Christian Influence in Society? Yes. A Theocracy? No. by Michael L. Brown for Ask Dr Brown
Should followers of Jesus have a positive impact on every area of society? Absolutely. The light of our lives and the light of our message should illuminate our surroundings. Our good deeds and our biblically based values should disseminate love and truth. At the same time, we are not called to take over society and impose our faith on the nation. There is a vast difference between making a positive impact and imposing a theocracy.
Of course, whatever we do together as followers of Jesus will likely be misjudged by our critics.
As a colleague pointed out in a group text discussion, “In the 1970s it was ‘culture religion’ or ‘civil religion’ that we were accused of. Then in the 1990s we were accused of being ‘theocrats.’ Then it was ‘dominionists’ (though I think most who accused us could not have properly defined the term . . . .). But behold! They have a NEW word for us now: ‘Christian Nationalism.’ And the purpose of this word? It is to bludgeon, bully, intimidate and keep us OUT of the public square. It is to shame us from being activists.”
That’s why, in the days ahead, we will hear dire warnings from the left about a nefarious plot by Christian conservatives to take over the nation. The warnings will be so shrill that they will border on hysteria. “They’re trying to impose a theocracy! They are trying to create an America in their own image! And they are not afraid to call for the shedding of blood!”
Unfortunately, there are some Christian groups calling for this very thing (although, to be clear, when they talk about the possibility of bloodshed, they mean that their blood might be shed as martyrs for the cause). They are espousing an unhealthy Christian nationalism that merges Christian identity with national identity and wraps the gospel in the American flag. And the most extreme among them would even welcome a theocratic kingdom on earth where religious leaders dictate how the society is governed.
Some are political leaders, some are media leaders, and some are ministry leaders. In all cases, I reject their goals, I reject their methods, and I reject their rhetoric. In fact, this is one reason why I have distanced myself from the term “Christian nationalism.” (For an in-depth treatment of this in my latest book, see here.)
To give some specific examples, some of the rhetoric at the DC Jericho March December 2020 was dangerous. Some of the rhetoric of GAB’s CEO Andrew Torba, referring explicitly to Christian nationalism, is dangerous. And when a major speaker at a recent MAGA rally calls on pastors to preach from the Constitution as much as from the Bible, we know things have gotten way off course.