Fewer figures on the American political scene are more polarizing than that of Andrew Torba, who has magnetized the scorn of the left and the various allies of the Anti-Defamation League, who have hurled the charge of antisemite to the unabashed and irreverent founder of Gab. Torba has made his life mission to foster a Christian parallel economy, first founding Gab as a true free speech platform with entirely independent infrastructure eventually expanding into other digital services. As Christian Nationalism becomes mainstreamed into the political lexicon, Torba has likewise become the leading entrepreneur embracing steering the movement.
In teaming up with Anderw Isker, a pastor of Fourth Street Evangelical Church in Waseca, MN, Torba takes to print to write Christian Nationalism: A Biblical Guide for Taking Dominion and Discipling Nations to espouse the meaning of Christian Nationalism. The question then follows, what to think of his book.
His detractors are obvious in the route they take to smear his book, which Torba taunts in prefacing its fourth chapter. They will simply write off Torba’s treatise as antisemitism and the next Mien Kampf. Meanwhile, there are those in Torba’s camp who will instantly appreciate and praise his work. These are people I consider brothers, like AD Robles and Doug Wilson, who were involved in its production or otherwise promotional of the book. Hardly can they be called unbiased or objective in their analysis. Since Big Eva outlets cannot be entrusted to provide accurate review and critique of Christian Nationalism, it falls upon myself to provide this review and analysis.
Christian Nationalism, through its 135 pages, is a quick and easy read that I found myself completing within twenty-four hours. This is not due to the page-turning nature of Torba’s prose, but rather its lack of intellectual viscosity, which left little need to meditate in between chapters. When taking to print for monetary gain, prose requires elevation and polish which is deficient within Torba and Isker’s writing styles. Neither possess the academic rigor necessary to be the ideologues of a movement. The font, spacing, and lack of justified margins signifies a lack of content within the book, rendering it an elongated essay that lacks the elegance of a Federalist Paper. Instead of employing elaborate exegesis or persuasion to those skeptical or cynical to his ideas, Torba and Isker preach to the choir, presenting little substance of inspiration or new information.
The book is broken down into ten chapters along with a prologue written by Shane Schaetzel (who is Catholic), an introduction, and an epilogue. Several of the chapters, including chapters 2, 4, and 9, were coopted from articles written by Isker at Gab News.
In the introduction sets out to define what is a Christian and what is Christian Nationalism, which ultimately establishes the presuppositions for the remainder of this book. The definition of Christian, as defined by the text, is “a disciple of Jesus Christ who seeks to take dominion in all areas of life by obeying His commandments in the Great Commission to disciple all nations” (17). Whereas defining “what is a Christian” could pose a challenge to believers, Torba’s definition within the text avoids emphasis on sin, the fall, or even a historic Apostles’ Creed-like definition or assertion of beliefs espoused by all who are within the faith. Because this is a book, definitions like this are subjected to additional scrutiny. Torba does well in articulating what it means to take up dominion, which includes starting families and discipling nations, but there needed to be an emphasis on the fallen nature of man and subsequent need for Christ’s atonement, which gives Him dominion over all creation.
Then in defining Christian Nationalism, Torba states the following:
Christian Nationalism is a movement of rebuilding, reformation, and revival. We are not trying to overthrow the existing state or even necessarily earn positions in its highest levels of power. We don’t need to because we are playing the long game and are busy building things that matter. The reality is that individual members of Congress and even Presidents have very little power to impact real and substantive societal and cultural change, but news networks, activist organizations, corporations, tech companies, education systems and social networks sure do. So that is exactly what we are building: a parallel Christian society. (23-24)
Herein lies the definition of Christian Nationalism that undergirds much of the book. In Torba’s own words, Christian Nationalism is less a political movement than a movement to create a parallel Christian society, starting at the family level and eventually working its way to cultivate multi-generational change. Torba contends that Christians will win in the end and that the worldly society will fail, to which the Christians will supplant and replace the worldly institutions. This is rather unconvincing and idealistic in a world where the money supply is based on nothing and the government is interwoven with the aforementioned agents of substantive societal and cultural change. From a political standpoint, there is emphasis on dominating local politics before moving onto state and federal, but politics and policy outcomes are secondary or tertiary throughout the book.
