The Heresy of Christian Nationalism : Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD

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109 Responses

  1. bob1 says:

    Here, here!

    Good stuff, Duane.

    One problem with Xn nationalism is that the nationalism soon becomes the driving force. The Christianity becomes subsumed and dangerously intertwined with it.

    I think it was CS Lewis who maybe first noted this, can’t remember which book it’s in. But he said the problem, for example, with Xn feminism is that it soon ceases being very Xn but is taken over by the feminism. That’s what can happen when you try and marry the faith to any cause, feminism or nationalism or whatever. In a situation like this, theology ceases becoming theology and just becomes posturing.

    I think in the 20th and 21st centuries (especially the 20th), there have been so much bloodshed, destruction and death from nations who wanted to devour other nations. Another reason the Church needs to keep its own individual identity. In Nazi Germany, for example, the “Church” dangerously tied itself to Nazi ideology, with horrific results.

  2. Mike E says:

    Thank you Duane for another insightful article in which you bring in the historical spiritual roots of the church. It is good to recall that the church pre-dated America by thousands of years. To me, I always come back to first John two, where the apostle reminds us not to love the world, that is the world system, because everything in it is antithetical to the Father. I must admit the temptation to scorn and despise those who condemn Christians on the basis of political belief. I do get angry, but mostly very sad.

  3. Duane Arnold says:

    Bob1

    Many thanks! To be honest, the example of the German Church keeps me up at night…

  4. Duane Arnold says:

    Mike E

    “I do get angry, but mostly very sad.”

    I think you speak for many of us here…

  5. Open24Hours says:

    Since childhood I could easily succumb to patriotic fervor. I was turning 8 around the bicentennial. I so strongly pulled for Reagan in 1980 as a 12-year-old because my patriotism was offended by the national malaise and the Iran hostage crisis. In 1991 I tuned in to the Gulf War. Yet I also had occasionally disquieting moments beginning in 1991 about the extreme militancy displayed on some Christian television programs in the early 90s. I lamented in my journal at the time that all of the divided and warring sects and denominations of the American Jesus would happily flock together in “unity” around the American Dollar if the government tried to take away tax-exempt status. Fast-forward to today, everything from the quack prosperity laughing revival-type charismatics to the stern King James Only Baptist cessationists have flocked together in the “unity” of an insurgency to seize American Power.

    If their seizure of power succeeds, then the internecine strife will resume, just as in the Southern Baptist Convention following the conservative seizure of power there.

    Two crucial books helped me to settle my own inward tensions of being a citizen of this country while setting my eyes on a nation not of this world. The first was Greg Beale’s “We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry.” When I look around at what the insurgents have become, I shudder at the implications. The second book was George Kalantzis’ “Caesar and the Lamb: Early Christian Attitudes on War and Military Service.” It gave me a grounding on the consensus early Christian view of our relation to the state, before the Constantinian Christian Empire was birthed. It is a perspective very unlike that of the insurgents.

  6. CM says:

    Duane,

    To piggyback off of this, I would say Christian Nationalism has become an idol. Some quotes from Tim Keller in his book Counterfeit Gods:

    “An idol is anything more important to you than God. Anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God. Anything you seek to give you what only God can give. Anything that is so central and essential to your life, that should lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living.”

    Nothing wrong with patriotism, success, etc perse. To quote Keller, “It (idolatry) means turning a good thing into an ultimate thing.” When patriotism becomes an ultimate thing, it becomes an idol.

    “The human heart is a factory of idols. Every one of us is, from his mother’s womb, expert in inventing idols.” –John Calvin

    More quote gems from the book are here:

    https://www.danielim.com/2018/02/20/top-quotes-on-counterfeit-gods-by-timothy-keller/

  7. Duane Arnold says:

    CM

    Idolatry is the heart of the problem…

  8. CM says:

    Duane,

    I have been saying for quite a while that the Evangelical Right has sold its birthright for a bowl of political porridge and your post took the words right out of my mouth. The Court Evangelical leaders and their followers were so desperate to maintain their influence, power, and status in society that they hitched their wagon to unregenerate pagan con artist. Unfortunately, this will have the opposite effect, as it will only hasten their demise and influence.

    To quote Jean de La Fontaine: “A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.”

  9. Duane Arnold says:

    Open24Hours

    ” It is a perspective very unlike that of the insurgents.”

    Indeed, the current insurgents are barely recognizable as Church…

  10. Open24Hours says:

    I’m afraid that Christian nationalism is a manifestation of a deeper, hidden idol, and not an idol itself. That is to say, Christian nationalism is but an angry, authoritarian, domineering Oz head floating between fierce columns of fire. I wonder about what is hiding behind the curtain.

  11. Duane Arnold says:

    Open24Hours

    The fact that we can read the Barmen Declaration and find it to be of contemporary relevance should concern us all…

  12. Em says:

    I do find that the respect and adherence to our Constitution and Bill of Rights had much to do with what made the U.S., But…
    Coincidentally, my morning reading today was Deuteronomy 9. No matter what Satan does our triune God IS the organizer and guide of history’s outcome – using imperfect man? Now that is a miracle… 😇

  13. Duane Arnold says:

    Em

    Good to see you back!

