Charity, Politics, and The Great Commission
There was a line that I liked years ago: "politics is downstream of culture." It sounds simple and nice. But it's wrong and dangerous. Law, power, and politics all have a complex relationship with culture. Good law enhances culture; bad law degrades culture.
I started writing this brief manifesto some weeks ago following our Supreme Court's decision to deregister conservative lobby group Family First as a charity, but it has since evolved beyond this. Charity and family are key components of a worldview under siege. One I feel is not adequately defended from a foundation that will withstand the assault.
Deep in the sewers of Twitter, I left a comment on Bob McCroskrie's feed alongside the jeers of gloating cretins: "today is a good day for Christian nationalism, unfettered from legal restraints on political activities the real work can begin." I must have dampened their spirits somewhat as I was promptly featured on Jack Tame's Q&A. After Bob's pluralist platitudes that one has come to expect from his generation, he did confirm that the system exacts a cost—and Family First has always had the deck stacked against them. Charitable registration was designed with a political muzzle and I believe this has harmed the Christian cause immensely.
The decision to deregister Family First proves that our solutions require the relentless pursuit of politics and power. You don't get to sit on the sidelines cheering on with only commentary and education. These are important, but they're important in the context of the political game.
The seeds of the family unit's destruction were sown with the ascent of the liberal world order. Liberalism prioritises the individual over the community—ultimately leading to the atomisation and deconstruction of the individual. The danger is perhaps more destructive than collectivism, which elevates the community and ends up mushing it together into one mechanical blob. A more careful path must be walked.
The problem with liberalism is essentially that of giving puberty blockers to 10 year olds. If the individual wants puberty blockers, why not? The needs of the individual must be raised above that of his or her family (aka community).
There is no real defence against this line of arguing from a non-religious viewpoint. The progressive virus eventually breaks down all barriers and moves on. "Yes adults can chop their bits off, but kids are a step too far" transitions to "yes, 10 year olds can have puberty blockers if they really want them but making them mandatory for 5 year olds is a step too far." That's how every single conversation on social policy has gone for several generations now.
There's only one thing that can stop this evil: Christian nationalism.
A Political Solution to a Political Problem
I must first address the label of "Christian nationalist" which comes from our enemies, as most labels do. I've been called many things in my short life by my enemies, but rarely do they feel as comfortable as this one. The label, like most born of derision, is not quite accurate as Christian political theory permeates through every square inch of Creation—Christian localism, Christian nationalism, and Christian internationalism. However, the broad concept of Christian "nationalism" is as old as the Great Commission from Matthew 28—nay, as old as the cultural mandate of Genesis 1. One cannot fulfil Christ's command to "teach all nations" without the desire to affect transformation. To be a Christian is to be a "Christian nationalist". To reject the cultural mandate is to deny that Christ is King.
Let's provide a simple definition: a Christian nationalist is someone who wants to live in a Christian nation and who seeks the glory of God in all that they do.
The Anglosphere nations are somewhat lacking in this area, as a once Christan empire they did not develop Christian political theory in the way European nations did. English nations effectively had a Christan state with a Christian culture and so no real need for Christian political theories or parties. Yet these theories did make it into the English consciousness from subsidiarity, to sphere sovereignty, to distributism, to dominionism, and so on through thinkers both Roman (e.g. Chesterton, Belloc) and Reformed (e.g. Rutherford, Kuyper, Rushdoony). The broad threads of "Christian nationalism" have been espoused by theologians, reformers, preachers, and politicians for centuries. William Wilberforce was perhaps the most well-known "Christian nationalist" in the English world.
We must briefly touch on the possible negative effects of nationalism here, as in the 19-20th centuries the modern manifestation of it became a power unmoored from provinces, traditions, churches, and kings. It became a power against local communities and the diverse linguistic, ethnic, and cultural makeup of many European nations. The Christian principle of subsidiarity must not be neglected and the local must not be trampled on. We need to respect both the vertical (subsidiarity) and the horizontal (sphere sovereignty) pillars of society. Subsidiarity is about ensuring that decisions are made at the appropriate local level and devolving power to communities where possible. Sphere sovereignty is about maintaining differentiated responsibility in each aspect of normal life so that governments cannot trample on families, and so on.
