Not Everyone Who Says ‘Christ Is King’ Will Enter the Kingdom of Heaven

Not Everyone Who Says ‘Christ Is King’ Will Enter the Kingdom of Heaven

We often do not fully appreciate how fundamentally political the early Christian movement was. In a world where Caesar was venerated not only as the supreme leader of the empire but also as a god among the pantheon, declaring that “Jesus is Lord” was incredibly subversive. 

In fact, it’s why early Christians endured so much persecution. It wasn’t that they had apparently strange religious practices. It wasn’t that they weren’t sexually promiscuous like the rest of Roman society. It wasn’t that they took care of the poor, the sick, the widow, and the orphan.

Nothing in Christian practice was the cause of controversy or outcry. It was simply that, while they adhered to Roman laws, Christians gave their ultimate allegiance to no king other than Jesus himself. In this way, they “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). They upset the established political order by declaring that Caesar was not Lord. 

For this declaration they were willing to die. 

And while the empire persecuted and marginalized Christians for centuries, those who travel to Rome today will quickly notice that the culture of the city that once sought to stamp out Christianity is now marked by its values and symbolism. 

Today, declaring that “Christ is King” is still a fundamentally political statement. In recent times, however, the exact nature of that political vision has been called into question. In fact, the meaning of “Christ is King” has taken on a particularly negative connotation in certain settings, most specifically among white Christian nationalists. 

For example, far-right online personality Nick Fuentes has inspired chants of “Christ is King” by suggesting that “Talmudic Judaism” needs to be expunged from “public life at the highest levels.” Fuentes denies the holocaust, promotes the “Great Replacement” theory, and has advocated for women to be stripped of their right to vote—all in the name of a “Christ First” agenda. 

“Christ is king and that means Jews can’t be in power,” Fuentes has said

More recently, conservative firebrand Candace Owens has sparked questions about antisemitism with her use of the promulgation.

Owens parted ways with the Daily Wire last week amid ongoing disagreement with her colleagues about how to respond to the conflict between Israel and Hamas. On more than one occasion, Owens has publicly feuded with Daily Wire co-founder Ben Shapiro, who is a practicing Jew. In November 2023, Owens made a number of controversial statements about the Israel-Hamas war, remarks Shapiro condemned as “disgraceful.”

In turn, Owens posted quotes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount on social media, including the line, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

“Christ is King,” she added in a comment below. 

Notably, Owens also drew criticism in 2022 for appearing alongside Kanye West at a fashion show in matching shirts emblazoned with the phrase “White lives matter.” Within months of that incident, West, whose award winning 2019 Christian album is named “Jesus Is King,” praised Hitler and the Nazis in an interview with infamous conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. 

“The Jewish media has made us feel like the Nazis and Hitler have never offered anything of value to the world,” West said. “I see good things about Hitler, also.”

These were merely the latest (and certainly not the last) antisemitic comments made by the enigmatic and apparently troubled rapper. 

Inspired by the recent controversy, a hoard of anonymous online actors have been using “Christ is King” alongside antisemitic slurs—or even as a placeholder slur itself. Some comments I have seen include “Christ is King, you nasty Jew,” and “Christ is King, you zionist slime.”

Andrew Tate, a controversial figure in the online “manosphere” who is currently facing charges of human trafficking and rape in Romania, weighed in with his praise of the declaration. 

“As a Muslim it warms my heart to see the resurgence of spirited Christian declarations. Christ is King,” Tate wrote. “And I pray Christianity regains its strength and protects its societies against the pervasive and constant erosion of morality by the devotees of Satan. If you accept everything you stand for nothing.”

Earlier this year, Tate also sought to cast doubt on the reality of the Jewish holocaust, claiming that World War II has been used “to psyop the populace” into believing that Nazis were the “bad guy.”

As someone whose life is defined by the belief that Jesus really is Lord, I find this turn of events incredibly disturbing. 

Using a core tenet of the Christian faith as a proxy for a racial slur is blasphemy of the highest order. It is precisely the type of thing that God forbade when he commanded his people not to “take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7). 

In the Hebrew, the word translated as “vain” is synonymous with “emptiness.” And that is exactly what white nationalists have done with the phrase “Christ is King.” They have emptied it of its world-shaking and life-defining power and filled it back up with some of the worst proclivities of fallen human nature.

Such an act, if not fully repented of and repudiated, will not escape God’s judgment. 

While Jesus does not need us to defend him, it is nevertheless appropriate to express grief and even anger at the fact that precious Christian doctrine is being so horribly perverted. And it is simultaneously comforting and sobering that Jesus will not let such an injustice go unanswered. 

Toward the end of his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned about the emptiness of words, particularly those that ostensibly declare his lordship. 

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:21-23)

In other words, not everyone who says “Christ is King” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 

One last thing I’ll say is this: It’s easy to call this out when we see it in others—particularly when it’s this egregious. What’s much more difficult is discerning in our hearts the emptiness and vanity of our own words. In what ways am I co-opting the name of Christ for my own myopic ends? 

While many of us would never invoke Jesus’ name in the service of rank bigotry, may we be reminded of the dangers of assigning to God the very things that Jesus is calling us to purify from our lives.