Strength, Wisdom, and Kevin DeYoung’s Review of ‘The Case for Christian Nationalism’

Strength, Wisdom, and Kevin DeYoung's Review of 'The Case for Christian Nationalism' The Garrett Ashley Mullet Show

A certain Megan Quinn published a rather fascinating writeup at last week, about a social experiment reality TV show from the UK, in which 10 boys and 10 girls were placed together in a house, in two separate instances, without adults present, except to monitor from outside, and the houses fully furnished, and stocked with food and cooking implements, and also toys and crafts.

The results were just as I would have predicted as a father of seven sons, that at the end of the five days the house of boys was a great big mess, and the house of girls was clean and tidy. In the former case, there was rough play, and lots of sugary food eaten, and also bullying. In the latter case, one girl immediately stepped up to coordinating the meal prep, and all the girls cleaned up after themselves and comforted one another when sad.

It would be fascinating to see another experiment run with girls and boys dropped off in the wilderness, with tools and weapons and survival training, but no shelter or food, having to build a place to live, and having to go hunt and forage, then turn the findings into food.

Nevertheless, such a study will not be had in our day, in all likelihood. Meanwhile, we can entertain ourselves well enough, and occupy our inquisitive minds, with ongoing debates about Stephen Wolfe’s book, The Case for Christian Nationalism, which Kevin DeYoung recently wrote a lengthy review of for The Gospel Coalition.

Before getting into that, however, I should like to say a word or two about how manly strength is not a vice, and that we must try hard not to think of power as inherently corrupt, lest we get the mistaken notion that God being all-powerful, for instance, is a bad thing, or in some way diminishes His righteousness.

This is, not coincidentally, why I cheer, for instance, a federal appeals court striking down the ban on “bump stocks” for modern sporting rifles, like AR-15’s and the like, which still represents to my mind one of the biggest mistakes of the Trump administration. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is pretty clear, by the way, and it is proper for our government to remember and uphold that fact, rather than seeing more capable weapons platforms as a problem.

But Proverbs 24:5 comes to mind also, in all of the above, where it says “A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might,” just going to show that it is virtuous for godly men as providers and protectors to get wisdom, knowledge, and strength all at the same time, to the end of being dependable for their families and friends.

On the other hand, there is a certain unmanly sensibility, which has wormed its way into the American Christian conception of what a man who is following Jesus should look, sound, and act like, which Stephen Wolfe speaks to, and contradicts at length, in his book, as quoted by DeYoung’s review of it at TGC.

Concerning all of the above, I hold that it can be, and is, true, all at the same time, that Wolfe’s rhetoric could use a tune-up in places, even as the strongest detractors and targets of his work need a different kind of correction, one which could indeed stand to have less vegetable oil and more free weights, to the end of greater faithfulness stewarding what the Master has entrusted to them.

Caution about the consumption of vegetable oils is warranted, after all. And if a wise and knowledgeable man is strong, and seeks to get still stronger, then regular exercise should be a part of that.

On the other hand, mocking manbuns and soy boys, or defending the same, all misses the forest for the trees.

If the root of the problem lies in having internalized a distorted belief about strength – that admiring and encouraging it in others, or getting it for ourselves, is not the same thing as being envious of evil men, whatever violence they do with their strength when they have it – then a strong rebuke and call to action along different lines is going to feel foreign, as well as a bit unsettling, for all the same reasons it’s sorely needed.

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