Especially when confronted with spectacles like church choirs singing “Make America Great Again”, it is natural that we would recoil in horror from the idea of Christian nationalism. Many argue, in fact, that there can rightly be no such thing, that our allegiance to the King of Heaven and Earth makes our participation in earthly kingdoms either a necessary evil or even something to be avoided at all costs. Peter Leithart argues otherwise:
The theological trick is to affirm the primacy of ecclesial identity without abandoning the ambition to see the gospel invade and transform American life. No nation will ever become the kingdom of God; no people will ever replace the Church as the people of God. Yet the gospel announces Jesus’s kingship over everything. The Church proclaims the gospel so that the world will acknowledge Jesus. We hope for an America that honors the Church, an America whose manners express the golden rule and the second great commandment, whose laws respect God’s law by protecting the vulnerable, whose arts and entertainments glorify rather than degrade human beings, whose children learn that Scripture and prayer are essential to education. We hope for an America conformed to the reality that Jesus is Lord.
The ideal polis is one where the innocent are protected, the poor are cared for, and virtue is made as accessible as possible to as many people as possible. God has appointed our various rulers for the sake of promoting justice and peace, so I don’t know how one expects to get to those things if there is not a national sense of accountability to God for the actions of the people and their rulers. As dangerous and difficult as this is, it must be done if we wish to see justice and peace.
Happy 4th of July!