To pick a current issue to home in on, we see this darker aspect of nationalism on the march right here in New Zealand with the "Three Waters" project that attempts to nationalise local water assets and establish control along ethnic lines. In addition, nationalised power structures can create ethnic problems and conflicts, as it appears we will discover in New Zealand.
There is also a natural connection to our past and greater hope for the future. Especially as liberal globalism offers nothing but false promises to Maori, under a theory of Christian nationalism they could regain greater local control over their own spheres. What many missionaries were working with them to achieve in the 19th century was ripped apart by a civil war, but what was lost could be reimagined.
The development of Christian politics in the late 19th century was a reaction to the French Revolution. They were suspicious of the claims of secular liberalism; opposed to the greed of capitalists; and repulsed by the bloodthirstiness of Marxist revolutionaries. Christian democrats sought solidarity with workers against exploitation and revolution; family and community without socialism; anti-capitalism with strong private property rights; social justice and equality without the moral degradation of liberalism.
The solution in our own national context won't be the same and this isn't a call to set up a new "Christian lobby", some new "Christian party", or a proposal to have New Conservative adopt theocratic policy. There has to be a change in the attitudes and expectations of Christians and so the initial focus needs to be more on how the Christianity of any political organisation is only as deep as those who lead it. The same goes for all other socially conservative institutions here, or what's left of them. You need to bear in mind that New Zealand has never truly seen traditional conservative political theory applied, let alone one that's consciously Christian. There has to be a more gentle introduction with a natural curve that has the right intellectual and populist depth to maintain it.
The world is looking more chaotic. The modern hedonistic, nihilistic, and neopagan ideologies made to replace God leave people empty and broken. The false priests of scientism can only hit the "Great Reset" button so many times before the world starts to slide into the abyss. The worse the chaos gets, the greater the need for order becomes.
Christian Charity in Political Transformation
Where does charity fit into this? As the great Apostle Paul wrote "though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal." (1Co 13:1)
Charity—love for others—is at the heart of Christianity and from it we get our modern view of a charity as an organisation. But the highest form of charity is the truth. To some degree that is recognised in New Zealand: both soup kitchens and churches are registered as charities. Care for the body and care for the soul are charitable endeavours. One would imagine that educating families on the rise and dangers of predatory ideologies constitutes charitable work—these are threats to both body and soul.
Family First's commitment to religious plurality makes them a secular educational enterprise, but their charity deregistration is only a danger to anyone who is promoting Christian beliefs. Their non-political commitments have left them without a voice to represent them in parliament.
While some effort has been made to capture a few electorates the MPs these have produced are, to put it charitably, impotent and lack any real political will or power. That means defeat comes built-in. The threat to the "freedom of speech" of Greenpeace or other organisations who preach the ideology of the regime is overstated. It's not hypocrisy or inconsistency. Our enemies are anti-Christian, it really is that simple. They hate God and they hate you.
We return to the subject of Christian charity. As the gospel spread, it did so in a complete form, along with preaching repentance from sin there came provision for the poor and downtrodden. Love for one's neighbour extended beyond just the care for his soul, but also to see him relieved from earthly oppression. Charity necessitates political change. Liberty could only be achieved if all were free to enjoy God's purpose for their lives.
The transformational demands of the Gospel and its charitable ends formed a natural progression in the early centuries. During persecution by Roman emperors, the Church remained loyal to the empire and the order its power maintained. The anarchy of barbarism was worse than being despised.
In hindsight the Christian world was inevitable. The cultural reformation through the Word of God was linked with reverence for order and power. The only possible progression was toward the reign of Emperor Constantine. All roads led to the New Rome.
The Great Commission could only ever have resulted in a Christian empire; in Christian peoples and Christian nations; in cultures transformed by the power of the Gospel; in darkness dispelled and demons vanquished; in Constantines and Charlemagnes. Not paradise on earth, but the recognition that preparation for heaven begins on earth.
So they blend together: Gospel and charity. Charity and culture. Culture and politics. Politics and power. Power and triumph.
The Christian Worldview
The secular was a Christian development: a term for things outside of the administration of the church and clergy. We need to rediscover the proper place of the secular without the "secularism" that seeks to build an atheist state.
