In recent columns I’ve written about the influence today of secularism in the American church and that only a small percentage of Christians in America now hold a true biblical worldview. But how should believers who hold a biblical worldview approach politics and the public square?
One negative approach is often called Christian nationalism. In his Christianity Today article, “What is Christian Nationalism?” scholar and author Paul D. Miller describes Christian nationalism this way: “Christian nationalism takes the name of Christ for a particular worldly political agenda, proclaiming that its program is the political program for every true believer. That is wrong in principle, no matter what the agenda is, because only the church is authorized to proclaim the name of Jesus and carry his standard into the world.”
Christian nationalism is, at the heart, a misunderstanding of the relationship between Christianity and the American nation. It ties Christianity with American greatness and focuses on the idea that our truest identity is based on American patriotism and how that pairs with our belief in God.
Our identity as Christians shouldn’t be based on our adhesion or dedication to a political party. Our worldview should be shaped from the Bible, and then we allow that to frame our political views. The word “evangelical” has recently been mixed up with politics. I want to seize back the word evangelical! It means faith, action and mission focused on the good news of salvation brought to sinners by the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ.
This view should shape the way we approach politics. With the Bible and the good news as our backdrop, who or what do we support with our political involvement? We must identify what is good and evil in light of who God is and shape our positions on specific issues accordingly. There are issues and times when we should be politically vocal. For instance, abortion, the extinguishing of human life. We draw lines. We support what is good in God’s sight and that comes from holding a biblical worldview and not a secular social justice worldview. As followers of Jesus, we can and should be involved politically for critically important issues of morality. At the very minimum we must vote accordingly.
Is our identity based on our political identification? No. Our identity must be based on being a child of God. Our identity is in Jesus. But being a child of God shapes our political awareness and choices. There are big issues that do have biblical clarity and are delineated by particular political platforms and leaders—with positions on concerns such as abortion, parental rights, religious freedom, public education and injustices that should direct how we vote and who we support. Our identity in Jesus drives the way we vote for the common good and aligns with a biblical worldview. We need to be informed so that we can engage with confidence.
Succinctly, our Christian worldview enlightens how we address social issues; social issues do not shape or drive our Christianity. Our connection with Jesus, not a political party, shows us how to respond to issues. We can be thankful that we live in America and for many of the things America provides and stands for. I love America. But I love Jesus far more. As our USMB Confession of Faith states, my primary allegiance is to Christ’s kingdom.
Don Morris is the USMB national director. He and his wife, Janna, live in Edmond, Oklahoma, where they attend Cross Timbers Church.