". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Mohler: Christian Contribution to Public Debate Is That ‘We Take Ideas Seriously’

March 10, 2024

The media is once again working hard at “labeling Christians who are involved in the political process as ‘Christian nationalists,’” said Family Research Council president and “Washington Watch” host Tony Perkins on Thursday, but “we shouldn’t shrink back and be intimidated by the labels of the Left.” Not only can Christians decisively refute this “political smear,” he contended, but we also have better remedies for our national ailments.

“We take ideas seriously,” Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Al Mohler said on “Washington Watch.” “We’re willing to talk about every single one of these arguments: what it means to be Christian, what it means to understand the nation, what might be rightly identified as nationalism.” Christians have taken care over 2,000 years to preserve the historic faith through creeds, councils, and the canon, and they have extended this infallible rule of life and godliness to every aspect of life. Essentially, Christians are “willing to consider arguments,” Mohler explained. The Left prefers to consider the skin color of the one making the argument.

In fact, for nearly every major issue facing America today, Christians have been thinking deeply about solutions for centuries longer than today’s Marxist radicals. “The long[-running] political arguments in human history are those that recognize the importance of law, the necessity of restraint, the value and the fragility of liberty,” Mohler pointed out. Christian thinkers have participated in this debate for two millennia, as Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Parker recently elucidated in a special concurring opinion that made the Left furious.

The Origin of Rights

In a recent high-profile example, Politico reporter Heidi Przybyla defined “Christian nationalists” on MSNBC as people who “believe that our rights as Americans and as all human beings do not come from any earthly authority. They don’t come from Congress, from the Supreme Court, they come from God.” It was “as if she discovered how to split the atom,” Mohler remarked, “saying, ‘Look, I just discovered this. These are very weird people. They believe that rights come from God.’”

“The scary thing is, they actually think that Congress or the White House can give rights,” continued Mohler. “That’s exactly what the leftist academy has been teaching. And thus, this is what’s being regurgitated now, as if it makes sense.”

Mohler suggested this distinction was evident in the contrasts between the American and French Revolutions. The American Revolution “was a revolution, of sorts, based upon continuity of belief in human dignity coming from a divine Creator and human rights,” he said. By contrast, the French Revolution was “a very secular revolution, in which you had a Declaration of the Rights of Man, as if they all of a sudden [came to] exist.”

“The Left has gone in the French direction,” Mohler added, and “they’ve been in France so long they don’t even understand that the French revolutionaries were rebelling against the very claim that rights come from God.”


Whether rights come from God or man is far more than a semantic distinction. If rights come from God, then nothing can be a right unless it accords with his divine law, as revealed in his Word. If rights come from man, then people can justify almost anything if sufficiently motivated.

This distinction is nowhere seen more sharply than over the issue of abortion. If God mysteriously creates every new person, beginning from the moment of conception, and if every person has inherent dignity because they bear God’s image, then destroying any human being, even an unborn human being, is wrong. But, if the purpose of life is to maximize our own pleasure, and if that pleasure could be enhanced — or so we think — by severing sexual promiscuity from its natural consequences, then abort away; human life be damned. Abortion is not a natural right that accords with God’s law, but a right of recent invention, declared by no higher authority than man.

It’s no surprise, then, that the first country to add abortion into its constitution is France, the same country that found a secular basis for human rights in its godless, terrible revolution. By adding abortion to their constitution, said Mohler, they’re “saying that abortion constitutes the nation. That’s an astounding claim that, frankly, wouldn’t even have been recognizable in France 20 years ago.” This act of constitutional revision is “an acknowledgment of the fact that they’re just inventing and constructing rights,” Mohler added.

Perkins agreed. “What we would call ‘positive law,’ man-made law, … [is] elbowing out natural law, or the moral law of God, to make room for this law created by man. And then, when you have a course correction like we had in Dobbs, it creates all types of controversy, and people don’t know how to handle it.”

A Course Correction on Crime

Aberrations from the natural order always have a detrimental effect on society. The good news is, if society veers too far from God’s design, the pendulum eventually swings back in the other direction. America saw this with Dobbs, which reversed a 50-year aberration of the court-sanctioned killing of unborn babies. America is now also seeing this on the issue of crime and policing, after a years-long experiment in pampering criminals instead of punishing them.

From Atlantic to Pacific, far-left jurisdictions that had embraced the “Defund the Police” movement in 2020 are already changing course after feeling the effects. On Tuesday, residents of San Francisco approved multiple ballot measures to expand police powers and crack down on crime. On Thursday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D) announced she was deploying the National Guard to protect subway travelers from rampant crime, carried out with impunity under New York’s new cashless bail system.