  14. CM says:

    Speaking of Christian nationalists, it turns out the real reason Jerry Falwell, Jr endorsed Trump in 2016 was a part of deal arranged with fixer lawyer Michael Cohen to get back photos of Junior, his wife, and the pool boy doing the swinger lifestyle whereby Junior watched his wife doing the dead with the pool boy:

    https://religionnews.com/2020/08/24/jerry-falwell-resigns-liberty-university-alleged-affair-trump-pool-attendant/

    Something about birds of a feather and all that.

  15. Jim says:

    CM,

    I seriously doubt that anyone here thinks that trump is a good man. You’re bleating. Repeatedly. We all understand that dirty people do dirty things, but I’m pretty sure that no one is interested in the details.

  16. Jean says:

    I see two serious problems with an over realized loyalty or fealty by a church to a political leader:

    (1) If you can’t or won’t criticize the immoral behavior and/or policies of the political leader, are you not then implicitly supporting that behavior and/or policies? In that case are you not partaking at the table of the Lord and at the same time the table of Satan, and thereby defiling the table and good name of the Lord?

    (2) If you can’t criticize the injustice perpetrated by a political leader, then how can you evangelize the victims of such injustice? What kind of a credible witness could you be in such a case? Are those victims also people for whom Christ died, who are within the definition of “nations” which are the objects of disciple making by the church?

    I think the reason that a good number of conservative Republicans in this year’s presidential election are either voting for Biden or are not voting for either candidate are doing so because they are not willing to submit to the level of fealty that Trump requires of his supporters. If politicians have such fortitude, one would think that church leaders would have even more of such fortitude and independence.

  17. Jim says:

    Jean, please name a politician who is not worthy of our scorn.

  18. Jean says:

    Jim, I do not promote the scorn of any politician. I think some politicians evidence more honesty than others. More fitness for the responsibilities of the office than others. More loyalty to the needs of the American people than others. I think in these and other issues of character, politicians fall on a spectrum from very good at one end to very poor at the other.

    But the point of my previous comment is simply that if a politician is, in the Christian voters mind, correct on an issue, the voter may wish to affirm his/her support of that policy and may even choose that for them that policy trumps all other policies and would lead to their vote. However, that same voter should IMO have the independence to clearly reject the immoral policies or methods employed by that same politician. A voter IMO could vote for a politician based on certain policies while working strongly against immorality or injustice promoted by that same politician.

  19. CM says:

    Jim,

    How many Evangelicals endorsed Trump because Falwell, Jr did and based upon his recommendation? The bottom line is that Trump’s fixer Cohen had dirt on Falwell, Jr. and deal to get the pictures back was Junior endorsing Trump. Until that time, Evangelicals by and large were not supportive of Trump at all.

    Trump does not give a rat’s a*s about Christianity nor Evangelicals and sees them as useful idiots. Michael Steele perhaps says it best:

    “All y’all want to play this little game that Donald Trump is like you, you’re stupid. You’re being played. You’re getting punked. But what’s so bad about it is you’re complicit in your own punking.”

  20. Em says:

    Christian nationalism just may be a red herring…
    If we can take our focus off of the “evil” Donald, we may find that there is a serious and insidious move underway intent on the destruction of our Republic
    Just sayin’…… 🙆

  21. Mike E. says:

    CM–“I have been saying for quite a while that the Evangelical Right has sold its birthright for a bowl of political porridge” Yes..and remember Esau. “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. (Hebrews 12:13-17.) LORD, have mercy on us all.

  22. Mike E. says:

    Em..couldn’t agree more. I’ve been focusing in on the spiritual warfare aspect of the politics as well. Ephesians 6 speaks about the principalities and powers. In Daniel, we find a rather terrifying description of angelic beings warring in the spiritual realm all over nations. Even with this fact though, we realize humans aren’t absolved from their participation in it. The enemy has us all at war with each other and many having effectively forgotten the real battle.

  23. Jim says:

    CM,

    The 2A crowd’s view is very similar to Steele’s. I don’t agree with the NYT’s view of Falwell Jr as a major influencer, but maybe that’s because no one I know has any idea who he is. You’re still bleating. We know orange man bad. No one here disagrees except perhaps Jean, who has never ever shown a hint of scorn towards any politician here on PP. I must have mistaken him with someone else.

  24. Duane Arnold says:

    Falwell is not a cause or influencer… he’s a symptom. We need to get our house in order, but I doubt that we have the will…

  25. Jim says:

    Duane,

    I’m not sure what Jr, or daddy for that matter, has to do with my house, or anything that I would call our house. What would I do if I had the will?

  26. Jim says:

    In other words, God saved me 38 years (and one week) ago. In my prior 23 years on the planet, I knew nothing of God. It took me about a month to figure out that there are saints and charlatans under the banner. You’re the historian, and know more than most of us about the tarnished history of those who claim to be the church. Are things any worse today?

  27. Jim says:

    In more other words…. my house is my wife of 41 years and I. I need to be concerned with how I do as a husband. Our house raised three children, who are all married and have their own houses. For 25 years, my concern was, how am I doing as a father. One of those houses contains my 4 grandchildren, and my concern is… you get the drill. I have a level of influence among my friends and with the believers I share my life with, but what does a Falwell have to do with any of that? If you were to convince me that my tribe (listed above) were affected in any way by the Falwell’s and their ilk, what would you ask of me?

