Capitol Ministries: Christian Nationalism by Another Name is Still Christian Nationalism

Head of Capitol Ministries Ralph Drollinger recently told James Dobson that 11 of President Trump’s cabinet members attend his meetings. In describing his rationale for the studies, Drollinger’s reasons sounded similar to those who espouse Christian nationalism. Christian nationalists believe that leaders in a society need to be Christian so that the laws and policies will reflect Christianity.

In his interview with Dobson, Drollinger asserted:

Right actions begin with right thinking and right thinking begins with thinking right about God. So, how can you expect right actions in terms of the course of a nation unless your nation’s leaders think right? And how can you expect them to think right if they don’t know the Word of God?

I was surprised to learn that Drollinger doesn’t think of himself as a Christian nationalist. He wrote an article distancing himself from the terms most closely associated with Christian nationalism. However, after a review of his recommendations for public policy, I don’t agree with him. He sounds like a Christian nationalist to me. For him, the only good legislator is a legislator who subscribes to his view of Christianity.  

About two years ago, he took issue with a NYT editorial by Kathrine Stewart in which she called him out as a Christian nationalist. Drollinger wrote a response calling that defamation and asked that the Times print a retraction. To my knowledge, nothing came of that demand.

In response to the publicity surrounding the dust up, Drollinger outlined his views of dominionism and Christian nationalism. He dismissed theonomy, Christian reconstructionism, and dominionism as faulty concepts based on misunderstandings of Scripture. He distinguished three types of law in the Old Testament and said that only one expression should be promoted in civil government by Christians. In a Capitol Ministries newsletter on the subject, Drollinger asserted:

The Judicial/Civil OT Law along with the Ceremonial OT Law are not applicable for Public Servant lawmakers today in the Church Age because they are specific to theocratic Israel of the OT and they have been done away with by Christ Himself. On the other hand, the Moral Law of the OT is applicable for today as a reliable informant for civil government leaders in their lawmaking. In fact, the Moral Law is and should remain the basis of civil government lawmaking today because it matches perfectly the conscience “chip” that God has installed in everyone He has created: The Moral Law of God, revealed in the OT and NT is written on our hearts! (Cf. Romans 1:18-20.)

Drollinger claimed Christian nationalists (whoever they are, he doesn’t name them) want to implement OT civil and ceremonial laws into American government. He doesn’t want to do that so he isn’t a Christian nationalist. However, he does teach legislators that God’s moral law as expressed in the Bible is the proper basis for civil government. This heading comes from the same lesson:


Drollinger says he believes in separation of church and state because he doesn’t want a state church. However, he does want the church to influence the state. As we will see, the influence comes via converting legislators to his view of God’s moral law.

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.

In a more in depth study on separation of church state, Drollinger explained the idea of influence of the church on the state.

As we will see from this study, the institution of the State is quite dependent on the existence of a strong and healthy institution of the Church (which it does not control) to build men and women in righteousness for service in government.

The same principles which build individuals  in righteousness (as expounded by the Word of God) are the same principles, wherein multiplied by and through individuals, that build a nation. It is when a nation is impregnated with highly principled individuals that it gains well-being.

Given this cut-to-the-chase analysis of our greatest need, the question then quickly becomes one of how righteousness is formed in the lives of individuals. Having said that, therein exists, in terms of serving the institution of the State, the absolutely critical preeminent duty of the Church in an institutionally separated society: to convert the soul and disciple — Christianize — the leaders of the State and its citizenry.

Conversion is even preeminent to education; without a moral foundation, knowledge makes arrogant (I Corinthians 8:1) and is of little value in terms of nation building. Therefore in our composite country, the State is highly dependent on an institution it does not control: The Church in regard to its own health and sustainability. Conversely, for the Church to spend her energy in the capital community attempting to affect policy with little manifest concern for the souls of the State’s leaders is to practice, biblically speaking, a misinformed and misguided sort of involvement: it is to attempt to do what others — strong-in-Christ Public Servants — can do much better! It is to be less than efficient. It is to misunderstand the primacy of her God-ordained role in a composite society.

The Church can best influence the State by building and sending righteous Public Servants to serve in government. Keep in mind the State is not in the business of manufacturing righteous individuals. Rather, God has designed it to punish unrighteous individuals (cf. Romans 13:4; 1 Peter 2:13-14).Proverbs 29:2 serves to summarize this:

I can imagine that a non-Christian reading this would be worried that this sounds like a formula for a de facto establishment of Drollinger’s view of Christianity. People from Christian traditions other than evangelical might wonder the same thing since Drollinger’s view of God’s moral law is a conservative evangelical one.

