Tag Archives: nationalism

Just Goes to Show that Not Everyone Will Get It

As you might have realized, I write a lot about the relationship of patriotism and Christianity (see here, here, here, and here).  For one of my readers the “straw that broke the camel’s back” was a post entitled “The Idolatry of Patriotism” (a summary of the issue at hand that I thought was very helpful).  This particular reader (who will remain anonymous) has been continually angered by my thoughts on nationalism, patriotism, and politics.  I, personally, feel that my opinions on these issues are centered on the gospel of Jesus and need to be heard.  There are so many causes to which we can align ourselves; I want my supreme focus to be on the gospel of Jesus Christ.

All this to be said, a few years ago my aforementioned disgruntled reader wrote me a message entitled “My Swan Song” that said:

Mark,

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another,… a decent respect for the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation” (Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776).

Therefore:  It has long been a policy of mine that I will not have any magazines or similar materials enter my home that I find contrary to my core value system, as a Christian.  I am now going to apply that same rule to the only [sic] FB material that frequently not only comes into my home, but places itself on my computer desktop.

You and those who share your views are in my prayers.

Your Brother in Christ Jesus…

I felt this was worth sharing with others because it illustrates how misplaced priorities can make allies seem like enemies and vice versa.

1.  Notice that this note quotes the Declaration of Independence rather than the Bible.

2.  It is Biblically allowable and culturally helpful to familiarize yourself with things that are “contrary [to your] core value system.”  By interacting with positions that are thoughtful, though contrary to your own, you will solidify your beliefs and articulate them in a pluralistic society.  The Ostrich approach is not the Biblical approach.

3.  The gospel and the gospel alone should be the dividing line for Christians.  My views on nationalism and patriotism are wholly consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ according to the Scriptures.

4. While I appreciate the sentiment of brotherhood alluded to in the closing it appears that this “brother” sees me as more dangerous than his political allies. I think it is important to remember that the gospel which binds us is infinitely more important than the politics that might separate us.

5. Finally, it is important that we are willing to submit all of our opinions, philosophies, and beliefs to the Lordship of Christ and the teaching of the Bible. While I may be off on my analysis of history I am trying to critically evaluate the role of nationalism in the life of a Christ follower. In addition, I do not want naïvety or dishonesty to characterize my appraisal of the historical data. I am not free to make history say what I want it to say.

I hope this is helpful for those of us who continue to truthfully and lovingly discuss meaningful issues regarding what it means to be a follower of Christ. Though it is a struggle, I must always be willing to examine my life and beliefs in light of the Scriptures rather than try and mold the Scriptures to support my political and historical opinions.

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The Idolatry of Patriotism

I just read an article by Gregory Boyd in the most recent issue of Relevant Magazine.  I think this is one of the most well-written and concise treatments of the issues of nationalism and Christianity.  Of course, Boyd would be no stranger to this topic as the author of Myth of a Christian Nation. I recommend everyone read what he has to say in preparation for this July 4 holiday.

Below are some cogent excerpts from the article:

The danger of idolatrous patriotism is not just about how we compromise our love for enemies.  If we become too invested in our nation, we can forget our real citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 1:27) and our job is to live as ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor. 5:20)…

I appreciate that America recognizes my rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” but there is nothing distinctly Kingdom about these rights.  They’re nowhere to be found in the Bible.  To the contrary, as a follower of Jesus I’m called to surrender my rights to life, liberty and happiness, and instead submit to the will of God.  These rights are noble on a political level, but they can get in the way of my call to seek first the Kingdom.  I’m grateful America extends these rights to people, for most countries throughout history have not.  But my sole allegiance is to the heavenly Kingdom that calls me to surrender my rights.  If I get too concerned with an earthly country that frees me to pursue my rights, my healthy patriotism becomes idolatrous.  I’ve put my country’s ideals before God.

Despite the fact that He lived in an age when plenty of political and nationalist issues were being hotly debated, Jesus never displayed the slightest interest in such matters.  He didn’t come to bring us a “new and improved” version of the Kingdom of the world.  He came to inaugurate a Kingdom that is “not of this world.”  It’s a Kingdom that is no more Israeli than it is Palestinian; no more American than it is Iraqi; and no more socialist than it is democratic.  Instead, it’s a Kingdom that encompasses people from every nation and political persuasion, for it puts on display the “one new humanity” Jesus died to create (Eph. 2:15).  In this Kingdom, Paul declares, there is no longer any Jew or Greek (Gal. 3:27-29).  In our Kingdom, all national, tribal, ethnic, gender, social and economic distinctions are insignificant.

So over the Fourth of July weekend – and all year – be appreciative of your country.  Be patriotic.  But make sure your patriotism pales in comparison to your sacrifice, commitment and allegiance to the Kingdom of God.