The new prosperity gospel
Christian nationalism is the new prosperity gospel. Like the prosperity gospel, which uses God as a means to health, wealth, and material fortune, Christian nationalism uses God as a means to gaining political power and social influence.
In a nutshell, Christian nationalism fuses one’s identity in Christ with their identity as an American and with a particular political agenda. There is no meaningful friction between their politics, their national pride, and their theology.
Just as followers of the prosperity gospel tend toward co-dependency with their pastoral leader, so Christian nationalists become co-dependent upon particular political leaders. Their hopes for the country and for the flourishing of Christianity in it stand or fall upon the success of that leader. In essence, the leader becomes a functional god.
The prosperity Christian nationalists pursue is a dominating voice into political, social, academic, financial, educational, and media institutions. Such is the evidence of God’s blessing, just as health and wealth is evidence of God’s blessing for those who ascribe to the prosperity gospel.
Christian nationalists and prosperity preachers both prey on our native fears; fear that we will be hopeless if we lose what they have determined are the tangible evidences of God’s blessing. And because Christian nationalists are so profoundly afraid that American Christians will suffer humiliation, rejection, and an uncertain future should believers continue to lose their seat at the tables of power, they are willing to sacrifice their prophetic voice for political influence. The Bible calls this idolatry.
But Christians do well to remember that Jesus said, “my kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). In other words, the health of the church is not ultimately dependent upon politicians or public policy, but upon the faithful proclamation of the gospel and by followers of Christ making use of the ordinary means of grace - the Word, sacraments, and prayer - to pursue a life of repentance and faith. It’s about Christians, individually and collectively, becoming faithfully present at home, at work, in their communities, and in their relationships. It’s about believers standing for what is good, right, true, and beautiful as revealed in the Scriptures, yet not despairing when evil and injustice win the battle be because the war has already been won. And he has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3) which is ultimately where our identity and hope lies.
To set our mind on earthly things - political influence, material prosperity, and social acceptance - is to pursue a destructive end. Our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:19-20) and we do well to set our thoughts and affections there.
Who we elect to public office and is a matter of great importance. But it’s not the matter of greatest importance. Seeking first God’s kingdom and his righteousness is. We do well to keep this in Biblical perspective.