Christians concerned about the rise of Christian nationalism in the United States took the issue head-on this week – using one of Christianity’s most proven tools: a study guide.
Responding to Christian nationalism is a free, downloadable resource containing three lessons for use by individuals, small groups, or as the basis for a series of sermons.
It is designed to be used with the video recording of the webinar Democracy and faith under siege. Users are encouraged to watch clips from the webinar and then answer the discussion questions provided. PowerPoint slides are available with relevant video clips for each lesson.
The study guide opens the discussion on what Christian nationalism means. Dr. Andrew Whitehead is an associate professor of sociology at Indiana University Purdue-University, Indianapolis, and describes him as “a cultural framework that idealizes and advocates a fusion of Christianity with American civic life.”
The study then turns to “theological reasons for guarding against Christian nationalism”. Among other talking points, users discuss the “Jesus is Lord” statement of credence as a fundamental theological safeguard, and examine two biblical passages:
Therefore God also greatly exalted him and gave him the name which is above every name, so that in the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord. , to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2: 9-11).
We know that a person is justified not by works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ. And we came to believe in Jesus Christ, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ … I was crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. . And the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2.16 and 19-21).
When Baptist Joint Committee Executive Director Amanda Tyler spoke to Sarah McCammon about NPR of the launch of the new resource, she described Christian nationalism as an “ideology [that]has been with us for a long time ”.
Tyler then called Christian nationalism a threat to “our unity as Americans, [and]also to our faithful walk as Christians ”.
Pastor Michael Mills told NPR’s McCammom that he plans to use the study guide with his church, Agape Baptist Church, in Fort Worth, Texas. But the pastor admitted that he was concerned that by opening a conversation about Christian nationalism, some church members would choose to leave the church – as had been the case in the past.
“These are difficult conversations. And to come into conflict, especially with what looks like a landmine or a minefield – it’s hard work, ”said the pastor. “But… I want to be able to send them love, knowing that I’ve had the conversations we need to be having.”
“We hope this new resource will help them have these difficult conversations in their churches. – Amanda Tyler
Tyler said that “for so many people who are going to leave or don’t want to be associated with these topics, there are so many other Christians who are willing to have this conversation, who understand the threat to our country, who understand the threat. for our faith, and they are ready to choose Christianity over Christian nationalism ”.
“We hope this new resource will help them have these difficult conversations in their churches. “
Responding to Christian nationalism is published by Christians against Christian nationalism – an initiative of the Baptist Joint Committee – in partnership with Vote common good, a nonprofit group aimed at influencing voters of the faith. Together, the groups represent a grand coalition of American Christians alarmed by the rise of Christian nationalism in recent years.
Christians Against Christian Nationalism was launched in 2019. They aim to provide “a place for Christians to speak out against Christian nationalism and the threat it poses to our faith and democracy” by signing a declaration. It has since been signed by 22,000 Christians, including many ministers and other leaders, who condemn Christian nationalism as a “distortion of the gospel of Jesus and a threat to American democracy.”
But it was earlier this year that concerns about Christian nationalism really peaked, when a large contingent of Christians took part in a violent insurgency on the United States Capitol, displaying signs reading “Jesus Saves,” ” Jesus 2020 ”and crosses.
In response, more than 100 pastors and other religious leaders wrote a open letter condemning the role radical Christian nationalism played in fueling political extremism behind the Capitol Riot. In a matter of days, more than 1,300 other Christian leaders co-signed this letter.
“We recognize that evangelicalism and white evangelism, in particular, have been susceptible to the heresy of Christian nationalism due to a long history of religious leaders accommodating white supremacy. We choose to speak now because we don’t want to be silent accomplices to this ongoing sin, ”the letter read.