  28. Duane Arnold says:

    Jim

    As I said, Falwell is a symptom. It seems to me that this is a time to reject the “grab for power ” that allowed him to exercise influence…

  29. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    Falwell Jr is a symptom, alongside Bill Hybels and Tony Jones and more people across the spectrum of American celebrity Christendom than anyone needs to name. It’s not just in the Christian scene. There’s Bill Cosby, Lance Armstrong, Sandunsky, and Nassar … the star system is revealing its grisly underbelly across the board. I think Duane is getting at the right idea, but then I’m a self-admitted reader of Jacques Ellul who had a warning against Christians trying to seize power over the last half century or so.

    What makes the evangelical moment so dubious is they had a chance to learn from of the sell-out mistakes that the mainlines made during the Cold War and didn’t. Per a comment I vaguely remember Michael making here years ago, an Anabaptist rejection of seizing power seems due for renewed attention.

    I am wondering if when Duane said Falwell Jr. is a symptom that it’s possible to react with too narrow a definition of what Falwell Jr has been a symptom “of”. I don’t think it’s confined to celebrity Christians, it’s something more, something about the entitlement and different standards celebrities and power brokers think they can live by than the standards they publicly expect of the rank and file. People who realize that leadership is first of all leading by example and then by precept, I believe, will get through these times, regardless of where they happen to land on the various spectrums. People who go for some kind of realpolitik are going to be shown for what they’ve been all along or, at best, will be seen to have feet of clay as brittle as the feet of those whose toes they rushed to step on, to belabor the metaphor a bit. Jesus taught that it’s hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, maybe in our era it’s hard for someone to follow Christ and seek the kind of celebrity that’s considered “being a witness” beyond being the most loving Christian you can to everyone around you and discover who your neighbor is rather than deciding in advance who isn’t your neighbor.

  30. directambiguity says:

    Jesus loves me more than you.

  31. Mike E. says:

    Jim: “If you were to convince me that my tribe (listed above) were affected in any way by the Falwell’s and their ilk, what would you ask of me?” Since Falwell Jr.’s father can be considered one of the pivotal players in the wedding of evangelical Christendom and partisan politics, essentially republican partisan politics, don’t you think you and your tribe have been affected by this (in my view, unholy) alliance between the church and worldly politics? Of course it has affected the entire church in America, and you and your tribe are part of that. We all are. What these folks do and don’t do have an immense effect on the church as a whole, since it has become so enmeshed with worldly power and influence, not to mention the “celebrity” aspect of their influence.

  32. Duane Arnold says:

    WenatcheeTheHatchet

    “Christians were never meant to be normal. We’ve always been holy troublemakers, we’ve always been creators of uncertainty, agents of dimension that’s incompatible with the status quo; we do not accept the world as it is, but we insist on the world becoming the way that God wants it to be. And the Kingdom of God is different from the patterns of this world.”
    ― Jacques Ellul

  33. Steven says:

    Nicely put!

  34. Did not know of Jacques Ellul.
    Sounds like he articulated our relation to the World very well.

    CM is pointing out an obvious potential direction this story may take, one of criminal conduct.

  35. Duane Arnold says:

    Nathan Priddis

    Ellul is worth reading, although I don’t agree with all his views. Especially relevant today is his book, “Propaganda”…

  36. Xenia says:

    All Christians in America are to some extent affected by this because it besmirches all churches and church-goers. It gives the unbelievers and those on the margins of unbelief another excuse to hate Christians, or to mock us, or to be dismissive. The real reason people hate churches and Christianity is because they hate God and don’t want to be under His reign, but any excuse will do. So it’s getting tougher to say to a room of random strangers “I am a Christian, I believe the Bible, and I believe without Christ there is no salvation” but we must be willing to do this, no matter how badly some “Christians” behave.

    Junior was taught “once saved, always saved.” He probably said a prayer when he was a little kid and told all his life that nothing he could do would take him out of the Father’s hand. He was probably taught every Sunday that to think otherwise meant he was on the road to Rome and was practicing works righteousness and working his way to heaven. Well, he was taught wrong. But he’s youngish and still has time to repent. We all do.

    We don’t need more details. We don’t need to gossip. Enough is known to make the judgement that Jr. needs to leave Christian ministry and do something different while he repents.

  37. Xenia says:

    Repenting, for Jr and for all people, means more than saying “I’m sorry if I offended you,” or “My wife did it, not me,” or “Yeah, I make a mistake but the circumstances gave me no choice” or just plain (as I have heard people say after committing an egregious sin) “Sorry, Lord!” Repentance means removing everything from your life that contributed to the sin. It means going to everyone involved and saying, without waffling, “I sinned before God and before you, this is what I did (tell exactly what you did without waffling) and before God and before you, I repent, and with God’s help and your prayers, I don’t intend to ever do such a thing again and here are the steps I have taken to make sure I never do it again.”

    Then live your life as if you meant what you said. Be hard on yourself. Maybe a little fasting…. Repentance is not a one-time “Sorry, folks!” It is the work of a lifetime.

