As we head into the New Year, American Christianity is in the midst of a new “reformation” of sorts. Unlike the first one in 1517, this one is not about issues of indulgences and sacraments. Rather, it’s about our great faith’s wrestle with socialism versus individual liberty, and upon that backdrop, what precisely does it mean to live a “good” Christian life.
This question came to a head in many ways on Dec. 19, when Christianity Today published a column by its editor-in-chief, Mark Galli, regarding Democrats’ current efforts to impeach President Trump. As a parting “gift” to Christendom — Galli officially retired on Jan. 3 — he concluded that the president is immoral and, as a result:
“Whether Mr. Trump should be removed from office by the Senate or by popular vote next election—that is a matter of prudential judgment. That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments.”
For those who might not know me — and for those who know me primarily as a political personality — I want to state clearly at the onset that I am an evangelical Christian. I may be very vocal in my public support for conservative principles such as free markets and limited government, but it’s my deep and abiding faith in Jesus Christ that defines me. Everything else, including my political advocacy, flows from this foundational relationship with my Lord and Savior.
It was upon this backdrop that I watched the extraordinary response to Christianity Today unfold, both from those in support and from those who object, perhaps the most significant of which is in the latter camp coming from none other than Franklin Graham, son of CT’s founder, the late Reverend Billy Graham. Graham made it clear his father supported Donald Trump and voted for him in the last election.
While CT used moral sanctimony and self-righteousness as the excuse for their opposition to President Trump, it was nothing more than a smoke screen for their true motivation. Their call for his removal has nothing to do with him being a “bad boy” much less legally culpable for some impeachable crime. CT wants him gone for the same reason an increasingly significant number of Christians in America want him gone; because President Trump believes in America’s first principles and rejects the age-old lie of a socialist utopia that has long tantalized and excited the likes of CT.
The notion that Christ’s teachings somehow prescribe a collectivist form of government is relatively new in the 2000-year history of Christianity. While scholars can argue over various theological inflection points over the last two millennia, it is clear that more recent forms of liberation theology and social justice movements, specifically those within the Roman Catholic Church in the latter part of the 20th century, have played a pivotal role in forming a more general Christian belief that the affairs of the state and the duties of the Christian man or woman out to be brought together as one.
Which brings us to today’s “reformation.” The fundamental question is this: Do the teachings of Jesus Christ command us to use the state to carry out his message? Or do they require each individual to carry out the message in their own life independent of the state?
The situation is further complicated by the devil citing scripture for his own purposes as he’s always done. In this case, those who are openly hostile to the Gospel including atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, and yes, false prophets and teachers, know that by invoking Jesus’ name in their collectivist efforts they co-opt his divine credibility. In so doing, they often dupe the unsuspecting into believing that God wants them to abandon their liberty in His service.
Consider some of the most commonly cited biblical passages used to advance the claim that Jesus advocated for socialism:
"…and you are all brothers." (Matthew 23:8 EVS)
"No one can serve two masters…You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24 NIV)
"Love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22: 39 EVS)
"Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same." (Luke 3:11 NIV)
"Give to every man that asketh of thee." (Luke 6:30 KJV)
"But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.” (Luke 6:24 NIV)
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Mark 10:25 NKJV)
It is true that each of these verses either suggests a certain action or ascribes a value judgement regarding money and human interactions; however, it is a gross perversion of the Latin word “ergo” to then conclude we are supposed to use a coercive state to implement these principles. What’s true is that each verse speaks directly to the individual believer to search their own conscience and consider their own behavior.
It is the freedom of millions of Americans throughout our country’s rich history to abide by their personal moral convictions and deeply held religious beliefs which has laid the foundation for our nation’s greatness. Since our founding, the vast majority of Americans have identified as Christian and the same remains true today. Therefore, conflating the teachings of Jesus with some sort of socialist roadmap threatens the very bedrock of our greatest traditions including the rule of law and subverts the power of volunteer institutions of church and charity.
In the effort to combat the Christian collectivist reform movement, Jerry Falwell Jr. and I have launched the Falkirk Center for Faith & Liberty. Our mission is to equip courageous champions to proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ, to advance His kingdom and American freedom. We believe that Christ’s calling to us is independent of any system for organizing economic activity. After all, Jesus wasn’t a capitalist or a socialist, He is the Son of God!
For Christians to best follow Christ here on earth, they must be as free as possible to practice and share their faith as the Holy Spirit convicts. This means preserving the secular structure of a free society that our Founders designed, free from the shackles of an all-powerful state.
President Trump understands this.
The folks at CT and others like them view him as an impediment to the sirens’ call of state-sponsored utopia. Jesus denies utopia, saying rather that the poor will always be with us and calls each of us to be Good Samaritans when we encounter those in need along our path.
In the same way, He says to His disciples, “take up your cross and follow me.” Not your brother or sister’s cross, or even the nation’s cross. That He doesn’t, suggests this “reformation” is really just a new version of an age-old, sinister rebellion against the clear calling of individual responsibility and freedom — and Christians in America will be blessed if we continue to reject it.
Charlie Kirk is the founder and executive director of Turning Point USA, the nation's largest and fastest growing conservative youth organization with a presence on over 1,500 college and high school campuses; he is also host of "The Charlie Kirk Show."