In a Jan. 6, 2018 opinion piece for the New York Times, writer Katherine Stewart labels Ralph Drollinger, President and Founder of Capitol Ministries, a Christian Nationalist.
This is false.
In the story that is highly critical of the Museum of the Bible, Stewart writes:
“The museum is a safe space for Christian nationalists, and that is the key to understanding its political mission…One individual who definitely gets it is Ralph Drollinger, the founder and president of Capitol Ministries and one of the most politically influential pastors in America.
“This fall, Mr. Drollinger held a training conference for some 80 international associates at the museum on the topic of “creating and sustaining discipleship ministries to political leaders.”
Stewart goes on to quote a variety of Capitol Ministries’ Bible studies which she offers as substantiation, but which actually expose her misunderstanding of a pastor’s role in general and Drollinger’s positions, specifically.
As it has often been said, a person is entitled to her opinion, but not to her own set of facts.
In examining the facts, let’s start with the definition of a Christian Nationalist, also known as a Dominionist.
Christian Nationalism is defined by Michelle Goldberg, liberal/progressive author, in her book, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism. In a blog that was published by the Huffington Post, she writes:
“I’ve just published a book called “Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism,” and since it appeared, I’ve been asked several times what Christian nationalism is, and how it differs from Christian fundamentalism.
“It’s an important concept to understand, because the threat to a pluralistic society does not come from those who simply believe in a very conservative interpretation of Christianity. It comes from those who adhere to a political ideology that posits a Christian right to rule.
“Christian nationalists believe in a revisionist history, which holds that the founders were devout Christians who never intended to create a secular republic; separation of church and state, according to this history, is a fraud perpetrated by God-hating subversives… The goal of Christian nationalist politics is the restoration of the imagined Christian nation.”
Stewart also quotes George Grant, former executive director of D. James Kennedy’s Coral Ridge Ministries, who wrote in his book The Changing of the Guard, that “Christians have a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ — to have dominion in civil structures…It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.”
To be clear once again: Ralph Drollinger is not a Christian Nationalist nor is he a Dominionist. Drollinger:
DOES NOT believe Christians have a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ.
DOES NOT believe Christians are to have dominion over government.
DOES NOT believe in a political ideology that posits a Christian right to rule.
DOES NOT believe in a revisionist history that holds that the founders were devout Christians who never intended to create a secular republic. (Drollinger believes that many, not all, of America’s founding fathers were Christian and that their beliefs are reflected in much of our nation’s history.)
DOES believe in separation of church and state (see Clarifying the Continual Confusion about the Separation of Church and State).
DOES NOT believe separation of church and state is a fraud perpetrated by God-hating subversives.
DOES NOT believe in the restoration of a Christian nation.
Ralph Drollinger IS one of those “who simply believe in a very conservative interpretation of Christianity,” as Goldberg put it. (“It’s an important concept to understand,” she writes, “because the threat to a pluralistic society does not come from those who simply believe in a very conservative interpretation of Christianity.”)
By the very standard established by Michelle Goldberg, the liberal, progressive camp’s authority on the subject, Ralph Drollinger is not a Christian nationalist.
What Ralph Drollinger believes, as a Christian Evangelical pastor, is that all men need redemption through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
He believes that when political leaders are taught the life-saving Gospel, their eternity is secured and as a result, their governance will reflect moral, godly, righteousness.
The precepts found in the Bible (thou shall not kill, Exodus 20:13; thou shall not steal, Exodus 20:15) have long been used as foundation for laws.
Drollinger does not believe in Christian-run nations because that concept is not Biblical.
Secular writers need to understand:
In Drollinger’s D.C. Member Bible studies, the Bible is studied.
Drollinger, who holds a seminary degree, is an expository, exegetical pastor who examines one book of the Bible, one verse at a time. One book could take one year to complete. He is currently teaching the Sermon on the Mount in all D.C. Bible studies.
As pastor, Drollinger’s role is to help individual Christian legislators grow in their faith and knowledge of God’s Word and precepts, and to lead men who do not know Him to Christ.
In taking the Gospel to foreign nations, Drollinger is serving as a missionary, a legitimate calling that has been long accepted and highly regarded by American society.
