An Honest Conversation on Christian Nationalism : Caleb Campbell

An Honest Conversation on Christian Nationalism - Caleb Campbell - 117 - FrontStage BackStage with Jason Daye

What is our responsibility as pastors and ministry leaders in understanding and addressing Christian nationalism? In this week’s conversation on FrontStage BackStage, host Jason Daye is joined by Caleb Campbell. Caleb is the lead pastor at Desert Springs Bible Church in Phoenix, Arizona. He is a doctoral student at Fuller Theological Seminary and a regional director for the Surge Network. His most recent book is entitled Disarming Leviathan. Together, Caleb and Jason look at what Christian nationalism is and what it is not. Caleb also shares some practical ways that your local church can engage in mission, honoring God, loving others, and addressing Christian nationalism.

Looking to dig more deeply into this topic and conversation? Every week we go the extra mile and create a free toolkit so you and your ministry team can dive deeper into the topic that is discussed. Find your Weekly Toolkit below… Love well, Live well, Lead well!

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Additional Resource Links – Check out Caleb’s website for access to his book, podcast, videos, and other valuable resources aimed at supporting and guiding you on your personal faith journey.

Disarming Leviathan: Loving Your Christian Nationalist Neighbor – In his book, Campbell equips Christians to minister to their Christian nationalist neighbors. He introduces the basics of Christian nationalism and explores the reasons so many people are attracted to it. He also addresses a variety of American Christian nationalist talking points and offers questions and responses that humbly subvert these claims and cultivate deeper, heart-level conversations.

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Key Insights and Concepts

  • Christian nationalism in America is a complex phenomenon encompassing political ideology, tribal identity, and spiritual idolatry, each influencing the movement in distinct ways.
  • As a political ideology, American Christian nationalism asserts that Christians should govern to protect and propagate their way of life, though interpretations of “Christian” and methods of governance vary.
  • The term “American Christian nationalism” often serves as a tribal identity marker, describing a cultural group rather than a cohesive political stance.
  • American Christian nationalism can be seen as spiritual idolatry, blending aspects of Christianity with American civil religion and empire worship, similar to temptations faced by the early church.
  • It’s important to distinguish American Christian nationalism from conservatism; the former does not align with classic conservative principles like small government and free market economics.
  • Christian nationalism is not synonymous with Christians participating in politics; rather, it argues for Christians to take charge, often contrary to servant leadership modeled by Jesus.
  • Christians are called to cruciform patriotism, reflecting Jesus’ servant leadership and rejecting the pursuit of worldly power for dominance.
  • The anxiety and rage stoked by American Christian nationalist leaders exploit fears of ethnic erasure and societal change, promising false security and belonging.
  • Effective use of Scripture in pastoral settings is crucial to counter the proof-texting tactics of American Christian nationalism and other cultural ideologies, which often misuse biblical authority to justify political stances.
  • Pastors must be explicit and clear in their teaching of Scripture to prevent cultural ideologies from distorting biblical truth and forming congregational beliefs.
  • American Christian nationalism often prioritizes political power over the character and integrity modeled by Jesus, focusing on ends rather than means.
  • The way of Jesus is fundamentally different from the way of American Christian nationalism; it calls for humility, service, compassion, and the pursuit of justice through nonviolent means.
  • Engaging with American Christian nationalists requires a missionary approach, studying their culture, building relationships, and gently pointing out inconsistencies with Jesus’ teachings.
  • A posture of hospitality and genuine dialogue can open doors for transformative conversations with those entrenched in American Christian nationalism.
  • Disarming American Christian nationalism involves a commitment to gentle restoration, self-reflection, and a focus on embodying Christ’s love and humility in all interactions.

Questions for Reflection

  • How do I understand and define American Christian nationalism? Has my definition shifted at all? What implications does this understanding have for my pastoral work?
  • In what ways can I approach American Christian nationalism from a missiological perspective, focusing on the people and their cultural context rather than just the ideology?
  • How do I address the blurring of political ideology and spiritual identity within my congregation without alienating members who hold these views?
  • Why is addressing American Christian nationalism important in our current culture?
  • What steps can I take to differentiate between promoting Christian values in civic life and the political ideology of Christian nationalism?
  • How can I foster a sense of community and belonging in my church that resists the tribal identity aspects of American Christian nationalism?
  • What strategies can I employ to address the spiritual idolatry present in American Christian nationalism, encouraging a return to Christ-centered worship?
  • How can I clearly communicate the differences between classical conservatism and Christian nationalism to my congregation to avoid confusion?
  • What role does servant leadership play in my ministry? How can I model this to counter the power-driven aspects of Christian nationalism?
  • How can I create a safe space for open dialogue about the fears and anxieties that drive some toward Christian nationalism?
  • In what ways can I ensure that Scripture is being engaged deeply and accurately within my church, preventing the misuse of biblical texts for political ends? How can I encourage more theological and Spirit-led study regarding certain political views?
  • What practical steps can I take to encourage my congregation to engage with the Bible beyond just listening to popular figures or leaders? How can I teach practical ways for them to study the Bible more deeply, so they are not swayed by others’ proof-texting?
  • How can I cultivate a culture of humility and service in my church that aligns with the cruciform patriotism described in the teachings of Jesus?
  • How does true patriotism view those of other ethnicities and cultures?
  • What methods can I use to gently and lovingly address the inconsistencies between Christian nationalist rhetoric and the teachings of Jesus?
  • How can I develop relationships with those influenced by American Christian nationalism to better understand their perspectives and guide them toward a more Christ-centered faith?

