I can’t make up my mind. So many republican “patriots” (using the term loosely AND satirically) are showing up with all this new “fervor” about how Christianity and conservative / right-wing politics are somehow one and the same… And now Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security advisor, is making the rounds of churches being introduced as “America’s General; Martyr, Hero, Leader, Patriot, Holy Warrior.” (All of which just gives me a bewildered headache.)
Are we watching the heresy of “Christian Nationalism” grow towards critical mass right before our eyes? By the way: I’m not the only one willing to state openly that this current version of christian nationalism is indeed a heresy, regardless of whether some preachers and churches clap their hands and jump for joy over it or not: Check out these voices saying the same thing:
- The Heresy of Christian Nationalism (Rev. Jennifer Butler’s read on it.)
- Christian Nationalism: Heresy or Hype? (A Gospel Coalition Podcast)
- What is Christian Nationalism? (Christianity Today’s somewhat watered-down critique)
- The Heresy of Christian Nationalism (John Pavlovitz’s usual, take-no-prisoners candid talk)
I’m tempted to think it’s exactly that. It looks an awful lot like we’re seeing a religious movement gain traction about that which Paul explicitly warned us against in 2nd Timothy:
” 1In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: 2 proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage with the utmost patience in teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound teaching, but, having their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.” (2nd Tim. 4: 1 – 4)
The nonsense we see going on certainly seems to support this. All the religious hype that’s being blended into what is – at its core – a clear proclamation of a fringe political ideology, seems to support the linkage with the verses above. And it should be pointed out that the actual crowd Flynn is attracting does not look ANYTHING like the more diverse images on the backdrop behind him on the stage; an important distinction that needs to be seen and noted. Compare the picture above with the one immediately below: No, they don’t look anything remotely similar.
So, is this it? The once political fringe right is now morphing into a twisted, distinctly unorthodox, cult-like, religious heresy? One that should frighten anyone who actually DOES understand why religious freedom and pluralism are both foundational and necessary for our nation’s continued existence?
Or – even granting the concern and danger the religious side of this represents – is there something simpler going on? One small paragraph gave me pause and makes me wonder. Just five paragraphs into the article is this little gem: “Flynn brought his fight — a struggle he calls both spiritual and political — last month to a church in Batavia, New York, where thousands of people paid anywhere from a few dollars to up to $500 to hear and absorb his message that the United States is facing an existential threat, and that to save the nation, his supporters must act.”
Is that actually what it’s all about? Is Flynn just another Trump-like grifter who has found a way to cash in? Like Steve Bannon did with his fraudulent scheme to steal money from donors thinking they were helping pay for a wall on the U.S. southern border? (Which will probably – and FINALLY – see Bannon’s ass thrown in jail.) Has Flynn figured out the latest get-rich quick scheme that all of Trump’s followers seem to orbit around? Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? (I actually find myself wondering if they all have to promise Trump a cut of the take to be in on this astonishing nonsense.)
Follow the money… Always follow the money. Praise Jesus while you do it if you want, but don’t forget that the cash these poor, dumb bastards are throwing Trump’s way may have been the main point all along.