Dr. Alan Strange of Mid America Seminary keeps podcasting on the evils of Christian Nationalism and we here keep responding to his “R. Scott Clark with a Southern accent” routine.
1.) Strange denies that the Scripture gives detail as to what Biblical government looks like. He is fine with saying there are principles that Scripture gives on government but there are not specific details. Here we have to carefully dissect. It is true that Scripture does not teach that only Monarchy is acceptable as a form of Government or Republicanism, etc. However, Scripture is clear that whether Monarchy or Republicanism all Magistrates must bow the knee to Jesus Christ. Now, bowing the knee to Jesus Christ means that Magistrates seek to implement a law-order that consistently reflects the law-order limned out in Scripture. That is a law order that has the Ten Commandments as the foundation with the general equity of the civil law as the case law. This would exist in all forms of government despite the structural and procedural differences found in varying governments. This much would be required for every Christian who would hold the position of Magistrate, regardless of the form of government within which they are operating.
We should be clear here that Dr. Alan Strange would certainly oppose what is proffered above. The disagreement here is regarding the abiding validity of the general equity of God’s civil law. Christians support that. Egghead Amillennial professors don’t support that.
2.) Strange appeals to the Jerusalem council in Acts 15 to prove that Christians shouldn’t be seeking to “Israelitize” the world. Strange’s implication here is, “just so Christians shouldn’t seek to Christianize” the world. Strange, presumably, comes to this conclusion by reasoning that just as the Jerusalem council did not require the Gentiles to become cultural Jews (Israelites) before they became Christians so nations today do not need to become culturally Christian before they become Christian. The Gentiles did not need to accept Israelite law.
The problem here with this reasoning (and it is a HUGE problem) is that the issues in the Jerusalem council were issues that dealt with the ceremonial law, and not the civil law. The Jerusalem council decided that the Gentile nations did not have to embrace the ceremonial law of the OT before they could become Christian. Of course, the weakness in Strange’s analogy/argument here is that no one on our side of the fence is looking for the nations to take up God’s ceremonial law which has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. What the anti-rabid Amillennialists who oppose Strange’s strange thinking desire is for all nations to bow the knee to Christ and His moral law and the general equity of the civil law which is based on God’s moral law. Strange, like all rabid Amillennialists does not want that. Strange desires that Nations be able to make up God’s law as they go. Strange does not want a hard standard, preferring instead generic principles as opposed to a “blueprint.”
3.) Strange marches out the old canard that because Christ said “My kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36)” that therefore we should not expect Christian nations. Strange takes Jesus’ phrase “My kingdom is not of the world,” to mean “My kingdom is not in this world.” This is a misinterpretation of mammoth proportions.
John 18:36 does not teach that the Lord Christ abdicated His authority in the public square. What is being taught in this phrase was captured by the Scholar B. F. Wescott,
B. F. Wescott speaking of John 18:36 could comment,
“Yet He did claim a sovereignty, a sovereignty of which the spring and the source was not of earth but of heaven. My Kingdom is not of this world (means it) does not derive its origin or its support from earthly sources.”
The Gospel According To John — pg. 260
Dr. Greg Bahnsen echoing Wescott’s work wrote,
“‘My kingdom is not of [ek: out from] this world,’” is a statement about the source — not the nature — of His reign, as the epexegetical ending of the verse makes obvious: ‘My kingdom is not from here [enteuthen].’ The teaching is not that Christ’s kingdom is wholly otherworldly, but rather that it originates with God Himself (not any power or authority found in creation.)”
Dr. Greg Bahnsen
God & Politics — pg. 27
The appeal to the Jerusalem council to disprove Christian Nationalism in no way follows.
3.) Strange seems to think that Christian Nationalism works to the end of prioritizing the impact of Christianity upon nations and cultures above the impact of Christianity upon individuals. Strange seems to think the values of Christian Nationalism contradict the values of the kingdom of God and His Christ. This is a curious critique. It is curious because it seems to presuppose that kingdom of God values for individuals cannot (or maybe should not) fit, hand in glove, with kingdom of God values for nations. Strange’s concern, as such, is that Christians will concentrate more on building Christian nations vs. concentrating on heralding Christ for individuals. However, there is a unnatural division here. Christianity is not only a faith that converts it is a faith that sanctifies. Strange seems to want to see individual conversion but doesn’t think so much of a sanctification that yields to peoples bowing their knee to Jesus Christ in every area of life.
4.) Keep in mind that if we should not be aiming at Christian nations, per Strange, neither should be aim at rearing Christian families, because if we raise Christian families we are sure to eventually get Christian nations. I mean, emphasizing the necessity to raise Christian families may well lead to a wrong prioritizing of our kingdom values so that we no longer are evangelizing individuals.