Full-Text Transcript

What is our responsibility as pastors and ministry leaders in understanding and addressing Christian nationalism?

Jason Daye
In this episode, I’m joined by Caleb Campbell. Caleb is the lead pastor at Desert Springs Bible Church in Phoenix, Arizona. He is a doctoral student at Fuller Theological Seminary and a regional director for the Surge Network. His most recent book is entitled Disarming Leviathan. Together, Caleb and I look at what Christian nationalism is and what it is not. Caleb also shares some practical ways that your local church can engage in mission, honoring God, loving others, and addressing Christian nationalism. Are you ready? Let’s go.

Jason Daye 
Hey, friends, welcome to another insightful episode of FrontStage BackStage. I’m super excited about today’s conversation. Each and every week, I have the honor of sitting down with a trusted ministry leader and we dive into a topic all in an effort to help you and ministry leaders just like you embrace a healthy rhythm in both your life and your ministry. We are proud to be a part of the Pastor Serve Network. Each week, not only do we provide a conversation, but we also create an entire toolkit that complements the conversation. You can find that at In there, you’ll find a bunch of resources including a Ministry Leaders Growth Guide. Now this growth guide has insights and some questions that you can work through yourself and also invite the ministry leaders at your local church to process through as well. So be sure to avail yourself of that resource, again, at Now our team at Pastors Serve loves walking alongside pastors and ministry leaders. We do this day in and day out each and every week. If you’d like to learn about how you can receive a complimentary coaching session you can find those details at Now for those of you joining us on YouTube, please give us a thumbs up and take a moment to drop your name and the name of your church in the comments below. We love getting to know our audience better and we’ll be praying for you and your ministry. Throughout this conversation, if you have questions, thoughts, ideas, or comments please be sure to drop them in the comments so that we can come back to them and connect with you on those. Whether you’re joining us on YouTube or your favorite podcast platform, please take a moment to subscribe and follow so you do not miss out on these conversations. Again, I’m excited about what we’re diving into today. At this time, I’d like to welcome Caleb Campbell to the show. Caleb, Welcome brother.

Caleb Campbell 
Jason, It’s great to be here with you. Thanks so much for having me.

Jason Daye 
So good to have you, brother. We are going to dive into a very timely topic and it’s timely in so many ways because here in America, we find ourselves in an election year. We find ourselves over the last decade or so wrestling with a lot of big questions and whatnot. In the news, really, as we’re recording this right now, big news is coming out in regard to former President Trump, the trial that he’s been a part of, and everything. So right now, it’s just timely. I mean, we can’t say it’s more timely than it possibly could be. We’re gonna be talking about and having an open and honest conversation about Christian nationalism. Caleb just start off, because people ascribe different definitions to this phrase, Christian nationalism. So to start off so we’re all on a level playing field here, Caleb, I’d love for you to briefly describe what really is Christian nationalism, as we’re talking about it today.