Drollinger tells us that “conversion is even preeminent to education” for the leaders of the state. In other words, Christian lawmakers who know nothing of the issues they will address in office are better than non-Christian experts. If President Trump’s handlers are truly listening to this advice, this could help account for some of the truly unqualified appointments to high administration positions and the judiciary.

Drollinger makes his views clear by saying that God can only bless the nation through the prayers of Christians.

God only hears the prayers of leaders and citizens who are upright, who live righteous through faith in Jesus Christ.

Scripture is clear; those who are at enmity with Him — who passively or actively reject the Son of God — their prayers are worthless and go unheard. And the State suffers for want of His blessing. The righteous leader is a man of potent prayer.

While Drollinger criticizes Christians who want Mosaic law as a basis, he sees no problem with his version of Christianity being the basis for civil government. If the nation can only prosper through the Christian church, then what else can you call this but Christian nationalism? According to his plain teaching, if you aren’t a Christian as a leader or a citizen, you are part of the problem. His answer is to convert you to his tradition of Christianity. The principle goal of Capitol Ministries is to evangelize legislators and as he wrote in the lesson cited above – Christianize – leaders and citizens. When the goal is political change, what else can this be philosophy be called?

What’s The Problem?

Drollinger claims that no one is required to attend his Bible studies. I suspect that is true at least in the formal sense. If no tax funds are being expended, I don’t see a problem with government officials attending his meetings although I wish they wouldn’t.

Where there could be a problem is what he does with his influence. Evangelizing is one thing, using the evangelized converts to institute your religious view of law is another. It seems obvious to me that he has policy views he thinks God wants more than others and he believes converted lawmakers will pursue those. He uses religious conversion to achieve political ends.

One effect of this could be to increase the polarization of our politics. In Drollinger’s Christianity, ideological opponents aren’t just people we disagree with, they are enemies of God. They aren’t just different in outlook; their prayers are “worthless” and the State “suffers” because they have “rejected the Son of God.” If you compromise legislatively with such people, you may view yourself as compromising on God’s principles.

This view of the unconverted may not reflect the Christian nationalism that Drollinger rejects, but it is a kind of Christian privilege that isn’t reflected by the Constitution. The framers had an opportunity to privilege Christianity but firmly decided to reject religious tests for public service. The framers saw the rejection of a religious test as a sign of enlightenment. In contrast to Drollinger, the framers understood that public service required more than conversion to Christianity.

I believe Drollinger is wrong: Public service most certainly requires education and and openness to information. Currently, we have so many legislators who really have no idea how to evaluate information and scientific data. They rely on dubious “experts” within their faith traditions to tell them how to vote.

Furthermore, electing Christians is no guarantee of righteous actions or policies. For instance, the Trump administration has been among the most scandal ridden in history.  The supposed “baby Christian” President Trump can’t seem to find the truth. And far away from Washington, D.C., converted legislators are no insurance against greed and corruption (e.g., Arkansas bribery scandal). Any political observer knows I could go on and on.

The law of the land is the Constitution which does not place any barrier to the religious or non-religious. Teaching elected officials that their non-Christian peers can’t “think right” about public policy because they “don’t know the Word of God” isn’t consistent with American values and our Constitutional system. He can believe it with all his might but when he makes it his work to infect the political system with those teachings then it becomes everybody’s business to call it out and oppose it.

66 thoughts on “Capitol Ministries: Christian Nationalism by Another Name is Still Christian Nationalism”

  1. I’ve never been able to get a clear answer to this question, so I’ll try here:

    How does one determine whether OT law is “Ceremonial” (i.e. no longer has to be followed) or “Moral” (i.e. must still be followed)?

    1. Is it about eating stuff evangelicals like? Ceremonial. Is it about doing stuff evangelicals do in secret but don’t want the neighbors to know about? Moral.

    2. Ceremonial laws were particular to the nation of Israel. Moral laws predated Moses and applied universally to all human beings, Jewish or not. That does not exactly clear up everything, but it’s how I try to view it.

      1. Drollinger would say the moral law is confirmed in the NT – Don’t kill, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, etc.

        1. Sounds like a good thing to me. Obviously, you and I would not object to laws against murder, burglary, theft, and robbery. However, I think it would be unwise to make a law against adultery, but is there a concern that Ralph Drollinger would advocate for such a law?

      2. this explanation doesn’t even come close to being accurate. The Levitican codes were all post Moses, and they seem to be the biggest example where people appear to be randomly (or as Guglielmo points out: conveniently) choosing which are “Ceremonial” and which are “Moral”.

