Review: The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism By Tim Alberta

The apostle John ended his first letter with a simple command for believers: keep yourselves from idols. Idols, of course, take various forms and shapes. For many American evangelicals today, common idols are political and cultural ones. So argues journalist Tim Alberta in his 2023 publication The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory (TKPG). After four years of extensive research, travel, and study, Alberta became convinced that too many American evangelicals have made idols out of political and cultural influence, and “the consequences for the Church have been devastating” (12). In TKPG, Alberta takes a journalist’s approach to prove the point that American evangelicals are far too obsessed with politics and Christian cultural influence. In this book, Alberta also documents the fallout such idolatrous desires cause in the church. Alberta’s reporting spans over four hundred pages, including a detailed bibliography and topical index for further reference.

TKPG has three parts. Each part corresponds with the book’s title. In the first part, Alberta gives examples of the quest of American evangelicals for an earthly kingdom. In the second and third parts, he documents ways American evangelicals have sought earthly power and glory. Each section is filled with specific stories of conservative evangelical leaders and churches that became aggressively political during and after the rise of Donald Trump. The stories in these chapters also include stories about conservative Christian leaders and churches that refused to give in to the desires for political and cultural power. The contrasts between these two strains of stories and examples are quite sharp! Alberta documents the trend that conservative evangelical pastors who were extremely and aggressively political became somewhat famous. On the other hand, those conservative evangelical pastors who refused to politicize the pulpit were severely castigated and fell in disgrace. Some were even left with nearly empty churches.

For more specifics, here are a few of the aggressive conservative leaders Alberta discusses in this book: Robert Jeffress, Ralph Reed, Bill Bolin, Ron DeSantis, Chad Connelly, Jim Jordan, Greg Locke, Jack Posobiec, James Dobson, Herschel Walker, and others. Some of the figures Alberta explores are evangelical leaders; others are not. But they are all part of the zealous conservative political movement to reclaim America for God. TKPG also gives some background of the conservative evangelical movement in the United States, including the stories of Jerry Falwell, Liberty University, and Ralph Reed’s desire for Christians to have power in America. Alberta even briefly discusses John MacArthur’s influence, noting that the money surrounding his empire makes him “too big to fail” (391). One other evangelical political movement that Alberta reports on is Christian nationalism, the desire to make America Christian again. These are just a few of many examples Alberta gives of how conservative American evangelicals are seeking the kingdom, the power, and the glory in America.

For the most part, I am aware of the extreme right-wing political movements and figures in the United States. But before reading this book I was not aware how extreme and radical some of these movements and figures are. During and in the wake of the COVID pandemic, some pastors were actually preaching conspiracy theories from the pulpit on Sunday morning. During Trump’s first presidential campaign, someone wrote a hymn, “Make America Great Again,” which was sung for Trump when he took office (106). Greg Locke preached that President Biden is a “sex-trafficking, demon-possessed mongrel” (218). Locke also preached that the COVID pandemic was weaponized by the government in order to shut down the church (220). Other churches Alberta visited had worship services that felt like political rallies, complete with American flags and songs to America.

TKPG also documents the far-right extremism of Eric Metaxas who said that President Biden has a body double (320). Metaxas also wrote Christian Republican children’s books called Donald Builds the Wall and Donald Drains the Swamp (317). Ron DeSantis said that we need to put on the full armor of God, “and take a stand against the left’s schemes” (257). It is true that Americans always think they deserve to win. Unfortunately, the church in America has often imbibed that “win” ethos as well (50). Along these lines, Alberta ties together the militaristic macho evangelical conservative movement with the similar attitude and outlook of Donald Trump: because so much is at stake, we must fight to win even if it means hitting below the belt. Ironically, “The same asymmetrical forces that lifted Donald Trump to the presidency made pastors like Greg Locke overnight evangelical celebrities” (251). The same could be said about other political celebrity pastors.

In TKPG, Alberta also documents the stories of conservative pastors and leaders who refused to jump on the aggressive pro-God-and-pro-America political bandwagon, beginning with a personal story. Alberta grew up in an EPC (Evangelical Presbyterian Church) in which his father was the pastor. After his father died, the new pastor, Chris Winans, did not get on the Trump train and was nearly run out because of it. He was a good Christian pastor, but since he was not an aggressive political conservative, many suspected him of being a squishy liberal. There are other stories in this book that have similarities. Alberta also mentions the accounts of John Torres, Russell Moore, John Dickson, Cyril Hovorun, Rachael Denhollander, Brian Zahnd, Curtis Chang, Cal Thomas, and others. In these accounts, Alberta details the vitriolic treatment many leaders received for speaking out against the politicization of Christianity or for refusing to become overly political. I was surprised to hear that pastors were actually threatened because they disapproved of Donald Trump or because they were not strongly anti-mask or anti-vaccine. Some Christians questioned other Christians’ commitment to Christ by how they voted or responded to political issues such as mask laws or gun control laws. Through these examples, Alberta points out some of the not-so-Christian tactics and language that zealous political Christians use in their quest for political and cultural power.

The journalistic evidence supports Alberta’s point: in their quest for kingdom, power, and glory, many aggressively conservative evangelicals fail to follow the commands of Christ. Not only is the politicization of the faith and the pulpit polluting Christianity in America; it is also stirring up anger, fear, and unchristian speech and conduct. As one example, Alberta notes that while evangelicals were extremely critical of President Clinton’s sexual forays, they give President Trump’s sexual forays a pass. There is a double standard. Furthermore, Alberta also gives examples of evangelicals slandering, lying, or using language that the Bible condemns to promote their conservatism. For example, Metaxas said that Tim Keller and Rick Warren were “Hitler’s favorite kind of pastors” because they refused to jump on the conservative political bandwagon (329). At one Sunday service, an invited speaker called Michelle Obama “the American Winnie Mandela,” and said that the next January 6 “should be open carry” (318). Alberta gives other examples, including gay-bashing, fabricating threats to the church, racist language, name-calling, cancelling, and others. These are a few examples of the unchristian tactics and language Christians use in their quest for political power and cultural influence. As I read these stories, I could not help but think that the far-right Christian political contingent in some ways is like the far-left non-Christian political contingent. They often utilize the same tactics in their attempt for power.