Caleb Campbell 
Yeah, that’s great. Thanks, Jason. So I know that there are a lot of different views of Christian nationalism. Meaning you can take this phenomenon and look at it through a historical lens, a political lens, etc. I argue that it’s helpful for pastors to look at it from a missional lens, a missiological lens, so studying not only the ideas but also the people groups. So when I refer to American Christian nationalism, I’m referring to a phenomenon or a movement that is three things at the same time. It’s a political ideology, tribal identity, and a spiritual idolatry. So as a political ideology, the basic argument of American Christian nationalism is that Christians should be in charge of the state or be in charge of the government to protect and propagate their Christian way of being in the world. Now, what you mean by Christian varies by different groups, and how one takes power of the state varies by different groups. But at its base, it’s a political ideology that argues that Christians should be in charge of the government to protect and propagate their way of being in the world. Number two, when we refer to American Christian nationalists today, we’re also talking about a tribal identity. People are referring to themselves in this way, not primarily to describe their political ideology. In fact, for many of them, they don’t actually have really deep and complex policy perspectives. They’re using the phrasing and rhetoric to describe the people group that they belong to. One of the things I argue in my book Disarming Leviathan is that this idea of Christian nationalism, this term is referring to a tribe, in many places as a surrogate for one’s ethnic identity. Describing their way of being in the world, their culture, their food, their practices, their taboos, their deep story, their founding myth, and things like that. Then finally, I argue that it is a spiritual idolatry. That American Christian nationalism is a form of syncretism, where aspects of the Christian tradition are synced up with aspects of the American civil religion, and a form of empire worship, which the early church was tempted towards. The book of Revelation speaks to this, where the veneration of the power of one’s military, one’s government, and one’s economy, can actually become an act of idolatry and worship. We see that spiritual idolatry in American Christian nationalism today.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, yeah. That’s excellent. Thank you for that. For those of you who are watching and listening right now who might identify with some of those things that Caleb said, do not turn us off right now. Please, I’m asking you to hang in here. Because Caleb, you have written this book, Disarming Leviathan. You’ve approached it in a very, I believe, humble manner and very thoughtful manner. As you said, you’re taking this perspective, really focusing on this spiritual perspective of it all. There are certain things, you make this very clear, that there are certain things that Christian nationalism is not. So let’s talk a little bit about that because this is where some people get really, really misconstrued. I mean, they’re like, well, you know. They tie things like patriotism, conservatism, or those types of things to this, then they get offended, and then they turn us off, right? So before you do that, let’s talk about what Christian nationalism is not.

Caleb Campbell 
That’s a great question. It’s always important anytime we use terms, especially in a culture with so many different people claiming terms, that we define our terms. So I’ve tried to define what I mean by American Christian nationalism. So what it’s not. It’s not conservatism. I live in Phoenix. I was represented by John McCain for almost my entire life until he passed away a few years ago. There’s a statue of Barry Goldwater just down the road from where I’m currently sitting. I am familiar with conservatism. I grew up in a very conservative home. I voted for conservative candidates. This is not conservatism. So, classic conservatism in American politics is usually free market, peace through military strength, small as possible federal government, and deferring to local governments. Christian nationalism in America doesn’t argue for those things. In fact, I’ve heard some purveyors of Christian nationalism, saying that we need to give more power to the federal executive branch, so they can shut down businesses that say the things that we don’t like, which is not only contrary to small government, it’s also contrary to the free market of ideas, right? So it’s not conservatism. I know that there are some groups of people who use Christian nationalism and they overuse the term. They use it just to define any Republican and that’s a misuse. But their misuse does not mean that we need to not use the word. People misuse words all the time. All we need to do is define it. The other thing too, is that Christian nationalist movements have been happening for a long time and they’re not always conservative. So in American history, I believe in the 1960s and 70s, there was a black Christian nationalist movement that was arguing for certain policies that we would call progressive. It’s not inherently conservative or progressive, as it relates to American politics. So it’s not conservatism. It’s also not Christians involved in government or in politics. Again, it’s the argument that Christians should take charge. There are countless examples of Christians living out the kingdom of God on earth, as it is in Phoenix on earth, as it is in Dallas, or wherever you find yourself to be, who are actively involved in our civic life together. But they do so not as combatants, but as ambassadors of the kingdom of God. They do so not as people seeking to take as much power as they can to protect and propagate their way of being in the world. Rather, they do so as Philippians 2 calls us, as servants to all. So really, Christians are excellent public servants when we take on the form of a servant, namely Jesus, using whatever power we have been gifted and blessed with in the service of others. Christian nationalism says we’re going to consolidate our power in order to protect and propagate our way of being in the world. So it’s not conservative, it’s not Christians involved in politics, it really is a phenomenon, a tribe, and an ideology that we need to pay attention to.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, that’s super helpful. One more thing that we could touch on there because you touched on this in Disarming Leviathan is this idea of patriotism. Because, again, a lot of people conflate patriotism. If you’re not a Christian nationalist, then you hate the US or whatever, right? That comes at us sometimes. So talk to us a little bit about that patriotism piece.