In going to other nations, he is exporting the Gospel of Jesus Christ to political leaders, not public policy.
As a Christian pastor, Drollinger feels a deep obligation to obey Jesus Christ’s command to help fulfill the Great Commission:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19
Rather than accusing secular writers of knowingly and intentionally misrepresenting and libeling Drollinger, and giving them the benefit of the doubt, it may be that writers like Stewart are confused by the weekly topical Bible studies such as Wilberforce: Insights on Successfully Persevering in Office, Part 1, Part 2; Remedy for Racism; The National Consequences of Rejecting the Doctrine of Sin, among others.
It’s important for secular writers to understand:
As a Christian and an Evangelical Pastor, Drollinger believes the Bible is current and holds the answers to all of today’s issues and problems. Consequently, he looks to the Bible for direction on contemporary matters.
For example, in the Bible study, Solomon’s Advice on How to Eliminate a $20.5 trillion Debt, Drollinger examines how Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, advised his son, who would one day be king, about the dangers of debt, personal as well as national.
Drollinger does not tell legislators how to vote. The study examines biblical precepts about money, lending, borrowing, and debt.
A Christian lawmaker’s vote or policy positions are between himself and God; Drollinger encourages lawmakers to vote their conscience.
Stewart is among secular writers who have mischaracterized and misquoted these Bible studies, and presented a false impression of them to readers.
For example, Stewart writes: Mr. Drollinger believes that social welfare programs “have no basis in Scripture…”
This oversimplification is a misrepresentation of the study and omits explanatory information.
In Entitlement Programs Viewed Through the Lens of Scripture, Drollinger examines the institutions created in the Bible and their specific societal roles. He cites these Scriptures: 1Timothy 5; Acts 6:1-6; Rom. 15:25-26; Gal. 2:10; 2Thes. 3:6-12; Ja. 1:27; 1Jn. 3:17; 1Tim. 5:8, and writes that the Bible is clear that a safety net for members of society is the responsibility of marriage, the family, then the church.
“There is a pecking order, or hierarchy of responsibility revealed in Scripture,” he writes. “God’s design is for the husband to provide for his own household.”
Stewart gives a false impression of Drollinger’s position when she fails to mention this section in the Bible study:
Drollinger wrote: “I should quickly and in all objectivity, add that Scripture does not prohibit Government from directly aiding the poor, but to the degree any of God’s five ordained institutions wanders from its scripturally explicit responsibilities is the degree the institution will become inefficient and increasingly unable to fulfill its God-explicit responsibilities.”
Stewart and other secular writers have the right to reject Scripture.
But they do not have the right to falsely represent Drollinger and attempt to prevent him from exercising his right to teach Scripture.
While Drollinger does not embrace a Christian-run nation, he does believe that all men need Jesus Christ and that his duty is to introduce as many of them to the Lord as possible.
It is a fine distinction. Drollinger is concerned with the HEARTS of men, not the Christian take-over of nations, as has been charged.
To characterize him otherwise is both false and libelous.
To further ensure that he is understood, here is what Drollinger believes in his own words. Drollinger said:
“I do not believe in or support the concept of a Christian nation. There is no such thing as a ‘Christian nation’ in the Bible.
“The term ‘Christian,’ as used in the Bible, relates to an individual who has come to Christ for salvation; it is this limited, biblical understanding that prohibits the idea of using it to describe a nation. Nowhere in the New Testament is that concept espoused or represented as something to be achieved.
“America was, therefore, never a ‘Christian nation’ per se in its founding. Yes, it was guided by Christian principles in the past, perhaps more so than today, but to say it was founded as a ‘Christian nation’ is, biblically speaking, an unfounded premise.
“In the New Testament, the Bible teaches that God created the institution of the state as an entity separate from the institution of the Church. But that does not imply that God does not expect the institution of the state to be influenced by the institution of the Church: He does expect the Church to influence the State — while remaining institutionally separate.
“I do not believe or embrace “Christian Nationalism” nor does Capitol Ministries harbor any theocratic motives.
“Capitol Ministries exists to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world’s leaders so that they may know Him and have eternal life.”