TKPG is a lengthy book full of Alberta’s research on the Christian right in the United States. Although its focus is primarily on evangelicals of the Baptist or Independent persuasion, this book is relevant for Reformed, Lutheran, and other Christian readers. It is not just evangelicals who are prone to idolize America, politicians, and political power. The American flag gets wrapped around the cross and pulpit in non-evangelical Christian circles as well. Alberta’s book is an excellent resource of documented stories and examples that reveal this political idolatry. It also shows the devastating effects of this idolatry on the church in America. Overall, I recommend this book. We need to see a thing for what it is, even if it makes us uncomfortable. Books like this help Christians follow John’s instructions from long ago: little children, keep yourselves from idols.

©Shane Lems. All Rights Reserved.

Tim Alberta, The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2023).


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Posted by Shane Lems | Thursday, February 29, 2024 | Categorized Books, Evangelicalism, Popular Culture, Reviews | Tagged Bookmark the permalink.

About Shane Lems

Shane Lems graduated from Westminster Seminary California in 2007. He has been a church planter and pastor in the URCNA. Since 2013 he’s been serving as pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Hammond, WI. He is married and has four children. Shane has written numerous articles for Modern Reformation, New Horizons, and other publications. He is also the author of Doctrines of Grace: Student Edition and manages a book blog, The Reformed Reader.

41 comments

  1. Isn’t this also what some on the left do in re LBQT, etc.? Coopting God for our politics is not new. Consider Theodore Roosevelt, accepting the Progressive (!) Party nomination in 1912: “We stand at Armageddon and do battle for the Lord!”

  2. Rev. Lems, I don’t know how to say this graciously, but it must be said. You write repeatedly that you are surprised by things like this:

    * “I was surprised to hear that pastors were actually threatened because they disapproved of Donald Trump or because they were not strongly anti-mask or anti-vaccine.”

    * “But before reading this book I was not aware how extreme and radical some of these movements and figures are. During and in the wake of the COVID pandemic, some pastors were actually preaching conspiracy theories from the pulpit on Sunday morning.”

    * “Along these lines, Alberta ties together the militaristic macho evangelical conservative movement with the similar attitude and outlook of Donald Trump: because so much is at stake, we must fight to win even if it means hitting below the belt.”

    I’m surprised that anyone in conservative Christian circles is surprised by such things. It’s the “new normal,” and has been for many years now.

    I have a decades-long history fighting for conservative Christian positions. Nobody can fairly say I’m any sort of moderate. But because, from the end of 2015 until Trump won the Republican nomination in early 2016, I strongly opposed Trump’s nomination on the ground that he’s not a real conservative and was going to go down to defeat in the 2016 general election, I have spent the last eight years getting attacked as a RINO, a liberal, a Democrat in Republican clothing, and worse. (My actual position, all the way back to 2015, was that there were two good reasons to vote for Trump, one of them named Hillary and the other named Bernie. In other words, we vote for the lesser of two evils in a two-party system.)

    Obviously I was wrong. Trump won. And what won along with him was the tactics he used to win.

    Vitriol is the new normal. It predated Trump but was supercharged by his victory, and has been common now for at least a decade and a half in politics and probably longer. There’s no point is saying the Left started this descent into bitterness — they did — but politics has become a cage fight with no rules except beating one’s opponent to a pulp.

    It should surprise nobody that the same approach has moved from secular politics into ecclesiastical politics.

    This is the world in which we now live. The American Bible Belt is on fire with furious anger, much of it quite justified, against liberals in Washington. Anything that looks, sounds, smells, or tastes like weakness gets attacked.

    It doesn’t take much to go back into our own Reformed history to see similar attitudes at various times in Scotland, during the Cromwellian revolt against the English Crown, in Puritan New England, among the Dutch revolting against the Spanish Crown, and among the Huguenots and others who lost their wars against persecutors.

    The match has been touched to the gasoline and the fire is not going to end anytime soon.

    Like it or not, the world in which we live is very different from the world in which my father headed the Kent County Republican Party (basically metro Grand Rapids) when Gerald Ford was the House Minority Leader before he became vice-president and then president. It does us no good to say we should go back to civility. It’s not going to happen and nobody is going to get out of this cage fight without being badly bloodied.

    • Hello Darrell, thanks for the comment. Since I don’t know you and you don’t know me, it’s hard for us to know what surprises each other. Unlike you, I have not been heavily involved in conservative politics for years. I don’t read or listen to news media much at all, and I mostly stay away from social media.

      I do hear and see news headlines, of course. But for the last many years, I have not followed political news in detail. That’s why some of the stories in Alberta’s book surprised me. I suppose Alberta’s book was me catching up on conservative evangelical political news from the last few years. But to your point, perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised by such stories because I do know about American religious history!

      Blessings,
      Shane

      • Thank you, Rev. Lems. This is helpful.