Caleb Campbell 
Yeah. So I would say that in juxtaposition to American Christian nationalism, Christians ought to pursue cruciform patriotism. What I mean by that is cruciform namely, taking on the form of a servant, footwashing, thinking about the teachings of Jesus, and worldly power. You just notice in the Gospel of Mark that Jesus’ disciples are constantly arguing with him, saying, We want more worldly power. He keeps saying, Hey, listen, the rulers of this world lord it over people. May it not be so with you. So that posture towards our people, towards our country, and towards our fellow citizens, that form of servant or cruciform love, is a healthy expression of patriotism. Richard Mao writes about this in one of his recent books, but probably the best space to look for me has been CS Lewis’s book The Four Loves where he distinguishes a form of nationalism, which takes the patriotic influence, the love of one’s neighbor extended across my community or my people. It supremacizes it by saying that everyone else is lower than us, and we need to be in charge. So I love my family, Jason, I love the Campbell family, they’re my people, and I love them in a way that’s unique to my love for your family. In fact, I would probably be comfortable saying I love my family more than I love your family. What I’m not doing in that expression of familial love is saying, and therefore the Campbells are better than your family and we need to be in charge, right? So Lewis argues, patriotism has a positive view of the other. It recognizes that the ethnic other is also valuable and equal. But I just love my food, my music, and my way of being in the world is just home for me. That’s a good thing and protecting that’s a good thing. But reaching for the swords of worldly power in order to protect it will actually crush it in the long run according to the teachings of Jesus.

Jason Daye 
Right. I love that you went to CS Lewis too, because reminder, he was writing, especially on all that, out of World War II. In all the atrocity and all the stuff that’s going on there. So I think taking that into account and remembering the context of his writings is so powerful when we think about this. So beautifully and well stated, Caleb, well stated. So we know what we’re talking about here, what Christian nationalism is and what it is not. What are some of the methods, Caleb, that you’ve identified? You share this in Disarming Leviathan, where American Christian nationalist leaders are using some methods to draw people in and get support around this idea, this ideology. So what are some of the ways that they’re doing that?

Caleb Campbell 
Yeah, so purveyors of American Christian nationalism are doing everything they can to stoke anxiety of ethnic erasure and rage. So anxiety of ethnic erasure, the perpetual feeling that some people would call fear, that my way of being in the world is under imminent threat, and if I don’t do something about it, I’m going to be erased. They’re doing so by pointing to changes in the community, usually related to pluralism. So as a people, and as a country, Americans are not bound together by a common ethnic heritage or a common King. We, to my understanding, were the first ones to bind ourselves together around an idea. That idea is for all people, we say to ourselves. While we as a country have failed many times to realize that more perfect union, we are constantly reminding ourselves and encouraging ourselves that we can move towards a more perfect union. As we move towards a more perfect union of diverse people groups, different perspectives, different religions, and different ethnicities, our communities change. That change in the community for some of us makes us feel anxious about loss. So American Christian nationalist leaders will point to that change and stir up the anxiety saying, our way of being in the world is under imminent threat and then pivot it to rage. Therefore, we need to expel the outsider and we need to kick out all the demonic Democrats. I’m not making that up. I’ve been in the room multiple times where I’ve heard them say that Lucifer has possessed anyone on the left. So what we have to do is exercise them out of the country. People are buying into it because they want to feel safe, they want to belong, and they want to have purpose. So by stirring up anxiety and rage, purveyors of American Christian nationalism are promising to meet those needs. But as someone who’s done a ton of work with American Christian nationalists, I’ve been to multiple gatherings and hung out with the leaders. It’s a false sense of safety and the reason is because you’re not free to ask critical questions of the movement. If you are inside the movement and you ask a critical question about the leader, like the integrity of the leader, or the integrity of a particular posture, or the dehumanizing rhetoric that’s used towards certain people, because you asked that critical question you’re in the outgroup now. You’re a threat to us and so you’re expelled. So true safety and community means you can talk about what’s going on in your heart out loud without fear of expulsion. American Christian nationalism movements, they promise that, but they don’t deliver on it, which is why you see so many people who are coming out of this movement who are in disarray and in despair, because they ask a critical question, and then they’re out.

Jason Daye 
So we’ve got this idea of, as you said, rage, right? We’ve got the anxiety piece of it. The fear. Talk to us a little bit about when scripture is pulled in. So scripture gets pulled in and it gets tossed out. We see on social media, you’ll see this a lot, right? Scripture passages are tossed out and that whole thing. Talk to us a little bit about the use of Scripture and what’s happening. What’s that phenomenon?