“It’s one thing for the Left to keep talking about wanting liberty for this and liberty for that,” argued Mohler. But, “if you don’t have the liberty just to go from one end of New York to the other without believing your life is in danger, all those artificial liberties they’re claiming … don’t appear so important anymore.”

“The people who called out and said, ‘Eliminate the police’ … a couple of years ago” are “now saying, ‘We want a policeman on every corner,’” Mohler described, and progressive politicians are “trying to catch up.” Some of the most extreme officials, such as district attorneys with an ideological allergy to prosecuting crime, “have been kicked out of office, and the others are, frankly, turning less progressive by the day. Otherwise they’re going to lose their jobs,” he said. It turns out that “denying crime … is a very losing strategy,” said Mohler.

Perkins said this counter-reaction is “why I don’t think the Left will ultimately be successful with everything they’re pushing, just as the French Revolution failed.” Eventually, progressive policies will be forced to reckon with reality.

Order and Liberty

Christians are well positioned to remind America about the policies that conform to reality because we are closest to the source. “One of the central beliefs of the conservative movement — and I think this is so deeply biblical — is that order must precede liberty,” said Mohler. Mohler pointed to the popularity of police shows like “Law & Order” or “The Andy Griffith Show” as evidence of a “deep hunger in us for law and order.”

Christian teaching, he said, argues “that the rightful arrangement of law and order is necessary in order for us to exercise the liberties that are ours.” Thus, with the golden calf, the people of Israel “had broken loose,” Moses wrote, “for Aaron had let them break loose” (Exodus 32:25). They took wrong liberties because they had forsaken order.

However, not just any order will do. A blind push to empower law enforcement, uninformed by other considerations, “could lead to totalitarianism,” Perkins warned. For ordered liberty, “you have to have self-government. And we’re doing everything we can to undermine the idea of self-government [in] the family, the church. Those are the institutions that help instill that self-government.”

“The Christian and conservative understanding is it must be natural order; it must be the right order … an order that honors human dignity,” Mohler agreed. “In a secular society, they have no idea what the rightful order is. That’s a part of the problem. They can’t name sin, so crime is just a sociological problem. They can’t name the Creator, so rights are government-invented.”

The Christian Contribution

This is where Christians can add value by joining in the public discourse and pointing America toward the right form of order and the right kind of liberty. “This is a time for Christians to have conversations with friends, with coworkers, with neighbors,” Perkins urged. “We have the truth.”

Yet it’s just now that the media is renewing a worn-out attack against conservative Christians.

And it is an old attack. “A lot of these people are so young, they actually believe this is a new thing.” But “the same criticisms were made against evangelicals in the age of Ronald Reagan,” said Mohler. “I’m old enough to have gone through the entire vocabulary: … the radical Right, the Christian Right, the new Christian Right, the radical Christian Right.” Now it’s “Christian nationalism” or even “theocracy.” It’s the same paint job, with a slightly different hue.

So repetitive and unimaginative are these attacks on Christians that today’s media critics are still committing the same logical blunder their predecessors were making 40 years ago. “I remember when Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority — in every election cycle — either they were scary, and they were going to dominate the world, or they had no power and they were dying out,” said Perkins. Mohler agreed, “The contradiction is, they say they’re a dying breed, and there’s more of them every day.”

The purpose is always the same too. “There’s a bigger play here … to suppress the vote and the engagement of evangelicals,” said Perkins. “It’s to try to keep us from engaging in the process, from openly speaking about how, ‘Yes, I do believe God has given me the rights that I have and government is to protect it.’” It’s an “effort to intimidate, to suppress, to redirect our cultural engagement as believers,” he warned.

“This is an intentional effort to try to keep us out of the public square,” Mohler agreed, “or, frankly, to make conservative Christians embarrassed about being conservative Christians.” It’s no different from the classroom dynamic in which the popular students try to embarrass the good students for always being right.

But conservative Christians needn’t fall into the trap. “It’s a great time for conservatives to make an argument,” to not just vote but be actively involved, Mohler encouraged. While the truth “may be out of style for a season,” said Perkins, “it rotates back in because people move, they gravitate toward the natural law. They may not be able to articulate it, but they know that there’s got to be balance.”

The other side got to try out their sin-free theory of criminal justice, and it blew up in their faces, sometimes literally. Comparatively speaking, what policy blunders do Christians have to shame us into retreat?

Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand.