Wednesday, March 02, 2005


My conclusions on the matter:

While I do wonder if the patriotism issue would have gotten so much thought and attention without it, I do realize that my original anathema has made it quite difficult to move the discussion away from what Porter Memorial did in favor of discussing patriotism generally. I can’t argue that those folks are “hellbound” just because they are deceived. Honesty, I don’t think in those terms anyway.

But as I have made clear in the posts that followed, my problem is with history: I see no qualitative difference between the patriotism of these 21st century American Christians, and the German Christians who supported the Third Reich.

I retract my anathema (as such) and temper my initial statement. If one forsakes Christ, one may well be placed outside the Reign of God. Patriotism can deceive people (see photos below) into forsaking Christ.

Patriotism is dangerous. Patriots are not damned for being patriots; rather I think patriotism can lead Christians into ethical situations in which they will be hard pressed to be loyal to Christ. This is so dangerous because they could betray Christ long before they know they’ve done it. That’s what happened to the Europeans throughout the 20th century, and see nothing to keep it from happening again. I have no question that an unexamined patriotism will lead to this betrayal.

I never said, don’t love your country. But if you claim to, I challenge you to define what that means, and to carefully differentiate it from the way those Germans loved their country. One cannot really love in the abstract. Love acts in concrete ways. I would never say that I love my country, because that phrase in itself is meaningless. I actually suggested concrete ways that one might “support” U.S. troops as a Christian, without betraying Christ. No patriot has done this yet, at least not in the present discussion.


Not here anymore said...

You should have allowed comments on your "Baptists and Brian McLaren" post. 'Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

"I actually suggested concrete ways that one might “support” U.S. troops as a Christian, without betraying Christ."

What one suggests in response will be shaped by one's views of the relationship of church and state and where one come's down regarding pacifism and just war and, if one embraces just war, if one thinks the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been just.

I write that horribly long sentence to say that I can imagine a number of different responses one can make and not betray Christ. Not all responses can be equally correct, but they can all be honest attempts to be faithful to the witness of scripture. I am arguing for expressions all along a quite stretched out continuum --from protesting to being in a rifle company.

Cheers, Peter

Adam said...

I would like to offer a distinction. Love of one's homeland, aka patriotism, is not intrinsically at odds with Christianity. Nationalism-the doctrine that your national culture and interests are superior to any other ( is a problem, and is not compatable with the universal church. Patriotism leads one to fight injustice to the point of death within one's country, whereas nationalism seeks to impose a series of beliefs on another people, merely because they are one's own.

Does this in any way help?

Kyle said...

I don't think that definition of "patriotism" is universal. Also, I still find "loving one's homeland" to be a problematically abstract concept. Love usually implies some kind of loyalty, doesn't it? If you sum that up in a "will to fight injustice," that's great, but I still think that's an insufficient definition.

Peter made a good point in regard to "honest attempts to be faithful to the witness of scripture." What's most dangerous is the unexamined patriotism - whereby, however you define it, that patriotism is not subject to critique by the Christian tradition.