Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

A Tale of Two Kingdoms

Written by: on October 4, 2023

As a pastor, I have the privilege of weekly opening up the Scriptures and teaching a congregation about the present reality of the Kingdom of God and the implications the Kingdom has for us right here, right now. These duties of pastoring – “preaching and peopling” as I heard it once described – fill me with joy as I sense that I am partnering with God in helping people see their lives as a part of the greater mission of God in the world. My assumption is that people see the activity of God in their lives not just on Sunday, but all the days of the week. They understand that they are lights in the world (Matthew 5:15, Philippians 2:15) with the purpose and identity of being the people of God, revealing the light of God to those around them (1 Peter 2:9-10).

The forceful awakening Christian Nationalism delivered my early ministry naïveté came through conversations with people – from regular attenders to the deeply committed and invested – who aligned with the ethos of Christian Nationalism. There is no clear, agreed-upon definition for Christian Nationalism. For this post, I will follow these defining ideas of Christian Nationalism found by sociologists, Andrew L. Whitehead and Samuel L. Perry:

1. Christian Nationalism pushes for the United States being declared a Christian nation and,

2. “the success of the United States is a part of God’s plan.”[1]

As a pastor, it is consistently disheartening when Christians, whether wittingly or not, swear primary allegiance to a kingdom other than the Kingdom of God. How do we decipher whether one’s allegiance is primarily to one’s country or to Jesus? When the values of one kingdom are chosen at the expense of another.[2]

For this post, we will explore Francis Fukuyama’s content around identity politics in his book Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment.[3] After this, I will provide a response for pastors who are serving people whose souls may be entangled with Christian Nationalism (with myself being one of these pastors).

Summary of Identity by Francis Fukuyama

Fukuyama explores how identity politics, or, more specifically, the demand for recognition from various groups throughout the world, has shaped society.[4] There is the threat that identity politics will perpetuate conflict “unless we can work our way back to more universal understandings of human dignity,” according to Fukuyama.[5] When modernization embedded identity to the inner-self, this opened up the possibility for people to define who they are themselves.[6] This move, though enticing, caused anxiety for those who did not know who they were to their core.[7] They, like malignant cells with no sense of self, attached to other organisms.[8] One of these “organisms” is nationalism, which “demand[s] recognition of dignity in restrictive ways: not for all human beings, but for members of a particular national or religious group.”[9]

In short, as a pastor, I assumed opening up the Scriptures and encouraging people to see the Kingdom of God would minister to their souls. What I did not realize was this: their sense of identity was already ministered by Christian Nationalism. This ministering to their identities came through the affirmation that they have been victimized by the elites who refuse to recognize them.[10]

Where do we go from here?

In reading Fukuyama, I reflected on the challenge for pastors: the pastoral crisis of identity. When people do not know who they are, or they find their identity not in being a child of God but elsewhere, then there is an opportunity to pastor people toward a better, more sure identity. They may not be “recognized” by broader society. But they are a part of the family of God – and God himself came to his own but was not “recognized” (John 1:9-11; 1 John 3:1). As a pastor, I need to lean in, help guide people away from false identities, and rebuild identities on the foundation of Jesus.

The map for faithful Christians choosing to be a faithful presence in the world may require journeying the path of faithful living in the midst of the empire. In his commentary on the book of Revelation, Professor Michael Gorman writes this: “Revelation is (primarily) good news about Christ, the Lamb of God—who shares God’s throne and who is the key to the past, present, and future—and therefore also about uncompromising faithfulness leading to undying hope, even in the midst of unrelenting evil and oppressive.”[11]

Christian Nationalism provides an identity for people who have felt invisible.[12] But this identity is given by “empire,” and not the Kingdom of God.  The Kingdom we give primary allegiance to is the Kingdom of God. Paul reminds the followers of Jesus in the Roman colony of Philippi, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20, ESV). From this Kingdom is our identity and citizenship.

[1] Kelefa Sanneh, “How Christian Is Christian Nationalism?,” The New Yorker, March 27, 2023, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2023/04/03/how-christian-is-christian-nationalism.

[2] The divergences of values in the United States, Christian Nationalism, and the Kingdom of God would be beneficial. But for the sake of time and space (or, more specifically, word count), I must leave this tension to be explored with the reader.

[3] Fukuyama, Identity.

[4] Ibid. xv.

[5] Ibid. xvi.

[6] Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007), 475.

[7] Ibid. 56, 66.

[8] Edwin H. Friedman, A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix (10th Anniversary, Revised Edition) (Church Publishing, Inc., 2017), 151.

[9] Fukuyama, Identity, 73.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Michael J. Gorman, Reading Revelation Responsibly: Uncivil Worship and Witness: Following the Lamb into the New Creation (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2011), 12.

[12] Whether legitimate or felt is not the concern of this post. I recognize this enters the conversational waters of majority culture feeling unheard – a sign of privilege. However, I would argue, pastoral work requires entering the pain of people, regardless of the legitimacy of the pain. And it is this work in which I focus my attention.

About the Author


David Beavis

David is Australian by birth, was raised in Southern California, and is the Youth and Young Adults Pastor at B4 Church in Beaverton, Oregon. David and his wife, Laura, live in Hillsboro with their dog, Coava (named after their favorite coffee shop). M.A. Theology - Talbot School of Theology B.A. Psychology - Vanguard University of Southern California

5 responses to “A Tale of Two Kingdoms”

  1. Kristy Newport says:

    Thank you for letting us know the origins of
    Christian Nationalism found by sociologists, Andrew L. Whitehead and Samuel L. Perry:

    I would be interested in reading more of what they would say about Christian Nationalism. I am curious how this is best seen or best identified. Is it mainly in the language of those who would consider themselves a Christian Nationalist? What would you say about this. For those you have known who might be described as Christian Nationalist- how do they distinguish themselves as having this identity?

    You are heading to Australia. Is there a Christian identity there?… a National Christian identity? I am curious what you might say about this country as you have family there and are very familiar with Down Under. Have a great trip!

  2. mm Daron George says:


    Addressing christian (deliberately lowercase ‘c’) Nationalism has always posed a challenge for me as a pastor. This political ideology places a strong emphasis on the prominence of Christian values and beliefs within our nation. While this may appear commendable at first glance, a deeper exploration often reveals inherent complexities. In my personal experience, I’ve grappled with the realization that this perspective can, at times, clash with Christian principles.

    To clarify, I’m not suggesting that one cannot be both a devout Christian and a patriot who loves their country (most of my family has served this country). However, when an individual’s primary identity becomes rooted in their nation rather than their identity as a child of God, it raises concerns. The core issue lies in the prioritization of one’s national identity over their spiritual identity, which can lead to a disconnect from certain Christian values.

    Your comment, “When the values of one kingdom are chosen at the expense of another,” illustrates this dilemma. It highlights the challenge of reconciling one’s devotion to their nation with one’s commitment to the kingdom.

    • mm David Beavis says:

      Hey Daron,

      Thank you my friend for your response. This is one of the major the tricky dilemnas of pastoral work – one that few (if any) could see coming. I wonder what it looks like to pastor people away from an identity so entangled with one’s nation. I guess learning from the global Church, and having a more global perspective could be a start.

  3. David,
    Well done, you proved your point well. like Paul did in the book of Romans. I hope you will continue to write and blog after the program. You have a gift.

  4. Alana Hayes says:

    As a pastor, I need to lean in, help guide people away from false identities, and rebuild identities on the foundation of Jesus.

    What is something that we can start with when working through this with people? I think we have to start with ourselves! Is there anything that you struggle with in regards to false identities?

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