        So you know where I’m coming from, I don’t know many theologically conservative pastors who are not also very aware of conservative political trends since — with some important exceptions — that’s usually where their congregations stand. If this hasn’t been an issue for you, I’m surprised, but I don’t know you personally and I don’t know your church. I live in the Bible Belt where it’s a perfectly normal and ordinary discussion at county commission and city council meetings for our local elected officials to declare that God is obviously going to destroy the Palestinians in Gaza because they “rose up against God’s chosen people in Israel.” One of our county commissioners is the layman who heads up the county’s association of Southern Baptist churches, and we have quite a few evangelical pastors and laymen in local political leadership positions. At my own county Republican caucus this morning, we had a vote of 101 to 2 for Trump versus Haley, and virtually all of the speakers in favor of Trump at the caucus were lay leaders or ordained ministers in local conservative churches. I don’t know your part of Wisconsin, so perhaps that may not be the type of discussion you have at your local government meetings.

        For better or for worse, church members and church leaders typically bring their activities from the other six days of their week into their ecclesiastical life. If the members are politically liberal, no matter how theologically orthodox the preaching may be, it will significantly affect what a church is willing to tolerate, and the same if the members are politically conservative.

        That means most conservative pastors I know, even if they are not politically active themselves, have to be aware of political activism because of what their church members are doing, some of it good, some of it quite bad, and much of it needing to be corrected and clarified by biblical and Reformed principles of political engagement. Most of modern evangelical Christian political activism is either Baptistic or Roman Catholic, particularly on the abortion issue, and sometimes is at significant variance from our Reformed view of the role of the civil magistrate.

        The main exceptions to that rule that I can think of in the Reformed world are conservative Calvinists doing inner-city ministry or working in certain rural or urban Hispanic contexts where the Republican Party is all but nonexistent. I know pastors in those contexts who try to steer as far away from their local political environment as they can because it is hopeless for a small Reformed church to have any impact.

        I do think Alberta has picked up that the COVID lockdowns supercharged a pre-existing issue that was simmering under the surface. I can think of conservative Reformed pastors, including some of the biggest names in the Reformed world, who had to dissuade some of their more militant members from taking truly awful and grossly un-Reformed stances of political rebellion during the COVID lockdowns. Some were even advocating armed rebellion against the state, citing the Afscheiding history of dealing with Dutch government soldiers sent to block dominees from their pulpits. By God’s grace, most of those things were settled quietly, internally, and privately, but any one of them could have blown up and led to national news coverage if a few militants had managed to drag an entire church into outright rebellion against government authority. Some of the stuff we’re seeing in Baptist and fundamentalist circles, the sorts of things Alberta cites, came very close to happening in some large Reformed churches, due in significant measure to laymen who had not been taught a Reformed view of political engagement and picked up ideas from the broader evangelical political culture that are grossly unbiblical.

        I guess what I’m trying to do is to explain why I’m surprised that you are surprised. Perhaps I should not be. The world in which I live is that of Southern fundamentalism, which is highly politicized and has been for at least half a century. Perhaps what I see every day around me in the church world has, until COVID hit, been an unseen undercurrent in the world outside the rural South.

        For better or for worse, it’s not going away. As a movement, it’s getting louder, stronger, and angrier, and it long ago moved out of Baptistic circles into broader American conservative church life.

        I have great sympathy for a lot of the goals of modern conservative Christian politics in America, but great concern about some of the methods being advocated to advance those goals.

  3. I don’t get a sense of sincerity coming from Trump. It feels like he’s merely playing a part. The problem is that something has to fill the void. You can only be lied to and gaslit so much before you do what I did and divorce yourself from the whole machine (Big politics/government, big media, big pharma, big corporations). You just lose trust and interest in all of it. But most folks are hanging on to Trump for dear life. I’ve tried to casually wake people up, but it’s hard to shake up one’s reality. There’s a 2019 Washington Post article that details how Trump and Epstein were close and attended parties together. (I would be concerned about the ages of some of the attendees but I won’t speculate further on that).

    As far as Alberta is concerned, I’m sure he has his own motives (taking nothing away from his reporting)…
    “We’ve seen pretty consistently for the last few years, the people time and time and time again, who are the most likely to believe that the vaccines are dangerous, that QAnon is real and that the election was stolen and that violence is justified… it comes back to white evangelicals

    Time and again. In my own reporting experiences, you run into a lot of this. I mean, it’s hard to quantify, but it’s not a small minority. The ‘why’ of it is fascinating and frustrating to me because I think at some level, if I’m being honest, there is something about a belief in a higher power that sort of opens the window wider for someone to embrace something that may not be logical or reason based.

    There are a lot of very brilliant people who are not the caricature of this rube who stumbled into believing in Jesus and therefore that makes them gullible. I don’t want to insult the intelligence of Christians in that way. But I do think that there is something about that idea of, by believing in a higher power, whether it’s Jesus, whether it’s any religious tradition, are you inherently a little bit more susceptible to suspending logic, suspending inquiry, suspending scrutiny, and buying into something that might otherwise not pass the smell test? I think there’s probably something to that.

    But I also think that there’s something in the American evangelical psyche that is particularly vulnerable here.

    And it goes back to this idea of: they’re out to get us, we’re under threat and. And I think once you start to really buy into this idea that there is a deep state, or that the government is being weaponized and that there are organized forces out there coming for you and coming for your faith, then yeah, I think it makes sense that you logically start to grab for things that help you make sense of it. So the same people that want to banish Christianity from public life and who want to shut down your churches, they also want to control you with a vaccine. And you can see how that progression starts to kind of roll downhill.” – Time magazine’s person of the week, Tim Alberta has covered American politics for years—writing everywhere from the Wall Street Journal to Politico to The Atlantic. Along the way, he’s developed a special focus: translating the American right to the rest of the country. His 2019 bestseller, American Carnage, traced the turmoil within the Republican party that led to the rise of President Trump. And his new book: The Kingdom the Power and the Glory, explores American evangelical christianity in the age of political extremism.