  38. JoelG says:

    “The real reason people hate churches and Christianity is because they hate God and don’t want to be under His reign, but any excuse will do.”

    How do you know this?

  39. Xenia says:

    Because if they love God, they would love His people.

  40. Duane Arnold says:

    Xenia

    First a correction, and then an affirmation.

    Mr. Falwell is not ordained or in ministry, he is a lawyer.

    However you wrote something that triggered my memory. The very first thesis of the 95 posted on the door by Luther said this: “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said “Repent,” he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance…”

  41. Steve says:

    Xenia,. I respectfully disagree with you on what junior was probably taught growing up. I don’t think Jerry Falwell senior was ever reformed. I think he may have even labeled Calvinism heresy.

    I think Liberty University at one time banned some of the writings of the Puritans. If anything the university was very legalistic, fundamentalist and political but not reformed.

  42. Xenia says:

    Mr. Falwell is not ordained or in ministry, he is a lawyer.<<<

    Yea, I know he is not a pastor. He is the head of a Christian institution and I doubt if most people really make the distinction in this case.

  43. Xenia says:

    Hi Steve, good to see you.

    When I was a plain old non-Calvinist Baptist, and when I attended my local non-Calvinist Calvary Chapel, we were taught Once Saved, Always Saved. I wasn’t even thinking about Calvinism, never crossed my mind. I was also told that thinking otherwise was Catholicky. That’s been my experience, it may not hold true for all Baptists, reformed or not.

    I am happy to see you back on the PhxP!

    -Xenia

  44. JoelG says:

    “Because if they love God, they would love His people.”

    I’m not sure it’s that simple. I don’t believe unbelievers “hate” God. It’s a bit more complicated then that, in my opinion.

  45. Xenia says:

    Joel, I used to think that too but I’ve come to the conclusion that it is actually that simple.

    I am not talking about people who don’t know anything about God. I’m talking about people who know the general outline of the Gospel but reject it.

  46. Xenia says:

    But let’s not get hung up on the word “hate.” My point was: Jr’s fall does affect all American Christians because it gives unbelievers and marginal-just-about-ready-to-jump-ship believers another excuse to mock Christians/Christianity/Churches. My point was, this does not reflect the underlying reason, which is rebellion (if you prefer) against God. It is another excuse upon which they can hang their hats.

  47. Nancy Holmes says:

    My personal reflections on Once Saved Always Saved–not trying to get doctrinal at all. When I recommitted my life to God in 1973 at age 30, I was so traumatized by the sinful life that I had led that I suffered crushing depression and was barely able to function in my new life. I was attending a Baptist Church and was assured that once I was in God’s hand, He would never let me go. Believing this helped keep me from committing suicide–because I was so shaky that if I had believed that I could loose my salvation, I would have just ended it since I could not have endured the anxiety of worrying about it. I still cling to Him believing that He continually saves me from myself. If trusting God fully for my salvation is heresy then I am a cooked goose indeed.

  48. JoelG says:

    Okay I see. I agree about those who don’t know anything about Jesus. However I think there are many factors as to whether or not one chooses to to believe the Gospel or reject it that go beyond simply “hating” God. I’ll be honest and say sometimes I’m not a big God fan myself sometimes but that’s not because I “hate” him, I just don’t understand Him. Thank you for the replies.

  49. Xenia says:

    I still cling to Him<<<

    God bless you! Your goose is not cooked. 🙂

    Love, Xenia

  50. Steve says:

    Xenia,. Good to see you here as well. Calvary Chapel’s theology very similar to Liberty University in that for the most part they are Arminian and influenced by Charles Finney. If “once saved always saved” is taught in these systems it probably means something quite different than my understanding of regeneration within Calvinism. In other words I don’t believe you can loose your salvation in a Calvanistic reformed understanding.

  51. Xenia says:

    Steve, from conversations I’ve had with Calvinists, they say that if a person who formerly claimed to be one of the Elect now denies God, they were never one of the Elect to begin with. I believe that Jr. was taught the CC and non-Reformed Baptist OSAS theology, which I was also taught for decades.

    I’ve known enough people who appeared to be devout Christians for years who announced they no longer believed anymore to have doubts about the truth of OSAS. I think a Christian can become negligent in their walk with God, becoming more negligent over the years, allowing themselves to be overly scandalized by certain events, not participating in any of the things given to us by God to keep us firm in the faith, and one day realized they no longer believed. God did not lose them, they voluntarily jumped ship. He does not force people to stay in the faith but He offers an unlimited amount of resources to keep us in His hand. But he won’t force anyone who is determined to fall away.

  52. Xenia says:

    All to say, Jr may have thought he was going to heaven no matter how he behaved.

  53. Steve says:

    Xenia,. I’m reformed but I lean a bit on the sacramental side. For instance my baptism as an infant strengthens my faith if I start to doubt. Some Calvanists may frown on any doubt and say you were never saved or part of the elect. For instance how much faith is sufficient? That is fatalism and not from God and unfortunately these OSAS discussions can lead some astray. I can relate to Nancy that I’m a cooked goose if trusting God fully to forgive my sins is heresy even when I doubt. Ultimately I’m no different than Falwell Jr minus the money and the fame. I agree he should step down from ministry leadership though.

