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Stephen Wolfe Case For Christian Nationalism

The Case For Christian Nationalism by Stephen Wolfe: Review and Analysis

The rise of the modern political movement known as Christian Nationalism has sparked much controversy within American discourse, especially Evangelical circles. It is expected that apostate liberals would reject any semblance of an ideology consisting of Christianity and/or nationalism, because they are antinomian. Many have acquiesced, or worse, embraced secular pluralism or otherwise worship the democratic process. Although the phrase is derisive in its modern employment, many have taken up the banner of Christian Nationalism, seeking to inspire a political movement that will reform America’s Christian heritage. However, the term is loaded, and without stable definition from those within the camp, the phrase and subsequent movement will be defeated before it can metastasize. Proper definition and protection is necessary to prevent dilution and protect the movement. Thus far, the term has lacked safeguards and proper definition due to the firebrand nature of its proponents, with men like Torba and Isker coopting the term to equate with the parallel economy rather than a cohesive political ideology. Ironically, liberals tend to possess a sufficient definition of Christian Nationalism, only that they disagree with its core tenets because they are enemies of God. They understand the core grievances of abortion, Covid, sexual degeneracy, and the recalcitrant failure of the Republican Party to conserve America’s Christian heritage. It is with great tragedy that the opposition better understands the movement more than its most ardent supporters.

Stepping in to fill the intellectual vacuum and establish a foundational philosophy of Christian Nationalism is Stephen Wolfe. Wolfe is a PHD of Louisiana State University whose expertise centers around Reformation and Post Reformation political philosophy. His prose presents itself with academic rigor that is challenging for readers; however, it is thoroughly steeped in supportive evidence for his central claims while overcoming potential objections to his arguments. His early critics have been quick to assert that he lacks scriptural exegesis for Christian Nationalism. Wolfe himself is not a theologian, but rather his expertise is politics and history. Wolfe writes as a Federalist, steeped in history and classical education that is lost on modern generations. His supportive evidence relies extensively on the thoughts of famous theologians including, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Francis Turretin, and most frequently John Calvin. Wolfe does not contend that he is creating a new political philosophy but is merely standing on the shoulders of giants and continuing the theological discourse Christianity had in centuries past.

Wolfe approaches this through the Reformed Tradition, himself stemming from a Presbyterian tradition. Although he does not restrict his case to just those within his sect, he does argue that pedobaptism is more ideal to Christian Nationalism. Despite moments as this, which will be detailed later, Stephen Wolfe builds the case not only on why Christian Nationalism is permissible, but why it is necessary and biblical. The Case For Christian Nationalism is not a cash grab nor the work of a political commentator’s annual installment, but an extensive, thorough apology that will benefit the pastorate in overseeing their congregations so that they can navigate the modern political landscape that is increasingly antithetical to God.

Introduction and Definitions

The Case For Christian Nationalism is broken down into ten chapters, like all political books, with an introduction and an epilogue, which function as chapters themselves, spanning 478 pages in print.

Wolfe begins his treatise by outlining the current state of political theory amongst those in the Christian community. Many desire to separate God from earthly institutions, advocating “civil religion” in place of Christ. He contends that they “actively undermine Christian political action that opposes political atheism” but treat Christianity as a “coping device for inaction” or at worse “find pleasure in one’s humiliation” (4). This essentially describes much of those in Big Eva as it pertains to politics.

Contained within the Introduction is Wolfe’s definition of Christian Nationalism, which is the same definition he possesses for Nationalism without reference to Christ and Christianity.

Christian Nationalism is the totality of national action, consisting of civil laws and social customs, conducted by a Christian nation as a Christian nation, in order to procure for itself both earthly and heavenly good in Christ (9).

This is a rounded and comprehensive definition that encompasses what makes a nation, that laws and customs are definitive elements. Relative to other definitions, it does not Americanize the context nor limit the scope to contemporary politics, allowing this definition to span all nations across all generations.