In Defending the Rise of Christian Nationalism, I cited definitions formulated by Elizabeth Dias and Paul Miller, who both reject Christian Nationalism with the latter being a Big Evangelical Never-Trumper. Despite their rejections, their definitions were somewhat accurate within the confines of political discourse, only that their worldviews were hardened against it because of their internalized liberalism. The formation of a parallel economy is not the essence of Christian Nationalism, but merely a strategy of preservation and networking. In essence, Torba’s entire book can be reduced to the idea that Andrew Torba is Christian Nationalism and Christian Nationalism is his brand, much to its demise.
The first two chapters of the book seek to establish that Christ is King, and thus has dominion over all the earth and that it is the Christian’s duty to spread his dominion. Both these chapters while correct, should have contained a scriptural exegesis defending their assertions. This is a book, not an article, a fact lost on the authors. Part of elevating a prose, especially one being in which money is exchanged, demands the due diligence of properly articulating from scripture why Christian Nationalism is biblical.
The point of the Establishment Clause was to retain the distinctive Christian heritage of the American nation not to destroy it. (40)
One of the unique assertions in the book is Torba’s explanation of the Establishment Clause, where he argues that the states were granted permission to establish their own religious proclivities, often favoring Protestantism, and not the federal government. The Establishment Clause prevents Virginian Presidents from imposing Anglicanism over the Puritanical Massachusetts. Unfortunately, he waits until the epilogue to provide much of the added proofs to this claim. All chapters in this book should have been formatted and structured as the epilogue, which is an insightful tour of the American colonies and their distinct Christian origins. The emphasis on America’s Christian heritage should have been at the forefront of a book entitled Christian Nationalism but was instead reduced to an epilogue that is the best chapter of the entire book.
Chapter Four is entitled This is Not a “Judeo-Christian” Movement which is fairly on brand for Torba and Gab. He attacks the origins of the phrase Judeo-Christian as being a modern term added to the lexicon. This chapter also details Judaism as being intrinsically against Christianity. Torba correctly emphasizes that the Church is the Covenantal People of God, thus fulfilling the Old Testament Israel. In arguing Christian Nationalism, he decries Zionism:
The Talmud says some horrible things about non-Jews (goyim) and about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that are too inflammatory to print here. Since it isn’t God’s Word, most Christians know nothing about the Talmud or what is says, but we would be wise to educate and inform ourselves so that we can better evangelize the Jewish people and avoid becoming modern Judaizers.
Quotes as this were rather frustrating and indicative of the lack of research brought to the table in writing a dissertation on Christian Nationalism. Why bring up the Talmud if one is not going to quote verbatim what it says about Christ. Put it on the page. Let the reader gaze at it. Let them draw the conclusion. But instead, it is an intellectually slothful cop-out. Throughout Christian Nationalism, there should have been prooftexts and historical documents cited. Pages should have contained footnotes throughout the book. Instead, claims are made without the proper backup. Whatever research undergirded the book is not presented to the reader.
There are several chapters in the book that I found rubbish and slothfully written. Chapter Three on “Weapons of Spiritual War” is just a glorified “preach the gospel” chapter. The gospel is the prime directive—everything revolves around it, but the chapter avoids specificity in what is a “gospel Juke”. Chapter Five, entitled “Know them by their Fruits” continues this trend of disappointing chapters hastily written into the book and improperly exegeted. Torba does not stress the destructive ways of the world with the prosperous path of Christ. Sin produces bad fruit and corrupts nations. Thus Christian Nationalism seeks the best outcomes for the society by establishing God’s morality as law over the people. How hard is it to write that into the text? Chapter Nine was a screed against churches that did not celebrate the overturn of Roe v Wade and the effeminate church in general. It was rather summative than informative or inspirational. The tenth chapter is merely a conclusion.
For 2000 years Christians have been builders, pioneers, inventors, and masters of art, culture and society. When our eschatology changed that all went away, because who wants to build a future for the glory of God when the end of the world could happen any second now! If we change our eschatology, we will change the world (83).
Chapters Seven and Eight emphasize the need for an optimistic theology. Torba and company are Postmillennial, and while they do not contend that one must be Postmillennial, they weaponize these chapters against dispensational premillennialism, condemning its negative effects on American Christianity. The chapters are also critical of the Second Great Awakening and articulate the need for Christians to build institutions that will last.
Christian Nationalism qualifies itself as a biblical guide for taking dominion and discipling nations but is neither inspirational nor overly informative. Detractors or skeptics of Andrew Torba are unlikely to find his arguments persuasive or properly fleshed out. For someone whose brand is Christian Nationalism, I was disappointed in the amateur execution of its core premise. While reading the book, I found myself thinking that I could have done better.