Christianity & Politics
Christian Nationalism Isn’t Christian — Grace by the Cup
Christian Nationalism is simply nationalism and nothing more. How else could churches in both Ukraine and Russia celebrate Easter while calling themselves right and their opponent wrong? Yes, that is a form of Christian Nationalism, albeit not what we usually mean in the U.S.A.
We have forgotten what the soldiers of WWI who created an impromptu cease fire on Christmas Eve 1914, by singing carols understood: walking with Jesus transcends all human walls, boundaries, and borders.
Since at least the 1970s, Evangelicals and other Christians have conflated the United States with “God’s Nation”, appropriating Old Testament promises and prophecies and selfishly applying them to 20th century America. This movement was encapsulated and promoted in the popular Hal Lindsey book, “The Late Great Planet Earth,” and its subsequent musical and sequels.
The problem is these promises were not spoken to America. Even if you accept that they are spoken to Christians as God’s people (and not the Israelites of the time), then you must acknowledge that they apply to all Christians worldwide.
Let’s take a closer look at the issue.
Nationalism is tribalism on a larger scale. It’s a very human social phenomenon: we like being with people whom we see as “like us”. When we feel empowered, it is easier to expand our definition of who is “like us”. When we feel threatened, those definitions narrow, and the walls of separation become less permeable.
Christian Nationalism dangles a vision of a nation of people “like me”: going to a church like mine, following a morality like mine, having a family like mine, dressing like me, even talking like me.
But who is “me”? Who gets to define the standard? “The Bible, of course,” some may say. That’s a pretty broad answer.
So what did Jesus say — and do?
- He castigates the Pharisees for following the letter of the law and not the heart. (Matt. 23 et al)
- He refuses to condemn the woman caught in adultery. (John 8)