Ralph Drollinger really doesn’t like being called a Christian nationalist. He is back with a rebuttal to another Katherine Stewart NY Times op-ed and has a response to my recent posts on his ministry. He gets a few things wrong in his reply which I want to unpack.
First, Drollinger takes on Fred Clark for a brief statement in one of Clark’s Patheos blog postings. Clark wrote:
Ralph Drollinger of “Capitol Ministries” says he’s not a Christian nationalist. (Warren Throckmorton, correctly, disagrees with him.)
Then Drollinger comes after me.
Throckmorton makes no bones about being a Monday morning quarterback. He describes his blog as a “college psychology professor’s observations about public policy, mental health, sexual identity, and religious issues.”
According to Wikipedia, Throckmorton has no formal training or education in theology.
Throckmorton’s credentials are listed as: bachelor’s in psychology in 1979 from Cedarville College; an M.A. in clinical psychology from Central Michigan University in 1982; and a Ph.D. in counselor education and community counseling from Ohio University in 1992.
I think he means this as a criticism but I don’t know how it helps him. Perhaps, he didn’t recognize Cedarville College as a Christian college. If he had, he might have wondered about my training there. In fact, I took more hours in bible training, theology and New Testament Greek than in psychology (my major). While it was a long time ago, I do have training in theology. Now what?
One consequence of my training as an educator and academic is that I provide citations for my sources. Drollinger doesn’t do that. While he mentions my blog, he doesn’t link to it (or Clark’s). The effect is that he can select a part of my post without his readers having the easy ability to click over and read it for themselves. For instance, Drollinger claims I object to conversion.
In stating his reasons for calling Drollinger a Christian nationalist, Throckmorton objects to Drollinger evangelizing legislators, or, as he writes, “converting legislators to his view of God’s moral law.”
In fact, I don’t object to evangelizing. Evangelizing others is an American freedom. I object to teaching government officials that conversion is necessary for effective public service and possibly using public facilities and resources to do so.
Throckmorton objects to Drollinger establishing “his view of Christianity.” What other view of Christianity would Drollinger impart?
Drollinger gets hung up on my deliberate attempt to distinguish his evangelicalism from other Christian traditions. Of course, he is going to preach what he believes. However, his view of conversion appear to be limited to those in his tradition. It isn’t clear if Catholic, Orthodox, or progressive Christians fall within his definition. Certainly, non-Christians don’t. Even in his rebuttal, he doesn’t back away from his contention that non-Christians however defined aren’t as qualified to legislate as Christians are.
In likeminded logic, does he object to those same actions by other religious leaders, such as the Catholic Pope imparting his brand of Christianity on Nancy Pelosi? Or is it only conservative Evangelical Christians whom Throckmorton believes should be silenced?
I never said he should be silenced. I believe his objectives and teachings should be explicit. That is why I wrote about his operation. My post mostly quoted his material which makes it clear that he believes Christians from his tradition are better legislators and voters than other citizens. I think that runs counter to the Constitution and American values. Since Drollinger obscures the issue by limiting the definition of Christian nationalism to exclude him, it is even more important to present his views clearly.
Non-Christian Legislators Not Effective
Regarding conversion and the effectiveness of legislators, Drollinger says I am wrong and then proves me correct. I don’t think he sees what I see as a contradiction. Drollinger:
Perhaps Throckmorton misunderstood when he mocked Drollinger’s point that conversion to Christianity was preeminent to education for the leaders of the state. Throckmorton wrote:
“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.”
This is False
As Drollinger has said and written many times, education, knowledge, experience, and the proper qualifications are important.
The point Drollinger was making refers to the effect of sin on an individual and strikes at the heart of his ministry as a Christian pastor – to introduce people to God and to teach them why they need His Word.
When someone is “dead in their trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), they will not be effective in office or anyplace else due to the noetic effect of sin.
This is called talking out of two sides of your face. First he says I am wrong and says education and qualifications are important, but then he says when someone isn’t converted as an evangelical they are not effective. Actually, I wasn’t wrong at all. He still says non-Christian legislators aren’t effective. His evidence is a Bible verse for a political claim.
By raising the “noetic effect of sin,” Drollinger makes a theological argument against his position. The noetic effect of sin is that effect on reasoning and cognition which effects all people, converted and unconverted. As I was taught at evangelical Cedarville College, Christians do not escape the noetic effects of sin. We can learn much from those who are not Christians. In my training, the basis for integration of academic disciplines and theology was rigorous instruction in both professional knowledge and theology. It is what I currently do now as a Christian college professor. Drollinger’s citation of the noetic effect of sin undermines his point about making conversion a priority for legislators. Just try that when you need open heart surgery.
There is more and you can read the rest.
I don’t think Drollinger should be silenced. I do think he should be watched and his teachings clarified. A key problem I have with his influence is that he thinks non-evangelical legislators aren’t effective. This is arrogant, theologically narrow, and empirically false.