Nationalism, Patriotism, and PoliticsI remain simply astounded at the response to my posts on nationalism, patriotism, and idolatry. I am convinced the Spirit is actively doing a work of grace in many, many hearts. Just so everyone knows where I am in my journey I want to share. But do not think that your perspective has to mirror mine, or that you will be bullied if you are in a different place. But it would be edifying for brothers and sisters to sharpen each other’s iron.
Idolatry or God’s Way?
Idolatry or God’s Way?
I was brought up in a middle class home that went to a Lutheran church. I was baptized as an infant and I went for three years to catechism after which I was confirmed as a member. But I was still lost. But I was raised in a common patriotic family who watched the 4th of July parade and voted Republican. We always displayed a flag on the fourth.
But in 1975 I was born again. My life was changed and I was delivered from drugs and immorality and violence. But one thing that did not change was my patriotic perspective. I never questioned it and since all the new believers I met were also patriotic Americans it just seemed like a non-issue. And even after I became a pastor I held patriotic services on the fourth of July weekend. I can remember pledging allegiance to the flag on that Sunday as well as singing a couple patriotic songs. We were good American Christians.
During those years I can remember listening to radio and television people who held “conservative” political perspectives. Some would castigate the “liberals” and mock and berate them. And since being a politically active conservative seemed to be the evangelical way, I never questioned the Biblical nature of such verbiage.
When Iraq invaded Kuwait I can remember the patriotic pitch rising dramatically, and even in evangelical churches there was a frothing of the mouth concerning the coming war. The emotions ran high, and if someone even questioned all it they were considered liberal or at least some 60’s hippie throwback. And I can remember listening to the radio and television updates about how the coalition (America) was winning the war. Even the phrase “shock and awe” was a rallying cry!
It was around that time that men like Rush Limbaugh began what we now call talk radio and now talk television. And since we were all patriotic Americans who revered the Constitution and the founding fathers, we didn’t notice the caustic and self righteous rhetoric. Mocking liberals and demeaning jokes about President Clinton were commonplace and accepted even among preachers. The snowball got bigger and bigger and the evangelical church became very smug and self assured.
But in the late 1990’s something began to eat at my insides. I could not put my foot on it but something just seemed wrong with all the saber rattling and incendiary language. I would speak with my best friend about it and he too was feeling uncomfortable. One day he asked me for Scriptural support for a violent overthrow of the American government if we disagreed with its tax policy. I thought he had lost it!
I told him there was absolutely no Scriptural grounds for violence over money, none. Then he asked me why then would God support the Revolutionary War? And where was Scriptural support for that war? I was stunned. I had never even considered the Scriptural validity of the Revolutionary War. In the crowd I ran with that would have been considered treasonous just to ask such a question. In some circles it still is. I did a study of the New Testament just to allow the Spirit to guide me without any preconceived attitudes. It soon became obvious, I had been sold a bill of goods.
Our allegiance is to Christ and Christ alone. To pledge allegiance to any earthly government is a form of spiritual treason. It does not mean you are not saved or that you do not love the Lord Jesus, but it does mean you are blind to that form of open idolatry. If we are to be honest, it is indefensible. But I was blind and I had to repent. And I would suffer criticism and even verbal persecution from some who were my friends. It was surprising how personally believers take even a discussion in this realm.
And then there was the battle of self righteousness and any air of superiority. Whenever the Spirit guides me into a truth that substantially changes the way I think and behave, the devil and my flesh immediately urge me to feel superior to others with whom I had agree not too long ago. Isn’t the flesh such a diabolical and clever enemy? I still need to guard against that kind of feeling.
And in November of 2000 I cast my last vote for George Bush. And during the last 12 years I have examined many things concerning politics and the New Testament. While we are called to obey the authorities, we are never called to join with them. Politics is an unholy alliance of the saved and the unsaved. And when we resort to the ballot box, we dilute the gospel. The world sees us involved in changing the outside of the cup and subsequently they are not confronted with the eternal aspect of the gospel message. They see us as a moral religion not a faith of redemption.
So now I ask for your thoughts. This thread is open for testimonies, perspectives, and a general discussion.