  4. I totally agree with Mr. Alberta. Be wary of is the Seven Mountain Mandate and New Apostolic crowd. They are wolves!

  5. I remember James Kennedy the Presbyterian pastor preaching more about politics from his pulpit than preaching Christ. I think as Christians we can and ought to use the liberties we have in America. But the state of the nation isn’t our main focus, but rather the state of souls, the proclamation of the gospel and the kingdom of God at hand to sinners. We’re bound to the great commission. Christ could have set up His kingdom on earth either before His death or after His resurrection, but He didn’t. He gave the commission then ascended to the right hand of God, sent the Holy Spirit into the world to gather the saints, the sheep unto God by that commission.
    I don’t care if the president is Christian or not. I care if he knows how to lead and govern a country for the betterment of its people. We just need to stick with the commission we’ve been given. Yes, it’s foolishness to men, but the power of God unto salvation and judgement.

  6. I’m struggling with this issue because I see the need to be careful to separate the two kingdoms, or two spheres depending on which reformer you wish to follow and not bring politics into the pulpit. Be that as it may, the Leftists are just plain evil and it should be our entitlement, not to drag politics into the church, but to do everything possible to stave off the encroachment of these radicals.

    Case in point: A year or two ago, four people in our community ran for positions on the local school board. They didn’t overtly cry for any kind of return to a Biblical stance on anything in particular, but just a sane review of some of the over the top Leftism going in schools (transgenderism, pride flags in the hallways, a “pride” Christmas tree, a forced attendance before the opening of the school day to listen to lectures to get the students to decide who they were sexually, etc.).

    During the campaign, the Left came out in full force, distributing printed hate mail that was sent to every citizen in the district describing these candidates as haters of a free and open society, and even going so far as to dig up some of the major donors to their campaigns, posting their pictures, backgrounds, and monetary amounts given on the Web and in print.
    Those were just dirty, filthy, underhanded, unjustifiable tactics by the Left.

    As it turned out, only one of those four people were elected and it probably had more to do with the fact that she was more well known in the community and had many friends than any political stance she may have had. Fighting back against this kind of onslaught does not have to be a kingdom of God issue, but it sure ought to be one of decency and appropriate education of the young in the kingdom of man. Where does someone have to start and/or stop with these kinds of things?

    And I can see the push-back against the evangelicals bandwagon support of MAGA and climbing on the Trump bandwagon, but at least it’s somewhat of a slowdown against the rapid encroachment of the Left. Or is that what y’all want? Or do you have a better idea/

  7. All I will say is I think starting by saying everyone on the left is plain evil is a false statement and bad place to start and guide this discussion.

    • It certainly is wrong to say “everyone on the left is plain evil.”

      While I do believe modern liberalism starts with a fundamental denial of private property rights and wrongly elevates the role of government over the individual and the family and private institutions including the church, and therefore, in nearly all of its forms, violates the biblical command against theft, I have now lived in the South for two decades. I am very much aware that the older Southern Democrats were very different, and even on that point of state-sponsored incursion on private property rights, differed radically from their Northern liberal, semi-socialist, and socialist colleagues in their own party. (Don’t get me started on the racial issues with the older Southern Democrats; I am far from endorsing them. I have an interracial marriage, and in my state, my marriage would have been illegal until the mid-1960s.)

      There are plenty of people — some of them are now conservative Republicans — who began their political careers holding very different positions and came to believe they were wrong. People change, sometimes for good and sometimes for bad.

      My father’s de facto job in the Republican Party of the 1960s and 1970s was to convince blue collar Democrats they were in the wrong party. My father used to like to say he was a Republican when Reagan was still a Democrat, and that we need to treat people as people, find out what they believe, help them re-evaluate the consistency of their beliefs, and not assume all who calls themselves “liberals” actually understand what they claim to believe. He made no claim to be an evangelical (he was a lapsed Catholic), but he understood a secular version of something quite similar to Van Tillian apologetics — ask people what they believe, push them to be consistent, and some of them, when they realize where their beliefs will lead them if they are consistent, will change their beliefs.

      (And yes, I’d apply precisely the same approach to conservatives and to Republicans. There are very real problems in the rising secular wing of the conservative movement.)

      Even the most left of the leftists are right on some things. Right here in Missouri, local Democrats who know me well, and who know Rep. Cori Bush from St. Louis well, have pointed out to me that her position on abortion is far less bad than most in her party. (World Magazine has made the same point.) Back when she was a young girl who was raped and impregnated at a church function, she tried during the procedure to get the abortionists to stop when she wanted to keep her child and they did not listen to her. She’s also pointed out in Democratic circles that there is a real problem with people who encourage white women to consider adoption but don’t bother to recommend that option to Black women.

      I am anything but a supporter of Rep. Bush, and am glad a number of Democrats have become so upset by her stances on the war in Gaza that Democrats who support Israel are raising money to bankroll a Democratic primary candidate against her.

      But Rep. Bush is an example of how someone with whom we disagree on almost everything can actually be helpful in encouraging Black women to consider adoption, not abortion, and to warn the abortion industry that they need to listen to women who change their mind on abortion.

      • I purposely capitalized “Leftist” in my remarks in order to differentiate them from those who merely lean to the left. I’m using Dennis Prager’s definition who categorizes “Leftist” as those who are more or less against almost everything and desire chaos instead of order. And that’s evil.

        There have been remarks made on this blog about those extremists who lean strongly to the Right, some of the so-called Christian Nationalists and well-known pastors along those lines, as being “evil.” I would agree. Also, I would strongly point out that being a Leftist is not the same as being liberal, especially classic liberalism whereby someone is willing to listen to both sides of an issue before making any decisions or comments. So perhaps we have a variation of semantics going on here.

        • We concur on the importance of distinguishing between leftists and liberals. I make the same distinction.

