been duly noted.

          5. Tom,
            I am not saying that we should march lockstep in with culture. At the same time, we can fully respect those in the LGBT community as equals in the areas I specified without marching in lockstep with culture.

            The key is to distinguish what can be acceptable in society from that which should be prohibited for the Church. And while doing that, our evangelism will be challenging those areas of culture and practices in society that are condemned in the Bible. Our evangelism and what is taught in Church must be dictated by the Scriptures. But we can’t afford to demand the same standards for society that are required by the Church. Christendom compromised what the Scriptures teach by demanding more from society than it should have. And because of that, it abused unbelievers and dramatically hurt the reputation of the Church. In contrast to that, Progressive Christianity compromised what should be a part of our evangelism and required by the Church.

            As for government, it is there to represent and protect all in society, not just Christians. And the moment we ask the government to privilege Christianity in any way, is the moment we lose equality and thus democracy. And then when we go to share the Gospel, we have to overcome the obstacles that come from unbelievers realizing that Christians have view themselves as being superior to them. That doesn’t bode well for sharing the Gospel to as receptive audience as possible.

          6. Curt, literally no one here is arguing that Christianity should be privileged over other religions. What everyone here is arguing that Christians should have the same freedom as everyone else to not be compelled to support events that they disagree with.

            That you seem to think this is somehow “privileging” Christianity over other religions is why you’re getting pushback.

          7. Tom,
            Christian Nationalism, by definition, privileges Christianity over other religions. What do you is being advocated when people Cline argue for and for Blue Laws and for laws that prohibit blasphemy ? What do you think is being advocated when some contributors to the blog here argue for a Christian Prince?

            And what about those Christians who refused to provide goods and services to Blacks during Jim Crow? Don’t you know that they used the Bible to justify and support white supremacy with discrimination and segregation?

            Don’t you understand the role of the Marketplace in a Capitalist system? It is where the private sector becomes the only source for goods and services? And if people are denied the ability to obtain goods and services from the Marketplace by one provider because that provider wants to discriminate, we are returning to part of what Jim Crow was about. Allowing one provider to so discriminate, allows for the potential for all to do that or for enough providers to do that so that obtaining goods and services from the Marketplace becomes prohibitive. And for us Christians to so discriminate shows that we are only thinking of ourselves, and not of others. It shows our lack of understanding of equality and the Marketplace and that hurts the reputation of the Gospel.

  2. Curt, I think it is important to understand that the various merchants you remember don’t generally deny service. They just refuse to participate in same-sex weddings which they believe are specific violations of God’s will for marriage. It is reasonable (and good for democracy) to carve out space for faith and conscience to operate.

    1. Hunter,
      I understand the position of such merchants. But they also operate in an economic system where their goods and services are solely provided by the public sector. And so one’s access to goods and services could be blocked because of some affiliation. During Jim Crow, the affiliation that moved merchants to refuse to provide goods or services was racially based. Now it is based on sexual orientation. For the government to allow that is to allow, at least in part, a different version of Jim Crow.

      The issue is whether or not we believe and embrace equality. And proof that we have is when support the equal rights of the groups that we most fervently oppose.

      1. Just out of curiosity, would you extend your “service to all” absolutism to forcing a black Roman Catholic to cater a Klan rally?

        1. Tom,
          What you don’t realize is the legal context involved here. Those in the LGBT community are protected by law because of the marginalization they have experienced in the past. The KKK are not protected. In fact, the KKK practice marginalization on others rather than having been marginalized.

          1. Oh, just say that you believe people should be compelled by the government to support beliefs that you like and beliefs that you don’t like should be banned. At least then you would be honest.

          2. Tom,
            Like a catcher, you are trying frame statements and beliefs, but you are inaccurate. You’re forgetting context and past similar instances of Christian held bigotries.

