Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. ~ John 18:36
Patriotism to one’s physical nation is not a spiritual virtue. There is nothing sinful or wrong with patriotism in general, but it must be secondary to our loyalty to Christ whose Kingdom is not of this world. Our loyalty to Christ must never be draped in patriotism towards our country. Our patriotism must be kept in check by the grace of God. As believers in Christ, our loyalty is first and foremost to Christ, his kingdom, and the spiritual nation in Christ to which we belong as servants of Jesus.
The apostle Peter tells us, ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light… ~ 1 Peter 2:9
The redeemed of the Lord (the holy nation in Christ) are redeemed souls from every nation, kindred, people, tongue
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. ~ Revelation 5:9-10
After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. ~ Revelation 7:9-15
I recently listened as a minister made the following argument:
We were commanded to disciple the nations, baptizing them. What is a baptized nation? It is a christian nation. How many of these christian nations are there supposed to be? No set number is given but the simple answer is all of them. All the nations of men are to be brought into submission to Christ, but in the current climate is there any possible way to seek to make America a Christian nation without drawing the charge of christian nationalism? No, there’s no way to do this without drawing that charge. Should we care about this? Not even a little bit. Some will say that it is not possible to make a nation into a Christian nation. Nations don’t have immortal souls and cannot be Christian, to which I would reply, why did Jesus tell us to do it then?
The mistake this minister makes is his interpretation of Jesus’s words from Matthew 28. After his resurrection, Jesus commanded his apostles to go and make disciples of all nations. This is known as the great commission and how we interpret it can lead us into true New Testament evangelism or politically motivated error. When the New Testament is surveyed, it becomes clear that no apostle ever pursued or taught christianizing nations. On the contrary, we see that the Holy Spirit led the church from the law of Moses into the grace of Christ, and the preaching of the gospel spread to all nations. It was not isolated to the people of Israel.
Making disciples of all nations when interpreted according to the whole counsel of the New Testament, is clearly understood that we are called to take the gospel to the whole world. The Kingdom of God is no longer isolated to the Jews as it was under Moses, Now that Christ has died and risen again, people from every nation are invited into the Kingdom of God.
As we follow the teachings of the apostles in the book of Acts and in the epistles, we never see any attempt to christianize a nation’s society. Over and over again, there is a distinction made between the church (the holy spiritual nation of believers in Christ) and those outside the church as expressed by Paul when he says, I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh… ~ Romans 9:1-3
Paul had sorrow in his heart for his fellow Israelites who were outside the grace of Christ. They were his kinsmen, his fellow countrymen, but not part of the same spiritual body to which Paul belonged in Christ. In his letter to the Philippians Paul says the following:
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world… ~ Philippians 2:13-15
As Christians, we belong to God’s holy nation (the spiritual body of believers in Christ), while living in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation that does not know God. Thus we are called to shine as lights in the world while holding forth the word of life. This is how New Testament evangelism works, and when we shine as lights from God’s Kingdom we make disciples of people from every nation, we do not make nations (society) disciples of Christ.
The Judaizers which Paul contended with and refuted in his letter to the Galatians, were Jewish nationalist. They were seeking to proselyte the Gentiles into converted Jews. It wasn’t enough to these extremists that the Gentiles had believed the gospel of Christ and received the Spirit. They wanted the Gentiles to go beyond the cross of Christ and become Jewish proselytes (through circumcision and adherence to the Law). This is the same anti-Christ spirit at work within Christian nationalism in our modern times here in the United States.
For the Christian nationalist, American exceptionalism is synonymous with Biblical Christianity. Their ideals of what America is and their belief in the “infallibility” of the U.S. Constitution is a fallacy. The belief that American exceptionalism is eternally blessed of God is leading many away from the grace of Christ.
In his letter to the Galatians Paul says, For ye have heard of my conduct in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it. And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. ~ Galatians 1:13-14
Paul makes the above statement after telling the Galatians that he marveled that they were so soon being removed from him who had called them to the grace of Christ, unto another gospel.
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. ~ Galatians 1:6-12
Paul is telling the Galatians at the very outset of his letter that those in the Jews religion, in which he once excelled above his peers, are preaching another gospel, for they advocating Jewish identity (via circumcision and adherence to the law) rather than glorying in Christ.
These religious Jews (aka, Judaizers) did not simply want to bring the Gentiles under some sort of “works righteousness” but rather, they were seeking to make Jewish proselytes of the Gentiles. It is this “Jewish supremacy” based on the Jew’s religion that Paul is countering so strongly in Galatians for it was in opposition to the truth of the gospel just as Christian nationalism is in our day.
Because of the cross, there is no privilege of one ethnic group, society, or physical nation above another in the sight of God. In Galatians 5:11 Paul says, “And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision (the mark of Jewish identity) why do I yet suffer persecution? Then is the offense of the cross ceased.“
The cross of Christ is an offense to christian nationalism!
Post Two: https://rootedandgroundedinchrist.com/2022/07/19/deconstructing-christian-nationalism-post-two/