        1. That modern people appear to be randomly/conveniently choosing which laws are “Ceremonial” and which are “Moral” has nothing to do with what I’m saying, nor does it mean that no such distinction can be demonstrated. Further, the Bible allows that particular concerns may have to be regarded as simple matters of conscience, about which we can disagree without dividing. I don’t believe God wants me to have tattoos, or to be cremated. Those are my convictions, but I could not care less if other Christians make different decisions as long as they are convinced in their own minds.

          In the Biblical narrative, there were moral laws before mankind even fell (perhaps something like what we might call “Natural Law”), and there were sins committed before there was any mention of a formally articulated and codified civil/religious law.

          Then, throughout the Old Testament, you have many instances of civil/religious law, much of which you will not find enforced or mentioned apart from Israel.

          Then with the arrival of Christ, as Warren mentioned, we have a ratifying and carrying forward of only those laws which seem to be binding on all people, regardless of their nationality. Both vantage points (pre-old covenant and post-new covenant) indicate a demarcation between laws intended for a particular time and people, and laws which might even be said (by Paul) to be a matter of innate conscience, and to which God will hold all people accountable.

          1. “That modern people appear to be randomly/conveniently choosing which
            laws are “Ceremonial” and which are “Moral” has nothing to do with what
            I’m saying”

            then you are missing the entire point of my question (or deliberately trying to avoid it).

            “we have a ratifying and carrying forward of only those laws which seem to be binding on all people”

            Again how is it determined what “seems to be binding on all people“?

            further your Old/New testament boundary doesn’t work well. The New Testament supports slavery, but, very few christians today would support that. However, a century or so ago quite a few christians did.

          2. RE: Again how is it determined what “seems to be binding on all people”?

            Perhaps you have a question about a precise law? I already gave you two avenues for making a determinationation about the laws, one of which was also mentioned by Warren:

            First, there was in evidence a moral law/natural law which we see people in the Bible violating and being punished for violating before there was ever a nation of Israel. Those laws cannot be particular to Israel, for there was no Israel yet.

            In the Old Testament, we then see a theocratic nation of Israel with its history of laws and commandments. All of those obviously pertain to Israel, but we know that not all of them are unique to Israel because certain of them predated Israel. We also know that at least some are not confined to Israel because of God’s displeasure with certain pagan nations who engaged in sinful behaviors.

            Second, Christ gave new context and added understanding of the law (as in the case of marriage), reinforced and ratified specifically many of the moral laws of the Bible, and in the founding of the church by the apostles it was made plain that while some old covenant commandments were still to be observed, some were abrogated. Paul wrote about the nature of the law and in what ways it was binding on all people at length.

            If that weren’t enough, the Bible also gives guidance for when people of common faith disagree about exactly which laws should or should not be observed, and says that people should make up their own minds with faith in God, and then be considerate about how they behave when in the company of others.

            The New Testament uses a word translated “Slavery”. If that’s all you need to know, that’s fine, but I would suggest that you look at what the New Testament says about “slavery”, coercion, and how people are to treat one another across socioeconomic, positional and racial boundaries, and ask yourself if that “slavery” had more to do with the brand of abusive, racist slavery formerly practiced by whites, or with people who are, say, contractually and legally bound and accountable to an employer over a period of time.

    3. I suggest the following simple rule of thumb. Those laws which you are happy to keep, or which you want others to keep, or which don’t affect you one way or the other, are “moral” ones. Those which you prefer to ignore are merely “ceremonial” or “national” ones.

  2. First, I believe Christ taught that the proper model for co-existence between Christians and a secular or pagan world is essentially “volitionalism whenever possible.” So I’m not on board with Drollinger’s framing of things.

    But I do worry that trying to categorize motives, vocabulary and goals neatly into the column of “religious”, and then treating those as objectively different or less legitimate than motives, vocabulary and goals for which we cannot easily identify any religious corollaries or pedigree completely misses the point. That may help sort things into the columns of secular or religious for the purpose of enforcing a somewhat arbitrary definition of “Christian nationalism”, but it does nothing to guard against crypto-religious factions trampling on individual liberties.

    Authoritarianism is the issue. For the founding fathers, I do not believe that the term “church” was intended to simply encompass every notion for which there is a religious/Biblical basis. “Church” was a word that connotated formidable authority to rival that of the government, because the founders were well acquainted with churches that wielded true temporal power. When the government today is paying Planned Parenthood to assert on social media and in their literature that men have periods, I think we have to expand our notions of what separation of church and state might look like. Being preoccupied with religious versus secular spheres is old world thinking.

