Review Peter Leithart Against Christianity

Opening remarks:

This is another book recommended by Andrew Torba in the back of Christian Nationalism. The book is five chapters long and weighs in at about 150 pages. It was published in 2003. My recollection is that the guys at Berean Church in Sandpoint quoted one sentence from the book out of context and then threw Leithart under the bus as a heretic.


This book is like CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity in that it has lots of thought-provoking stuff and is trying to get readers to think outside of established categories about the Christian faith.

I cannot hope to “convince” readers or “prove” anything here, since I have certainly not provided enough argument or evidence to compel agreement. I hope instead to hint at, gesture toward, trace, or sketch what may be a fresh approach to the (mainly ecclesiological) issues I discuss, more to change readers’ angle of vision than persuade. (page 7).

Leithart is dissatisfied with the self-imposed limits that we as believers have allowed the secular world to impose on us. He feels strongly that we are all too willing to allow our faith to be boxed-in as a private affair between us and God and that we generally are unwilling to engage the world around us.

The Bible gives no hint that a Christian “belief system” might be isolated from the life of the Church, subjected to a scientific or logical analysis, and have its truth compared with competing “belief systems.” (page 14).

Though it has roots in the patristic period, Christianity in its more developed form is the Church’s adjustment of the gospel to modernity, and the Church’s consequent acceptance of the world’s definition of who we are and what we should be up to. Christianity is biblical religion disemboweled and emasculated by (voluntary) intellectualization and/or privatization. (page 17).

He places Christianity in one corner and in the other is the Church. The Church is both an assembly of believers (ecclesia) and a government (polis). The Church is a multi-language nation.

My complaint is more fundamental: we have accepted our liberal opponent’s account of who we are and no longer see that the gospel an is inherently political announcement, nor that the Church is an inherently political community. (page 38).

Leithart would find the notion of “me and Jesus is a majority” as laughable. The Church gives a believer purpose and meaning within a community.

Leithart argues that saving faith in Christ is not like “adding Jesus to my life” but is a completed surrender of my life and a completed adoption of Christ’s.

Conversion does not simply install a new “religious” program over the existing operating system. It installs a new operating system. (page 16).

Leithart concludes his book with ideas such as these:

Renouncing Christianity thus entails embracing Christendom. (page 136).

Suppose the king is a liberal who tries to police the boundaries of the Church, telling the Church where it can and cannot speak, what it can and cannot do. In that case too, a clash is inevitable and, again, kings have a herd time winning such battles. …

On the other hand, if the Church appears preaching Christianity, the king is entirely capable of stealing the rhetoric and story and ideas of the Church to buttress his power. … Or, political powers may simply force Christianity into the private sphere—shoving ideas back into the brain and Christianity back into churches. Churches in the grip of Christianity will hardly blink when the liberal king tells them that that have to confine themselves to thinking pious thoughts. (page 149).


Folks, this was written in 2003 but sounds like a perfect description of the total failure of the clergy in all denominations when confronted in 2020 with the Covid 19 order to shutdown all church worship and scatter the flocks of Christ. We, as believers, accepted the liberal lie that the Church was “non-essential” to our way of life and virtually ever minister, not only in the United States, but all of the West, complied without question. I can number all the churches in the United States that did not shutdown during Covid on one hand and still have fingers left. This is a huge indictment of the moral failure of modern churches.

The failure of churches during Covid is exactly the point Leithart is trying to make with this book. We have abandoned Christendom and replaced it with a pious, personal, and ineffective philosophy called “Christianity.”

The same moral failure lamented by Leithart will be played out next weekend when our community hosts its first gay pride event. Instead of protesting, local churches numbering as many as 13 congregations, will be holding a picnic at the fairgrounds as a “family friendly” alternative. They are expecting a crowd of 1,000 people at the event.

Except for one person that calls himself a street evangelist, nobody plans to be at the event to share Christ with these folks. I specifically asked my church leadership in the loudest voice that I could, why do we refuse to share Christ with these people? I said that we need more people in front of the venue protesting than they have attending it.  Essentially, I was told that homosexuals are not “the elect” and that they should be ignored. Folks, if you ignore cancer, does it simply go away or spread? I submit to you that sin is a cancer, and it will spread like wildfire if not halted in its progress. To this end, I bought 100 tracts to hand-out at the event, and I will not be participating at the picnic.

Leithart’s book is worth a look. I suggest having multicolored highlighters and going through it two or three times to really get a feel for his arguments. This book is asking you to think outside your preconceived categories and view faith in Christ in terms of the early church not categories given us by the pagans that gave us the Enlightenment and modernity.