Today I received Torba & Isker’s Christian Nationalism in the mail. I think it took me 30 minutes to read. It is more of a pamphlet then a book and so I probably paid too much for it. Below are a few random observations on a book that overall, left me discouraged, if only because I had others telling me that there was a good deal here to be hopeful about even if it was written for those just getting on the Christian Nationalist train.
I.) The Good
1.) Torba and Isker return repeatedly to the necessity for Christians to build parallel communities. This is something I have been saying for over 20 years. My only qualification on that has been to say that Christians need to be building parallel but not completely isolated communities. If and when we build our parallel communities we still want to be connected enough to the larger culture around us so that we can be salt and light in that context. This is why our parallel communities dare not be completely isolated. Think of the necessary communities I am talking about as ice cubes in a drink. The ice cubes influence the drink but are not influenced by the drink. The ice cubes are parallel to the drink but are not isolated.
2.) Torba and Isker take on the whole “Judeo-Christianity” myth driven for the most part as it is by a Dispensational theology.
“True antisemitism is overlooking Jews or failing to evangelize them because you believe they are ‘chosen’ by God and therefore get a free pass from rejecting Jesus Christ.”
This was a brave thing for them to do since writing anything that distinguishes Christianity from Judaism is touching the third rail of social concourse. It is just not done without being electrocuted. I salute them for pointing out the contradiction in “Judeo-Christianity” and further insisting that Christians need to realize that Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews are enemies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
3.) Torba and Isker clearly are postmillennialist in their eschatology. They understand that Christianity as a public square faith will never regain its traction until it is forever done with premillennialism and amillennialism — with defeatist and retreatist eschatologies. They remind their readers continuously that Jesus Christ has bound the strong men, that He came to usher in the Kingdom, that He, having all authority in heaven and earth, commissioned His people to disciple all the nations, that Jesus Christ is ascended to the right hand of the Father in order to rule until all His enemies have been placed under His feet. A Christian Church that does not have the mindset that it is to conquer all non-Christian kingdoms that rise up against the Kingdom of Christ is a Christian Church in name only.
4.) Torba & Isker take on the foolishness of Dispensationalism with its horse dung theology of rapturism and escapism. They point out rightly that supercessionism (which Dispensationalism denies) is the normative position of the historic Christian Church. (Supercessionism is the Christian knowledge that that not merely that the Old Testament Hebrew faith has been fulfilled by the coming of Jesus Christ and so being incomplete apart from Christ is ended. This means that God has no special relation with Judaism and is only the God of Jews inasmuch as they repent and trust Jesus Christ to forgive their sins.) Torba and Isker rightly point out that the God of the Bible is done with Judaism just as the God of the Bible is done with Islam, Hinduism, Mormonism, and every other false religion.
5.) We concede that Torba and Isker are reaching for something that might approximate Christendom. They have miles to go before they are ringing exactly the right notes but at least, unlike most of Christianity, they realize that where we are at now is only promissory of complete and utter destruction.
II.) The Bad
1.) Whatever Torba and Isker are peddling, at the end of the day, it is not any kind of Christian Nationalism that I would understand as Christian Nationalism.
First, of all the Christian part of their nationalism is iffy. Torba and Isker include Roman Catholics, and the Eastern Orthodox in their aspiration for a return to Christian Nationalism. Torba & Isker call the Quakers who settled Pennsylvania a heretical sect (and they were) but are silent about the heretical sect that were the Roman Catholics who settled Maryland.
This displays a gross ignorance of church history. Protestant Christians do not view Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox as being particularly Christian. Maybe Torba and Isker need to review their Reformation history. Maybe a review of the St. Bartholomew’s day Massacre in France? Maybe a few lessons on the filioque controversy between East and West. Maybe some teaching on the anathemas issued forth from the council of Trent against the Protestants. I’m sorry Andrew and Andrew but Christian Nationalism is not Christian Nationalism when you seek to include non-Christians into your Christian Nationalism. Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox need to repent before they can have any role besides bus riding in our Christian Nationalism.
Second, the Nationalism part of their Christian Nationalism is also iffy. Andrew & Andrew seem to fail to understand that the very idea of Nationalism includes the idea of racial/ethnic harmony.
“We (Our Christian Nationalism) don’t care about your race, ethnic background, or your past sins because neither does Jesus care.”
“Christianity is not limited to any race, ethnicity or culture (I Cor. 12:13, Gal. 3:27-29). Therefore Christian Nationalism cannot be limited to any race, ethnicity, or culture.”
Christian Nationalism –p. 7
Torba and Isker give a running account of how all the original 13 colonies began as explicitly Christian states. What Torba and Isker fail to mention is that each of those explicitly Christian states also had the commonality of all being comprised of white people. The Christian Nationalism we had in our beginnings was not mélange Nationalism.
