Friday, October 15, 2010

Nationalism, Again.

A lady commented on my post Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. This message is in response to her encouragement.

If one takes the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution seriously, it soon becomes evident that they are in conflict with written Scripture. These documents were specifically written to promulgate a pluralistic nation that showed no deference to any one religion. Jefferson himself, a core architect of the documents, was a Christ denying deist who attacked orthodox Christianity, and yet his portrait hangs in thousands of Christian schools. But, sadly, many believers still pay homage to these writings and even suggest a divine inspiration.
It would be innocuous and a mere distraction if it was just a fringe activity, but in fact nationalism has become deeply embedded into the fabric of evangelicalism until outright idolatry is considered godly. Battling over this moral stand and that, the church has lost her way and attempts to bring redemption to a nation through the idol of democracy and placing the gospel itself as creed and not the all consuming power and message of the followers of Christ. And millions of professing believers have convinced themselves that if the government recognizes gay marriage that the sky will fall and God will judge this nation.
But tell me, where in the New Testament does God deal with secular nations as a whole? And many nations today operate freely with all sorts of immoral lifestyles and abortions. And since the Scriptures clearly teach that sinners without the Son are already condemned, how do we measure “more condemned”? The root of the problem is that believers consider themselves Americans, not because they were born here and are identified as such by the government, but because they have given their hearts over to this, or any, nation. And in that singular act they have desperately compromised their spiritual journey and discipleship. We cannot have two masters.
When Pilate said, “Behold your king!” the Jews replied that they had no king but Caesar. But in a stunning display of cunning, believers today have meshed Christianity with secularism and have created a national narrative that, although completely fictional, gives them license to embrace, protect, and even love this secular, pluralistic nation. And once we give our allegiance and love, even in part, to anything or anyone other than the Lord Jesus Christ, we have begun to dismantle any authentic hope of entering into the cross bearing mystery of knowing the crucified and risen Christ. And what has been birthed is a back and forth moral conflict that is the epitome of self righteousness and void of any redemption.
The American church has become just that…American. No one should hate any nation, and even when the Cold War was at its zenith believers hated the Soviet Union, while a very small group loved, wept, and prayed for the Russian people. Some lost their lives while attempting to bring the gospel through the barriers of communism. But most believers in America were drawn into an “us verses them” mentality which completely deviates from the heart of Paul who wished himself accursed so his unbelieving countrymen could be saved. If you can for a few days step back, and with the overarching theme of the New Testament as your prism, and compared with what is now the evangelical norm, I am sure many of you might sense at least a little discomfort.
As many of you know I have debated with many believers from a wide range of theological spectrums. But the most virulent and intransigent arguments come when the debate centers on nationalism. If you know believers from other nations you may sense some loyalty about their own place of origin, but when pressed most will admit that American believer exhibit an aura of nationalism that is beyond what most know abroad. If you share your thoughts about nationalism, as have I, be prepared to be hated and avoided. I am often accused of hating America which is patently false. Hating a nation would be like hating a rock, or hating black holes. A nation is a concept ordained by God to keep a sort of construct upon the earth. How can we hate a concept, especially one that God ordained?
But acknowledging that God created the concept of a nation should never elicit any sort of fondness or allegiance to it, just like we should show no fondness or allegiance to a rock, also created by God. In essence, nationalism is worshiping the creature more than the Creator. I realize these thoughts are radical and are at odds with everything we have been taught as Bible believing Christians here in America. And with something so ingrained and so deeply hidden in our hearts, it is most difficult to dispassionately consider the issue. We come to the table with not only preconceived ideas, but with a strongly held and defended idolatry. And coming from some like me who used to sing “I’m Proud to be an American” in church on 4th of July weekend, I absolutely know what it feels like to be a patriotic American and what it feels like to vigorously defend that fortress. And I also know what it feels like to hear someone malign America and be outraged and dislike/hate that person.
Do you want to hear a steady stream of hatred, self righteousness, and idolatry? Listen to talk radio or television and you will be subjected to hatred for fellow sinners as well as a call to return to the “founding fathers”. I often wonder how black Americans feel when they hear white Americans long for those “good ole days”. We are commanded to avoid murmuring and complaining, and just a cursory reading of I Cor.13 reveals some profound tenants of true love, and yet listen as believers consistently complain about everything from taxes to Obama to gays to liberals and all the rest. Watch some of the Tea Party gatherings and see if you can feel the love of Jesus in their midst. Are they clothed with humility? And the liberal gatherings are no different.
People hate each other, and the distaste is palpable in politics. Political adds eviscerate others and elevate themselves. Everyone has the answers and yet we who have the only answer get sucked up into that carnal melee. And the two motivating factors in all of this? Defending America and attempting to better of our lives primarily by gaining and keeping wealth. As if we do not already live like earthly kings, we desire more. My son’s Christian school teachers once lamented that because of the illegal aliens in America, he and his wife could not afford going to the Outback and had to settle for Chile’s. And he drives a Mercedes Benz. The commandment to love your enemies is nothing more than a religious saying applied within a very small network of neighbors and fellow workers, but is ignored when the person is viewed as an enemy of America.
The western church has placed Dagon upon the altar and is worshiping a false god. I know, I used to sit in the front pew and lead. Let us continue to pray for revival with us being the first ones led into repentance. Being led out of nationalism is no reason for self righteousness, it is our reasonable service. And leaving Egypt is only the first step; entering Canaan Land must be our pursuit. But the path that follows Christ does not leave footprints; it leaves knee prints.


Steve said...

Spot on again, brother. The only thing I could add would be that the nationalism which infects and cripples the Church is rooted in pride...Satan's sin.

In Jesus, Steve

joygiver said...

I see your point. And when Sharia law trumps civil law in the USA, and when the minarets call to pray to Allah five times daily, we will celebrate. After all, this earth is not our home, and we are merely ambassadors for Christ's kingdom, aliens and strangers in this land.

joygiver said...

OK. Now that I've had a moment to cool off, I apologize for my previous comment. I really do agree with most of what you stated in your post. I truly appreciate the work and service performed on behalf of the Kingdom by yourself and others. Please keep up the good work.