Moreover, his definition of nation is aligned with ethnicity, which is to be expected of someone whose background is political science. Nation and Nation-State are two distinct concepts in which Nation refers to a people-group. Throughout The Case For Christian Nationalism, the ingredients of location and people-group are the foundations to any nation.

Theological Premises of the Nation

The first two chapters Wolfe writes deal with the Fall of Man, with Chapter One entitled “Nations Before the Fall” and Chapter Two entitled “Redeemed Nations.” Both chapters function as theological fundamentals to Christian political theory.

Chapter one is especially theological, taking readers through a discourse on Prelapsarian Man in his State of Integrity. Prelapsarian means pre-fall and it undertakes a larger theological discussion that brilliant men have had throughout centuries of Christianity. State of Integrity is the unfallen Man as God designed. In other words, men have pondered the nature of what would have happened had Man not fallen. The importance of this discussion is that by understanding the Prelapsarian Man, we can understand what is and is not good within God’s design. For example, since family is God’s design, it is good; therefore family is important to the pre-fall world and would have existed. Likewise, Wolfe asserts that government and civil hierarchy would be included in God’s design for an unfallen man as a means of civil management, a presupposition that would be affirmed by both Aquinas and Calvin. Wolfe would expound upon various theological voices to argue that “cultural diversity” is good and thus would exist in an unfallen world. This would encompass human differences pertaining to cuisine, music, dress, dialect, etc. that are particular to nations. As he concludes, the “nation, therefore, is natural to man as man, and the matured earth would be a multiplicity of nations” (80).

This opening chapter presents what is a lost within modern Christianity in its reverence for past generations and their intellect. Men like Calvin and Aquinas were contemplating theological concepts we simply do not ponder in these modern times. By understanding these complex theological concepts, it enables us to understand what is and is not good according to God’s design, and therefore it is applicable in all spheres of life, including politics.

Chapter Two expands upon the theological concepts in Chapter One, focusing on the Postlapsarian world we inhabit in relation to our salvation and redemption in Christ. Man in his fallen state retains the natural design yet his supernatural gifts, that which a perfect Adam had, are withdrawn due to sin. Just as Man is redeemed through Jesus, so too is Man’s purpose redeemed.

Since a Christian—having restored integrity—possesses the same gifts as Adam, he is equipped and drawn, by his nature, to exercise the same sort of dominion—to mature earthly life according to its principles and to order this world to the next. Christians are empowered and obligated to act according to Adam’s original task…Christian dominion relies on natural principles, which were the same for Adam, but applies them in light of revelation (99).

This is not to be conflated with a works-based salvation, but that there is a mission after salvation and a restoration of Man’s purpose and mission through Christ. In many ways, this chapter is “all of Christ for all of life,” which likewise applies to politics and the nations.

Love of Nation and Love of People

Chapter Three builds upon the prior chapters by justifying love of nation as being natural and innate. Just as one should love their own children more than another’s, so too is it natural that one love their own people more than others. This in turn comes from God’s design and would be expected via state of integrity. Likewise, attachment to ones’ land gives added meaning to the significance of a place. Just as a house might be just a building to another, there is sentimentality to the individual. Wolfe extrapolates this notion of sentimentality to conclude the importance of place within the identity of a nation.

In the West, people-groups have become either concealed and suppressed or celebrated and purified by an ideology of universality, partly through the homogenizing forces of state capitalism and capitalist statecraft and through the ethnic privileging of woke capitalism—all in the interest of a cosmopolitan, super-rich elite of “nowheres” (135).

What Wolfe is describing is the threat of globalism in which individual nations are erased and replaced with woke liberalism. The perpetrators, that he calls “nowheres” have no nation to call their own, or perhaps view themselves as citizens of the world. Nationalism, by design, is necessary to confront this threat of “globalism, homogenization, sanctified ethno-narcissism, and the weak collective that prevails in our time” (135). Sanctified ethno-narcissism is probably a reference to Israel and Zionism where it is both acceptable and encouraged to be pro-Israel, but not pro-America.

