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Monday 31 August 2020

The Church Must Remember: We Were Commanded To Teach Nations To Obey Jesus

God, king, and country. God, king, and people. God first, national leaders next, people after that. These were the priorities of who to submit to, for the people of the not-so-long-ago West. I have heard different Christian leaders mock these terms, or even talk about them as though they are dangerous. But think about this: is it a coincidence that after rejecting God, then dismantling the kings, that the western nations are now losing their countries?

Many western leaders today are more concerned with being welcomed into elite globalist circles, rather than prioritizing their own people. Indeed, this is evidenced more than anything by the attitude of western leaders to their people; they see them as interchangeable, and replaceable, by anyone, from anywhere, who wants to come here, and manages to secure a visa, and residency. When a national leader says an immigrant from Spain, Morocco, Sudan, Iran, or Vietnam or wherever is as much an Australian as a descendant of the first fleet, or a descendant of those men who federalized and created our sovereign nation, they are saying, whether they know it or not, that you are replaceable.

If anyone can be Australian, just by changing location and taking a test, then “Australian” in their eyes is literally a social construct, and not an ethnic reality. Indeed, this is why many western leaders refer to foreigners as “ethnic” people, it’s a subtle indication that they are denying, implicitly or explicitly, that we Aussies have an actual ethnic identity, when we do; Australian originally meant a British person living in the south land. The denial of this reality, is a denial of definitional nationhood, it is a globalist approach to statehood, that says the state is supreme, and its people fully replaceable and interchangeable. Whereas the correct position is the nation is supreme, and the state exists to serve it.

Indeed, the phrase God king and country while highlighting the priorities of submission of the people to God and their king, also contains within it this idea: a king who is submitted to God, knows he has a responsibility to serve his people. This is precisely why God forbid his ideal nation from being ruled by foreigners (Deut. 17:14-17), or leaders with foreign allegiance, which in the ancient world was often recognizable by the nationality of one’s wife, and the gods one worshipped. In God’s view a king, or a leader, must be of his people and loyal to his people. And here in is the reminder of the mandate of the Church:

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

The mandate of the Church has been, and always will be to teach nations to obey the commands of Jesus, and structure society accordingly. This could be argued to be the foundational principle of Christian nationalism. Not the idea that a nation is equal to the Church in being the body of Christ on earth, but the concept that a nation can submit to Christ, should be taught to submit to Christ, and nations which were founded by, or converted to, this principle have a responsibility to recognize that their whole nationhood is a people incorporated around the idea that Christ is supreme and all other authorities submit to him. This is the foundational view of the West. This is not a radical idea, it is an old, and well established idea, and crosses denominational boundaries throughout history.

Here is a great expression of this idea (now my fellow Protestant readers might not favour this source, but focus on what is said, Church history requires engaging with sources we aren't always predisposed to):

Chap. VIII. How Pope Boniface sent the Pall and a letter to Justus, successor to Mellitus. [624 a.d.]

Justus, bishop of the church of Rochester, immediately succeeded Mellitus in the archbishopric. He consecrated Romanus bishop of that see in his own stead, having obtained authority to ordain bishops from Pope Boniface, whom we mentioned above as successor to Deusdedit: of which licence this is the form:

Boniface, to his most beloved brother Justus. We have learnt not only from the contents of your letter addressed to us, but from the fulfilment granted to your work, how faithfully and vigilantly you have laboured, my brother, for the Gospel of Christ; for Almighty God has not forsaken either the mystery of His Name, or the fruit of your labours, having Himself faithfully promised to the preachers of the Gospel, ‘Lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world’; which promise His mercy has particularly manifested in this ministry imposed upon you, opening the hearts of the nations to receive the wondrous mystery of your preaching. For He has blessed with a rich reward your Eminence's acceptable course, by the support of His loving kindness; granting a plentiful increase to your labours in the faithful management of the talents committed to you, and bestowing it on that which you might confirm to many generations. This is conferred on you by that recompense whereby, constantly persevering in the ministry imposed upon you, you have awaited with praiseworthy patience the redemption of that nation, and that they might profit by your merits, salvation has been bestowed on them. For our Lord Himself says, ‘He that endureth to the end shall be saved.’ You are, therefore, saved by the hope of patience, and the virtue of endurance, to the end that the hearts of unbelievers, being cleansed from their natural disease of superstition, might obtain the mercy of their Saviour: for having received letters from our son Adulwald, we perceive with how much knowledge of the Sacred Word you, my brother, have brought his mind to the belief in true conversion and the certainty of the faith. Therefore, firmly confiding in the long-suffering of the Divine clemency, we believe that, through the ministry of your preaching, there will ensue most full salvation not only of the nations subject to him, but also of their neighbours; to the end, that as it is written, the recompense of a perfect work may be conferred on you by the Lord, the Rewarder of all the just; and that the universal confession of all nations, having received the mystery of the Christian faith, may declare, that in truth ‘Their sound is gone out into all the earth, and their words unto the end of the world.’205

“We have also, my brother, moved by the warmth of our goodwill, sent you by the bearer of these presents, the pall, giving you authority to use it only in the celebration of the Sacred Mysteries; granting to you likewise to ordain bishops when there shall be occasion, through the Lord's mercy; that so the Gospel of Christ, by the preaching of many, may be spread abroad in all the nations that are not yet converted. You must, therefore, endeavour, my brother, to preserve with unblemished sincerity of mind that which you have received through the kindness of the Apostolic see, bearing in mind what it is that is represented by the honourable vestment which you have obtained to be borne on your shoulders. And imploring the Divine mercy, study to show yourself such that you may present before the tribunal of the Supreme Judge that is to come, the rewards of the favour granted to you, not with guiltiness, but with the benefit of souls.

“God preserve you in safety, most dear brother!”[1] (bold emphasis mine).

Is this not a faithful representation of the mandate of the Great Commission? To bring the nations in to a saving knowledge of God. “…That so the Gospel of Christ, by the preaching of many, may be spread abroad in all the nations that are not yet converted” (emphasis mine). The Church once believed this was not only possible, but that it was its mandate to participate in the work of Christ to bring it about.

It is fascinating to read the boldness of these ancient Churchmen, and to see their faith and expectation that the nations would bow to Christ. Indeed, they lived in a time where the Church was advancing in an incredible way throughout the West and beyond. They were seeing pagan kings bow before Jesus regularly. Indeed, Bede will go on shortly after this to show that “…the occasion of this nation's reception of the faith was the alliance by marriage of their aforesaid king with the kings of Kent, for he had taken to wife Ethelberg, otherwise called Tata, daughter to King Ethelbert”[2] (bold emphasis mine).

I think the Church in the West has forgotten this mandate. Christian leaders today often condemn nationalism and Christian nationalism. They are settled in the idea that the West is now post-Christendom, some seem to relish this as well. I think we need to start looking north again, to the sky, and then beyond the sky, to the King who reigns in the heavens who commanded us to teach the nations who the True King is. That is our mandate is it not?


[1] Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, Book 2, Chap. VIII. How Pope Boniface sent the Pall and a letter to Justus, successor to Mellitus. [624 a.d.]., accessed 29.08.2020

[2] Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, Book 2, Chap. IX. Chap. IX. Of the reign of King Edwin, and how Paulinus, coming to preach the Gospel, first converted his daughter and others to the mysteries of the faith of Christ. [625-626 a.d.]. accessed 29.08.2020

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