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What is Christianism?


Christianism is simply “the religious system, tenets, or practices of Christians” (Merriam-Webster). But the term is often used to refer to an ideology that leverages Christian terminology, ideas, or themes to pursue worldly or political power. Christianism is often applied unfairly to anyone who connects his faith to his political views. A parallel term is Islamism, often used in an attempt to distinguish Islam in general from groups seeking to force Islamic doctrines on others. Christianism, defined that way, is more related to socio-political systems like conservativism and progressivism than to various denominations.

Some self-professed believers hold theological views that can be described as Christianism. Christian Dominionism, also known as Dominion Theology, holds that believers should emphasize obtaining positions of power in earthly governments, adapting the laws of those nations to reflect biblical ideals. At its most extreme, Dominionism teaches that only Christians are suitable for any government role and that all laws should be directly taken from biblical commands. In practice, this approach uses otherwise scriptural terms and spiritual ideas in social and political contexts.

Modern political discourse tends to be shallow and melodramatic. Words like hatred, fascism, communism, racism, persecution, and violence are often used to add emotional impact to an argument, when the situation at hand has little or nothing to do with what those words actually mean. Likewise, critics may apply labels like “Christianism” or “theocracy” whenever a Christian’s faith has the slightest influence on his or her political views.

Scripture does not support the typical definition of Christianism. While Christians have every good reason to want government to follow godly principles, political power and government control are not part of Christ’s plan for the church (John 18:36; Romans 13:1). His commands to make disciples (Matthew 28:19) and reflect His truth (Matthew 5:13–16) are not compatible with attempts to forcibly turn a nation into a congregation.

Personal faith and submission to Christ are not signs of Christianism. Common sense suggests those who believe in the God of the Bible would filter their thoughts and actions through that spiritual lens (John 14:15). By necessity, that includes determining what policies and politicians they support. Faith in Christ does not logically lead to seeking to impose theocracy or turning religious practice into a political platform. Seeking to live according to God’s truth does not require attempting to replace government with some version of religion. As commonly understood and defined, Christianism is not biblical, nor is it something expected of believers.

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This page last updated: January 4, 2022