          The example I usually cite is that the ACLU was once defending the right of Nazis to march through the heavily Jewish community of Skokie. (I was on the wrong side of that debate, by the way, and wrongly believed that the Constitution gave the right to bar Nazi marches as treason, failing to understand that while that could have been done during World War II, we’re not currently at war against any Nazi government.)

          That’s traditional liberalism — arguing for free speech of people with whom we disagree.

          Today’s leftists and cancel culture have taken control of large parts of American public institutions, and have won control of much of the West Coast and East Coast, and wrongly believe they have more support than they actually have. San Francisco is not the rest of America, but the modern left incorrectly thinks they’ve won and it’s time to mop up a few remaining malcontents and resisters against their policies.

          We can debate whether the older liberals were sincere or were using toleration as a tactic to gain control, and always planned to move toward intolerance of dissent once they won.

          I know enough of the older sort of liberal (most of my college professors fell into that category) that I believe most of them were sincere. A significant number of them were horrified by the Stalinist purges and stamping out of all dissent, and believed it was essential that American (and British, and European) liberalism be free to criticize itself and allow criticism by others.

          The New Left, however, has its modern roots in the 1960s and I think for at least two generations what we are seeing today of “cancel culture” has been percolating under the surface.

          Conservatives like David French, a former PCA member who made his career fighting for academic freedom against the hard left, have been fairly successful in winning important legal victories for free speech.

          The problem we face today is that I think the majority of the liberals in the American political system are moving from traditional liberal views of tolerance toward a leftist view of cancel culture, backed up with state power. On the conservative side, men like David French have been marginalized and there is very little willingness to argue for religious freedom or freedom of speech as fundamental principles, only (at most) as temporary tactical approaches.

          This is going to end not just badly but horribly if both sides of the political spectrum have given up on principles that are essential to maintaining our First Amendment, and many other freedoms in America.

      • Again, Darrell, your comments are well thought out and pertinent-Biblically AND societally (if ye will). I find you being of the utmost ‘fresh air’ on these topics, posts, and comments! Thank you, Sir. Great job.

        • Thank you, Rob, for this and the other comment farther below.

          Regarding your second comment, I share your concern about broad evangelical churches that may get the most basic parts of salvation right, and therefore have to be considered to be fellow Christians unlike liberal churches which deny the foundations of the faith, but which teach virtually nothing in discipleship beyond the need to be saved.

          It’s a real problem in American evangelicalism and can mask churches that water down the content of their preaching so much that even the need for conviction of sin and repentance is one step from being lost.

          • Fully agree and well stated again, Darrell! Kudos, Sir!✝️ Darrell, have you written some books &/or other writings? I’d be honored and prodded to read and pass them along to others. Thank you always! Titus 3:5 and 2:11-3:11!✝️📖👍

  8. We started it. Christian schools, Christian book stores, Christian colleges, Christian bands, Christian recording studios. Hey let’s just name everything Christian as a stealthy way of creating a Christian culture. Eeeegads !

  9. Thank you, Darrell! Here’s what I’ve experienced in my 43 years as a Christian- the last 37 as a Calvinist= I lived in NorCal. Sacramento and south of there (12-25 miles south), and in particularly that last southern part, prior to relocating to extreme northeast LA, and while there in that southerly area I became nearly AMAZED w/all the truly weak SBC churches there. It’s striking to see! I’m not exaggerating that 90% of the local churches were so very weak Biblically, and how hard and far it was to drive to solid Reformed and any Particular Baptistry!
    On the northern side particularly of Sac one can find a few solid Reformed churches, yet still not many. But southerly, as I’ve stated, it’s nearly ALL weak, libtard, positive only, pragmatical “preaching and teaching!” It’s striking the difference in the teachings in just this huge circumference of mileage in, basically, nearly all weak vs some highly xlnt teachings there!
    I am what I truly believe to be a solid Calvinist, strong Conservative, Republican, and have not apologized to anyone for this and don’t plan on it any time soon!
    So I ask folks=“what can be wrong with loving our Lord and Saviour/Yahweh AND at least ‘giving a hoot’ about our Nation and America?!” I STILL strive to carry out His Great Commission by Biblically desiring to see souls around us being Saved! All Glory to our Marvelous God!✝️
    Oh…and obviously praying for more great Biblical Churches for folks to attend!📖👍

  10. This is your blog Scott so I’ll be careful in what I say here. During the sixties, in the university, we were marxist dedicated to overthrowing the American society seeing Christians as the chief enemy. Then the Jesus movement occurred and we abandoned the dialectical view of history as seen in the crt culture on our campuses today. We were deeply convicted that we had contributed to the demise of our society the seeds of which are coming in as a full harvest. As young Christians we began having children. I light of all we did before we began asking the question, so aptly put by Francis Schaeffer, how shall we then live. There were many mistakes made. But some like me ended up believing our 3 forms as an accurate summary of the Bible’s teaching or like reformed views. We wanted to right the wrongs we had done as repentance to our God and the welfare of our children. I have witnessed my country go from a church going group of folks to a society hacking off the genitals of our children knowing this whole time the things we set in motion are the cause of what we see now. It is wrong for Jeffers to preach politics in his pulpit but it is not wrong to work to return our nation, to what Francis Schaeffer calls, a Christian base. When I see Alberta’s book being Obama’s favorite book or Woopie Goldberg gushing enthusiasm, or when the Alantic embracing him as a contributor it makes me take pause because those folk consider all of us as the enemy and seek to destroy us as I did in the sixties. Thanks Scott for allowing me to give my thoughts.

    • Regarding this: “When I see Alberta’s book being Obama’s favorite book or Woopie Goldberg gushing enthusiasm, or when the Alantic embracing him as a contributor it makes me take pause because those folk consider all of us as the enemy and seek to destroy us as I did in the sixties.”