Secularism begged the question: can you have morality without God? The rapid rise of the LGBT cult to fill the religious vacuum left by public religion answers with a resounding "no."
You can either live in a Christian nation or you can live in a demonic nation. That should be crystal clear by now to even the most enlightened liberal. Pick a side. I should be clear to state that I'm not arguing against religious toleration. You can be an atheist, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, or whatever and gain the blessings of living in a Christian nation. The demonic stuff is going to have to go though.
There is a broad audience who will support a project of moral revitalisation. They might not identify as Christian on the census or attend church, but they're looking for a way to escape the secular globalist stranglehold. But this project isn't possible with purely appeals to reason or "science" or whatever. It has to stand on a Christian moral foundation.
Not too long ago, a Christian in the secular realm was still a Christian, but that has changed rapidly. A Christian MP might say something a little bit Christian and then find himself muzzled and forced through a Maoist humiliation ritual because the irreligious sensibilities of his liberal colleagues were upset.
My Christian brothers and sisters, embrace that politics is charity and you have a part to fulfil the cultural mandate right here in New Zealand because Christ is King over all creation and all aspects of life.
Every worldview is religious. Voters for Green, Act, National, Labour, and so on, expect their MPs to honour Gaia, Mammon, Moloch or some other combination of neopagan deities. Voters for the Maori Party expect a robust ethno-nationalism from their MPs that makes Pakeha boomers rage. They get plenty of value for their votes. But do we have voters who expect their representatives to honour Christ? Not really. They have been trained not to.
What's the problem with vacating the public sphere to the secular? Perhaps the perfect example is our own Prime Minister who leads the cruellest government this nation has seen—so far. We have experienced secular "kindness" and "empathy" these past few years. She truly is the epitome of the proverb "the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel" (Pro.12:11). No Christian can say this is how a nation ought to be governed or that their preference is for godless government—as the "godless" tend to forge gods of their own in no time at all.
For now we have a marginalised minority group who don't even have anyone to advocate for their interest in an unapologetic way. Those who could, or should, be doing so tend to shy away from it believing that this would be perceived as a bad thing. This is an ahistorical expectation, especially in light of our present political system that promotes a path to power for minority groups.
We need to build a confident Christian worldview for the secular realm. This doesn't mean that everything becomes labelled "Christian", but rather that Christians seek first the glory of God in their work, politics, entertainment, education, and all areas of life.
The Work Needed
This is what I mean by the real work beginning: the false pretence that there is a secular, non-political solution ought to be over. Nothing magical is going to happen overnight either and the three year election cycles are too short-sighted for this work. We need to think about decades and generations via a project that is serious, disciplined, and knows what it wants.
There is also a "freedom movement" simmering in the background, but this isn't what I'm talking about. Both traditional conservative and Christian political theory aren't grounded in freedom. Freedom is a natural end of a rightly ordered society. Where there is great morality there can be great freedom. It's hard to see where the freedom movement will settle, if at all, but a generic concept of "freedom" is an unstable foundation when unmoored from tradition and religion. The next election is always a chance to play the game, to develop talent and strategy, to test it on the field of battle, but it's not "do or die" nor is it worth supporting those who don't understand or acknowledge the spiritual stakes.
We have to challenge and change the behaviours of those who continue to pursue ineffective cultural strategies that leave their most powerful tools unused. Reason and science are not sufficient to combat a spiritual enemy.
My goal here isn't to "change the government" but rather to transform the nation. This has to start by changing the attitude of Christian individuals, families, churches, and organisations about how they engage in politics. The doomer eschatology is going to have to be left behind. Every square inch of this world belongs to Jesus Christ.
I realise there will be plenty of criticism to my points here, but much of this criticism is not relevant. Younger generations of Christians need a shield with which to protect themselves against the depraved cultural onslaught they face and a sword with which to crush their foes. Personal piety, nihilistic eschatology, and secular politics will not cut it. Oppose me all you want, but I cannot stop what I see before me even if I wanted to.
"Christian nationalism" is inevitable in the same way that Constantine's eyes saw a sign in the sky as his eyes turned heavenward on the eve of battle. Secular revolution ends in death, but Christian revolution ends with resurrection.
And we'll have some fun along the way. Which way, western man?