No matter what he writes, Wolfe’s detractors will label him some form of a Kinist, white supremacist, or otherwise racist and will invent the most uncharitable means to read his prose. Contrary to these intentional misconceptions, Wolfe encourages cultural diversity as a beautiful facet of God’s design and desires the preservation of individual communities of people made in the image of God. Wolfe would argue that the preference for one’s own people is natural to man. Because people are different, Wolfe would limit the extent to which people of different ethnic groups can share life together, though he does not exclude or deny the ability to assimilate. Channeling Aristotle and Cicero, Wolfe contends that this has always been observed even going back to ancient times.

In Chapter Four, Wolfe expands upon earlier themes stating that particularity of nation makes two members of the same nation more connected than two Christians from different nations. He would also contend that policies that restrict immigration, even from Christian nations, are justified, drawing from the Reformation. This chapter is called “Perfecting Your Nation” so while he addresses these issues, the core message is that one should seek what is best for their nation.

Cultural Christianity and Baptism

Stephen Wolfe spends a chapter rebutting the ideas of Russell Moore as expressed in Moore’s writings celebrating the death of America’s cultural Christianity. This chapter is very much a rebuke of Big Evangelical institutions while expressing the benefits Christianity has had on society, even those who reject God. Wolfe would suggest that a Cultural Christianity makes one receptive to God’s word and creates an environment where pastors call people to repentance rather than “evangelize” unfamiliar nonbelievers.

It is unfortunate that these institutions have forsaken the Bible, or otherwise never held to it. It should not be controversial or even difficult for Christians to articulate that what the Bible declares is what is best for Man, so therefore we should legislate biblical morality and seek a society that reflects Christianity and its virtues.

Paedobaptism is consistent with Christian nationalism because it makes possible a society that is baptized in infancy and thus is subject to Christian demands for all of life (218).

This chapter contain this “hot take.” This is not to contend that Wolfe is blaming Credobaptists for liberalism, but merely his assertion that Paedobaptistism is more aligned with creating a Christian Nation. He leaves open the ability for Baptists to reconcile this claim but is not a Baptist so therefore does not attempt this intellectual endeavor.

Being raised a Baptist, I am forced to acknowledge that there is an objective advantage to Paedobaptism as a practice in cultivating a society, as my Presbyterians brothers often associate it as a New Covenant circumcision, whereby the child in baptized into the New Covenant from birth. At the same time, Baptists often baptize prepubescent children so the distinction between the two is perhaps overstated in practice. Although historical Christendom was largely paedobaptist, the Cultural Christianity Wolfe writes about is most prevalent in regions of America where Credobaptism is predominant, namely the Bible Belt. Whereas Paedobaptism establishes the “Christian demands” at birth, Credobaptism perhaps does this as a rite of passage, often through Vacation Bible Schools and other youth activities. It is likely that within many churches, Baptism metrics are driven by minors and youths, not fresh converts.

Civil Law

Stephen Wolfe’s sixth chapter focuses on the limitations of Civil Law, where Wolfe readily acknowledges that laws cannot compel belief, only obedience. He argues that civil law is supposed to adhere to natural law. He makes a distinction between Christian Nationalism and Theonomy, expressing his preference of the former over the latter.

Supplying a set of laws, in my judgment, only feeds into the tendency of Westerners to retreat to universality, where a people look for something outside themselves to order themselves correctly. A people need the strength, resolve, and spirit to enact their own laws, and they should not seek some universal “blueprint” they can rubber-stamp into law (264).

One of the core principles of Wolfe’s The Case For Christian Nationalism is the notion of particularity, and the objective drawback to his work is the lack of particulars. To Wolfe, each Christian Nation would be different and distinct. There is no one-size-fits-all Christian Nationalism, which is his objection to Theonomy. Wolfe would expect (and desire) Christian Nationalism in Hungary to look different than America, shaped by their unique cultures. Some nations, he argues, would have an established church, others would not.

To some readers, they might object to his lack of specificity, and this is to an extent reasonable. Likewise, Wolfe mentions blasphemy laws and sabbath laws, but these are without specifics to what a sabbath law would look like in his vision and with some vaguer in what a blasphemy law would be. This is a weakness in Wolfe’s work, that while he reconciles Christian principles being codified into law with extensive use of both Aquinas and Calvin, he does not apply his conclusions with a concrete platform.