      I won’t disagree with you about the problems of support from Barack Obama or Whoopie Goldberg.

      I’m less in agreement with you about The Atlantic. I’m a subscriber and have read it for years. Their approach has historically included trying to identify people on the conservative side of the political spectrum who actually read and interact with liberals and bringing them into the political discussion so people who wouldn’t read conservative journals interact with actual conservatives.

      Yes, I’m aware that hasn’t always worked out. Cancel culture has infected even the more reasonable parts of American liberalism and there was a particularly problematic example of that a few years ago with The Atlantic.

      Certainly I have problems with Alberta. I’ve written before on some of them. But I’d rather see people like David French writing for the New York Times, and Alberta writing for The Atlantic, than to have nobody at all representing anything remotely resembling conservative viewpoints in publications that are major factors in molding opinion among our American political elites.

      Most of our American liberal intellectual leaders are not doctrinaire neo-Marxists who disrespect and disparage anyone who disagrees. That may change as the “wokistas” move from student leadership roles and graduate assistantships and junior faculty appointments into tenured positions and department heads. But at least for now, getting people with some level of conservative views into positions of influence in major media and opinion journals is important if we want to have any chance at all of preventing a full-blown avalanche of disasters coming out of the academy and poisoning our politics beyond any chance of repair.

      People like French and Alberta can get into places, and get people to listen to them, where those in charge won’t listen to people with more consistently conservative views.

      Half a loaf (or a third, or a quarter) is better than none when it comes to getting a voice in the publications that are read by the people who run large parts of our country, and whose make the policy decisions with which the rest of us are forced to deal.

  11. Amen, Mr. Schnable. I was in college (studying Political Science, Philosophy, and French, actually) as the 1960s unrolled, from 1956 to 1960. I had a member of the Communist party teaching economics and fellow travelers teaching history, and I listened to the anti-American propaganda from public speakers and events on campus. I began by being anti-Communist, and I came to realize that the root of right thinking and action is the Bible, though I was still ignorant, unwise and lacking in understanding. For me, it naturally followed that the freedom provided by the founding ideas and documents of the United States became where I choose to stand in the political kingdom, while praying for discernment. After that lengthy introduction, my point is that to my mind and in my experience, the 1960s were a time of bloodless revolution, a coup overturning pretty much all that went before. The culture-wide belief in objective truth was cut off at the roots, and has played out ever more grievously. The reliance on non-reason, subjectivity, self-focused life began, usually with the stoned (I attended a lecture a lecture whose speaker was the creator of “tune in, turn off, and drop out”). The lunacy of deconstructionism and no inherent meaning in language was unfolding on college campuses on the other side of the country. Violence became an acceptable tool for the “true believers,” who tried to destroy the system physically as well as ideologically. And then, the VietNam conflict, the return of overt paganism (Shirley McClain), the Jimmy Carter administration with the deposing of the Shah of Iran and progress in legitimizing illegal drugs, and, with brief moments of respite, the loss of clarity about just war, about the privilege and duty of citizenship, the sanctity of human life, the public good based on law and order, and the True truth of the supernatural world ruled by its Creator.
    My comment about Alberta’s book is that he seems, from what I’ve read in reviews, to ignore altogether the churches which are true churches, with pastor, congregation, and order of worship continuing to hold forth the Word of Truth. Alberta seems to restrict orthodox Christianity to the caricature of politically active “conservatives,” perhaps out of fear, so he dismisses the faithful bodies and individuals who proclaim the Gospel, who desire to glorify God, and who try to love their neighbors as themselves – some of whom are politically active, but not Christian nationalists. Therefore, Alberta’s book is deeply flawed and fundamentally untruthful about the state of the church and its future. It is true I have only read reviews, so Alberta may be more just than I perceive, but Shane Lems’ review doesn’t make me hopeful about Alberta’s work.

    • Thomas & Lola,

      I did a Poli Sci degree in the early 80s. I read the Communist Manifesto probably 5 times. I’ve no sympathy whatever for Marx’s eschatology, economics, or social program. That said, I’ve not read Alberta’s book and Rev Lems has. Until I do, I must defer to Rev Lems’ account of the book. Further, we have to be prepared to set aside tribalism and partisan loyalties to hear criticisms from Alberta even if he is hostile to us.

      It is clear to me that there is a threat to the American experiment, this liberal, pluralist, democratic Republic from the theocratic and Christian Nationalist right. I’ve been engaged with the TheoRecon movement for 40 years. Now, according to Jake Meador, there is strong evidence of a growing alliance between some in those camps as Fascist and National Socialist ideologies and ideologues. Meador isn’t being an alarmist. He documents his claims. I’ve been working patiently through the Statement on Christian Nationalism Meador is on to something. They are proposing a theocratic revolution.

      The threat from the theocratic and totalitarian left is also real and we have been documenting that here too. We should be aware of and opposed to both errors simultaneously.

  12. Scott, I suggest you read Jon Seidel’s testimony before the Jan 6 commitee. In his testimony he casts a wide net in defining Christian nationalism that would includes us because of our beliefs about such things as homosexuality, transgender mutilation of children, and abortion to name a few. He and Mr. Alberta have appeared together on Frank Schaeffer’s podcast discussing Christian nationalism. I am very concerned about Nazi type groups that call themselves Christian. Militant progress critics as mr. Seidel are seen as defending democracy from Christians. And yes, that means you, the institution you serve, and the church in which you have been ordained. I support your concern about Christian nationalism but I’m afraid yours and my definition is not the same as the one mr. Alberta uses. I agree both are dangerous and I am concerned we will be caught up in it but I think there is no question the progressives running our government will lump us in with right wing extremists and consider us as subversive as they already have. Thanks again. We live in a precarious time. God grant us wisdom to protect our people from the wolves who seek us harm. In all this our God is sovereign over the affairs of men and will keep unto the last day.

