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Theology Crawl - Should "Christian" Nationalism Be A Thing?

August 15, 2022

Welcome to Theology Crawl

Yes, being in a conversation with drinks is fun, but we need some guidelines as you enter into conversation with one another:


Everyone is not right, and that's a good thing.

The concepts we talk about in theology can have multiple interpretations, but that doesn't mean they're all right. A lot of theology is investigating the words we use to see if they make sense and are if they're adequate for God. Being wrong is how we improve our theology, not by having all the answers.


Pay attention to how people are using words.

We all use words like “love,” “God,” and “grace,” but the the reality is we often mean vastly different things. Try to listen to how people use words and if they're using them the same way you would.


Ask for people to define what they mean.

We can't have a good conversation if we are all talking past each other. It's not embarrassing to ask people for a definitional a new word or concept, it's just how you have a good conversation.

Make this work for you.

Have someone in the group keep an eye on the questions and try to make sure you're staying on topic. At the same time, it's fine to go down the rabbit holes. Sometimes, the rabbit holes can help us clarify something that we missed.


Have fun.

You won't solve world hunger, you probably won't even convince that person in the group you disagree with. Relax, be respectful, and when the questions run out, enjoy yourself and talk about something that isn't theological. Hanging out can actually be pretty important for good theology too!

Discussion Questions

  • How do you define a “nation-state”? What is the purpose of a nation-state?
  • How does the idea of a “nation-state” relate to the Christian Scriptures? (i.e. Are there examples in the Bible? Is it supported by the Bible? Is the idea antagonistic to the Bible?) Explain.
  • Can a nation-state be “Christian”? What would that look like? Is such a thing desirable?
  • Can a nation-state have a special, divine purpose in relation to God’s plan for the world?
  • What is a citizen of a nation-state, and what does it mean to be one?
  • Do Christians have responsibilities to the nation-state in which they are a citizen? If yes, why and what are they? If no, why not?
  • Do Christians have any responsibilities to nation-states in which they are not citizens? If yes, why and what are they? If no, why not?
  • How do you define nationalism? Is it a positive, negative, or ambivalent thing?
  • Can a Christian be nationalistic and/or patriotic? Is there a difference? What would this look like?
  • How does Christian identity relate to national identity? Are they antagonistic, mutually exclusive, harmonious, or something else?

Key Definitions

  • Nation-State // A nation state (or nation-state), in the most specific sense, is a country where a distinct cultural or ethnic group (a “nation” or “people”) inhabits a territory and have formed a state (often a sovereign state) that they predominantly govern. It is a more precise term than “country” but of the same general meaning, being that it is an ethnic nation with its own land (thus “homeland”) and government. Wikipedia
  • Citizen //  (1) an inhabitant of a city or town; especially : one entitled to the rights and privileges of a freeman; (2) : a member of a state; (3): a native or naturalized person who owes allegiance to a government and is entitled to protection from it; (4) a civilian as distinguished from a specialized servant of the state. Merriam-Webster
  • The Nations (In Translation) //  In the Old Testament, the English word “nations” is used in the New International Version to translate several Hebrew terms. Most often it refers to goyim, a word thought to derive from gowy, which means “body” of a person and thus by extension, the corporate body of a people. The writers of the Hebrew Bible applied the term “nations” to various peoples, but at times the term is used quite specifically. In the New Testament, ethnos is rendered “nation(s)”, “pagan(s)”, “Gentiles”, and “heathen”. The Greek term tends to represent a positive image nearly half of the time; one-quarter of the occurrences are negative and the other quarter present a neutral impression. Bible Study Tools

Important Scripture

  • For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. // Deuteronomy 14:2
    Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” // Matthew 21:21b
    There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. // Galatians 3:28
    After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; // Revelation 7:9

Thoughts from Others

  • We would like a church that again asserts that God, not nations, rules the world, that the boundaries of God’s kingdom transcend those of Caesar, and that the main political task of the church is the formation of people who see clearly the cost of discipleship and are willing to pay the price.  // Stanley Hauerwas
  • It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible // George Washington
  • Consequently, a Christian nation as demonstrated by the American experience is a nation founded upon Christian and Biblical principles, whose values, society, and institutions have largely been shaped by those principles. This definition was reaffirmed by American legal scholars and historians for generations but is widely ignored by today’s revisionists. // David Barton
  • A good nationalist must be a good internationalist and vice versa. The very terms connote it. // Inazo Nitobe
  • Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious. // Oscar Wilde
  • All must admit that the reception of the teachings of Christ results in the purest patriotism, in the most scrupulous fidelity to public trust, and in the best type of citizenship. // Grover Cleveland
  • There has never been nationhood without falsehood. // Felipe Fernández-Armesto

Resources

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