          3. I have forgotten nothing. I just actually believe in principles besides “who –> whom.”

          4. Tom,
            When people ignore or fail to do what is necessary, repetition becomes necessary.

            No one is asking people to adopt other beliefs. Instead, what is being challenged is the right to discriminate against a protected group of people who have just begun to emerge from the margins of society. When merchants were prohibited from discriminating against blacks, were they being told to change just their actions or their beliefs?

            Like it or not, we share society with the LGBT community. And we can either choose to share society with them as equals or in a hierarchy. And when we deny people their equal access to the Marketplace to obtain goods and services because of ethnic reasons or because of sexual orientation or gender identity, we are choosing hierarchy rather than equality.,

  3. Hey, Hunter! Great to see you here. We will disagree on this.

    A Christianized civil order does not at all reinvigorate the idea of the total state as opposed to the limited one. In fact, I and many others argue that it is Christianity alone that give the rationale for a limited state. Also a fact, it was the various strains of Protestant Christianity of the pre-founding era, Congregational, Episcopal, and Presbyterian, along with a robust Calvinism, that gave the founders a solid presuppositional foundation for limited government. The Enlightenment did not do that.

    Surely you’re familiar with Kuyper and sphere sovereignty? I’m currently reading R.J. Rushdoony, the theonomy boogey man, and his Politics of Guilt and Pity, and he can best be described as a Christian libertarian. His take on the state is extremely limited in his understand of how God’s law applied to a Christianized civil order.

    I’m going to put this comment and your piece on Twitter for my 2 and a half followers, lol, to see if I get any interaction.

    1. Mike,
      To this extent, Christian Nationalism believes in limited government. It does so to the extent that the powers of the government should be limited by the Church so that they just don’t supersede the Church, the powers of the Church supersede the powers of the government..

      As for the rest of Christianity, I think that there are various views of the power of the government by Christians.

      1. Curt, as I argue in my new book, a Christian nation requires a limited government. The powers of government are NOT limited by the church, but by God. The powers of church and government should not supersede each other. You may be familiar with Abraham Kuyper’s sphere sovereignty. The spheres can overlap, but only in cases that are justified, like laws being broken in a church. In that case, the state steps in to punish the wrong doer. The church administers the sacraments, preaches the word, and exercises church discipline.

        The church should hold the state accountable, and the state does have the responsibility to uphold “right religion,” as the founders would have phrased it. Up until the mid-20th century, the laws of the states did that, but they were increasingly not enforced as secularism began its reign. Secularism needs to be defeated, and the myth of neutrality exposed for the lie that it is.

        1. Mike,
          But the New Testament does not support a Christian Nation, and that is the problem. We know this from how the New Testament wants us to relate to unbelievers. We know this from what the New Testament says about the government. We know this from what the New Testament says about Church discipline. We know this from what the New Testament says about how we fulfill the Great Commission. And we know this from what the New Testament says about how Christians are to relate to the world.

          We can hold the state accountable through prophetic preaching. At the same time there are areas in which the state holds the Church accountable in terms of areas of justice.

          Yes, I am familiar with Kuyper’s sphere sovereignty. But perhaps that is part of the problem. Perhaps we have used our theologies to deduce an obligation of or freedom for the Church that the New Testament does not support.

          1. BP,
            When Jesus said that His Kingdom is not of this world, was he laying the foundation for a future Christian Nationalism? When Jesus prohibited us from lording it over others and told us that the greatest of us would serve others, was He laying the foundation for a future Christian Nationalism? When Jesus told us to move on if our audience does not accept our preaching, was He telling us to then use the government to force people to follow what we say?

            To call my position Marconian is wrong. Tell me, when Paul opposed the Circumcision party as recorded in his epistle to the Galatians, was he denying the necessity of circumcision in the Old Testament or was he revealing how Christ’s first coming changed what was expected of God’s people?

          2. Duke,
            There are a lot of theologies out there, some are legitimate and some aren’t. And of those that are legitimate, they can be misused. And a sign that they are misused is when they encourage an idea or practices that are not in accord with what the New Testament teaches. This is where Mark 7 is very important for us to read.

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