A row has exploded on X (formerly Twitter) over the phrase “Christ is King”. Surely this is something all Christians believe. So why has it become contentious? Heather Tomlinson explains


Source:  REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

If you spend any time on X (formerly known as Twitter), you may have witnessed the latest bout of intra-Christian brawling. This time, it’s been over the statement “Christ is King”.

You might think this is a fundamental Christian belief that should be proclaimed from the rooftops with no problem. But, as with many other issues of late, people of bad faith can cause confusion and misunderstanding, even when it comes to terms that appear on first glance to be uncontentious. 

The war has raged online, and it’s been a particularly vicious battle, especially in American conservative circles. Here’s what’s been going on since everything errupted on Palm Sunday.  

How did all this begin? 

It started when the outspoken commentator Candace Owens (pictured above) left conservative media outlet The Daily Wire. She has, among other things, been using the phrase “Christ is King” online.

Why did Candace post “Christ is King”?

It’s difficult to know for sure and the reason for her departure from The Daily Wire has not been made public. However, she has been critical of the state of Israel in recent weeks, which has led to a public bust up between her and fellow Wire commentator Ben Shapiro. Shapiro is both a staunch defender of Israel, and Jewish himself. 

Candace did not explicitly aim her tweet at Shapiro, or any other Jewish person. Nevertheless, some have assumed that was her intention. 

And if it was…?

The vast majority of Jews, Shapiro included, do not accept this belief, so some people have been concerned about the religious offence seeking to be caused, and take exception to that. 

OK, but why the curfuffle? 

Those who are most urging caution over using the phrase are making a very different argument. This goes way beyond offence, they say.  

Recently there has been a significant increase in actual, real, far-right antisemitism that uses the name “Christian,” often justified using religious language. This group are using “Christ is King” as a slogan and often alongside antisemitic statements such as Holocaust denial, the “Jews run the world” trope, or that Jewish people hate Christians, for example.

Therefore the concern is that Christians who are proclaiming “Christ is King” are unwittingly offering support to extremists. Blake Callens, author of The case against Christian nationalism said on X that those using “Christ is King”, are “unknowingly advancing an obfuscatory narrative from white nationalists.”

This has led to a number of US Christians warning that saying “Christ is King” can in fact be antisemitic.

How is that possible?

Jeremy Boreing, the chief executive of US conservative media company The Daily Wire gave a long explanation on X: “How is saying “Christ is King” antisemitic? The same way anything becomes antisemitic - when it is used for the purpose of expressing antisemitism. It’s like asking “how does a shovel become a murder weapon?” When it is used to murder someone. This isn’t hard. A shovel is not innately a murder weapon. Saying “Christ is King” is not innately antisemitic. It’s all about how a thing is used. Saying “Christ is King” for an evil purpose - like using it as a weapon to express your hatred or disdain for the Jews - is a grave sin… God will not be mocked. Invoking Him in vain self-promotion, or to troll Jews, or to attack your political rivals is to carry forth His Name in vain.”

But hang on. Christ is King. This is what all Christians believe, surely? 

Yes, as Jon Root, a sports commentator, said on X: “Two things can be true: 1. Genuine followers of our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ, should proclaim “Christ is King”. Use it as a heartfelt expression of your faith in Him alone & preach it out of good will, not envy, spite or rivalry (Philippians 1:15-18). 2. “Christ is King” is being used in vain (Exodus 20:7) by a large number of Christless Conservatives, influencers, and other bad actors who are jumping on a trend. They are committing a grave sin. It’s being proclaimed out of selfish ambition (Philippians 2).”

Why are people comparing this to Black Lives Matter? What’s that got to do with anything? 

Anti-woke activist James Lindsay, co-author of Cynical theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity—and Why This Harms Everybody argues that Christ is King is being used in a similar way to BLM because it is a popular phrase that nearly everyone can get behind, but extremists are using it for purposes beyond the worthwhile, plain, literal meaning of the phrase.

For BLM that was radical Marxism, for “Christ is King”, it is the far right. “Christ is King as it is declared, is a sophisticated and manipulative dialectical trap like ‘Black Lives Matter,’ and Christians are being baited into it by a few public figures and a band of antisocial troublemakers, likely led by a fed,” Lindsay wrote on X. “Christians are expected to agree with the sentiment because it is, in a way, a cornerstone belief of their religion. They’re often expected to participate in the refrain as well. Just like ‘Black Lives Matter,’ it’s something undeniable (for Christians) but also manipulative.”

What’s the other side of the story? 

Many Christians have vigorously protested concerns about saying “Christ is King,” arguing that it should be proclaimed because it is good and true, and we should not allow it to be co-opted by extremists.

Josh Buice, founder of G3 Ministries, said on X: “I don’t care who takes a biblical doctrine and twists it. I believe the Bible. Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt 28:18). Jesus is the King greater than David. His throne has no end. Heb 1:3; Zech 9:9; John 12:15; Luke 1:32-33,” he wrote on X.

“I’m promoting Christ. There are a multiplicity of blasphemous cult groups who use (misuse) the name of God (Yahweh) or the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus, but I don’t get up every morning to search for those abuses to see what I’m allowed to say about Jesus. Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords.”