Caleb Campbell 
Yeah, so one thing for the pastor’s listening, I want to just encourage you to take the use of Scripture in these settings seriously because it’s doing discipleship to the people that we’re called to shepherd. It’s not innocuous. It’s not benign. So maybe I’ll just say a few things on that. So one of the things that purveyors of American Christian nationalism do pretty well, pretty effectively, I should say, is they proof text their positions. I’ve been in the room when a leader said, Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves and that’s why we have to protect our God-given Second Amendment right to bear arms because you can’t protect your neighbor and love them as yourself if you can’t protect them from a madman with a gun. Now, I don’t want to argue about Second Amendment rights, right? I think local Christian communities need to wrestle with where they’re at with the use of force, firearms, and all that stuff. But I think that all of us can agree that Jesus likely did not have in mind AR-15s when he said love your neighbor as yourself. If you think he did, you’ve got to do a lot of exegetical work to get there. You can’t just proof text it, right? I’ve been in the room when American Christian nationalist leaders have said, we have to protect what the Bible says about school choice. Again, whatever you think about school choice, let’s have the conversation. But what they’ll do is they’ll use the Bible, they’ll appeal to the Bible’s authority, and then directly connect it to a talk track or rhetoric that they’re using. The effect is everyone in the audience is like, this is obviously biblical. Jason, I think what’s happened is, and I think most of our pastoral peers would recognize this phenomenon. We have a high view in evangelicalism, a high view of the authority of the Bible, and a low engagement with it. So most of our people are engaging with the Bible, as such, right? The person on the stage with the Bible tells me what the Bible says, and I believe what the Bible says is authoritative so I’m going to trust what the Bible says. Even though I don’t know how to read it. I’m not doing it in a community. I’m never listening to any people other than the five favorites that I have on YouTube. Of course, Pastor Jason is always trustworthy. So you have a high view of the authority of Scripture with a low engagement with it, which means you have biblically illiterate people who listen to a leader, wave a Bible around, and say this says we should own guns, and they nod their head, wave their hands, and say, amen, hallelujah. Not because they’ve arrived there through deep meditation on scripture, but because the Bible agrees with them. That’s why they’re Amen-ing and hallelujah-ing, it’s because of course my way of being in the world is biblical because you know, God stuff. Here’s the other thing, too. Purveyors of American Christian nationalism recognize this. We had a President and I, we’ll get spicy here. We had a president who would just hold up a Bible as if that was doing something and it was doing something, right? That totem was communicating something very profound to a people group. This can be the red team or the blue team that does it, right? Any team can appeal to the Bible, right? I would just notice what they’re doing is not inviting us to contemplative meditation, Holy Spirit-guided conviction, and repentance, to be formed more like Jesus. They’re saying, This Bible means I am in charge and I’m telling you what’s true. Everyone kind of nods along because we like the Bible. So pastors, my appeal to you is this. If we are not explicit in how we use the Scripture to form us as a people, then we will give space to purveyors of Christian nationalism or any other ideology that’s contrary to Scripture. The purveyors of those cultural war ideologies will teach our people how they think they should use scripture. The reason why I argue that we need to be explicit is because I have watched people that I’ve pastored give themselves over to American Christian nationalist ideas and postures, and they think I agree with them because I’ve been too nuanced or I wasn’t clear. Pastor Caleb says, love your neighbor as yourself on Sunday and this culture warrior on Monday says the same thing, and then directly draws the line to that and minimum wage. And I’ve lost the game, right? Because they think that I agree with that or not agree with that, whatever the issue might be, right? Again, I just want to invite your listeners, whatever the policy is, that’s a long conversation. What I’m simply showing is this proof texting phenomenon that’s happening is depriving our people of the rich character-shaping Jesus-drawing-nearing-ness of scripture engagement. So my pastoral heart is whatever your convictions are about these issues is really important. But we need to be shaped into the image of Christ by engaging with Scripture and relying on the Holy Spirit before we get there. These culture-war folks who are using scripture are short-circuiting that.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, that’s good, Caleb. That’s very good. Okay, so let’s lean in a little bit on maybe some of these convictions and look at, if you help us Caleb, process through some of the ways that the American Christian nationalist movement is pressing in on things that do not align with Jesus or God’s heart, right? Let’s talk through some of those.

