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Christendom or Chaos

by Pastor Andrew Isker

Recently there has been criticism of the idea of Christian Nationalism from some corners of ostensibly conservative evangelical church. For instance, Executive Vice President of G3 Ministries, Scott Aniol posted the following:

This is an extremely common take among many well-meaning Christian leaders (and among those who are far less sincere). And it is sincerely wrong.

It is an opinion borne out of the very short-lived period in American society where Christianity had clearly lost its hold on the institutions that shaped American culture and social mores, but anti-Christian ideology had not yet replaced it. This is a period of time that commentator Aaron Renn describes as “Neutral World.”

From the late 80s until the early 2000s, liberalism reigned supreme. The idea that there was a neutral “marketplace of ideas” dominated the landscape, and evangelical Christians operated accordingly. Gone were the days of simply assuming everyone held to Christian moral principles. Instead, Christians made their appeals to a thoroughly secular—though not yet anti-Christian—people. Within such a paradigm, the idea that the death of nominally Christian culture seemed like a good thing. Society kept on chugging along without being overtly Christian, and since there was no societal benefit to professing faith in Christ, only genuine Christians would do so.

For those who have a fundamental commitment to the basic principles of liberalism, this was an ideal world. Many well-meaning, conservative evangelicals approach faith like enlightenment liberals. It is something you have to rationally assent to as a free individual, not something that is imposed upon you by outside influences with authority over you. And with that attitude toward faith in mind, living in a “neutral” marketplace of ideas, where people would be allowed to freely and rationally apprehend the truths of the Christian faith was the ideal situation. For that brief moment in time in Neutral World, individualistic, rationalistic Christianity was in its heyday.

But those days were never going to last. Once the institutions that undergirded our entire society shed even their nominal Christianity, an anti-Christian Negative World was inevitable. Neutral World was like those few seconds when Wile E. Coyote had run off the cliff but hadn’t looked down yet. You might even remember the militant “New Atheists,” men like Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens in the waning days of Neutral World. It may seem quaint now, but in those days, they actually would argue that you don’t need Christian morality for the society we (then) had. That stuff was simply common to mankind, born out of universal human solidarity. As laughable as such ideas proved to be, many Christian leaders who still operate from the standpoint of Neutral World not only believed it then but still believe it now. They think if they refuse to open their eyes to Negative World around them, it doesn’t exist. They think they can be Wile E. Coyotes who have the ability to fly because they never look down. But when they finally do look down, there won’t be any getting up from this fall.

Anti-Christian Negative World is here. The society that Neutral World-enjoyers thought could “be good without God” has collapsed. The very same week that a trans girl murdered six Christians, every major institution in America celebrated and outdid each other in proclaiming their support for this group. Every form of sexual perversion is celebrated, and any criticism of it is all but illegal. Every sociological statistic that signifies societal health is in freefall. The young people brought up in this social chaos are more depressed and suicidal, and drug-addicted than any generation that preceded them. Our major cities are unlivable, and crime is trending toward surpassing historic highs, even bearing in mind the numbers are almost certainly being cooked. And this sociological chaos we are experiencing only seems to be the beginning. No one in his right mind has any reason to think things won’t get much worse. We have been put through the New Atheist “can we be good without God?” sociological experiment, and the conclusion is a resounding “no!” Negative World is here, and it is not going anywhere soon.

The basis for Neutral World Christianity cannot hold up in Negative World. The idea that human beings are tabula rasae that are completely empty vacuums whose sincere beliefs are not shaped (much less imposed) from the outside is rendered an absurdity. The experience of the last three years has demonstrated this with absolute clarity. Those who held that Enlightenment liberal ideas — being only those which were voluntarily arrived at — could be a “sincere” belief have been forever refuted.

What is undeniable today is the fact that just because a belief is imposed upon someone does not mean that a person, therefore, does not sincerely believe it. The belief that a cloth mask would protect you from a deadly respiratory virus became both a religious dogma and a very sincere belief for millions of people. This was a belief that was imposed by force. The idea that America was an incorrigibly racist society where police indiscriminately executed black men and were in need of radical restructuring was a belief that was imposed by force. It is a belief that tens of millions of people nevertheless hold sincerely. The belief that homosexuality is benign and no different than heterosexuality and that men and women can transition into the opposite sex is a belief that was imposed on our society; nevertheless, tens of millions today sincerely believe it.

