Pentecostal and charismatic leaders rebuke Christian nationalism

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More than 60 Pentecostal and Charismatic leaders launched a website on which they posted a lengthy statement opposing Christian nationalism. See: tinyurl.com/bdcmwjjc

I urge you to read the statement, because it is about as clear and correct as I have ever seen on the proper – and inappropriate – roles of Christians in political affairs.

As religious journalist Julia Duin reported for Newsweek.com, Christian nationalism seems to have made inroads into a more or less fringe branch of the Pentecostal/charismatic movement, the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). See: tinyurl.com/2pnwvac2

Frankly, I had never heard of the NAR. Some of its adherents apparently took an active part in the storming of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. The new statement and website serve as a rebuttal to them.

At least some of the members of the NAR movement believe, like other types of Christian nationalists, that the United States was ordained by God as a uniquely Christian country and should always be governed by Christian laws, principles and leaders. . There is also often a tinge of white supremacy attached to Christian nationalism.

But, as Duin points out, millions of Americans are Pentecostal or Charismatic Christians. A 2006 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that 5% of Americans are Pentecostal and 18% are Charismatic.

Worldwide, Pentecostals/Charismatics (the terms are roughly synonymous) are estimated to be the second largest branch of Christianity, numbering around 500 million people. Only the Roman Catholic Church is larger.

Adherents are distinguished by their belief in the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit such as prophecy, speaking in tongues and healing. For the record, I myself belong to this category of Christians.

The new statement should remind us all that the vast majority of Pentecostals/Charismatics are not Christian nationalists, let alone racists. Globally, the vast majority aren’t even Americans — or whites.

One of the signers of the documents is Craig Keener, a prominent New Testament scholar who teaches at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky.

Keener, who is white, is married to a black woman and was ordained in a predominantly black Baptist denomination.

The idea that God favors one race or nationality over others is a misinterpretation of Scripture, he said.

“It blinds us to the heart of God which is for everyone,” Keener told me. Equality before God “is central to the gospel.”

He hopes the new statement will help clear things up for Pentecostals and charismatics who might be tempted by Christian nationalism, but also for outsiders who might assume most Pentecostals/charismatics embrace it.

The statement recognizes that the term Christian nationalism means different things to different people. For some Christians, it “simply refers to a wholesome form of Christian patriotism, to love God and to love one’s country. In that sense, the term is benign”.

And sometimes the media, intentionally or not, “puts the worst interpretation on our words, takes us out of context, wrongly associates us with dangerous fringe groups, and slanders us unfairly.”

The document says it is good – and biblical – to respect national borders and national authority, “unlike a one-world international government”.

However, the signatories reject as unbiblical “the belief that America is a uniquely chosen nation, similar to Old Testament Israel being God’s chosen nation”.

They “categorically and unequivocally” denounce any Christian nationalism that advocates a violent Christian uprising against the government or the use of force as a means of advancing the gospel.

They reject all ideologies and movements claiming ethnic or racial superiority. Every race and ethnicity deserves dignity and respect, because all were created in the image of God.

They reject any “triumphalist, top-down” religious takeover of society, and say they know of no major Christian movement that promotes such a goal.

They say Christian identity should never be confused or confused with national identity, as if the kingdom of God and our particular nation are the same thing.

“In contrast,” they write, “we believe that the biblical way of influencing society is to live the (crucified) life in which believers lay down their lives in the service of others, resulting in human flourishing for the glory of God. This can include Christlike engagement in all spheres of society.”

The leaders say it is spiritually dangerous to confuse patriotism with spirituality, to “compromise our ethics to keep our party (or our leader) in power” and to “turn a human being into a political savior”.

I cannot say what real impact this document will have. But it accurately sums up how people who are serious about their faith should — and shouldn’t — approach the public arena.

I hope this will prevent a few wavering souls from using violence and fanaticism in the name of a faith that has been defined from the start by peace and unconditional love.

I hope it might also wake up some of the secular critics who see a handful of Christians acting like crackpots and lazily (or maliciously) pretending that we’re all crackpots.

Paul Prather is pastor of Bethesda Church near Mount Sterling, Ky. You can email him at

[email protected]

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