Caleb Campbell 
I love this. American Christian nationalism is more Machiavelli than Messiah. What I mean by that is Machiavelli, who wrote The Prince, was a very calculated political theorist. He is credited with this statement, the ends justify the means. That if you think you have a good goal or objective, how you get there doesn’t really matter as long as you have a good goal or objective, right? The end. The teachings of our Messiah are that your character matters and the end is in God’s hands. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Rich Mullins. Okay, so we’re dating ourselves. Rich Mullins has this song Step by Step He Leads Me. Jesus calls us to follow his way of being in the world. It’s the way. It’s the step. It’s the path. Which has to do with how I am in the world, my own integrity, and living out my convictions. One of the biggest departures that American Christian nationalist leaders are arguing for is that that stuff doesn’t matter anymore. That character doesn’t matter anymore. I’ve been in the room and I’ve heard people say, turn the other cheek works in peacetime, but we are in wartime. So if someone is taking up the name of Christ, and then calling us to behave in ways that are not like Christ, then they are in error. One of the things that Jesus told us to do when we look at leaders and wonder, are they good leaders? Are they Godly leaders or not? He says, Look at the fruit of their life. Look at their lifestyle, look at how they are in the world. The Book of Galatians contrasts the effect or the fruit of the flesh, combativeness, lust, greed, bitterness, enemy-ing with The fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I would just encourage you go to some of the events and tell me What fruit do you see. So the biggest departure is in character, integrity, and bearing witness to the gospel in our day-to-day lives. Many of the policies that get argued for, they’re fine, I guess, for some people, but the way in which they want to get their policies enacted is not the way of Jesus. It’s the way of the sword over the way of the cross. One of the criticisms I’ve heard of, I don’t really like this spectrum, but I’m going to use it because I think a lot of people understand it. There’s kind of what we call the theological progressive and the theological conservative. Outside of that, there’s kind of criticisms of the political progressive and the political conservative. I will hear political and theological conservatives criticize those in the progressive space. They’ll say things like, they want the kingdom without a king. They want harmony, they want Eden, but they don’t want submission to King Jesus. Okay, fine. If that’s true, then American Christian nationalism wants the kingdom without a cross. They view the cross as weakness, not as power. So they argue, well, we’ve got to pick up the sort of worldly power in order to protect and propagate our way of being in the world. Just think about the theology of power that’s behind that. It’s the theology of the sword. It’s the theology of worldly power. It’s this idea that this is what’s going to get us into the kingdom. The way of Jesus is always the way of the Cross. Anytime one of his disciples tried to pick up a sword, he said, Put it away. So the biggest departure for me, I mean, I’m a theologically conservative evangelical pastor, and for me, the root of this thing is that it’s a corrupt theology of power. It does not know Philippians chapter two. It does not know foot washing. It does not know, pick up your cross and follow Me. It only knows Christianity as a way to define a people group with a certain subset of values. Then it argues for the kingdoms of this world’s power.

Jason Daye 
Yeah. Well said, Caleb. Now, one of your approaches, and actually the approach of Disarming Leviathan, your book, is this idea of, okay, so Christian nationalism exists, and how do we as Jesus’s people minister into this world? How do we engage in God’s mission? Which I absolutely love because it’s nice to talk about, oh, yeah, here are the issues, here are the issues, here the issues. But then it comes back to, what does that mean for us if we love Jesus and we love others as Jesus has called us to do? Love the Lord with all of our hearts and everything we are. So what do we do with it? So help us. Let’s talk about some practical ways that we can engage in mission, honor God, love others, and kind of address or approach this idea of Christian nationalism.