    1. When the government today is paying Planned Parenthood to assert on social media and in their literature that men have periods…

      The only thing they say that’s even remotely on that subject is that trans men — i.e. women who identify as men — also have periods, which is objectively true. So, even if your dubious claim that the government is paying Planned Parenthood to asset this, they are merely be paid to publish factual information. What’s wrong with that?

        1. No, this screen capture is likely referring to transgenders. however, as that is a completely unrelated topic, I don’t plan on following you any further down that particular rabbit hole.

  3. Scott Pruitt, the former head of the EPA and all around grifter, is another example of the problem caused by Drollinger’s political ends. As an Evangelical, Pruitt attended Drollinger’s Bible Studies for Cabinet members and ran the EPA in accordance with Drollinger’s view of climate science, which is a “terrible moral danger” and “an ultra-hubristic, secular worldview relative to the supremacy and importance of man.” (See Are Evangelical Leaders Saving Scott Pruitt’s Job? )

    Trump, a president not acquainted with science or Christianity, apparently fired Pruitt only because his money scandals kept him on the front pages. But the base loved him.

  4. Somehow our current leaders seem to forget the Constitution and try to build US government on the scriptures. The biblical scriptures are for us, believers worldwide, citizens of the Kingdom of God. The Constitution is the foundation of the United States, a secular country which is totally different from the Kingdom of God. How hard can that be for these people to understand?

    1. A Christian nationalist, whether a leader calls himself/herself one or not, has a terrible weak theology of the Kingdom of God, in my opinion. The government of a political nation-state is not a tool to expand the Kingdom of God. We have tried this “Christian nation” garbage for quite a long time and it’s just given the church a bad name among people the church is called to reach and serve.

  5. It’s all about power.

    Jerry Falwell Jr. can’t imagine Trump ‘doing anything that’s not good for the country’

    Q: You and other white evangelical leaders have strongly supported President Donald Trump. What about him exemplifies Christianity and earns him your support?

    A: What earns him my support is his business acumen. Our country was so deep in debt and so mismanaged by career
    politicians that we needed someone who was not a career politician, but someone who’d been successful in business to run the country like a business. That’s the reason I supported him.

    Q: Is there anything President Trump could do that would endanger that support from you or other evangelical leaders?
    A: No.

    1. Scary stuff. Even leaving aside the main issue, we have the irony of Falwell talking about how bad it is for the country to be deeply in debt while supporting a President who pushed through tax cuts that are significantly worsening the debt problem. Couple that with the irony of “running the country like a business” for somebody whose businesses have frequently gone bankrupt and left real people harmed in their wake.

      1. You see, in his mind, the fact that an all Republican congress couldn’t also cut spending to the bone when lowering taxes is the fault of the Democrats…

      2. Based on that article it seems Falwell (like to many other conservative christians) has replaced worshiping God with worshiping Trump.

    2. …we needed someone who was not a career politician, but someone who’d been successful in business to run the country like a business.

      This from a man who claims to know and represent the Truth?

      1. It’s Grifter Truth, which is the kind of truth that is a lie.
        1984 has turned out to be a lot more helpful in dealing with the current reality than I ever thought it would be when I first read it.

  6. Nations run by religious leaders (no matter which religion) are always the cruelest most oppressive systems of governance .

    1. Almost completely agree. I would expand that to say nations run by governments which either forbid all religion, or which enforce one single religion. The two extreme ends of the spectrum. Which is why I desire a healthy, free, pluralistic society.

      I am a Christian (politically moderate evangelical) but few things scare me more than the religious who seek after power and obtain it. It never ends up being for good purposes, and inevitably results in power and self-gain being the end for which the religion is merely used as a means.

      1. I fully agree with you about the extreme ends of the spectrum, I even responded to you earlier with an article written by Jim Wallis on Bernie Sanders. However, I don’t see how Ralph Drollinger’s ministry is attempting to enforce one single religion.

        1. Taken in isolation, perhaps not as significant a concern. But it is part of a larger context where a group of “evangelical leaders” have gained tremendous amounts of influence in this administration in exchange for their total support and unceasing praise, never uttering a word of criticism, and using their considerable influence to help deliver large percentages of the evangelical vote. Jerry Falwell Jr. among others tells people that it is immoral (and essentially an act of rebellion against God) for any Christian to speak a word of criticism against anything —ANYTHING— the administration says or does.

