PODCAST: A Jesus-Centered Faith vs. Nationalism feat. Andrew Whitehead

by | Nov 22, 2023 | Podcasts | 9 comments

Christian Nationalism podcast with Andrew Whitehead

Are we losing sight of the gospel in modern politics?

One of my deepest desires on this blog and podcast is that we correct the ways the modern church has gone off course, getting us away from the person of Christ, and that we help people find Jesus again.

Often when there’s really bad teaching, the gospel gets distorted–and it makes God sound really ugly, petty, and mean. No wonder so many people leave!

While I look mostly at marriage and gender, so many wonderful researchers are looking at the problems from different angles. Today, Andrew Whitehead, from Indiana University Purdue, joins us to talk about his new book American Idolatry, looking at the problem of Christian nationalism.

Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:

Timeline of the Podcast

1:20 Andrew explains his background and work

10:00 Christian Nationalism, USA vs CAN

17:00 Jesus-Centered Faith vs. Nationalism

24:20 Talking about these issues with others

32:45 Fear urgency in Christian Nationalism

40:30 Spiritualizing social issues

46:00 Are stats enough to change minds?

53:00 Closing thoughts + New review!

How can we get back to a Jesus-centered faith?

In the podcast, I share some of my favourite quotes from Andrew’s book, and he shares his story of growing up in a typical evangelical family, and starting to notice as he got older that some of the things that seem associated with Christianity don’t seem Christian at all.

How can a nation that says it’s based on Christian principles have committed genocide against the First Nations peoples, and enshrined slavery? How do we make sense of this?

In our conversation, we talk about the difference between patriotism and nationalism, and how we can find Jesus again even when our political discourse gets ugly.

American Idolatry by Andrew Whitehead

Things Mentioned in the Podcast

Episode 215 on Christian Nationalism with Andrew Whitehead

What do you think? Have you seen some of these dynamics in your church? Let’s talk in the comments!


Coming soon!

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Amy

    I realize that this is perhaps nit-picky in light of the broader discussion of the podcast, but claiming that counting slaves as only 3/5 of a person is a sign that Americans were devaluing slaves shows a lack of understanding of American government and American political history. It’s disappointing that an American professional social scientist doesn’t have a better grasp of the basic functionings of American government.

    The number of representatives each state is allowed in the US House is based on population. So, counting slaves as a full person would have increased the population numbers in the slave holding states, potentially giving those states a lot more power in the US House of Representatives. Who wasn’t allowed to vote during that period of time? Answer: slaves. So, valuing slaves as 100% of a person would have potentially given the voters (ie. the slave owners) in those states more power in the federal government. That law was NOT about devaluing the personhood of slaves (who at the time had no legal rights and couldn’t vote); it was about the power balance of the slave holding states versus the non-slave holding states. That law was actually a benefit to the slaves because it helped shift the power balance in the federal government towards the non-slave holding states, which were more open to abolishing slavery nationwide.

    To be clear, what I’m not saying is that America as a nation has been just to slaves, indigenous peoples, women, etc. I’m just saying that we would be well served in having a better understanding of our governmental systems and our history, in both the good and the bad aspects.

    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Yes, but Amy, regardless of the “why” there were whole people who were still considered 3/5 humans. I recognize it was so that some states didn’t have more political power but that logic only flows IF you don’t consider enslaved people full people.

      It doesn’t matter what the argument was, the effect was the same. It doesn’t matter if they had a good reason for it, this viewing of the black American as being less than 1 whole person has ripple effects.

      • Amy

        That is exactly why we need to study history. In the 21st century, that law gets viewed as a horrible thing done to enslaved people with no rationale behind it other than to further dehumanize people. However, when you look at it in light of the political realities of the time period, it was actually a savvy political move that could benefit the enslaved population. Understanding the history and the rationale behind it should soften its perceived injustice. It should tell us that the lawmakers who negotiated that law were looking for creative solutions for the injustices of their time. Those lawmakers likely weren’t considering how that law would be perceived in the future; they were just responding to the realities of their world. That’s why knowing our history and understanding the why of our history is important.

        • sunnynorth

          I actually would argue it might be more dehumanizing than not counting slaves at all – enslaved people were considered property until it benefited the people who owned them to consider them people, and they mattered as numbers only. It had nothing to do with the enslaved people themselves. Notice how no one was arguing for the horses or cows to be counted as people for the sake of representation. That speaks volumes.

          It feels similar to how I vehemently disagree with churches that do not allow women to speak in services or teach at all, but in some ways I find them more palatable than churches that dance around women’s roles and allow them to serve in some ways but not others or have unspoken rules about what women can and can’t do, can and can’t say. That’s also dehumanizing, but in a much less honest way.

          • Amy

            I was thinking something similar today about white women in the 19th century census counting. White women would have been counted in the census as a full person but also wouldn’t have had voting rights. That also seems dehumanizing and unjust, but as you are saying, in a much less honest way. It’s difficult to feel represented in a representative government if you have no say in who represents you.

        • Rebecca Lindenbach

          Amy I’m pretty sure you have it backwards. The three-fifths compromise was so that the enslaved people would count while calculating the population so their ENSLAVERS could have more political power, not less.

          It directly harmed them, giving the white people in the south more representation by using the black people as numbers to pad their districts while giving them zero agency or representation.

          The three-fifths compromise was a compromise so that the slave states had disproportionately HIGH representation, not so that their power was kept in check.


        • Jane King

          How was it going to benefit the enslaved population? Wasn’t it just another way for their enslavers to benefit.

    • Bernadette

      When I first read the Constitution, I was angry about the use of the word “other” when referring to slaves.

      Here’s the text.

      “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons”

      So I was mad, until I took a closer look.

      First of all, they basically call slaves people who are not free. They start talking about free people, then segue into talking about “other people”… meaning other than free.

      This does two things. Our Founding document refers to slaves as people in a time when slaves were considered property. And it calls attention to the fact that slaves were not free.

      There is also the matter of what the word “Numbers” might refer to when talking about counting the States respective numbers.

      Are they counting out how much personhood each citizen has?

      Maybe “Numbers” does not mean the number of people who are human. But means the number of people who increase the tally for how much representation their State gets in Congress.

  2. TS

    Thanks Rebecca,

    Further resources are below:


    The term slaves, although appropriate, is such a reductive and at times dehumanizing description. I think calling enslaved peoples or African slaves at least provides greater context. I dunno, but slaves reduces our proximity to evil that done to human beings. The 3/5 compromise like you said was a strategic initiative that allowed slave-holding states to maintain their commodification of human flesh that drove their economies and intertwined it with political capital by counting African slaves in population statistics in order to gain political power. However, to maintain slave-holding power meant continuing free labor market, if enslaved peoples full humanity is acknowledged then they are equipped to vote and would likely vote to be free peoples. The 3/5 was seen as compromise is tragic, especially as we as Christians believe we are created in the image of God, a God that does not forcefully enslave us or coerce us, or indoctrinate us. When we see abolition, we see the formation of what is now called liberation theology, which was enslaved peoples seeing the message of justice, mercy, and love that are throughout Scripture. Like Andrew says in the podcast, reading the texts of marginalized people, who have no material cause to benefit from belief, who often hope in things that are not seen or experienced in their lifetimes can be not only edifying and convicting.

    Jasmine Holmes has written a wonderful work Crowned In Glory for those interested in exploring.


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