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Was the Capitol Riot a "Christian insurrection"? Why We Must "live as though the truth were true"

Dr. Jim Denison


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“Patriots enlist and defend their country. They work hard, do their best, raise good families. They help their neighbors. They perform civic duties. They grit their teeth and pay their taxes. Then they show up and vote. They compete, they win or lose, but they do both with grace. These are some of the things patriots do.

“Patriots do not storm their own Capitol over a lost election. They do not bum-rush members of Congress. They do not assault strangers. They do not push and shove police officers and trash federal buildings. These are things criminals do, and criminals of any political stripe deserve one thing: the rule of law.” 

Neil Patel, author of this response to the Capitol riot and co-founder of the Daily Caller (a conservative news outlet), is exactly right. 

Now substitute “disciples of Jesus” for “patriots,” and you’ll be right as well. 

Is a “Million Martyr March” coming January 20

A fifteen-year veteran of the U.S. Capitol Police and son of a former Senate Sergeant-At-Arms died by suicide Saturday. His is the sixth death related to the Capitol riot last Wednesday. 

Here’s an announcement I never thought I would see: in response to the January 6 attacks, the U.S. Secret Service has stated that they are anticipating and prepared for “all possible contingencies” with regard to the presidential inauguration on January 20. We are also learning that lawmakers may have been exposed to COVID-19 during the lockdown. 

Following the riot, some sought to blame Antifa, but this claim has been clearly debunked. Here’s what I saw with my own eyes last Wednesday: rioters who breached Capitol Hill carrying Christian flags. 

One said, “Jesus is my Savior. Trump is my president.” Others waved “Jesus Saves” banners. One of the first rioters to enter the Senate chamber was carrying a Christian flag. A flag reading “Proud American Christian” with an American flag inside an ichthus—an ancient Christian symbol—was seen as well. 

Ashli Babbitt, the Air Force veteran who was shot and killed while storming the Capitol, is now being lauded as a martyr. Some say they are planning a “Million Martyr March” for January 20 in Washington, DC. 

Faith leaders were “nearly unanimous in condemning” the assault, as NPR reported on January 7. But evangelicals are nonetheless being widely blamed for the riot. 

The Washington Post headlined: “Trump’s evangelicals were complicit in the desecration of our democracy.” The Atlantic called the riots “a Christian insurrection” and added, “Many of those who mobbed the Capitol on Wednesday claimed to be enacting God’s will.” Religion News Service stated, “Evangelicals must denounce the Christian nationalism in Capitol riots.” 

“Put your sword back into its place” 

This article is one such denunciation. 

The Capitol riots had nothing to do with Jesus. No one who assaulted the Capitol was following the teachings of Jesus. To the contrary, these attacks deeply grieved him and are bringing shame on his true followers. 

When soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear” ( OPEN VERSE IN BIBLE (nlt) ). Jesus healed the man’s ear ( OPEN VERSE IN BIBLE (nlt) ) and then said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword” ( OPEN VERSE IN BIBLE (nlt) ). 

Jesus taught us, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” ( OPEN VERSE IN BIBLE (nlt) ). We are told to “be subject to the governing authorities” ( OPEN VERSE IN BIBLE (nlt) ) and to pray for “all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” ( OPEN VERSE IN BIBLE (nlt) ). 

This does not mean that we agree with everything our leaders say and do. When we do not, we work through our democratic system for the change we seek. We engage with members of Congress—we do not attack them. 

Jesus Would Not Assault the Capitol 

I believe three faith issues underlie much of the Christian nationalism of our day. We’ll close with the first today and discuss the others tomorrow. 

Here’s the first paradoxical fact: Many evangelicals do not trust enough in Jesus. 

We are known for our emphasis on the need to ask Jesus to forgive our sins and give us eternal life. But this emphasis on personal salvation often minimizes the urgency of personal sanctification. 

God wants us to be “conformed to the image of his Son” in every dimension of our lives ( OPEN VERSE IN BIBLE (nlt) ). John taught, “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” ( OPEN VERSE IN BIBLE (nlt) ). We are to “be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” ( OPEN VERSE IN BIBLE (nlt) –2). 

If Jesus would not slander those who opposed him ( OPEN VERSE IN BIBLE (nlt) –14), we must not slander people who oppose us. If he would not assault the Capitol, we must not assault the Capitol. 

A Historic Opportunity 

By contrast, the Capitol riot, political turmoil, horrific pandemic, and other combined crises of our day constitute a historic opportunity to show our broken culture the difference Jesus makes in those who love and follow him fully. The darker the room, the more powerful the light. 

If we truly love our Lord, we will love our neighbor as ourselves ( OPEN VERSE IN BIBLE (nlt) –39). We will love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us ( OPEN VERSE IN BIBLE (nlt) ). We will help those in need as if they were Jesus ( OPEN VERSE IN BIBLE (nlt) ). We will “pray earnestly” for God to “send out laborers into his harvest” ( OPEN VERSE IN BIBLE (nlt) ), then serve in answer to our prayers ( OPEN VERSE IN BIBLE (nlt) ). 

The more we love Jesus, the more we will live by the truth of his word ( OPEN VERSE IN BIBLE (nlt) ) and share his word with the world ( OPEN VERSE IN BIBLE (nlt) ). 

Daniel Berrigan once said of Dorothy Day, “She lived as though the truth were true.” 

Let’s do the same, to the glory of God.

Dr. Jim Denison is the founder of the Denison Forum. His Daily Article reaches 1.5 million people monthly with subscribers in 226 countries, and exists to engage contemporary culture with biblical truth. To subscribe to his Daily Article, go to

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About The Author


Dr. Jim Denison is a co-founder and the CVO of Denison Forum. Prior to launching Denison Forum in 2009, he pastored churches in Texas and Georgia. He is a widely sought speaker, podcaster and subject-matter expert on radio about cultural issues from a biblical perspective. He has been a frequent guest on Equipped with Chris Brooks (Moody Radio) and the nationally syndicated Point of View with Kerby Anderson (360+ radio stations). Through The Daily Article, his email newsletter and podcast globally that reach 215,000+ subscribers, Dr. Denison’s social media following has a reach of 1.3 million