  54. Jean says:

    “I can relate to Nancy that I’m a cooked goose if trusting God fully to forgive my sins is heresy.”

    Lutherans would say saving faith is such trust, Steve.

    We would also say, and I think this was Xenia’s point, though from the perspective of EO, that if a person begins to despise the tools or means by which God sustains and strengthens our faith, one could find himself lured away into un-trust or unbelief. That is what falling away is.

  55. Xenia says:

    Jean, well said.

    Steve, it’s takes more than a few instances of doubt to “lose your salvation.” If that were the case, who could be saved? It’s a process over time, a year after years of increasingly ignoring God until one day you discover that not only do you no longer need Him, you find Him to be a nuisance, and finally, you no longer believe in Him at all. And even that can be a short-lived situation if the person is shocked back into belief.

    It’s not a matter of a few bad weeks or even a big sin. A few bad weeks of doubt (or even months or years) can be corrected and all sins can be forgiven.

    If a person describes themselves as “clinging to Jesus” they are about as safe in God’s hands as a person can be.

  56. Steve says:

    Jean,. The reformed would say that this “faith” is a gift. As one that has fallen away more than once, a doctrine that espouses one being saved over and over again is more than problematic to me. I understand that the EO doesn’t really have a developed soteriology in their tradition so I mean no offense to Xenia. I feel somewhat the same but not as strong with Lutherans so no offense to you as well. I just feel that bringing up the OSAS doctrine up is somewhat off topic in regards to Falwell. He just needs to step down from leadership period.

  57. Nancy Holmes says:

    I continue to hope for the doubters and wanderers–all those that struggle to believe that God is good in a world that frequently seems to manifest only evil. God is faithful when we are not–I believe that His is a pursuing love. I think of The Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson, that even with the old fashioned florid and overblown language communicates great truths.

    https://www.bartleby.com/236/239.html

  58. Jean says:

    Steve,

    “The reformed would say that this “faith” is a gift.”

    So do Lutherans.

    “As one that has fallen away more than once, a doctrine that espouses one being saved over and over again is more than problematic to me.”

    I find it more problematic that if a person falls away, he was never in a state of grace, or never had faith, or was never saved, to begin with. But who cares what I think, read the warnings in Scripture and believe them or not.

  59. Jean says:

    To say that someone who falls away was never saved, means that no one has assurance during life. Alternatively, no one falls away, which means apostates go heaven.

  60. Xenia says:

    I understand that the EO doesn’t really have a developed soteriology in their tradition so I mean no offense to Xenia. <<<

    No offense taken. This is a feature, not a bug.

  61. Xenia says:

    I kind of regret bringing the whole OSAS thing up, as it detracts from the purpose of Duane’s article.

  62. Duane Arnold says:

    Xenia

    No regrets… it’s a useful discussion. As for myself, my doubts are not about salvation (that’s God’s business) but about my own faith and faithfulness… It’s why I say, “Lord have mercy” so often in the liturgy…

  63. Steve says:

    Jean,. We are obviously using the term falling away differently. Do people sin? Would you be comfortable for me equating sinning with falling away? just wondering if sin in thought, word and deed every single day is a reality in every Christian life? How can we be in a state of grace when we sin? The law demands perfection. Read the scripture.

  64. Jim says:

    Mike E,

    I don’t know anyone on a personal level who has any idea who Jr is. Some of the older folks know who Sr was.

    Let’s say that I’m convinced that those I care about have been affected. My original question remains-what would you have me do?

    “We need to get our house in order, but I doubt that we have the will”.

    I have a strong will. What’s the plan?

  65. Jean says:

    Steve,

    “How can we be in a state of grace when we sin?” Steve, in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, “forgive us our trespasses.” We who call on “Our Father,” are also sinners in need of forgiveness. Only one in a state of grace can call God his/her Father.

    Moreover, in John’s first epistle:

    “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” Only in a person in a state of grace will confess his/her sins trusting in the mercy and forgiveness of God.

    Jesus in Matthew, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” He is still your brother, therefore still in the Body, even though he has sinned against you.

    And David in Psalm:

    “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
    whose sin is covered.
    2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
    and in whose spirit there is no deceit.”

    It doesn’t say, “Blessed in the one who never sinned (or who has not sinned)” but “whose transgression is forgiven. Therefore, to live in a state of grace is to live in a state of forgiveness for the sins which adhere to the old Adam, but which are not counted/reckoned/imputed against us because of the righteousness of faith, which is the counting/reckoning/imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us, poor sinners, through faith in Jesus, who fulfilled the entire Law for us.

    “The law demands perfection.” Agreed, and therefore the apostle teaches us that “by works of the law no one will be justified.” And, “if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”

  66. Jim says:

    Mike E,

    Let’s say I’m convinced. What’s the plan? What am i to do?

  67. Jim says:

    Sorry for the double post….

  68. Xenia says:

    I would describe “falling away” as a sustained, deliberate rejection of God.

    A person once believed, and then after a period of neglect, no longer believes and keeps it up for a good long while so it’s not just a fleeting period of doubt.

