Rob Reiner, known for his role as “Meathead” in the 1970s sitcom All in the Family and for producing movie classics like The Princess Bride, recently announced a new documentary he helped produce about the dangers of Christian Nationalism. According to Reiner, opposing abortion and the LGBTQ agenda are central tenets of Christian Nationalism. Several evangelicals, current and former, are featured in the documentary. 

It’s always strange when a non-Christian explains to Christians what is and what is not true Christianity. Even stranger is when professing Christians who have abandoned Christian moral teaching about creation, sex, and marriage—as is the case with a few of the experts interviewed—are asked to define Christian faithfulness. All of this means that believers need to have a better understanding of this contentious idea, which has gotten so much attention in recent years.  

A helpful place to start is to understand the place of nations in the Christian concept of the world.  The first use of the Hebrew word for “nation” appears in Genesis 10 in a listing of nations that descended from the sons of Noah. It’s notable that this first reference comes before the Tower of Babel when God created more nations by confusing the languages and scattering people across the Earth. Nations, it seems, were part of God’s plan for humanity even before the rebellion at Babel. And, in that story, the dividing into tongues and scattering of people is described more as an act of mercy than judgment to prevent humans from doing all that was possible as one person. 

In Genesis 12, God tells Abram that his descendants would become a great nation, and that, through them, all the nations of the world would be blessed. The Old Testament frequently refers to the Jewish people as a nation and uses the same word to describe the kingdoms and empires around them. 

In the New Testament, ethne, the Greek word for “nation,” most famously appears in Jesus’ instructions to make disciples “of all nations,” which is a fulfillment of God’s original promise to Abraham. Also interesting is that in the New Testament, language about nations seems to exclude “empire.” Though ethne can be translated either as “people group” or “nation,” the two are related. Historically, the word “nation” referred to a relatively homogenous group, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically. Each kingdom of the ancient world mostly consisted of people of a single nation. Thus, ethne can refer to a people group within an empire, but not to empires themselves which contain multiple nations. 

Nations are also present in biblical descriptions of the coming Kingdom. So, it seems that some of the nations will survive into eternity. For example, Micah 4:2 says: 

Many nations shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
    to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
    and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
    and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 

Also, Revelation 21:24 says that “by the light [of God and of the Lamb] will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it [the New Jerusalem].”  

Of course, because human beings have fallen, everything humans build is susceptible to sin, including nations. Just as sins characterize our lives as individuals, certain sins dominate nations, corrupting their cultures. And, just as humans must be cleansed of sin to enter the Kingdom, so must nations be cleansed from sins to have any place in the New Heavens and New Earth. 

The high views that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis held of ancient northern European culture show up in their tales of Narnia and Middle Earth. They believed virtue could be found, but they also recognized the evils of Norse paganism. Thus, they argued for a recovery of a “northernness” cleansed of its paganism and Christianized by the Gospel. 

All that the cleansing of nations entails isn’t clear, but the result is beautifully described in Revelation 7, where “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” join together in worshipping the Lamb. This confirms that, at least to some degree, our nationality will accompany us into eternity. Rather than homogenizing us, God’s Kingdom will be a glorious mosaic of people of different races, ethnicities, and nations. This makes sense, given that God delighted in the diversity of His creation.  

Of course, all good loves, including love of spouse, child, family, community, or culture, can be disordered and even idolatrous. Nationalism becomes idolatry whenever the love of a nation devolves into an excessive or uncritical devotion, is confused with the Kingdom of God, justifies evil, or engages in a partiality that treats citizens of other nations as less worthy of love, justice, or charity. However, the idea that nations should be defined, self-governing, morally upright, and the immediate object of Christian stewardship is not idolatry.   

Christians are called to steward the nations they are in. After all, our nations are the most obvious aspect of the time and place in which God has placed us. What all nations have in common is that Jesus rules over them all, and no one in heaven or earth will usurp His authority. 

This Breakpoint was co-authored by Drs. Glenn Sunshine and Timothy D. Padgett. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to 

Revised from a Breakpoint published on March 9, 2022 

Photo Courtesy: ©Getty Images/bruev

Publish Date: December 15th, 2023

John Stonestreet is President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and radio host of BreakPoint, a daily national radio program providing thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of CrosswalkHeadlines.

BreakPoint is a program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. BreakPoint commentaries offer incisive content people can't find anywhere else; content that cuts through the fog of relativism and the news cycle with truth and compassion. Founded by Chuck Colson (1931 – 2012) in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends. Today, you can get it in written and a variety of audio formats: on the web, the radio, or your favorite podcast app on the go.