2 May 2023
On Monday morning, a statement on Christian Nationalism and the Gospel was released which has as its authors James Silberman and Dusty Deevers, with William Wolfe, Joel Webbon, Jeff Wright, Cory Anderson and Ben Woodring as editors. It consists of a series of affirmations and denials, and as pointed out right at the beginning of the statement on its website, this is only a draft version and as such they welcome input from others.
On behalf of our constituency, the Pactum Institute herewith takes the authors up on that invitation, and we will do so by providing a brief commentary on each of the 22 sections of the statement (Definition, Introduction and 20 Affirmations and Denials).
The affirmation of Christ’s Universal Lordship is spot on. So are the duties of magistrates outlined as being distinctly aimed at the glory of God and the common good of the people.
We don’t necessarily agree that Christian nationalism is primarily concerned with the righteous rule of the magistrate. While this is of course integral to Christian nationalism, civil government is only one of the many spheres of our national life. Historically, Christian nationalism as a movement has actually been primarily concerned with education rather than civil governance.
Introducing the statement with a reference to the Great Commission is most apt, as Matthew 28:19-20 clearly implies Christian Nationalism. The attempt at accommodating antinomians who don’t affirm legislating both tables of the law is something we consider to be problematic, however. God’s Law as summarized in all ten of the commandments is the perfect and perpetual standard of justice for all peoples and governments.
1. The Source of Truth
The first article of the statement beautifully articulates the epistemological foundation of Christian Nationalism by affirming the Bible as source of truth and ultimate standard for all of life, and by rightly emphasising that all truth claims and ethical standards must be tested by Scripture alone.
2. Orthodox Christian Faith
Seeking unity around the historic creeds is commendable, but a denial that orthodoxy can be defined by any particular confessions sadly amounts to a complete misunderstanding of the essence of the Reformation and the Reformed faith itself. As Protestants, we hold that our confessions accurately summarize the doctrine of the Bible and as such delineate and define orthodoxy.
3. The Standard of Justice
The affirmation of God’s moral law as enduring and perpetually binding on all nations and civil magistrates is a statement we can fully get behind. This is also irreconcilable with a denial of both tables of the law as standard for legislation, so in light of this we recommend removing the concession made to second table onlyists in the introduction.
4. The Definition of a Nation
The section starts of well by virtue of its rejection of propositional nationhood. The phrase “a particular people are necessarily bound together by both a shared culture and history and may be compromised of multiple ethnicities while sharing common interests, virtues, languages, and worship” has many truths contained it. However, since a rejection of propositional nationhood logically entails recognizing a distinct ethnicity as one of the characteristics of nationhood, we recommend changing the phrase to “a particular people are necessarily bound together by a shared culture, history, and lineage, while sharing common interests, virtues, languages, and worship.” Without such a change the second sentence of the affirmation cannot be logically reconciled with the first.
The article’s rejection of globalism in favor of national sovereignty is very good.
5. The Nature of Christ’s Lordship and Kingdom
We wholeheartedly support the statement’s recognition of Christ’s universal Lordship and His possession of all authority on earth. Furthermore, we commend the authors for rejecting the R2K division of the grace realm and the common realm and its denial of necessity of holding to the Word of God as ultimate standard for the public square.
6. The Identity of Civil Officials and the Source of their Authority
The statement here rightly recognizes that civil authorities must obey God’s commands and rule under his authority in accordance with Biblical Law. Furthermore, civil authorities are also rightly recognized as being bound by the limits set by God’s Word. This is one of the most expressly theonomic articles of the confession and we are grateful for its inclusion.
7. The Duty of Civil Authorities
This article continues where the preceding article ended by beautifully outlining the duties of civil authorities as delineated by the Word of God. The statement: “We affirm that the government has the right to intervene to prevent or stop any ceremonial ‘religious’ practices that violate the natural law and welfare of mankind,” needs to be altered to read “We affirm that the government has the right to intervene to prevent or stop any ceremonial ‘religious’ practices that violate the Decalogue and are detrimental to the welfare of mankind.” Such a phrasing would be much more consistent with the epistemic foundation of Christian Nationalism as outlined in the first article. We recommend the authors and editors also read Dr. Adi Schlebusch’ peer reviewed article on Presuppositionalism, the Public Domain and Post-Secular Theory so as to avoid any confusion in this regard.
