Its Time for Greg Strand to Address Christian Nationalism Inside the Evangelical Free Church of America

The EFCA needs to address the problem of Christian nationalism from a theological perspective. The dead and injured in my backyard of Washington, D.C. are owed that by evangelicalism. This blog believes that Christian nationalism is a challenge for the EFCA, after all I wrote about it before the election using an EFCA church as an example. Greg Strand needs to develop a program that will tackle this problem and educate people on this topic and defuse the tension. Christian nationalism is linked to other issues such as racial reconciliation and justice which the EFCA cares about. 

“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer 

For the word of the Lord is right and true;
he is faithful in all he does.
5 The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of his unfailing love.

Psalm 33:4-5 NIV

Greg Strand

What Christian nationalism creates, Officer Daniel Hodges being crushed between doors at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021.

January 6, 2021 was a dark day in American history. For the first time since the War of 1812 the United States Capitol was invaded. Some of the people who invaded it were into Christian nationalism. This blog has been doing a deep dive into the prosperity theology, conspiracies and theology of a Christian nationalist pastor from Florida who participated in the event. Five people died in the riot, and two police officers involved later committed suicide. 140 police officers were injured from the event. The sad part if that this could have been avoided. Evangelicals could have stepped up to the plate and worked at defusing tensions in many ways. Hopefully this post will give some in the EFCA reasons to consider a new form of engagement. 

 

How the EFCA Responded to the Insurrection on January 6, 2021

The EFCA’s first response came out on Facebook on January 6, 2021. This blog took a screenshot of it below. 

EFCA President Kevin Kompelien, then addresses the January 6, coup attempt up above on January 9, 2021. He expresses his concern about the lives lost and Christians carrying the cross will rioting. He then calls on the EFCA to pray. At the national EFCA blog Greg Strand takes that principle and applies it. Here’s a part of what was shared which came from an EFCA church in the Minneapolis area. 

This morning we join with other EFCA churches around the world in prayer.

“Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our Father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is Yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all. In Your hand are power and might, and in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank You, our God, and praise Your glorious name.”

With the events of this past week, added to the events of last year, we are troubled. We are disturbed. We grieve. Division, discord and death continue. The turning of the calendar may have ushered in a new day, but it did not usher in a new way.

The insurrection of this past week at our nation’s Capitol was unsettling. That action is strongly denounced, just as the riots and destruction in our cities last summer. Neither is right. Both are wrong. The kingdom of God will never be ushered in through human means.

Many have stated this is not who we are. And yet, we must acknowledge, it is. It is who we are, it is who we have become. And we in the church live with similar idolatries and brokenness.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. Because we are people of the truth, in a posture of contrition and confession, we, corporately as the church of Jesus Christ, repent.

We repent of our sin when . . .

  • we have believed and perpetuated half-truths and lies.
  • we have not responded to those propagating half-truths and lies.
  • we have fear and rather than turning and trusting in the name of the Lord we trust in chariots and horses.
  • we have succumbed to the voice of social media, an echo chamber, and we have muted the voice of God in the Scriptures.
  • we have despised or hated those with opposing views, who are considered the enemy.
  • we condemn the “enemy” and we justify, rationalize and excuse “us.”
  • we have exchanged our birthright as Christians, our heavenly citizenship, for perceived earthly and political goods.
  • we have embraced a “different gospel,” a form of Christian nationalism, where God, Bible and church are equated with politician, constitution and political party.
  • we have placed our hope in a person and a party, becoming part of a personality cult or engaging in political idolatry.
  • we have lived in such a way that we reveal the way to save our lives is to demand our rights, rather than to deny self, take up the cross daily and follow Christ.

For the rest of the post you can go to, “A Pastoral Prayer.” 

 

The EFCA and Christian Nationalism: Considering Randy Discher of Constance Free Church in Andover, Minnesota

Before the 2020 election this blog saw something that gave it pause. It was a voter guide that was sent out in a disingenuous way. It happened at Randy Discher’s Constance Free Church in Andover, Minnesota. The voter guide that was sent out not only played to evangelical’s fears it touched on issues that had no concern to the church. One of the issues addressed was the Second Amendment of the Constitution and gun control. Now, I’m a gun owner, but can I ask what does gun control have to do with the Gospel? Plus it also plays on the “Law and Order” theme as well. In light of what took place here in D.C. I feel more sick to my stomach re-reading it for this post. But on top of all that what also was troubling was the manipulation Randy Discher subjected Constance Free Church to. In his letter to the congregation he said for people to not fall victim to the devil. Then he introduced the highly warped voting guide and he closed it out calling on people to love. Or let me rephrase it as I see it…the Constance Free Church pastor doesn’t want people to think for themselves, follow this voting guide he gives them and then love last. When I was involved in faith I thought love should cover everything that is done? You can read the post in, “Randy Discher of Constance Free Church in Andover, Minnesota on Voting While Engaging in Slander and Pushing Warped Facts.” 

But here is the reality for Greg Strand that needs to be considered. This blog saw a number of questionable things over the Trump era in some EFCA churches. I used that situation from Constance Free Church but the reality is that I could have selected other churches as well. Let me ask this question….in light of what Randy Discher pushed is he and others like him responsible for the death and destruction in my city? Remember the Washington, D.C. area is my home. Does Randy Discher have blood on his hands from the ideology of Christian nationalism that he pushed as well? This blog would say yes, people like Randy Discher are in a way responsible for death and destruction. Because they were a part of the narrative of disinformation that fed the problem. . 