The Christian Prince and Christian Caesarism

In the seventh chapter, Wolfe depicts the ideal magistrate he labels the Christian Prince, a title which feels reminiscent of Machiavelli’s signature work. The Christian Prince is very idyllic in its presentation, where Wolfe likens this theoretical magistrate as serving God in his capacity. There is coordination with the church, where Wolfe believes the Prince would correct the church or assist in the settlement of doctrinal disputes, almost as if this were Constantine calling the Nicaean Council (an example he does not use) to shepherd the church back into orthodoxy. Wolfe would contend that the Prince is distinct from the pastorate, like a husband, that while he does not perform the duties of the wife, may still offer correction without usurping her roles as wife. This is the separation and role clarity in how he imagines the Church and Prince.

I envision a measured and theocratic Caesarism—the prince as a world-shaker for our time, who brings a Christian people to self-consciousness and who, in his rise, restores their will for their good (279).

In essence, he believes that such a reform as Christian Nationalism is only possible through an impactful leader. For better and worse, people rally behind leaders of men and it appears Wolfe understands this as being crucial to reform. In the footnote, Wolfe rejects the worship of democracy and the authoritarian vs democratic debate that are all too prevalent nowadays, contending that “modern democracy is often more oppressive than its alternatives” with the term “Caesarism” being chosen to emphasize personality. The use of Caesarian signifies an understanding to the rise of Donald Trump, that such a Christian figure would be required to implement Christian Nationalism.

This chapter would later go into a Based critique of gynocracy and the feminization of society that is much needed and would make those who internalized feminism uncomfortable. There are concerns of feasibility to this idea and I think it is neglected that more often than not, the Christian Prince would attempt to coerce the church to the political whims of the day, thus requiring the church to petition correction. Nevertheless, this was a potent and enjoyable chapter in the book.

Right of Revolution

Entitled “The Right to Revolution,” Wolfe identifies the political and theological circumstances necessary to justify revolution against the magistrate, likening it to marriage that while divorce is a violation of God’s design, there are permissible circumstances. The same goes with revolution. Wolfe would extend this idea to state that a nation has the right to revolt to protect its own particularity but would require the interposition of a lesser magistrate, like the Continental Congress. Furthermore, he articulates that the status quo is tyrannical and outwardly hostile to Christianity. Thus, revolution is already justified. He would support the notion that a Christian minority impose itself upon the majority, even if through revolution.

In a world where America’s government created a virus in a Chinese lab, restricted effective early treatments at the expense of human life, muzzled its populace, coordinated with corporations to attack truth, and proceeded to mandate a poisonous vaccine upon the populace, there is unignorable justification of revolution in these modern times against legitimate tyranny that exceeds that which instigated the American Revolution. This is without delving into fortified elections, the incarceration of dissidents—including anti-abortion activists, and the transgendering of children at the behest of the state.

Wolfe is not speaking conjecture, but the shared experience of every American justifies a second revolution. Perhaps and hopefully, it would be the Red State governors interceding on behalf of the people but let us not hold our breath for the Republican Party. The real question from this chapter is what it will take to instigate revolution.

Liberty of Conscious and Controlled Opposition

Chapter Nine is entitled with “Liberty of Conscious” in which Wolfe details how the Christian Prince would govern against subversion to Christianity through heretics and unbelievers. Wolfe articulates based on Reformed Theologians, particularly Calvin, the duty to maintain Christian doctrine on behalf of the state, up to and including even death to those whose public heresy is too problematic—a measure reserved for arch-heretics.

The idea of punishing heretics is not new within Christendom, and the sectarian differences of past generations leading to violence cannot be ignored. My criticism expands upon prior criticism that the State would be instigating heresy upon the Church, as was seen during Covid. While it can be understood within orthodoxy that there are primary issues, like those pertaining to Salvation, the Trinity, Inerrancy, etc., secondary issues have been elevated to primary issues in the past, such as baptism, which Wolfe discusses in Chapter 10.