Caleb Campbell 
So my book title is called Disarming Leviathan: Loving your Christian Nationalist Neighbor. The reason I chose Disarming Leviathan is the biblical authors had in their imagination a way to talk about chaos evil. You see the serpent in the garden in Genesis, you see the dragon and the beast in Revelation. In Job and the Psalms, you have this figure called the Leviathan which lives in the watery abyss of chaos and seems to be disorderly and contrary to the ordered ways of God. Some of the early church fathers pick it up as a metaphor for chaos evil. American Christian nationalism is one expression of a myriad of expressions of this power force that I think the Apostle Paul referred to as powers, principalities, rulers, and authorities. It’s this power force that we can give ourselves over to. People are not Leviathan, but we can give ourselves over to the power of Leviathan and become ensnared. You have some of the prophetic literature in the scriptures even referring to certain kings kind of in beastly language, almost like you can give yourself over to it so much that you can be enmeshed in it. Galatians 6:1-2 has been such a helpful guide. It says, If anyone, brothers and sisters, is caught up in evil, ensnared in an evil, you who are spiritually mature, seek to restore that person gently and watch out for your own self, lest you be tempted. Therefore, bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. So the posture that I have towards American Christian nationalists is the same posture I’d have towards anyone who I believe is caught up or ensnared in an evil, who has given themselves over to it. My objective is to seek to restore them gently. Gently. Gently. Not on social media, not yelling, but gently. Watching out for my own self because 98% of this work is actually in me, not in them. It’s my own derision. It’s my own shame. It’s my own disgust at what they’re doing. That’s a me problem. That’s not a them problem. So practically speaking, one of the first things we’ve got to do is, if I believe that I’m pursuing spiritual maturity, I need to watch out for my own self. I need to take that to the Lord in prayers of repentance and confession. Lord, I hate what I’m seeing. I’m disgusted by what that person just said. I want to punch that person in the neck if I see their stupid face again. Lord, help me. That’s in me, that’s not them. Then I want to seek not to win an argument, not to defeat a heresy, but to restore them back to communion. Gently. So practically speaking, what that looks like, at least my argument is, that we would approach them as if we were missionaries. Missionaries are great students of culture. I want to study their stories, their music, their rhetoric, their taboos, their fears, and their dreams for their kids, and I want to study that. I want to seek to know what’s going on. Not only what’s coming out of their mouth, but what’s going on in their heart. Then I want to set the table of hospitality. I want to develop actual relationships with people to actually know what’s going on inside their heart. Then I want to humbly show the inconsistencies of their currently held convictions, namely, for American Christian nationalists. Something that might be a way of the sword and how that is in contradiction with the teachings of Jesus. I might do it like this. Let’s say at the kid’s birthday party and sweet Aunt Betty is yelling and screaming, using dehumanizing language and derisive language about immigrants or whatever. She’s talking about words like invasion. Okay, so what do I do? Well, I can ignore Aunt Betty, I can kick her out of the house, and never invite her back again. Or I can do something like I could disagree with Aunt Betty, right? That’s wrong. You’re so wrong. Where’d you get that information from? What are your news sources? I could call her names. You know, that’s racist, Aunt Betty, that’s xenophobic, or whatever. Or I could do this. I might say in that moment, or I might invite her to coffee and say, Aunt Betty, those things that you said when I heard them made me feel fear. What do you feel when you hear that? Oh, I’m so afraid for Little Johnny and Sally, that they’re not going to have a great town to live in like I did when I was a kid where I never had to worry about people doing evil. Pause. That’s revisionist history, that’s nostalgia, and is probably not factually true. But those words are expressing some deep feeling within her heart. So we’re gonna keep going. Okay, so yeah. Aunt Betty, I love that you care so much about Johnny and Sally’s future. I also want a safe community for Johnny and Sally. I love that you care about them and care about our community. I do too. Now, I’ve not agreed with her about the things that she thinks came out of her mouth, but I have connected with her heart-to-heart and it’s moving from head to heart. I’ve dignified some of the things that she values. I’ve dignified her humanity. I valued and respected the fact that she does care about these things. So that’s setting the table with hospitality. Then I might move into a space where I say something like, I also want a safe community for our kids and I deeply want that. So I’m in agreement with you. I also want to follow Jesus and Aunt Betty, remember when you gave me that Bible 15 years ago? I’ve been reading it. There’s all this stuff about caring for strangers and immigrants, like Jesus even talks about like welcoming immigrants into your house. So I feel like there are two values that seem to be in contradiction inside my own heart and I feel a tension. What do you think? Jason, what I’m trying to do is simply, A, be honest about what the tension is that I feel, too, right? I’m not making that up. I do feel that tension. I live in Phoenix, bro. Like, that’s a real thing. This is the hardest work for me. I’ve presented myself as willing to listen to what God might want to say to me through her because my heart also needs to be changed. I don’t want to do that, right? Like her ideas are stupid. What does she have to be teaching me? Ah, right. That’s a me problem. Right back to confession and repentance. But I’ve postured myself as a co-learner and a co-follower of Jesus. I’ve simply asked to humbly subversive question that I also wrestle with, in order to hopefully plant seeds of repentance in the garden of her mind that the Spirit of the Living God might grow into the fruit of repentance. I’ve done so hospitably in such a way that three weeks later, she’s at the kitchen sink washing a dish, and she’s got some cable news media yelling hate speech on the TV. There’s the commemorative plate of Washington at Concord hanging on the wall. She’s looking out the window, and all of a sudden it hits her, I wonder if this rhetoric that I’ve been using or this is talk track that I’ve been on, I wonder if that is in alignment with the way of Jesus who I love? Who can I talk to about this? If I’ve been hospitable, my prayer is that she would say, oh, I can talk to Caleb because he was nice to me, he asked really thoughtful questions, and he was really kind to me when I expressed some things. I think I’ll give him a call. That’s all mission work is, right? Showing curiosity, being a student, setting the table of hospitality so that we can have deep conversations over the course of our relationship, and then showing the inconsistencies through humble subversion. Not trying to win an argument, slam somebody, or shame somebody, but just planting seeds of repentance in the garden of their mind.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, absolutely love the posture, Caleb, so much. It’s very crazy. It’s really Jesus-like, you know what I mean? Which I think is kind of what we’re all aiming for, right? We all miss it a lot. But we’re aiming for it. So if we can do things and move in that direction. Yeah, I think that’s really important. Now, with your book because this book, one of the things that is so cool, guys, and those of you who are watching and listening along, is that Caleb goes through and shares a bunch of this stuff. But then he creates almost like a field guide in the back of this book. You go into detail on different topics, different scripture passages, and some of these talk tracks that are out there. You do kind of what you just did with Aunt Betty right there. You walk through the conversations, you walk through the common ground, how we establish the common ground and connect with the heart, right? Literally, you go through all of these pieces, it’s an incredible resource, Caleb. I’ve seen nothing like it, honestly, and I’m so grateful for it. I really want to encourage those of you watching or listening to pick up the book Disarming Leviathan. Caleb didn’t ask me to push this. I’m telling you, honestly, from reading this, and those of you who watch the show, you know that I read a lot of books. But this resource is so practical for your local church, so practical for you, so practical to put in the hands of your ministry leaders, or people in your small group because this is ministry. This is mission, as you said. This is the grittiness of what it means not just to live a life that honors God. But what does it mean to join God in his mission in the world, right? To be a disciple-maker because that’s what we’re called to do. So thank you so much for this. As we’re kind of wrapping up, Caleb, I want to let everyone know who’s watching or listening along that they can go to the toolkit for this episode at There we’ll have links to the book. But also, are there other ways that people can connect with you,r connect with your ministry, or that sort of thing?