So, the Christian Nationalism of Torba and Isker is fine as long as one isn’t expecting either a genuine Christianity that produces Christian Nationalism or a Nationalism that is particularly ethno-National. Besides that, it’s great stuff.
In the end what the Andrews are giving us is a Ecumenical non-Nationalism. I suppose, as I said above, they are going for a civic nationalism but I’m not sure they realize that.
Honestly this is weak sauce.
2.) I have to protest the painful reductionism of this pamphlet. As I was reading I found myself thinking; “This is Dick and Jane meets Political Philosophy.” Now, I get the idea of having to reach your audience and of writing for your audience but dear God in heaven above if we have been reduced to the 2nd grade reading level and sentence structure of this book I’m not sure I’d want to be part of any successful Christian Nationalism that grows up in such a populace. Can it really be that we have become the simpletons that Torba and Isker are writing for? Have we descended that far? I found myself thinking that this was such a far cry from the Federalist Papers which were written for the average farmer and newspaper reader in 18th century America that we perhaps should just surrender. I’m not sure I want to be a part of a Christendom that is inhabited and characterized by the kind of reader to which the Andrews are appealing.
I prefer instead to believe that the Andrews vastly underestimate their audience.
III.) The Ugly
1.) “We do not … think that America is ‘chosen by God…'”
Actually, properly understood I do believe that America was chosen by God. I look at the arrival of those first explorers, Pilgrims, and Christians and I do believe that God chose America to be a covenanted nation and that indeed it was a covenanted nation by its relation through its ancestors to the Solemn League and Covenant. Indeed, one reason I think we are getting spanked good and hard is because we have rebelled against the God who chose us for His ends.
Now, I don’t believe that America is chosen by God when that is invoked by all the flag wavers who are forever wrapping the flag around the Cross in order to advance their latest anti-Christian project. I don’t believe that America was chosen by God when Billy Sunday revivals ended with the men who got saved signing up to fight in WW I. I don’t think America was chosen by God when Franklin D. Roosevelt led the troops in singing “Onward Christian Soldiers,” when on a Battleship in the Atlantic. I don’t think America was chosen by God when God was invoked on the side of the abolitionists or the temperance movement idiots. So, objectively speaking, “yes, American was chosen by God,” but subjectively America was not chosen by God to do any number of things that it has done as invoked by cracked head clergy.
2.) “American Christianity no longer looks like it once did at the founding of the Christian nation, but it is still nevertheless a nation of Christian people.”
How anyone can say this with a straight face just leaves me dumbfounded. I allow it is possible that I don’t get out and around enough but in my world America is not even close to being a nation of Christian people. The fact that we have stood by while over 60 million infants have been tortured and slaughtered in my estimation gives the lunacy to the quote above.
3.) “The US was founded as a Christian nation. It was only the federal government that was founded as a secular entity, so as to not infringe upon the established religion of these Christian states.”
Christian Nationalism — p. 12-13
Yes, and we all know how that plan worked to allow the Federal Government to be a secular entity and how the FEDS indeed did not infringe on the established religion of the Southern States in 1861.
Torba and Isker seem not to realize that secular is not possible if by that you mean a position or institution that has no religious underpinning.
4.) Wherein Torba and Isker teach me that my forefathers were abolitionists.
“As Christian Nationalists, we generally do not seek to apply uniform laws across the entire US of America, except in the most egregious circumstances, such as for example the legal acceptance of slavery which our forefathers (abolitionists) sought to abolish…”
How do Torba and Isker explain the Bible’s uniform acceptance of slavery as a Institution that is acceptable among Christians?
5.) File Under: Somebody notify Charlemagne;
“Christians do not believe in forced or coercive conversion to Christianity. This is inconsistent with our religion’s teaching on free-will (II Pt. 3:9) and all conversions to Christianity must be voluntary.”
Christian Nationalism — p. 10
Actually, the idea that Christianity can’t be forced or coercive is historically a relatively recent idea. Charlemagne believed in forced conversions. The Crusaders certainly believed in forced coercion. The tribes set free by Cortez were glad for their forced conversions.
Look, I get it that we desire men to see the reasonableness of Christianity and so bow the knee to Christ willingly but I’m willing to go all Boniface on peoples if the need calls for it.
6.) “Christians are integralists and not theocrats, in that we have favored two separate institutions, one for religion (the Church) and one for government (the state).”
Christian Nationalism — p. 9
Actually, inasmuch as Christians expect both of those separate institutions to each be Christian they have indeed always throughout history been both integralists and theocrats. Where they have not been theocrats they have not been Christian.