Editor’s Introduction: Responses to Christian Nationalism

[1] This May marked the 90th anniversary of the Barmen Declaration, which was written to denounce the German Christian movement under the Nazi regime and continues to serve as a guide for avoiding the false teaching of Christian nationalism.

[2] This issue of JLE contains a lengthy two part essay, first presenting the history of the Barmen Declaration and then explaining the document itself. Mick Grzonka’s piece is a helpful guide to understanding Barmen.

[3] Following this essay, we have included two essays discussing Christian Nationalism in the United States today.  The first essay, by Rev. Dr. Karl Kuhn, author of Reading the Bible Badly (Cascade, 2020), focuses on White Christian Nationalism.  The essay begins by discussing the sale of the God Bless the USA Bible and the marketing for this Bible by Donald Trump.  While not all Christian Nationalism is dominated by White Nationalism, Kuhn helpfully explicates the definition and markers of White Christian Nationalism.  He then presents a Biblical basis for rejecting WCN theologically.

[4] The third essay, by Dr. Mark Ellingsen, author of a number of books over the past four decades on the topic including, A Common Sense Theology: The Bible, Faith, and American Society (Mercer University Press, 1995), explains an argument against Christian Nationalism as such.  He uses his understanding of Luther’s emphasis on the necessity of reliance on plain reason to guide governments.

[5] Taken as a whole these three essays challenge readers to think deeply about the way their faith impacts their politics and the way they respond to those who argue for an American theocracy and the rise of Christian Nationalism.




Jennifer Hockenbery

Jennifer Hockenbery serves as Editor of the Journal of Lutheran Ethics .  She is Professor of Philosophy and Dean of Humanities at St Norbert College. She attends Grace Lutheran Church in Green Bay, WI.