The fact is that human beings are not blank slates and never were. From the moment of your birth, human beings with authority over you impose beliefs upon you. Under normative circumstances, most people believe the same things their parents do because their parents impose those beliefs upon them. This doesn’t mean your parents were consciously and actively indoctrinating a particular ideology upon you. It simply means that their authority is real and that through this authority, they are teaching you what is right and what is wrong, what you should love and what you should hate. This is how God built the world. It is implicit in the Fifth Commandment. And the institutions that have power over the society in which you live operate along similar principles. The universities, the economic powers, and the political rulers cannot not wield cultural and religious influence. It is a question of “which” religion they will influence their people to hold, not “whether” they will influence them. The idea of religious neutrality was always a liberal pipe dream. And the adoption of the religion of wokeness by America’s institutions has made that obvious to all but the most irreparably deluded.

What Negative World calls for is a much more aggressive Christian faith. A Christianity that does not fear Christendom but embraces it. The Neutral World Christian leader recoils at the idea of nations that have formally adopted Christianity as their religion. “That’s not authentic! That’s not genuine! You are producing false converts!” He screams. The Christian leader that has properly adapted to Negative World has no such fears. He knows that the choice is between institutions imposing Christian morality on your society or institutions imposing anti-Christian morality on your society. The choice is between the King of Nineveh declaring the entire city must fast at the preaching of Jonah (Jonah 3:1-10) or between the Woke Globalist Overlords castrating your sons, lopping off the breasts of your daughters.

There never was an option for a neutral public square. That was an illusion. And it was only even briefly possible because of millennia of Christian capital built up by our ancestors. Once the gospel has discipled a nation, there is no going back to some other way of life. A world without the Christian faith governing our institutions is a world where revolutionary and destructive counterfeit Christianity reigns supreme. That is fundamentally what wokeness is, a Christian heresy, a Christ-less Christianity. It is a world at war with reality itself.

It is impossible to overstate just how utterly foolish it is to think that the problem of a few people thinking they are Christians when they are not is worth ushering in the destruction of a civilization that our ancestors spent many lifetimes building. It is like a doctor euthanizing his patient because he had a bad ingrown toenail. It is not just malpractice; it is criminal. Of course, Christendom is not perfect. No serious person would argue that it is. But the most tender mercies of post-Christian wokedom will make the very worst problems of Christendom seem like blessings.

The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:8, “For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?” The highest priority of Christian leaders today must be to provide a vision for our people. The Neutral World vision of “persecution is great for the church, so just embrace it” is not only an unclear sound, it is dangerously wrong and naive. Persecution can be a refining fire, but it also can produce the destructions of the church that will take centuries to recover from. The Christian faith was all but totally destroyed in East Germany because of less than 50 years of Communist rule (see right). How many thousands of people would have otherwise lived faithful Christian lives and avoided the temporal misery of Communism and the eternal misery of damnation if this had not been the case? What’s worse is that persecution not only destroys the faith but also incentivizes collaboration with the ruling regime. Which is worse, nominal Christianity under Christendom producing a false profession in some individuals or an anti-Christian society producing false churches that shipwreck the faith of millions?

Instead of attempting to put the toothpaste back in the tube of a secular, neutral public square, we must give our people a vision of a triumphant Christianity once again. The Neutral World Christian likes the idea of LARPing as an earlier era Christian suffering under Roman persecution, but the persecution wasn’t just pointless suffering. Rather than Constantine’s conversion being the great tragedy that undermined the suffering of faithful Christians for all those years, his conversion was the point of their blood being poured out. Jesus Christ is the King of kings and Lord of lords. That means the emperor of the world was always supposed to bend the knee to Him. That must be the vision we provide our people with today. Your suffering is not meaningless or for vague “personal growth.” Your suffering will produce fruit. And the fruit of it is this: every knee shall bow and tongue confess that “Jesus Christ is Lord.”

Andrew Isker is the pastor of 4th Street Evangelical Church in Waseca, MN. He is a graduate of Minnesota State University and Greyfriar’s Hall Ministerial Training School, and he has served churches in Missouri, West Virginia, and Minnesota. He is the author (with Andrew Torba) of Christian Nationalism, and the author of the forthcoming book, The Boniface Option. Andrew, his wife Kara, and their five children reside in his hometown of Waseca, MN. He can be found on Gab @BonifaceOption.