Caleb Campbell 
Yeah, thanks for asking. So you can go to We’ve got a podcast where I interview a lot of the people that I’ve read and interacted with, to either help us understand this phenomenon of American Christian nationalism, or how to do it as practitioners, how to engage those who are imbibing it in missional ways. Then that has links to our social media stuff. So we’re active on Twitter or X, Facebook, and Ista. Yeah, I’d love to connect with anyone. If there’s any way that I can help pastors. We do some pastoral coaching for how to identify American Christian nationalism, either in your church or community, as well as how to engage it from a pastoral level, and kind of a catechetical or discipleship level, as well as some of the things that we can do for the long run that can keep people from moving too far into these types of movements. Yeah, so reach out. Hit me up.

Jason Daye 
Awesome. Love that. Again, we’ll have links to social media, all those things, to his resources, and podcast in the toolkit at So check that out. As we’re winding down, Caleb, I want to give you an opportunity, you’ve got the eyes and ears of brothers and sisters serving in ministry. What words would you like to leave with them?

Caleb Campbell 
That the way of Jesus is seemingly hard. But when we are attentive to His Spirit leading us and empowering us moment by moment that that difficulty begins to pale in comparison to the joy of the presence of Christ. Sometimes, not always, but sometimes we get to see Him in the people that we think are our enemies when we approach them in Jesus-like ways. So if you’re about the work of being like Jesus to people with whom you fundamentally disagree, I would invite you to have a Spirit-empowered imagination of how the Lord might want to show you something beautiful through your engagement with them.

Jason Daye 
Yeah, I absolutely love it, brother. Love it, man. Thank you so much for your heart posture in this whole thing, for the resources you’re providing, and for speaking into this. It’s a huge thing that we’re currently facing as a nation ourselves. So thank you so much for making the time to hang out with us, Caleb, certainly appreciate it.

Caleb Campbell 
Thanks, Jason, I appreciate you and your work, brother.

Jason Daye 
All right. God bless you.

Jason Daye
Now, before you go, I want to remind you of an incredible free resource that our team puts together every single week to help you and your team dig more deeply and maximize the conversation that we just had. This is the weekly toolkit that we provide. And we understand that it’s one thing to listen or watch an episode, but it’s something entirely different to actually take what you’ve heard, what you’ve watched, what you’ve seen, and apply it to your life and to your ministry. You see, FrontStage BackStage is more than just a podcast or YouTube show about ministry leadership, we are a complete resource to help train you and your entire ministry team as you seek to grow and develop in life in ministry. Every single week, we provide a weekly toolkit which has all types of tools in it to help you do just that. Now you can find this at That’s And there you will find all of our shows, all of our episodes and all of our weekly toolkits. Now inside the toolkit are several tools including video links and audio links for you to share with your team. There are resource links to different resources and tools that were mentioned in the conversation, and several other tools, but the greatest thing is the ministry leaders growth guide. Our team pulls key insights and concepts from every conversation with our amazing guests. And then we also create engaging questions for you and your team to consider and process, providing space for you to reflect on how that episode’s topic relates to your unique context, at your local church, in your ministry and in your life. Now you can use these questions in your regular staff meetings to guide your conversation as you invest in the growth of your ministry leaders. You can find the weekly toolkit at We encourage you to check out that free resource. Until next time, I’m Jason Daye encouraging you to love well, live well, and lead well. God bless.

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