 

Recalling on a Sacramento Bee Op-Ed That Calls Out Evangelicals in the Trump Era 

A Christian journalist who publishes with Zondervan wrote an op-ed in the Sacramento Bee that was bold. He addressed evangelical behavior in the Trump era. Martin Griffith said that evangelicals brought great harm. They accelerated the descent into the post-truth era through these past four years and helped destabilize the nation. They have driven people like myself away from faith. And the young are walking away because they see faith as political and not spiritual. Christians defended their embrace of someone immoral claiming he was Cyrus. The reality is that the person evangelicals rallied around was King Rehoboam, And that brings us to another issue and that is the illiteracy by many evangelicals to the Bible. Greg Strand and many in the EFCA would be surprised as to how well many atheists know the Bible. This blog would encourage you to read Martin Griffith’s article in, “Martin Griffith in the Sacramento Bee On How Trump Supporting Evangelicals Need to Repent (Hint…They Won’t Which is Why Evangelicalism is Broken).” But to follow what Kevin Kompelien said, repentance is more than just prayer. And there is much that evangelicals still need to confront. 

 

The EFCA Needs to Address Christian Nationalism as the Southern Baptists Will be Unable 

January 6, 2021 showed why the subject of Christian nationalism needs to be addressed by Christians. And the EFCA needs to take on this topic and address it. It needs to be added to training and curriculum programs and theology and district conferences. This issue is very much linked to other priorities of the EFCA such as racial reconciliation and social justice.  The EFCA also can draw from a vast amount of resources who could help model and influence in a positive way. For example this blog was pleasantly surprised over how Tom Nelson’s Christ Community Church in the Kansas City engaged on politics. It was healthy and neutral while defusing tension. This blog wrote about it in, “Tom Nelson and Nathan Miller From Christ Community Church in the Kansas City Area Offer a Healthy Perspective on Faith and Politics.” But the EFCA will also be able to accomplish more in this area for one reason that is key to its history in that its a church that was started by immigrants. The early history of this denomination is from the Scandinavian. In history nationalism is a subject that is very divisive. Nationalism is very different from patriotism. Patriotism is healthy whereas nationalism is toxic. Nationalism can lead to war and if you study some of the conflicts that took place in the 20th century nationalism was the driving factor. The Germans used nationalism as a means to invade countries in World War I or World War II. The Japanese used nationalism as a means to invade Korea or China. Consider the Bosnian War or some of the conflict in the Middle East. Nationalism usually marginalizes a people group or goes after immigrants. And that is what has happened in the twentieth century.  In addressing Christian nationalism the EFCA can do so form a unique place as a denomination created from immigrants. That is a strength for the EFCA and why this organization should rise to the occasion in this context. 

The Southern Baptists will not be able to deal with this issue. The Southern Baptists are too divided, political, nationalistic, and steeped in dark history. The organization was founded before the Civil War of 1860 with its creation being driven by slavery. Slavery divided the Baptists from the North and the South. In addition the Convention has deep problems. They will take two steps forward and five steps backward. I would love to read up on it and write about it if time allows, but consider the way Russell Moore popped up in the news. The Christian nationalists are going after him again for his criticism of Trump and a number of topics. And the SBC has rewarded people who push Christian nationalism. Consider individuals like Jack Graham. The Southern Baptists needs to be dissolved as that would be the healthiest step they could take. But with all the problems going on with the Southern Baptists they will not be able to resolve the problem of Christian nationalist. To even think that could happen would be utterly foolish. 

 

Here’s What Greg Strand Can Push Inside the EFCA on Christian Nationalism

These are some suggestions in a little bit more detail from above. Perhaps this can help move the EFCA in the right direction. 

  1. Training program on the subject of Christian nationalism from a historical perspective. Get Trinity involved in developing a curriculum. 
  2. To see the harm of Christian nationalism study the behavior of Christians in the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich. Learn more about Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his thoughts on the subject of Christians in Germany. This blog wrote about this subject last year in, “How White Evangelical Christians of the United States Never Learned From the Christians of Nazi, Germany.” 
  3. Teach pastors and staff to select material that is more neutral and non-partisan. Stay away from culture war issues and avoid politics as they encourage people to vote. Encouraging people to vote is fine. 
  4. Perhaps talk to Tom Nelson from Christ Community Church and take an approach that his church uses. 
  5. Educate about Neo-Nazis and far right groups which are trying to stir up conflict. Develop programs that can help educate pastors and ministry staff to spot people falling into far right recruitment drives.
  6. Build this program into EFCA pastor credentialing.  Just as you would not ordain a pastor who believes in gay marriage. You should not ordain a pastor who is into Christian nationalism. 
  7. Teach pastors how to engage on social media and identify disinformation on the internet. The web these past five years became very dark. And you have to be on your toes when working with it. 
  8. Roll this out in a EFCA theology conference and district conferences and get district superintends involved. 
  9. Launch a committee and charter an internal white paper to study the topic and how it can be responded to in a congregational context. 
  10. Write a couple of blog posts at the national EFCA blog about the problems of Christian nationalism. 

This is a suggested start to give Greg Strand some ideas and a possible way ahead. After the untold violence and the problems that have existed with this topic the time to act is now. Again these are ideas that exist. 

 

One thought on “Its Time for Greg Strand to Address Christian Nationalism Inside the Evangelical Free Church of America

  1. Pingback: EFCA West’s Tim Jacobs Addresses Christian Nationalism After the D.C. Coup Attempt | Wondering Eagle

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