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-   -   Is nationalism idolatry? (http://www.christianguitar.org/forums/t210998/)

Almost Enough 03-17-2015 01:33 AM

Is nationalism idolatry?
 
I'm looking to see some ideas from across the board. What role does nationalism play in your personal faith, the church you attend, and what you think is theologically sound?

to_be_released 03-17-2015 02:06 AM

Commenting from a New Zealand perspective, nationalism to the extent that American's tend to exhibit is odd, disconcerting, and potentially idolatrous. I personally struggle with how many people treat America as God's anointed nation, and with people that take any criticism of America badly.

Nationalism doesn't play nearly as big a role in New Zealand society, as far as I can tell. People hear can far more freely criticise our own nation, as far as I can tell.

Leboman 03-17-2015 05:40 AM

Nationalism pretty much plays no part in my personal life or my faith. Outside of the kids saying the pledges at VBS...it doesn't really come into play in our church activities either.

I personally believe that you can be proud of your country and honor it without worshiping it.

However, I feel as if a lot of American patriotism has gone way over that line. Some people honestly act as if being a good American and a good Christian are the same thing.

Dr. Thrunk 03-17-2015 07:33 AM

I have seen a remarkable difference in churches here in the UK and regular churches I have attended in the US regarding the presence and role of the nation in the church, both aesthetically and theologically.

But, I think it really all depends on where one is within a country and what sort of tradition one is a part of.

That being said, "nationalism" needs to be defined properly, I suppose. Usually there is, for instance, the distinction between "nationalism" and "patriotism", though it is easy to lose the details in the semantics. There is, for instance, no problem in loving and appreciating ones country; however, it should never be above proper criticism nor reproach. And, it should never take the place of where one truly considers their citizenry and allegiance toward.

Toast 03-17-2015 09:49 AM

You'll find me more strongly opposed to nationalism than most. I do not believe that it is possible to whole-heartedly serve both God and country in the Christian context; that is, I believe that serving country against Christian morals (which is rampant in America) is outright idolatrous.

Matthew 5:33-37
“Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, 'You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil."

I do believe that when Jesus says, "Make no oath at all," it would include what we in America might call the "Pledge of Allegiance." Additionally, I would add that I do not believe Romans 13 is grounds for nationalism, as some might claim it to be.

jwbrownlula 03-18-2015 08:30 AM

I always thought I was the only one who had a problem with this
Most churches around here have the american flag and a Christian flag posted. I think church is a place where we should concentrate on God, and who he calls us to be.

slap_j 03-18-2015 08:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Thrash (Post 3871257)
That being said, "nationalism" needs to be defined properly.

Right. I want to know exactly what the OP meant by "nationalism." Presumably he doesn't take it to be idolatry by definition, as then there would be nothing further to discuss.

I would say that, whatever "nationalism" means, if it involves grafting one's national identity and an exclusive love of one's nation into the Christian faith and praxis, then it's almost certainly idolatrous.

I have an affinity for America and I identify myself as an American before lots of other things (before my class and race and occupation and hobbies, etc.). So you could say I'm patriotic to that extent. I wouldn't say this is necessarily idolatrous but there's always the danger of it becoming so. Idolatry is probably one of the most insidious and easily committed sins there is (as it's often done unwittingly).

athanatos 03-18-2015 09:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by slap_j (Post 3871429)
I wouldn't say this is necessarily idolatrous but there's always the danger of it becoming so. Idolatry is probably one of the most insidious and easily committed sins there is (as it's often done unwittingly).

This

Leboman 03-18-2015 09:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by slap_j (Post 3871429)
Idolatry is probably one of the most insidious and easily committed sins there is (as it's often done unwittingly).



Every one of us is, even from his motherís womb, a master craftsman of idols.

- John Calvin

Almost Enough 03-18-2015 12:09 PM

I guess what I would like to articulate is the sort of confluence of devotion to whatever it means to be (in my case) American and devotion to Christ. Perhaps someone might be able to nail down a working definition for case of discussion better than I could. I think we all get a sense of what I'm talking about, especially those that are from outside the US or have dealt extensively with other cultures.

athanatos 03-18-2015 12:52 PM

My Baptist church back home would have Battle Hymn of the Republic and God Bless America and a bunch of other songs around 4th of July. It made me sick. They defended their actions on the basis of America being most free (it isn't), most Christian (it isn't), founded on Christian principles (it wasn't), and that we are thankful that God has blessed us through this country that we might proclaim the gospel (we should!). Hard to disentangle that on the spot, let alone encourage them to scrap the music list. I should've focused more on correcting the situation after the fact, to recommend that they not repeat it the next year.

We also have an American flag on the stage, opposite the baptist flag.

Leboman 03-18-2015 12:57 PM

My eventual goal is to remove the American flag from our stage.

:evil:

Almost Enough 03-18-2015 01:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by athanatos (Post 3871470)
My Baptist church back home would have Battle Hymn of the Republic and God Bless America and a bunch of other songs around 4th of July. It made me sick. They defended their actions on the basis of America being most free (it isn't), most Christian (it isn't), founded on Christian principles (it wasn't), and that we are thankful that God has blessed us through this country that we might proclaim the gospel (we should!). Hard to disentangle that on the spot, let alone encourage them to scrap the music list. I should've focused more on correcting the situation after the fact, to recommend that they not repeat it the next year.

We also have an American flag on the stage, opposite the baptist flag.

I too have had to perform patriotic songs around the 4th of July. When I express my concerns I get a sort of vague feeling there's a modern day McCarthyism going on based on the responses I get.

I am playing drums at a church and have to stare an American flag and an Israeli flag hanging on the back of the sanctuary as I'm playing each Sunday.

to_be_released 03-18-2015 02:46 PM

We have flags hanging up in a few locations at our church, but I think it's to serve a very different purpose. The New Zealand flag is well outnumbered (I'm not even sure the NZ flag is in the mix), and we have a large number of flags from different nations across the world to remind us of the Christian's in those nations, and to encourage us to pray for those nations.

I find some ways in which flags themselves are treated to be idolatrous. It seems that many would consider damage to their flag (which is an image/idol to represent a country) more offensive than damage to a person who is made in God's image.

Statements about people dying for the honour of their flag somewhat sicken me, but so do many things associated with war.

thesteve 03-18-2015 04:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by to_be_released (Post 3871496)
We have flags hanging up in a few locations at our church, but I think it's to serve a very different purpose. The New Zealand flag is well outnumbered (I'm not even sure the NZ flag is in the mix), and we have a large number of flags from different nations across the world to remind us of the Christian's in those nations, and to encourage us to pray for those nations.

I find some ways in which flags themselves are treated to be idolatrous. It seems that many would consider damage to their flag (which is an image/idol to represent a country) more offensive than damage to a person who is made in God's image.

Statements about people dying for the honour of their flag somewhat sicken me, but so do many things associated with war.

Indeed. I think there are great reasons to have flags in the church, but I would wager that most churches that have only the national flag (or national flag and denominational flag) do it because of tradition and vague nationalism.


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