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Over the last decade the usual suspects have directed a great deal of resources into anathematizing the term “Christian Nationalism.” One reason is the long war against Christianity in general that dates to the start of the last century. Since these people assume nationalism is a bad word, whatever they can attach it to becomes bad as a result of the linkage. This sort of linguistic guilt by association has been a popular tactic with the usual suspects for a long time.
Another attack is from the establishment churches and affiliated political operations, who worry that their people are getting wise to the grift. Like conservatism in general, social conservatism has been a massive failure. Since so-called Christian organizations have been at the forefront of the culture war, the rank and file are now looking around for an alternative way forward. The people who got rich off losing the culture war see Christian nationalism as a threat to their grift.
The idea behind Christian Nationalism is to provide an alternative moral authority that is in direct contradiction of the one used by the ruling class. No one talks about the moral authority of the ruling elite, especially the ruling elite, but it is assumed that they have some reason for promoting things like diversity and the sexual fads. Maybe it all boils down to bourgeois spite or maybe they think the cause of justice requires them to annihilate society, but whatever the authority, Christian Nationalists reject it.
That is where things get complicated. Within the Christian Nationalist subculture, you see Catholics and Protestants, which raises an obvious issue. You also see many within this space migrating to Eastern Orthodoxy. The reason for the latter is the people in the former are disgusted by the direction of their churches. Of course, you also have the churchless who rely only on their reading of Scripture. They tend to be the most vocal in the public square about their political intensions.
Putting aside the theological differences that exist within this subculture, the bigger question is how to square the Christian with the nationalism. The one thing all of these people would agree upon is Christ died for all mankind, so all men, regardless of race or ethnicity, can accept Jesus Christ and thus become a Christian. If your church is open to everyone, then it stands to reasons that your community is open to everyone, which contradicts the logic of nationalism.
This is where we bump into the elephant in the room. The big exception to the open-door policy is non-Christians. This is where the usual suspects come back into the story, as they claim Christianity is just a fig leaf for the nationalism. When they hiss the word “nationalism” they mean “fascism”, of course. In fairness to the usual suspects, the Christian Identity Movement was exactly this approach. Many of the most vocal Christian Nationalists today are hostile to Jews.
This is especially dangerous from the point of view of the usual suspects because this line of reasoning applies to the very idea of nations. If you want a nation, one with a single language, culture, and people, then you are seeking an exclusive society, rather than an open one. Just as a Christian society must be intolerant of non-Christians, a nationalist society must be intolerant of minorities. Otherwise, you open the foundations of society up to challenges from those minorities.
This brings us back to the eternal question. For Jews to maximize their opportunities in a society, it must not be exclusive of them or their activity. This is the Karl Popper – George Soros argument for the open society. The moral foundation must not be exclusive in any way, which eliminates both nationalism and Christianity from the moral foundation of the open society. Obviously, this logic benefits all minorities, not just Jews, but it also comes at the expense of the majority.
The logic of Christian nationalism puts them at odds with the bulk of modern Christians who are no longer Christian in the theological sense. Most are Judeo-Christian, a weird modern phenomenon that defines Christianity in terms of Israel. It is not unusual for ads like this one to appear on platforms that cater to modern Christians. Much of what modern Christians do is undisguisable from Zionism. That presents and an obvious problem for the people promoting Christian Nationalism.
That brings us back to the theological issue. The Christian Nationalists have a problem in that they think they must operate within the tradition of Christianity. That does not leave them a lot of room to operate. Even those who think Scripture is the only source of truth are faced with the fact that Scripture is a man-made thing. There are lots of lost and excluded books of the Bible. Someone decided to exclude things from Scripture, maybe even things lost to us entirely.
By accepting the framing of the past, they are limiting what they can do as both Christian and nationalists. There is no getting around the fact that the arc of Christianity has led to this point. The universalism is one problem, but the inherent individualism is another big challenge. if all men have an individual relationship with God and are judges as individuals, there is not much room for collective virtue. The virtue of the community will always came second to individual virtue.
What the Christian Nationalists face is a bigger task than reasserting or defending the idea of a Christian nation. They first need to revolutionize both terms. Their Christianity needs to break free of the traditional framing in order to avoid being trapped in a mode of thought that precludes nationalism. At the same time, they have to rethink the idea of nationalism so that it comports with and promotes the compassion that must lie at the heart of their new Christianity.
That sounds like an impossible task, especially given the makeup of the Christian nationalist subculture. These are people with homes and families, hardly the sort to overthrow the current order. On the other hand, Christianity was a revolutionary movement from the start. Nationalism, despite what the usual suspects claim, has also been a revolutionary cause. In other words, the Christian Nationalists are working with material that has always been dangerous to the status quo.
What makes it possible for them to think in these terms is the fact that the old forms are no longer working. The old regime is in crisis because the old systems and old moral claims are no longer working. The last time a world bestriding empire fell into crisis it gave birth to a new religious movement that eventually swept the world. Whether or not there is a theologian or even a charismatic leader ready to accept the challenge is unknown, but the ground is fertile for such a thing.
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