In a discussion sparked by this fine essay by James Pinkerton, a correspondent asks me to expound upon my notion of “Christendom,” which concept he is deeply skeptical of. I explained myself this way:
In a forthcoming magazine I have a long essay that ends in an emphatic call for Christian unity against the Jihad. It says nothing about the activity of the American state; but it says that we who profess Christ should strain toward unity against this menace. I believe that Christ opposes wickedness; I believe that the Jihad is wicked. Therefore I feel that it should be opposed. In my essay I make this call specifically in the context of all the Christian brothers oppressed by the Jihad. We should unite against this oppression.
I have said I am prepared to endorse the use of force to defend my homeland. Since I believe there is still a Christian majority in this land, I would aspire to effect the mobilizing of that majority to drive our policy toward this defense. I have no illusions about how considerable a task this would be, but I do believe that under our Constitution majorities may do this.
Now there can be no doubt that this thing would be called by some, with ominous intonation, the rise of a “new Christendom” or some such thing. My corresponded replied even more forcefully: such a project may be blasphemous.
But my motivation in this call is still grounded in patriotism, informed by a firm judgment of the justice of the cause. And my patriotism is ineffaceably what it is because of Christ. God the Father made the world and called it good; and then God the Son entered it bodily. Patriotism is forever changed by the Incarnation. Behold, I make all things new.
This land that I love, I love because I can trust the promises of God about the goodness of His creation. I trust, also, that Scripture gives me leave to pray that my land will pursue justice (which our Constitution also calls us to do), and to work for it as a citizen. Earthly governors are “sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good” (1 Pet 2:14).
Christendom is indeed a civilization made by Christianity, but not only by that. It is also made by human hands, sinners’ hands, and other materials have been mixed in. She is, in my preferred definition, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. America is an imperfect part of an imperfect whole. It is right to love her; though it would be quite wrong to conflate this love with Christian discipleship. I do not think I have done that.
In my judgment, as America drifts away from this unity in the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ, she will fail; my children will inherit something uglier, more prone to evil and idolatry, less just, more bewildered and bitter, more despairing and yet full of bluster. They will inherit, also, something weaker, more vulnerable to the depredations of the Jihad.