Against Nationalism

Christians United! is strongly anti-nationalistic. The success of Enlightenment individualism led to its biggest weakness. By reordering society around the individual rather than Christianity, thinkers like John Locke were able to promote a doctrine of toleration that advocated the privatization of Christianity and its removal from politics. Its success over time left the public realm without an ordering group in which individual could find meaning and purpose. The self-interest of the individual is not a unifying principle within a society but a divisive force. Nationalism stepped in to fill this vacuum. We can see the origins of Nationalism within the Thirty Years War but it really comes to its own as a substitute for Christianity during the French Revolution. The nation becomes the unifying whole in which individuals find their meaning and purpose. We commonly associate nationalism with ethnic identity. This is the most common form of nationalism which fueled the drive of ethnic groups around the world to form their own nation throughout the 19th and 20th Century. However we must not forget that ethnicity is not the only thing nationalism can rally around. Race, Religion, Ideology and American Exceptionalism have also provided fuel for nationalism in many cases such as Nazism, Zionism, Communism and American Nationalism.

Christians United! seeks to distance itself, as far as possible, from nationalism. History, in the past 200 years, has been littered with nationalistic movements that has left war and destruction in its wake. Western imperialism, two world wars and genocide have resulted from nationalistic movements fueled by ethnicity, race and ideology. The violence and hatred spawned from nationalism is antithetical to everything Christians United! stands for.

As noted about, nationalism can be driven by religion as in the case of Zionism and right-wing Christian patriotic movements. Yet, why would these groups be attracted to nationalism with its violent track record? How can Christians reconcile nationalism with the Sermon on the Mount? David Goldman a Jewish writer has an interesting theory that nationalism is a vestige of paganism that was never completely eradicated. Nations of differing ethnic backgrounds vied with one another to be God’s chosen people.Over time this desire has become secularized in most nationalistic movements. Interestingly, Goldman explains antisemitism as a resentment of Israel’s status as God’s chosen people by nationalistic pretenders. Thus the hyper-nationalistic Nazi regime was most antisemitic. While we would not agree with all of Goldman’s theories we must admit sadly that there has been a historic tie between some Christian thinkers and nationalism. There are still some Christians who misguidedly think of America as chosen by God. Christians United! completely rejects this idea as destructive and thoroughly unbiblical.

In the wake of Enlightenment individualism, we can understand the need for people to find meaning and purpose by being a part of a group larger than themselves. We believe that nationalism is appealing to the wrong group. Jesus warned Israel that the Kingdom of God was at hand. The Jewish people had made their special status as God’s people into an idol. God had chosen them not because of who they were but had given them a special task of being a light to the nations. The Kingdom of God was not to be associated with any people group. It included not only Israel but all the Gentile peoples of the world. Thus, the Kingdom of God is the larger group with which Christians must primarily identify themselves with and not ethnicity. Christianity should at its heart be antinationalistic. The Kingdom of God cannot be associated with any single nation as it transcends all nations. This does not mean that we should not love our nation but that we should not make them into idols. All peoples are loved by God and should be loved and respected by Christians. Christians United! in no way associates America with the Kingdom of God. This would be idolatry. America is only one nation amount all the nations of the world that God loves. It has no special purpose unique to itself. All nations are called to acknowledge Jesus as King and to promote this Gospel to others. We believe that Christian political parties should form in all nations of the world to likewise acknowledge Jesus and his Kingdom.

 

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