5.) Strange says the central value of Christianity is that individuals, churches, and families should be walking with Christ. But if nations are merely families magnified (and that is the etymological definition of “nation”) why should Christian Nationalism be excised from this dynamic? Why individuals, churches, and families, but not nations?
6.) Strange insists that the central message of Christianity is to herald Christ to individuals and complains that Stephen Wolfe’s with his Christian Nationalism is teaching to the contrary that the central message of Christianity is to subdue the nations of the world for Christ even if the individuals of those nations aren’t saved. Here we wonder if we are in false dichotomy-ville? Isn’t this a case of “both/and” and not “either/or?” Christianity has the answer not only to the question, “How shall I be saved” but it also has the answer to the question, “How shall we then live.” To play the answers to these two questions off against one another as if one is prioritized above the other is not wise.
Honestly, on this point, it strikes me that Dr. Strange, like so many Amillennialists are just frightened out of their minds by the idea that Christianity might someday be in the ascendancy in forming governments, social-orders and cultures.
7.) Strange is appalled by the idea that Christians might want to see the Christianization of the world. This is Strange’s rabid Amillennialism talking. The Amillennialist teaches that the world — and the nations thereof — will not be Christianized before the return of Jesus Christ therefore they resist anything that aims at the organized promotion wherein the nations of the world are Christianized. The pessimistic eschatology of Amillennialism drives their opposition to Christian nationalism.
8.) Strange also brings up his horror that Christians might actually use the sword to force the anti-Christ pagans to bow the knee. I would guess that this is driven by the Pietism that often walks hand in hand with Amillennialism. I do not see a problem with bringing the sword to bear to press a Christian social order upon Christ haters just as Augustine promoted in the Donatist controversy, just as Charlemagne did among the Franks, just as the Crusader states did among the Muslims, just as Cromwell did among the Catholics. Indeed, I have concluded that many Christians would rather themselves be ruled by the sword of pagans then rule by the sword in the name of Christ over Christ haters. The logic seems to be it is more pleasing to Jesus for His name to be set aside by the Christ hater than it is pleasing to Jesus to rule over the Christ hater consistent with His gracious law-Word.
9.) Dr. Alan Strange insists that the Christian message is “spiritual” implying that Wolfe’s nationalism is “carnal.” In Pietistic speak “spiritual” means non-corporeal and abstract. Strange equates “spiritual” as only preaching the Gospel as the means to transform a nation. Honestly, this seems to deny the Reformed idea that the magistrate bears the sword. If a magistrate is Christian and if he bears the sword consistent with God’s gracious Law-Word then why shouldn’t he force people to conform to God’s gracious Law-Word even if they don’t internally believe it? Further, if wicked magistrates become tyrants (as they currently are) then why shouldn’t God’s people not resist as our forefathers resisted wicked magistrates when they had as a motto “No King, but King Jesus?” Why shouldn’t satanic magistrates be pulled down by Christians by force if satanic magistrates are seeking to overthrow Jesus Christ to be replaced by Christian magistrates who will enforce God’s gracious Law-Word upon the people?
10.) Strange argues that Christians should pursue, as Kingdom value, being conquered. He exalts weakness, suffering and losing. Now, I have no problem with teaching that the Christian will suffer and know weakness and will lose, however those realities arise in the context of seeking to conquer for the crown rights of Jesus Christ. Strange makes it very clear his Pietistic Amillennial Christianity has no interest in manfully conquering. In the end these massively contrasting eschatologies (Rabid Amillennialism vs. garden variety Postmillennialism) end up yielding up a very different type of Christianity.
11.) If Strange glories in being “last” in terms of kingdom values, if he desires to be weak, if he desires to suffer he will revel in this rebuttal.
12.) Strange insists that Dr. Stephen Wolfe’s vision of Christian nationalism will lead to the marginalization of the Church. Further, Strange insists that Wolfe Christian nationalism vision is toxic and dangerous. Let us return the compliment and insist that Strange’s vision of the impact (or lack of impact) of Christianity on nations will lead the Church back to the Roman Amphitheatre with Christians being dined upon by wild beasts. Strange’s vision is blasphemous and traitorous to Jesus Christ and His divine Kingship.
13.) There is irony in all this. Strange complains about the militancy of Christian nationalism and yet Strange himself desires to impose his eschatology of defeat upon all Christians. In the end the rabid Amillennialist Strange is every bit as militant as the Christian Nationalist Wolfe.
14.) Strange insists that we in America do not really live in “real tyranny.” 60 million dead babies would testify to the contrary.
15.) Strange, at the end, even plays the “Wolfe says some things that sound racist” card. Strange even invokes the specter of Nietzsche and Mein Kampf. Strange clearly has been sipping at the WOKE Kool-Aide. Frankly, this horse hockey probably outrages me more than anything else Strange said. It is just so ridiculous and over the top.