On principle, it should not be rejected by Christians that heretics who lead people to hell be condemned, as it was Jesus who said that “it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). Too many, like Al Mohler’s, would say that Christ’s rhetoric is dangerous, but there is a deep spiritual truth that is it better for the heretic to be forcibly removed than allowed to proliferate and the Mosaic Law prescribes the death penalty to false prophets.

For the Christian Nationalist Hungary, heresy might be defined as beliefs beyond the bounds of orthodoxy held between Catholics and the Hungarian Reformed Church; thus there is a pact, whether expressed or implied, that defines and constrains heresy. But America is more than two predominant sects, encompassing apostate sects and orthodox sects of the Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Pentecostal/Charismatics, and those who are nondenominational. Issues of theological importance, like Reformed vs Arminian or Cessationists vs Continuationists could be elevated to primary, with the latter conflict being nonexistent two hundred years ago. The secondary issues could be raised to primary with this array of doctrinal diversity, which invites sectarian conflict under such a system where government condemns heretics. Maybe the states would oversee this or maybe the heretics would be uprooted for supporting second-table degeneracies that would be proscribed before such first-table laws, such as those against blasphemy or sabbath, could be enforced upon an entire populace, but then there remains the question of whether actual heretics would be condemned. Unfortunately, these heretics operate the largest “churches” in America.

Today, that range [of acceptable opinion] happens to exclude all but a few conservatives of the “center-right.” These conservatives are acceptable not only because they are the controlled opposition…but because they are active participants in policing the cordon of acceptable opinion. They dutifully denounce anyone to their right (383).

This describes everything about Conservative Media that celebrates homosexuality while claiming to be for traditional values, that gatekeeps true conservatives with deference towards liberals, that concedes moral ground on every issue, and creates a soap opera designed to entertain rather than inform. However, I will not disregard his Jordan Peterson quote on this same page as he embodies everything wrong with Conservative Media. Come on Wolfe!

The Ending

Wolfe’s final chapter asserts the unique Christian heritage of America in regards to Religious Establishment, articulating how denominational differences of the past were resolved. All this is while asserting the right of magistrates to regulate religious exercise when it disturbs the peace. Wolfe rebuts the overstated contributions and misconceptions surrounding the beliefs of Madison and Jefferson, arguing that they were extreme for their time.

Meanwhile the epilogue entitled “Now What” feels more as a recap of where we are now and where things should head. It focuses on themes as the Globalist American Empire (GAE), the gynocracy, and the leftist conquest of the institutions before shifting towards means for Christian Nationalists to take, which centers around ideas pertaining to the parallel economy. People who are reading this book understand this and do not require the detailed overview Wolfe articulates. Overall, a very underwhelming epilogue that, due to its subject matter, length, and prose that is tonally disconnected from the rest of the book falls short of what an epilogue should have been. A brief encouragement akin to Jeremiah 29 would have been best suited to conclude this work, to which the epilogue contains these elements to its strength but is drowned with new concepts and redundancies.

Conclusion

Stephen Wolfe’s The Case For Christian Nationalism is the predominant apology for the recent movement that has been ascribed Christian Nationalism and offers the theological support that should prove effective for pastors to further this movement from the pulpit. It cannot be disregarded that much of what is perplexing about Wolfe’s work, especially for its most ardent opponents, is rooted in internalized liberalism that is contradictory to Scripture along with tradition. Overcoming the engrained belief of the Proposition Nation, that America is an idea, or the affection for Democracy, which is nowhere prescribed in Scripture, is a herculean task for the American Church. Others need convincing that the America they were raised in is no longer reality.

For a book on Christian Nationalism, there is no better choice than The Case For Christian Nationalism, as Wolfe establishes the intellectual and theological justifications for this movement that requires an intellectual and theological buttress. Legitimate complaints and objections to Wolfe’s case are few, but they center around questions of feasibility and application within the American context that can and will be expounded upon in future discussions.

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