8. The Purpose of Civil Government
Again the glory of God and the good of his image bearers are emphasised in this article on the purpose of civil government, which is a very good, as is the denial of the possibility of government neutrality. Identifying the Ten Commandments as the ultimate standard over against any natural law apart from it, is a superb statement. But it only highlights the need for the change we recommend to the preceding section.
9. Sphere Sovereignty
The articulation of the principle of Sphere Sovereignty in this article is impeccable. It is fully aligned with the historic teachings on the matter and we recommend the article remain unedited.
10. On Nationalism and Policy Priorities
This article rightly emphasizes the importance of affirming national sovereignty as a means of liberating our peoples from the Globalist political and financial system, with a specific focus on the context of the United States. It also rightly establishes that asserting national sovereignty has nothing to do with a dislike of any race or nation. We recommend changing the phrase “sin of racism” to “sin of partiality,” since a Biblical hamartiology does not know any sin called “racism.”
11. Big Picture Agenda
The article’s affirmation of the ten commandments as foundational law of the nation as well as the need for blasphemy laws in accordance with the first table of the law is solid as it stands. We recommend removing the section entitled “Alternative option for those who affirm legislating only the second table.”
12. On the Vocation and Calling of Christian Officials and Legislators
Here the calling of Christians to serve in civil offices is rightly amplified, along with our duty to call governments to repentance and obedience to God’s Law. We recommend that the article stands as it is.
13. The Great Commission
This article returns to the theme of the introduction by rightly affirming that the Great Commission entails all the aspects of the national life of a people being brought under the Lordship of Christ through obedience to His Law.
14. The Uses of the Law
The General Equity of the Ten Commandments is rightly affirmed in this article, for which we are most thankful, since this is the heart and soul of Theonomy. It also affirms the use of the law as a tutor through which the Church is aided in its mission of evangelism. Like with the previous article, we recommend no changes be made here.
15. On the Distinction between Law and Gospel
This article beautifully explains the heart of the gospel as God reconciling sinners to Himself through Jesus Christ. It affirms that salvation is by faith alone through grace alone to the glory of God alone. It affirms that a regenerated heart entails delighting in God’s Law and being empowered by the Holy Spirit to obey that Law. The principle of the general equity of the law is again rightly confirmed in this article, while also denying that our good works merits salvation. This is a solid article.
16. On Civil Disobedience
Categorical opposition to civil disobedience is rightly articulated in this article as “idolatry of the State.” It also affirms that civil disobedience is permissible when the civil magistrate either commands what God forbids, forbids what He commands, oversteps the limits of their jurisdiction, or unjustly binds consciences. We are most thankful that any “legal or moral interventions apart from the Word of God” are condemned in the article as not binding on the consciences of individuals, families or Churches.
This article affirms that the Kingdom of God advances on earth through the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing people to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Like with the previous article, we recommend no changes be made here.
18. Just War
We are in full agreement with the conditions for just war outlined in this article as well as the rejection of imperialism, which we consider to be antithetical to Christian Nationalism. We also affirm the denial that war is a means to spread either the gospel or a specific form of government as the neoconservatives would have us believe.
19. Imago Dei and Equal Protection
In the penultimate article of the statement, the Biblical principle of equality before the Law is upheld against the sin of partiality. It also affirms that life begins at conception, from which point all people justly deserve equal protection before the law. Abortion is thereby condemned as a violation of the sixth commandment.
20. On “Neutrality” and the Separation of Church and State
The statement is beautifully concluded by an article by emphasizing, in contradistinction to the R2K heresy, that there can be no separation of the Christian Worldview and the sphere of Civil Government and that all governments have a duty before God to uphold the standards of Biblical Law. It rightly reiterates the impossibility of a neutral state by noting that “[t]he question is not whether morality and religion will influence law, but whose morality and religion will influence law.”
Generally speaking, the constituency of the Pactum Institute views this statement on Christian Nationalism and the Gospel in a very positive light and we align with most of what is written therein. We are thankful for the work done by the authors and editors to get this statement out there and for allowing opportunity for input. Unfortunately, unless these few minor, yet absolutely crucial recommended changes are made to this draft, we will not in good conscience be able to support the statement as a whole.