    It’s not, as some might think, a case of saved one day, unsaved the next, back to being saved the third day, out of the kingdom the next, etc. I’ve know people who believed this way and they went up to “get saved” pretty much every other week. And they were nervous wrecks, as you might suspect. Instead, it’s a long, drawn out process, which, IMO, is the only thing that really explains a lot of cases of former Christians I’ve seen.

    What about people who have long behaved as though they aren’t believers, who live for the world but if you ask them if they are still a Christian, they will say something like “I still believe in God…but” I would say such a soul in in serious danger.

  69. Steve says:

    Jean,. So I guess I never fell away only sinned if that makes it any less serious. But I’m with what Duane said about salvation. That’s God’s business. Lord have mercy is so appropriate for a liturgy if not in our daily prayers.

  70. Jean says:

    Xenia,

    “What about people who have long behaved as though they aren’t believers, who live for the world but if you ask them if they are still a Christian, they will say something like “I still believe in God…but” I would say such a soul in in serious danger.”

    IMO if someone believes in God, then they would believe in the same things God believes in. Therefore, they would hate sin and lament their residual sin. They would look at the cross and see the cost to Jesus of bearing our sins and of God’s terrible judgment against sin and Satan expressed in the tearing of the curtain in the temple in two from top to bottom, which brought darkness to the land for 3 hours, and which caused an earthquake and split the rocks. These are the things that someone who believes in God would also believe. Living for the world is incompatible with belief in God IMO.

  71. Xenia says:

    Hi Jim,

    Let’s say I’m convinced. What’s the plan? What am i to do?<<<

    Christians should just go about their lives in Christ, or as a Lutheran would say, be about their vocation, doing all things to the glory of God.

    We are affected because more and more people will despise us, but that's what Jesus promised would happen.

    The marginal person on the brink of jumping out of the Ark of Salvation because of current events should ask himself what his faith is in, Christ or human institutions. They must not judge God based on the deeds of men.

  72. Jean says:

    Steve,

    “So I guess I never fell away only sinned if that makes it any less serious.” Sinning is very serious. God is not mocked. Forgiveness by God doe not mean that a person will not suffer temporal punishment for sin. In fact, we all will face the death of the body because of our sin.

  73. Steve says:

    Jean,. Of course we should believe in the same thing God believes in. We should also behave the same way Jesus behaved which was sinless. Reality check is though we are sinners. And to be honest most of us have no idea how sinful we are. We are all much worse than we estimate of ourselves. The good news is God’s grace is much greater than we can imagine.

  74. Mike E. says:

    Jim, the fact is I have literally no idea what any of us should do. Only love God with all of our hearts and Our neighbors. I guess the question for all of us is exactly what does loving our neighbor entail?

  75. Jean says:

    Steve,

    Good word at 1:06 pm. I think I am drawn to the Lutheran tradition in large measure because both my vocation as an attorney and life experiences have coalesced into a view of human anthropology that is very, very, very low.

  76. Jim says:

    I agree Xenia, but neither of us issued a call to action.

  77. Duane Arnold says:

    Jim

    You may or may not agree, but tightening up the governance, transparency and financial auditing of 501.c.3 and 501.c.6 charities and organizations might be a start… money is often at the root of these scandals…

  78. Jim says:

    Here’s the thing. I have a phrase I use frequently. “Can’t change it”. It helps me greatly in business and in life. Why get angry (and possibly bitter) at my narcissist neighbor? Can’t change it. Why get upset about something Trump/Biden said or did. Can’t change it. Why concern myself with Jr? I could go on, but…

  79. Jim says:

    Duane, how to I make that happen? I hope that you see my point.

  80. Duane Arnold says:

    Jim
    I do see your point. My phrase for many situations is, “There is no solution”. Nonetheless, I think that in those areas in which change is desirable, we have a responsibility that extends beyond our immediate tribe and circumstances… Call it part of the social contract…

  81. Jim says:

    That was cute, Duane.

  82. Mike E. says:

    Xenia-“Christians should just go about their lives in Christ, or as a Lutheran would say, be about their vocation, doing all things to the glory of God.” 👍

  83. Duane Arnold says:

    Jim

    I’d thought of “enlightened self-interest”… but that was too obvious. Rousseau is better…

  84. Jean says:

    I would just note that nepotism is one of many of the structures of injustice that is prevalent in our country. Years ago, there was a consensus in America that inheritance taxes, which impacted the wealthiest Americans, was a salutary mechanism to limit the impacts of nepotism. That was, regrettably, “years ago.”

  85. Babylon's Dread says:

    First, I have not read the comments. The concept of American exceptionalism is clearly a notion that has a fluid meaning. If we relate it America as a “christian nation” we must note that Europe preceded any such claims by uniting church and state both before and after the Reformation. Virtually all European nations had a national religion being some form of Christianity. So there is no exception there for America. We clearly were founded with vestiges of our Christin faith and with no few exceptions to that faith.

    As per the core meaning of American Exceptionalism it seems to mean that America was somewhat impervious to the Marxist critique in that we had no historic aristocracy as did the nations Marxism destroyed. In that sense our exceptionalism held until the marxist critique morphed into the present day cultural form wherein aggrieved groups can apply critical theory by refusing to a appeased by any measure of reform short of destroying the institutions.

