Nationalism is not Christianity, but it is Christian. There is much confusion about the ideology of Nationalism in recent months, and much of it is being propagated by those who oppose Christianity altogether. Here are five good reasons why Nationalism is Christian, and why Christians should be Nationalists.
This is an important topic to understand, considering leftist evangelicals overcome by the ideology of Cultural and Economic Marxism published earlier this week a statement called, Christians Against Christian Nationalism.
To those indoctrinated by Globalist ideas, Nationalism is often spoken of in derision, without knowledge as to what it is.
First, a few definitions are in order. Nationalism is a term denoting belief that the nation-state political unit, or body-politic, is an essential component in the preservation of civil liberties and individual rights. The opposite of Nationalism is Globalism, a belief that nation-states should be either non-existent or be subordinate to global and/or regional governments and international bodies. Those holding to Nationalism are most concerned with civil liberties, and those holding to Globalism are most concerned with what they call ‘human flourishing.’
Historically, since the time of the Reformation – as the West was dividing into nation-states independent of the Roman Church and the concept of religious freedom and individual rights were being formulated by thinkers like John Locke – Western Civilization has endorsed Nationalism over the utilitarian ideas that would come to be known as Globalism. During this period of time, ideas were formulated that asserted a nation-state’s main purpose as supporting the rights and interests of its Peoples.
A nation-state is an individual body-politic that maintains sovereign geographical borders, a common culture, and common language. Without these three things, there is no independent or unique nation-state that can exist. In this sense, nation-state refers to body-politics and not ethnic, tribal, or religious groups.
What Nationalism Does Not Mean
Nationalism does not imply hatred or bigotry toward other nations. Rather, it merely asserts that the goal of the nation-state is to preserve the rights of its people against foreign or domestic enemies.
Furthermore, Nationalism does not imply isolationism from other nations. Nationalists often see value in healthy diplomatic relationships with other nations.
Likewise, Nationalism does not imply that any nation-state is innately made by God as superior to another. It does acknowledge the reality that some nations are less or more pleasing to God by their actions, laws, and fulfillment of the roles of government as seen in 1 Peter 2 or Romans 13. Nationalism is a realistic outlook on the world, and can acknowledge that some nation-states are currently better places to live than others, but deny that any nation is innately less than another.
Nationalism does not imply that only one nation-state may be exceptional, or special to God. It does not have to imply that any nation is special to God.
As Nationalism requires sovereign borders, common culture, and common language it does not by necessity imply the enforcement of any particular religion, although it is understood that religion helps to create culture. However, especially in Western Civilization, nation-states have not typically required religious hegemony enforced by national governments, even in majority Christian nations.
Nationalism does not imply any bigotry toward various ethnicities, because a nation-state – with common sovereign borders, a common language, and a common culture – can exist with people from all various ethnicities. America’s rich heritage as a “melting pot” of various ethnic groups who choose to identify merely as Americans, demonstrates this fact. People of any skin color, melanin count, or ethnic heritage may have an equal place in the nation-state, should they choose to honor sovereign borders, a common language, and common culture.
Finally, the historic principle of Nationalism upon which Western Civilization was born, is not synonymous with Christian Nationalism, White Nationalism, Black Nationalism, or any other kind of Nationalism. These represent a conflation of ideas that are unhelpful for a productive conversation about the best kind of government.
Here are five good reasons why Nationalism is Christian.
Much of what we know as Nationalism was articulated in modern times by Protestant Reformers who empowered nation-states to resist religious tyranny. Although Nationalism does not require Christianity (nation-states can share a culture dominated by any religion), it is an idea born out of Christianity.
John Locke, a political philosopher and Reformed theologian, best articulated these ideas and he ultimately crafted the philosophical framework of what we call English Common Law. Locke’s theological principles – like that of Total Depravity – led political thinkers to naturally resist an all-powerful government comprised of depraved men. It was from this wellspring that came the idea of a government with checks and balances as a means to restrain sinful governments.
Locke and other Reformed thinkers believed from a preponderance of both Biblical and Natural Law, that we are ‘endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights,’ a phrase we see repeated in the Declaration of Independence. A nation-state’s government, Locke argued, was to protect the rights of its People (typically capitalized in this discussion, so as to best dignify Citizenry). If they cease to protect their People’s rights, the government has forfeited its right to exist.
These rights, endowed by our Creator, include a reflection of those believed given in the Bible. These include the right of religion and the right to property (enshrined in the 8th Commandment). It’s for this reason that Capitalists naturally gravitate toward Nationalism and Socialists or Communists to Globalism.
God created the nation-state through his Covenant with Israel. God established for Israel national sovereign borders (he established these in Genesis 15:18-21).
God gave his people the right to enforce their borders and boundaries with armaments and border walls repeatedly throughout the Old Testament. In fact, an entire book of the Bible – Nehemiah – is dedicated to God’s command to build a border wall around Jerusalem. The purpose of this border wall was to protect the interests of the people within Jerusalem and to protect it against foreign invasion.
God established law in Old Testament Israel that distinguished between aliens or sojourners, permanent residents, and what can best be described as Citizens of Israel (although the term had yet to develop, the concept was present). Aliens and sojourners were to be treated kindly, permanent residents (like the Canaanites) were to be subject to the same laws and protections as Israelites, and yet Israelite Citizens were still treated with distinction from the other two classes of people who might be inside Israel’s sovereign borders at any given time.
Nationalism and its emphasis on civil liberties – like the right to private property, as seen through Capitalism – has been the greatest advantage for human flourishing that the world has ever known. Through nation-states and their preservation of civil liberties, economies have flourished, the tide of wealth has risen, and peace has increased rather than decreased. Typically, aggression that has led to militarized conflict has been caused by despots unwilling to preserve their own borders and neglectful of their people’s rights.
Nationalism has also led to a massive increase of financial prosperity through protection of private property, as nation-states advocate for the rights of their People. A comparison between nations that support Nationalism and those who don’t would demonstrate a massive wealth disparity between the two.
History has demonstrated that what’s best for human flourishing is that individual rights are seen transcendent to utilitarian “common good.” Perhaps counter-intuitive to some, society is best helped with individuals are most free.
There are numerous warnings about Globalized government in eschatalogical literature. Whether taken literally, as pre-millennialists might, or figuratively, as a-millenialists or post-millenialists might (to differing degrees), there’s no doubt a consistent theme of caution regarding the development of global rather than national power.
Although these different End Times views might interpret the passages with different degrees of nuance, passages like Revelation 13:1 and Daniel 7:16-24 indicate – regardless of interpretation – that a powerful global government does not bode well for human flourishing.
Christianity is an eschatological religion, hoping and believing in the bodily return of Christ and the coming Resurrection fo the dead. The religion cannot be divorced from our future hope in things to come, and the Bible’s discussion of global government is always cautionary.
Although progressive-minded Christians with Marxist influences might argue otherwise, Nationalism has not shown to create a selfishness in regards to the Gospel. The greatest advance of missionary zeal has always come from cultures that have been influenced by Nationalism.
Globalists sometimes characterize evangelical zeal as a type of religious colonialism, Christian imperialism, or Western Paternalism (this argument was made by those who crafted the religion of Social Justice in South America in the 1960s and early 1970s), but believers in Jesus just know it as evangelism.
America has led the world in the evangelization of the nations, while regions that reject Nationalism are typically the ones that need evangelization.