Stephen Wolfe’s book on Christian Nationalism turns Christian Political Theology on its head
A new book by Dr. Stephen Wolfe and published by Canon Press is changing how conservative Christians think and talk about politics. Dr. Wolfe (Ph.D. LSU) defines and explicates Christian Nationalism in The Case for Christian Nationalism. The book is now in the Top 100 on Amazon and the top book in subcategories including Church & State Religious Studies, Nationalism, and the History of Religion & Politics, according to Amazon. This is impressive for a 488-page book that blends historical scholarship, political theory, and theology.
The book has Christians and conservatives attempting to cancel Dr. Wolfe. Dr. Wolfe told CR that the most surprising attack has been the secretive attempts to cancel.
Dr. Wolfe said, “The most surprising has been the hostility and attempts to cancel behind the scenes by those who publicly reject the friend/enemy distinction and yet share with me a love for the same old Protestant sources and most of my conclusions. They seem upset that I’m disrupting and accelerating their 10,000-year-plan to retake Christendom.”
And The Case for Christian Nationalism is certainly disrupting the debate.
Whatever one thinks of Christian Nationalism—it is at the center of the evangelical discussion. The book and Dr. Wolfe are taking fire from libertarians and the Woke. And Dr. Wolfe said this is unsurprising.
Dr. Wolfe said, “It doesn’t surprise me that the woke and many of the non-woke are joining forces to attack me. Just as Marxism is a cousin of liberalism, wokism is that of non-wokism. Their overlapping worlds are threatened by pre-liberal ideas, particularly religious ones. One point of the project is to escape modern liberalism and the liberal, egalitarian assumptions that make wokism possible.”
Attacks include the “scholar” Dr. Paul D. Miller who linked NatCon with the new book. You might remember that Dr. Miller is the ERLC associated scholar who said, “Nationalism is gross” and claimed the idea of a Christian America is unchristian and unamerican.
His dishonest list of questions about CN shows how he plays the leftist game. Why would CN have any issue for interracial marriage? Oh wait, he’s subtly spreading the idea that Christian Nationalism is about white Christian Nationalism by coopting a leftist talking point attacking CN. There is a reason he attends J.D. Greear’s church and is platformed by the Wokest of the Woke SBC seminaries—SEBTS.
A conservative critique of Christian Nationalism labels the project “Neo-Puritan” and warns that its extremist views could be coopted and used by forces in another Hegelian dialectical transformation of evangelical political theology much like TGC was utilized in the past.
So, why is Dr. Wolfe’s book so controversial? At its root—the book believes government can have powers to use for man’s good. This would seem uncontroversial until you examine the motivations behind the various attacks.
The Woke do not like this definition because any conservative use of power scares them (see Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter to encourage true free speech). The Woke love power and fear when it is used against them.
Libertarians worry about allowing the state to have power because of their concerns over any government power. This arises out of a commitment to Enlightenment ideas of individual liberty as the primary end of government. This may be the most important attack and something conservatives will grapple with over the coming months as this debate unfolds. Can Christian Nationalism be reconciled with liberty?
Both views attacking Dr. Wolfe’s The Case for Christian Nationalism are rooted in worldviews. Thus, there is no easy way to reconcile this debate inside evangelicalism. However, both the Woke ideology and even Classical Liberalism face serious challenges today—in some sense, Dr. Wolfe is correct that both woke and non-woke ideologies are rooted in liberalism. And if liberalism functions as Deneen argues as a type of anti-culture that attacks the foundations of the West, then what is the correct path to repair the dysfunctions of the West will be a focus of intense debate.
Regardless of what you think about Christian Nationalism, Dr. Wolfe’s new book is going to shape the debate going forward.