Monday, August 06, 2007

nationalism

Today after watching the Republican presidential candidates debate on This Week With George Stephanopoulos and when watching Tim Russert on Meet the Press interviewing four journalists and writers as to what makes a good president, I am reminded of our enthrallment with politics, and indeed the entire world's interest in the same. And it was somewhat interesting to me as well.

I'm afraid we Christians are quick to side with one faction or another, too often based on what we think are national interests. It is interesting that we will take a strong stand against abortion and vie for only "pro-life" candidates, yet we are strong supporters of American military intervention in the world in the name of our national interests.

I wonder if we as Christians are not meant to rise above such considerations in our thinking and actions. I believe we are. Nationalism in Dietrich Bonhoeffer was laden with problems for Christians who actually are one holy nation scattered throughout the earth (1 Peter). It seems like those on the Christian religious right have boiled down their concerns to three of four issues with the rest relatively unimportant to the national debate. While those on the religious left have done the same with their pet issues. I do think as one who has shared in more or less a part of religious right thinking in the past.

Nationalism is especially tempting to many American Christians since religious freedom was a part of the founding of this nation. And along with Modern Enlightenment thinking, a kind of Christian view undergirded the founding of this nation. But if Jesus's "Sermon on the Mount" is meant for us as Christians today, as salt and light in this world, then nationalism must become secondary in our thinking, I believe.

What must be primary is the kingdom of God come in Jesus, and what comes from that, indeed a new reality into this world which is not a part of this world. Our allegiance in Jesus must be to this new entity and dynamic in the world of which we're a part.

So it's good for us to keep up with the political news and important if we're to be good citizens not only of earth, but of heaven. But let's check our pulse and make sure that our concern and zeal is not unduly given to a nationalism that ends up undermining the kingdom of God and his righteousness.

Good Christians will debate on this issue, seeing it from different perspectives and angles. What might strike you here as wrong about my thoughts, or what might you add to them?

10 comments:

NaNcY said...

i have no reason for debate on this one because, in my heart and mind, i agree with what you write. life as a follower of Christ is not apparent to me to be about power in politics of this country or any other place of this world.

Every Square Inch said...

We are citizens of both the kingdom of God and our nation. However, our allegiance must lie with the Sovereign God who rules over all creation and saved us for himself.

Except for your comment about going to war, I take no exception with what you say and actually support your view. For the Christian, thinking biblically means extending the agenda beyond the GOP or Democrats. It also means not resting your hope for change in political influence, even as we participate actively in the political process.

Kim said...

I believe that if we Believers focused on Christ and becoming more like Him not only would our political differences subside, but so would our theological/denominational differences

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nancy, I see it not as the power as of this world, but power from from another place. It's with reference to the kingdom of God come in Jesus, and with reference to the strength of God made perfect in Christ's weakness on the cross. And we're to live that out in this world.

Ted M. Gossard said...

ESI, Good way of putting it.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Kim, I think you have something there. We at least need to hear each other out and then respect each other in spite of our differences. Too often this is not the case, and either side of us or both can take offense.

First things, first, like you say. We need to know him and his presence, but we also need to know our limitations I believe, in every way, so as to be humble about what we think and our political and religious stands, not speaking here of faith commitments necessary to being a Christian.

NaNcY said...

yes.

Bob Robinson said...

Ted,

Amen, Amen, Amen.

American Christians would never admit to others (or to ourselves) that we are more committed to the United States than the Kingdom of God, but I think that our actions betray a shifted loyalty.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Bob, I'm so afraid that you're right. And we do it in the name of the Lord and as if it's a part of our faith. Tragic when we do that.

joe said...

man ted, this is right where i am at. it is tough to speak with others about this in a way that creates dialogue. everyone is quick to dismiss it or blow me off.

yet it seems essential to my walk as a believer.

it is true that our actions betray us.