How Christian Nationalism is Supposed to Work for the Kingdom
I don’t want to belabor the point when it comes to the social side of things, but I think it would be good for us to spend another one of these Tuesday prayer and worship helps meditating more on what we understand, or at least should understand, as ARP’s when it comes to the reasons why our forefathers in the faith taught and believed a doctrine such as social covenanting. While they most assuredly came out of a culture that sought to do all things together, given the clan makeup of Scotland, there was more going on than just continuing with the way things were. The idea behind covenantal structures done socially is that God deals with people through nations as much as He does individually. Notice how Christ speaks of the sheep and the people and friends. The plural terms are meant to show us that the Old Testament notion of seed and tribe are continued in the New Testament. See Revelation 5:9 and 7:9 for more.
Again, this is something somewhat hard for us to get our heads around since Western culture is so I focused, and as much as we may not want it to be we find ourselves involved in a similar mindset. Our relationship to the Church is too often “what do I get out of this” or “where is my place” when we should be thinking of the collective blessing we gain from serving one another. A feature of the early believers in the Book of Acts is the way they held all things in common. (Acts 4:32, 2 Cor. 8:5). Yet, when it comes to social covenanting the Divines understood that same concept, unity of people, applied as much to the State as it did to the Family or the Church. Things are so out of whack right now in America primarily because our culture as a whole has lost any sense of the we. It is part of the reason why so much heat is derived from the use of the phrase Christian Nationalism even in Christian circles. To be sure there is an unhealthy version practiced currently by a certain class of ignorant politicians and their followers, but we don’t practice guilt-by-association. None of the Scottish Seceders would have comprehended why some folks think that is a bad term. In their minds everyone was a Christian Nationalist. There most certainly was separation of Church and State in their minds, but that didn’t and doesn’t mean the Church and State are to be hermetically sealed off from one another. Every committed Christian should be praying (1 Tim. 2:2, 1 Peter 2:17, Ex. 20:12) that their nation be Christian and in submission to the King of Kings (Psalm 2, Phil. 2:10). Part of the way countries should do that is by coming together as one and covenanting themselves to Christ. More on that next week, first back to how the social side should inform this doctrine.
Part of the use in God’s providence for the State is to both corral sin and ensure the freedom of the Church to preach the gospel. In order to do both the Civil Government is to use their God-given authority to enshrine Christian moral teaching into the laws that govern the secular realm, whether derived from natural law (Rom. 2:12-16) or directly from the pages of the Bible.
Our ARP Confession of Faith, Ch. 23: says:
. . .Yet as the gospel revelation lays indispensable obligations upon all classes of people who are favored with it, magistrates, as such, are bound to execute their respective offices in a subserviency thereunto, administering government on Christian principles, and ruling in the fear of God, according to the directions of his word; as those who shall give an account to the Lord Jesus, whom God hath appointed to be the judge of the world. Hence, magistrates, as such, in a Christian country, are bound to promote the Christian religion, as the most valuable interest of their subjects, by all such means as are not incompatible with civil rights; and do not imply an interference with the policy of the church, which is the free and independent kingdom of the Redeemer. . .
Couple of comments on what is above concerning what we are talking about this morning. First, when we read “gospel revelation” we are to understand the New Testament. Sometimes you will hear folks say, “where is this in the New Testament?”. Our Confession of Faith cites Rev. 21:24, Col. 3:17, 2 Cor. 5:10, Rom. 13:3-6 as places to go in defense of the ARP teaching on the subject. The next thing worth mentioning is the clause . . . all classes of people who are favored with it . . .. What does that mean? It is in reference to the fact that no matter ones social place or location everyone is called in their station to do all things in accordance with the will of God. It is part of His sovereignty over the world that every man will be held to account for how they used their place in His kingdom, and civil rulers are no exception to that idea. But the question is what does this have to do with this social concept we’ve been exploring? Remember that in accordance with the 5th Commandment there is an idea that Superiors (not meaning they are more important in the eyes of God, it’s just that every social structure is necessarily going to have someone in charge who is responsible for the whole) are to do that which is best for the Inferiors among them. See Westminster Larger Catechism Q. 118, 123-133 for more. Is there anything better for the whole than the gospel of Jesus Christ and the benefits which come from obedience to Him? No Christian could not but answer no, there is nothing more blessed.
In closing we’ve touched on a lot of stuff that needs a lot more explaining. In some ways we are kind of limited on the space here, but I hope it whets the whistle for questions and follow-up. The final thing we need to say is how best does a nation get to the point where these kinds of social ideas are even possible to talk about? Well, go back and read the first four articles in this series. It’s only from the Church doing its duty in keeping with the 5th Commandment that it can happen. Preaching, prayer, and praise is the answer for all of America’s ills. We either can trust in God’s ways or our own political machinations through anti-Christian parties.
Take a moment to consider which one is more likely to work out.
Take care and here’s another word:
Blessings in Christ,
Rev. Benjamin Glaser
Pastor, Bethany ARP Church