What is “Christian nationalism?” The term is being thrown around quite a bit these days in secular media and some church circles. But while several argue its meaning is easy to discern, others aren’t so sure.
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Apologist Dr. Michael Brown, author of the new book, “The Political Seduction of the Church: How Millions Of American Christians Have Confused Politics with the Gospel,” broke down three definitions of Christian nationalism, noting the meaning can differ depending on whom you ask.
“Let’s just say that there’s a healthy Christian nationalism, there’s an unhealthy Christian nationalism, and there’s the boogie man Christian nationalism that the left has kind of exaggerated,” Brown told CBN’s Faithwire.
He went on to differentiate between these three understandings of Christian nationalism, starting with the beneficial or positive form.
“Healthy Christian nationalism would be, ‘I love Jesus and I love my country. Our country has strong Christian roots. Let’s recover those, because that’s in the best interest of the country,'” he said. “I don’t find a contradiction between loving America and being a Christian.”
Watch Brown explain Christian nationalism:
Brown then went on to juxtapose this against what he dubbed “unhealthy Christian nationalism,” a concept he writes about in “The Political Seduction of the Church.”
“Unhealthy Christian nationalism … is the merging of American identity with Christian identity … the idea that America is kind of like ancient Israel, with a special covenant with God,” he said. “And, therefore, we must be Christian, that it’s a certain destiny and that…you want to make Christianity the religion of the nation.”
He said this form of nationalism can become “dangerous” if it is unfettered, especially if it takes the form of people wanting to impose Christian values on the nation. He cautioned against the “blurring of politics with the Gospel,” especially when the two become indistinguishable.
“When the things get blurred — the kingdom of God gets too mingled with the kingdom of the world — that’s a concern,” Brown said.” The moment we forget that America is a fallen nation like every other nation and that the church is God’s people in the midst of the nation and the midst of all nations — the moment we forget that and think of America as somehow equaling the kingdom of God, or that God will uniquely back America because America’s quote ‘a Christian nation’ — that’s where we lose our perspective.”
But Brown noted that this latter concern is often misrepresented and overhyped, leading to the third paradigm, which he called “boogie man Christian nationalism.”
“The Christian nationalism that the left keeps talking about in the media is often highly exaggerated,” Brown said. “It’s as if all of us who pray for America, all of us who are politically involved, or all of us who voted for Donald Trump are somehow part of a plot to take over the nation and impose a theocracy run by religious leaders on the country.”
As CBN News recently reported, Brown has been vocal about Christians and electoral issues of late.
He recently appeared on “Faith vs. Culture” as well to discuss how American Christians can avoid confusing politics with the Gospel.
“When we put our trust in the political system to change society, when we become more consumed with winning the elections than winning the lost, when we marry the Gospel with politics, when our Christianity becomes an appendage to a political party, we have confused politics with the Gospel,” he said.
Brown, who voted for former President Donald Trump twice, said he never saw more fervent prayer across the U.S. than he did before and after the 2020 election — but it wasn’t what he expected.
“It wasn’t prayer for revival; it wasn’t prayer for the Great Commission,” he said. “It was prayer for a candidate to win the elections, a candidate I voted for, but recognizing that only Jesus can save America.”
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