    So America has become wealthy, powerful, and the desire of immigrants all over the world. This evil racist nation has become the desire of all the nations. Envy is the driving force of wanting to destroy the nation that is.

    Someone built something here. Someone created a nation that other nations aspire and desire. Someone created a land of actual opportunity where being locked in a caste or class can be overcome by struggle, personal suffering, character and will. Someone or some power has been at work here.

    If I am being chastised for partnering with what has been built here then so be it. The builders seem to have something right. Never have I been a God and Country Christian but the critics are slowly winning me to that position.

    Everyone seems to want these lentils. They must be good fare. I think there is a kingdom at work in the midst of our muddling, not only here only but notably here. I think I’ll hold off on damning all of these “Christians” presumably evangelicals, since they are today’s whipping boy. In fact I think I will speak up for them every time I see them caricatured by those who seem to know better. Because someday people will justify violence against them since they are so roundly and universally caricatured and hated. That BLM fellow who wants to destroy the ethnocentric Jesus art knows that if you can destroy the icon you can soon attack the image bearer.

  86. Babylon's Dread says:

    I am not rejecting the critique of civil religion I am merely speaking up for what I see as troubling trends.

  87. Duane Arnold says:

    BD

    Lots to unpack here…

    Yes, the founders broke from the Church/State structure of Europe (although it remained in place in certain states until 1833). Some would contend that by tax advantages for churches and clergy, there is some sense of establishment still. As far as the faith is concerned, the vast majority of the founders were Deists, more informed by the enlightenment than by the historic faith.

    The first use of “American Exceptionalism” as a description was used by Joseph Stalin in reference as to whether or not the American communist party should attempt to introduce a Marxism that would conform more closely to the unique American scene. The concept of America being exceptional, however, goes back into the 19th century.

    I do believe in an America that is unique and, upon occasion, exceptional. This being said, it is a secular government and was meant to be so from its inception. It is clearly, by any definition, a kingdom of this world, or, as Augustine would say, the City of Man. As such, it is subject to the providence of God, as are other nation states. There was a time when to be a citizen of Rome was an ultimate aspiration, much as you describe America’s immigrant saga. Yet, Rome, as an empire, lies in dust. No matter its economic and military prowess, or its history of centuries, it was ultimately a City of Man, not the City of God. Someone or some power was at work there as well.

    As I said, the lentils of secular politics, whether in fifth century Rome or 21st century America, may feed us and our anger for a moment and allow us to raise our voice on what we see in contemporary society… but the City of Man is no substitute for the City of God. When we make it such, as in Christian Nationalism, we have chosen another path, which at its root, is the definition of heresy.

  88. Duane Arnold says:

    BD

    @9:03 I understand…

  89. CM says:

    Duane,

    HT: Augustine. It seems the church lately has followed more the example of Jerome rather than Augustine (Yes I am aware of their differing reactions to the sack of Rome by the Visigoths).

  90. Babylon's Dread says:

    However, “more informed by the enlightenment than by the historic faith” assumes too much declension between the two. Even the Enlightenment sat upon the worldview of Western Christianity. The founders may well have been less confessionally Christian but they stood upon a worldview that was deeply fashioned upon the narrative foundations of Christendom. Even the unbelieving Europe of today is heir of those as yet un-deconstructed foundations. When your assumptions are foundationally Christian your enlightenment critique has not yet held sway. I am not arguing for a Christian America in the sense of fundamentalism but in the sense of foundationalism.

    I have no doubt America will find its way to the ash heap along with the other kingdoms of this world. Some are rushing eagerly toward it in process their will be blood. Those who get demonized normally have their blood shed most generously and without protests. These things do not happen cleanly.

    Something is afoot in the American psyche that is far more insidious that what it seeks to displace. The seven demons waiting to possess us are happy to see the one expelled.

  91. CM says:

    BD,

    So how you explain the fact that American Revolution was in defiance of being subject to governing authorities according to Romans 13? According to Scriptures and the examples therein, the only justification for defiance of government as follows:

    1) When the government or leaders order you to worship them as God (see the bit in Daniel about the fiery furnace)

    2) When the government orders to NOT do something Scriptures clearly command (see the bit in Acts about the Jewish authorities ordering the Apostles not to do the Great Commission)

    3) When the government orders you to commit something clearly sinful (Example people during WWII ordered to turn in Jews in hiding so they can be exterminated).

    None of the reasons listed in the Declaration of Independence are any of those.

  92. Duane Arnold says:

    BD

    I take your point as to the narrative foundation being that of Western Christianity. On the other hand, the idea of the secular state elevated conscience and reason above any particular religious outlook. This was also a foundational narrative for the US…. Additionally, this was the basis for religious and political tolerance which, it seems to me, seems to be in danger on both sides of almost every issue we might wish to discuss these days.

  93. Jean says:

    CM,

    Note this verse in Romans Thirteen: “for he is God’s servant for your good.” Paul said the authority of governing authorities is predicated on serving the people for their good.

    The declaration is predicated on the conclusion that the king was not ruling the colonies for the good of his people. Then, so that they do not bear false witness, the declaration enumerates a list of more than 25 examples of the abuse of the king’s authority according to natural law.

