(OPINION) Pastor John MacArthur denounced Christian nationalism insofar as it is defined as an attempt to usher in the Kingdom of God on Earth through political means, but exhorted Christians to care about what is happening in their nation.

“There is no such thing as Christian nationalism,” MacArthur said during a question-and-answer period last month at Grace Community Church in Los Angeles. “The Kingdom of God is not of this world.

Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight.’ His Kingdom is not of this world. The kingdom of this world is a separate world. They’re not linked together.”


Advertisement


MacArthur explained his belief that the prevailing religion or ideology of any nation bears no relevance to whether the Kingdom of God progresses according to His sovereignty.

“Nothing that happens in any nation, whether it’s a communist nation, a Muslim nation, or a quote-unquote quasi-Christian nation, or an atheistic nation, nothing in that nation — politically, socially — has anything to do with the advancement of the Kingdom of God,” he said. “Because the Kingdom of God is separate from that system. God, in His sovereignty, is building His Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it, Jesus said.”

“So the idea that you should link up some political effort, some political process, some social process, some gain of power or influence in a culture as part of the advance of Christianity is alien to Christianity,” he said.

“You never have our Lord approaching anything like that, nor the apostles, and particularly the apostle Paul; he sought to gain no favor with the Roman Empire whatsoever, or for that matter with any other of the rulers that he ran into during his life.”

MacArthur went on to clarify that he was not saying Christians should be “indifferent to what happens in the nation,” stressing that they should vote for righteous leaders when they have the opportunity, which he noted is becoming increasingly difficult.

“We have to be the people who uphold righteousness. When we come to vote, we want to vote for that which is the most righteous option. Obviously, we can’t vote in righteousness, but we have to vote in a way that reflects our commitment to the righteousness of God,” he said, adding that Christians ought not to elect leaders who affirm abortion, LGBT behavior, or any other form of immorality.

“It gets harder, doesn’t it, nowadays? Because even sometimes, when politicians are more conservative and anti-abortion, they may be sinful and wicked in some other categories. And it’s very hard to find out who is really honest and who is simply dishonest and seeking power,” he said.

“But in the end, we do what we can [politically] with the understanding that the responsibility of the Church is not to advance the kingdom of this world. That’s a faulty viewpoint.”

MacArthur, a premillennialist, suggested that Christians who believe they can assist God in establishing His kingdom by seizing the reins of political power are misguided and often driven by a mistaken postmillennial eschatology that believes Jesus will return following an extended period of Christian political and cultural dominance.

“And that is the view that the Church — somehow by influencing the culture — can bring in the Kingdom of Christ. In other words, it’s the idea not that Christ returns and sets up His Kingdom, but that the Church establishes His Kingdom and then hands it to Him. That is not what Scripture teaches,” he said.

“What Scripture teaches is what we’re learning from the book of Revelation: Things are going to get worse and worse and worse, and the end of human history is not the Church triumphant, reigning in the world and taking over the structures of human kingdoms.

That’s not what happens. At the end of human history, the believers are persecuted and murdered. And that’s the very opposite of what Christian nationalism would anticipate.”

“So we believe the Bible teaches that things get worse and worse, headed toward the wrath of God, which we’re seeing in Revelation. And then our Lord returns, Himself, to establish His Kingdom,” he added.