    • Thomas,

      I’m aware that some abuse the term “Christian Nationalist” to refer to any Christian who seeks to speak to public issues or to participate in the public square. I’ve commented on and objected to that use of the term. See part 1 in my series on Christian Nationalism. There’s at least one other post on that problem. D. G. Hart has also objected to that use of the term.

      As to Alberta’s book, a review is not an endorsement. I read lots of things with which I disagree. I try to learn from them as a I can.

  13. This debate is silly and I have to find fault with the CN’s for their willfully sloppy approach. They are obviously not promoting a state (denominational) church. So what is it then? (Ultimately, I agree with Meador).

    In my opinion, they are being intentionally vague and sloppy by design. They are the other side of the elite coin. The left and the right neo-cons working in tandem to advance a godless, dehumanizing conception of society where the surplus population is managed and contained. A truly Christian conception of mankind as inherently valued (Imago Dei), does not seek to manipulate the populous. By invoking the church, they do a good job of keeping us both engaged and distracted. A case can be made that Darwinism and eugenics is simply being rebranded and repackaged.

    Renn, Wolfe.. even guys like Trilateral Commission speaker and participant, Jordan Peterson ( https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=idw1AtEJH9k ) …where do these guys come from and why should we listen to them?

  14. A few random (not directly related) thoughts….

    1. Calvin’s 2nd use of the law (general implications for civil law) is relatively dependent upon consultation with the true church, to even be properly binding as far as curbing / deterring evil with punishment. As we can see today, atheists (practical or self-defined) transformationalists (will seek to subvert this).

    2. I would conclude that Calvin’s 2nd use of the law applied requires Church authority and influence over society. Not in terms of Theonomy but for a political theory of natural law to have any teeth. The depravity of man and the potential for the usurpation of law and order cannot be properly accounted for without divine influence. A corrupt church and a corrupt magistrate will not maintain these things to the detriment of civil society.

    3. Finally, if Darwinism, Naturalism & gnostic-paganism informs societal standards & norms, which is seemingly the default posture of the state and various thought-leaders & influencers in our day, than national (sustaining) pillars of government (and society) will start to crumble. The absence of proper perspective and influence is ultimately self-defeating.

    Christian-Nationalism also does not account for many of these things.

    • AJ,

      The premise of your 1st point is to be doubted. It is true that under the European theocracies that the magistrates sometimes consulted the state church but just as often they ignored the church. We don’t live in a theocracy and there’s not a shred of evidence in Scripture that the NT expected the magistrate to consult the church regarding public morality. Paul’s assumption is that the magistrate can tell from nature what he ought to do and how to regulate public morality.

      Thus, I don’t accept your second point. You’re advocating theocracy, which would, in this country, require a revolution and quite possibly a violent one. Blessedly, we have a country where the churches are not at war with each other over which shall be the established or state church. In the 18th century, we broke the chain of violence from the 16th and 17th centuries, which were rocked by religious wars for 150 years. I’ve not a lick of interest in going back to such violence. Northern Ireland anyone? They’ve have relative peace for 30 years. We’ve have religious peace for more than 200 years. The Roman integralists and Protestant theocrats should do a little reading about the religious of the period preceding the American revolution.

      Natural law is the antithesis to Gnosticism. The Gnostics tell us that we cannot know what without secret knowledge (e.g., conspiracy theories!) but natural law supposes that the world was made to be known (it was) and we were made to know it (we were). It’s sufficient for public life. From it we learn that we may not take or murder and that those who do ought to be punished accordingly.

      • No, I am not doing or recommending what you claim. I’m stating simply that (natural law as the basis and foundation for) civil law can only be upheld in a society where man’s sinful depravity is curbed. If natural law is willfully usurped by consent of the blinded and deceived and the divine influence inherent in moral and natural realities for the common good is perverted, society will decline.

        So if natural law is rejected as a foundation for instituting and maintaining order (however that my transpire and gain mainstream acceptance) divine influence must be waning. If churches and denominations most faithful in doctrine and practice are deemed extreme or must be silent/have no place in the public sphere then a society that is defaulting to the aforementioned influences/alt-religion will circumvent natural law (theft, murder, abuse, family deterioration, porn/prostitution, etc. will all accelerate) because societal/common good has been perverted/redefined. Natural law can only ultimately prevail if there is a strong church presence. That’s all I’m saying. If all depends on who is defining the common good and whether God is wholly leaving us over to ourselves to define it…

        • AJ,

          You may not intend theocracy or you may not realize the logical implications of what you’re saying but those are the implications of your argument.

          The doctrine of common grace says that it is God who curbing evil. He does this constantly. Without it life would be reduced to utter chaos and destruction—to use Hobbes’ phase, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, & short.”

          Natural law was Paul’s assumed prescription in AD 55. Was God restraining evil under that wicked pagan Nero? Yes. Did that mean that God did not permit the murder and martyrdom of innocent Roman Christians? It did not.

          One of the reasons that people are unfamiliar with natural law today is that too many Christians are ignorant of it or have rejected it unnecessarily. The good news here is that it natural law is embedded in our founding documents. See the Declaration of Independence. It’s also in the Western common law tradition, to which our own laws appeal.

          The Federalist Society is doing a good job of restoring natural law and we have several members of the US Supreme Court who believe in natural law. It’s making a comeback intellectually and, as a matter of the nature of things, it never actually went away. The entire civil rights movement of the 1950s & 60s was premised on natural law. That wasn’t that long ago.