          And this group, now so influential, represents a very narrow view of Christian theology and practice. They essentially boil the entire Bible down to nothing but anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ doctrine, and ignore essentially anything outside of those two items. Then they subscribe carte-blanche to the entirety of Trumpiam politics and claim, with little proof, that all of Trump’s positions are inherently godly and Scriptural (or, in the case of JFJ, they simply and conveniently dismiss any relevance of Scripture to the “earthly political kingdom”). And thus they promote a political program that inherently favors the strong over the weak, the rich over the poor, and demonizes and dehumanizes large swaths of the population. And they label as apostate Satanist “liberals” anyone who dares to suggest that any of this is inappropriate.

          And since they themselves personally stand to gain from such political principles, I have come to see them as little more than opportunists who are deliberately and deceitfully manipulating the Christian masses simply to obtain for themselves power and material gain, seeing the Gospel as little more than a means to their desired end of personal enrichment and obtaining of power.

          1. To me, the idea that Christians cannot criticize the actions of ANY politicians, be they Republican, Democrat, or members of other parties, appears uncommonly silly. Remember that article written by Jim Wallis, who is an evangelical Christian? In it, he criticized Trump and Sanders, members of different major parties.

          2. Agreed, of course, but I am just pointing out that when these evangelicals do so, they incur the label of “not REALLY a Christian” by the “evangelical leaders” who have provided blanket unquestioning support, and whom always seem to be the people who are featured on and quoted in mass media when they want to obtain an “evangelical perspective.” So, for many non-evangelicals in this country, “evangelical” has become virtually synonymous with “GOP stalwart completely sold out to Trump.” It has come to primarily mean a political identifier, not a particular theological orientation.

          3. It’s not new that the concept of evangelicals has been associated with the Republican Party. I’m sure you remember Moral Majority movement from the 1980s! I am not so sure that Ralph Drollinger and Capital Ministry, about whom this article is written, are necessary Republican lobbyists let alone Trump supporters, though. They come across as those who want to evangelize as many politicians as possible without really endorsing any particular political party.

    2. I think individuals (or small bands of individuals) who wield power in such cruel and opporessive fashion are necessarily religious, even if it is a religion of their own making.

  7. There is no OT or NT Scripture to support lust for political power. Talking to the false apostolic prophetic “thing” inflicting Christ’s new covenant blood bought body; causing factions. Jesus stands directly opposed to this.
    It’s His blood we are taking about

    Scripture directly teaches God has made us adequate as servants of a New Covenant.
    Run far and fast from any partisanship on mind and heart. Vote for Jesus and His abiding temple within. In your inner court or inner room of His temple.
    We need to know the New Covenant because that’s what Christ died to give us

    1. Right on. Isn’t it what Drollinger’s ministry trying to do when dealing with our politicians, to influence them to follow this model you are talking about?

      1. Gods Great prophetic purpose for His New Covenant blood bought body is contained in John 17 to be One with the Godhead and each other. Authentic disciples of Jesus positivity affect the world by our unity in Christ. This is direct teaching by God in the flesh.. Not becoming spiritual adulteress and at enmity with God thru friendship with the world as James directly warns against. Paul also directly addresses this issue describing it as being unequally yoked. The spirit of prophecy will ALWAYS be the testimony of Jesus no matter which false spirit is attempting to move the goal posts.

  8. I am an evangelical (politically moderate, for full disclosure) who would far rather live in a free and pluralistic society where I am free to practice my own understanding of my faith, with others free to do the same with their faith (including those who adhere to no faith), than I would want to live in a society that privileges Christianity but only the “flavor” of Christianity favored by those who currently have the ear of this administration and who seem to think they speak for all evangelicals.

    I find their judgment and their selective application of their faith to political and societal issues to be severely lacking, problematic and not at all reflective of what I understand my faith to be. In fact, at many times I see the outcome of their application of faith to political issues and wonder whether I share any faith understanding with them whatsoever, despite the fact that they claim to represent and speak for me.

    1. I agree with you 100%, and I believe that vision is at the core of our American ideals. For it to work, however, requires a broad commitment to cultivating and maintaining that free common space of liberty. Unfortunately, we have factions from every side trying to use government as a club to beat their ideological opponents into submission. They must all be opposed, religious or not.

    2. If Ralph Drollinger can influence members of our government to do good things in accordance with the Bible, then more power to him. He does not look like he is attempting to forcefully convert anybody to Christianity, but he believes it can happen if pastors will be sharing the gospel lovingly. I don’t see a threat of evangelical Christian politicians (I’m not even sure who they are) forcing anybody to become Christians against their will, but I see the actions of secular anti-evangelical Christian politicians, like Bernie Sanders, that clearly seek to prevent evangelical Christians from any public service office whatsoever, which is definitely oppressive and unconstitutional:

  9. I pray that our current government leaders are granted discernment to see the wisdom of our founding fathers and not be swayed by harmful ideologies or positions.

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