    I think if you study the declaration carefully, you will find that it was not out of order from a biblical perspective.

  94. Babylon's Dread says:

    CM,

    What are you assuming that I have said? I’ve not asserted that it was a Christian revolution. I have asserted that the worldview of the combatants was a mix of Christian foundations and secular impulses. America has always been a mix but an exceptional one, wink wink. Had King George complied there would have been no war.

    The kingdom of God however has embedded principles within the founding documents of our constitution that are rather unique among nations.

    Anyone with Biblical knowledge can see intentional foundational principles that benefit all people.

    I don’t give a fig about justifying the Revolution on Christian grounds. Nonviolence has a surer foundation for Christianity that principle was not followed. The matter of self-defense was given primacy over nonviolence. This was so in the Protestant Reformation as well as the Catholic mothership.

    There has always been a strand of nonviolence and we have not yet seen on earth to what extent that can furnish us with a more perfect union.

    I understand what you think I said… I did not call the American Revolutionary War a Christian product. I do say that rather amazing Christian principles inform our founding documents.

  95. Duane Arnold says:

    BD

    As the Brits say, “A wink is as good as a nod…”😁

  96. CM says:

    Jean,

    Tell me where in the Bible does it say taxation without representation is against a Biblical perspective? It doesn’t.

    Tell me where in the Bible does it say it is against a Biblical perspective to have representative government for that matter? It doesn’t.

    There are many others. Natural law is more a product of Enlightenment Rationalism than Scriptures.

    as “for he is God’s servant for your good.” and King George not doing so, that is highly debatable. When Paul wrote this, Nero was Emperor, and I seem to recall he clearly did things that one could argue that violated that “for your own good” much more so than George III. Yet Christians didn’t rebel against Nero.

    Once again, you let Enlightenment Rationalism cloud the lens by which you look at Scriptures.

  97. Jean says:

    Bro,

    “Natural law is more a product of Enlightenment Rationalism than Scriptures.”

    You’re cracking me up. Natural law is Romans One, nineteen to twenty, and Romans Two, fourteen to fifteen.

    Michael may be able to speak for Calvin and Duane for Augustine, but I can tell you definitively that Luther affirmed natural law and he was pre-Enlightenment. LOL!

  98. CM says:

    Notice you didn’t answer my questions about where in the Bible that the specific grievances the Declaration lists is somehow “not for your good.”

    Nice try though.

  99. CM says:

    Tell me why Paul and the Christians did not rebel against Nero in which history and the facts show that he was far more “not for your good” than King George III ever was? What about later emperors like Diocletian? Seems to me that the Christians of the Americas at the time of the American Revolution were bunch of whiny b*tches compared to those of the 1st century.

  100. CM says:

    The basic fact is this is that democracy, representative government, etc. are a product of a fallen universe. From God’s perspective, it is the City of Man, it is Babylon. PERIOD. Now we may be the most advanced product to develop, the least unfriendly and least rebellious to God and his Kingdom, but the fact still remains, it is still Babylon. To sugarcoat this or wrap in a veneer of Christianese is both incorrect and disingenuous.

  101. Duane Arnold says:

    In my understanding, which may be sadly limited, the American Revolution was rooted in politics extending back to the English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution and was essentially over issues of governance, the judiciary and finance (taxation). Natural law was invoked to bolster the claims, but in truth the arguments had more to do with John Locke than an argument out of Scripture. Interestingly, in Europe, Locke had already been overtaken by Voltaire and Rousseau who incorporated many of his ideas… Our founding fathers, with few exceptions, were men of the Enlightenment.

  102. Jean says:

    “Tell me where in the Bible does it say taxation without representation is against a Biblical perspective? It doesn’t.”

    1. The colonialists believed it was illegal under British law, which would demonstrate the lawlessness of the king.

    2. The 7th Commandment against theft.

  103. Xenia says:

    It is interesting to read the Declaration of Independence and the Sermon on the Mount side by side. One pretty much contradicts the other. But that was then and this is now and I love my country.

  104. Jean says:

    “It is interesting to read the Declaration of Independence and the Sermon on the Mount side by side. One pretty much contradicts the other.”

    The Anabaptists of 16th century Germany attempted to create communities based on the Sermon on the Mount. There experiment failed.

    There is only a contradiction between the Sermon on the Mount and the Declaration of Independence IMO if one fails to distinguish between the stations of ruler and citizen. The Declaration of Independence looks at the duties of a government, whereas the Sermon on the Mount teaches the duties of a Christian.

  105. Duane Arnold says:

    Shall we just say that revolutions are a messy business…

  106. Michael says:

    Quoting from Hebrews 12: 1-2…

  107. Mike E. says:

    Um…Sorry not sorry Mr. Pence. Old glory is the Ancient of Days. And He is the only one I’ll be fixing my eyes on, thank you so much. 💯

  108. CM says:

    That Pence video is a perfect example of the idolatry that is Christian Nationalism. Replace Christ with Trump and wrap the Flag around the Cross.

    And you wonder why the fastest growing groups in religion surveys are “Nones” and “Dones”? Here is a big hint. Sh*t like that video.

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