          No, natural law doesn’t depend on the church for its validity. That’s why it’s call natural law. The Founders who invoked natural law in the Declaration weren’t exactly faithful Christians—that language came from Jefferson, who was an ardent Deist, who made his own New Testament with the deity and miracles of Christ removed.

          • At the same time, a moral and spiritual antithesis is prevailing based on social Darwinism, back-door genetics and religious humanism. I think there is a strong contrast between the natural order (and greater purpose) of God’s creation vs. a Godless vision of humanity that is ultimately dehumanizing. Here’s a very interesting entry from PubMed Central…
            I see many parallels with todays modern thought leaders:

            ‘Julian Huxley and the Continuity of Eugenics in Twentieth-century Britain’ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4366572/

            Christian Nationalism seems to play right into the hands of the social planners, but there is definitely some widespread seduction going on.

            • AJ,

              The spiritual warfare we face today is no greater than that faced by our brothers and sisters who were surrounded by paganism in the 2nd century. We should not exaggerate our struggle. They openly appealed to natural law when there were virtually no Christians in the world. We don’t need to be dominant or even influential for natural law to be true and a legitimate basis for public life.

          • Have you engaged with these types? How would you respond? Why are these people resistant to natural law? What are they missing and why?

            “Barrett, a conservative Catholic “steeped in natural-law teachings,” wrote in 1998 that Catholic judges should recuse themselves from cases where their religious beliefs might conflict with their judicial duties—because, in her words, “a judge who is heedful of ecclesiastical pronouncements cannot dispense” impartial justice. More telling than this statement itself is Barrett’s blatant refusal to follow it—she hasn’t recused herself from death penalty or abortion cases, despite the Church’s “ecclesiastical pronouncements” on those issues. Gorsuch completed his doctoral thesis under the supervision of John Finnis, the foremost living exponent of natural law (more on him later), and later wrote a book arguing that legalizing physician-assisted suicide was contrary to natural law.”

            “Aquinas argued that through experience, people gain insight into human nature, and from human nature, people can derive intrinsically true moral principles. For instance, through my experience, I know most people would rather live than die, so I can infer that a desire to live is part of human nature. From those premises, I can conclude that one person killing another violates the natural order of things, leading to the principle, “one must not kill.”
            How do these principles relate to positive—that is, human-made—law? Aquinas explained that positive laws are valid only to the extent that they comport with natural law. “[E]very human law,” he wrote, “has just so much of the nature of law, as it is derived from the law of nature. But if at any point it deflects from the law of nature, it is no longer a law but a perversion of law.”
            That reasoning might seem plausible (and appealing) when applied to murder. But Aquinas, like other natural law theorists, didn’t stop there. By his logic, all “unnatural” acts by definition contravene the law of nature—and therefore warrant state prohibition. For example, here’s his take on why heterosexual sex is fine, but homosexual sex isn’t:
            By human nature we may mean either that which is proper to man … or we may mean that nature which is common to man and other animals; and in this sense, certain special sins are said to be against nature; thus contrary to sexual intercourse, which is natural to all animals, is unisexual lust, which has received the special name of the unnatural crime (emphasis mine).2
            In other words, “unisexual lust” is “unnatural”—and therefore it is a crime. And, by Aquinas’ logic, because homosexual sex violates natural law, any positive law that permits such conduct is “no longer a law but a perversion of law.”
            “The parallels are obvious. Natural law philosophy: “The law derives from fundamental goods.” You: “How do you establish fundamental goods?” Natural law: “Fundamental goods are self-evident, and if you disagree, you’re stupid.” It’s fundamental goods all the way down. The only self-evident truth in all of this is its circularity. Natural law philosophy ends, after a meandering journey, where it started: the personal convictions of the natural law philosopher.”

            “That is the core problem with natural law philosophy. It starts by identifying moral tenets that are supposedly immanent in nature (usually based on theology, because what’s more natural than God’s will?) and claims that those tenets reflect “natural law.” Then, it says positive laws are valid only insofar as they reflect the natural law. Natural law theory is, in short, a justification for using the state to enforce the natural law theorist’s moral convictions. If you think that sounds like a recipe for authoritarian theocracy, you are correct.”

            ““The spread of natural law in the upper echelons of our legal system should scare people. It’s a radical and extreme philosophy, and its rise portends sinister changes to American law.”

            – “The Resurgence of ‘Natural Law’ Theories Should Scare Us All”

            https://www.currentaffairs.org/2023/03/the-resurgence-of-natural-law-theories-should-scare-us-all

            • AJ,

              Yes, there is resistance to natural law from know-nothings. So what?

              There is always resistance to norms by libertines.

              This is nothing new.

              Natural law has been guiding civil life in the West for a very long time. It survived the French Revolution and the Anabaptists and American evangelicalism (which is largely Anabaptist).

              It has survived because it is grounded in the nature of things. It’s the way God made the world and it’s self-evident to reasonable people.

  15. …(( It )) all depends on who is defining the common good and whether God is wholly leaving us over to ourselves to define it…

  16. It’s ironic that the hostile critics against natural law theory are quick to accuse its adherents of religious activism. It all goes back to man’s depravity and resistance against God’s law in nature which is just another sign of greater spiritual realities. In our day, our efforts to maintain distinctions is going to get called out regardless. My point is that it’s indicative of our rejection. In various circles, God’s authority and divine reality is being rejected outright. Jefferson had the benefit of some moral residuals. It still exists, but it no longer has a mainstream platform. There’s no neutral ground being promoted. It’s worth acknowledging and I think it’s where the naturally depraved man is easily led (or hostilely led against) especially when a majority of cultural institutions are being forced to submit to an alternate society and its priorities. There is no Christian solution, but we don’t have to pretend there is one, when even the least offensive natural law proposals are met with outrage.

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