Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rethinking the Pledge

I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America
And to the republic for which it stands
One nation
Under God
With liberty and justice for all.

Did you know that the Pledge of Allegiance was written by a socialist named Francis Bellamy?
Did you know that the original salute to the flag, called the Bellamy Salute, was not placing the hand over the heart but extending the full arm forward towards the flag?
Did you know that originally Bellamy wanted to say not 'liberty and justice for all', but 'liberty, fraternity, equality' patterned after the ideals of the French Revolution?
Did you know that President Franklin D. Roosevelt suggested a change in salute when he grew uneasy with its similarity to Der Fuhrer's salute?
Did you know that President Dwight D. Eisenhower inserted the words "under God" to differentiate this pledge from similar pledges indoctrinating the citizens of communist countries?

And good people like you and I have grown up, not just saying it in school, but teaching it to our children
and making it a part of important civic ceremonies
and linking it to patriotism.

But I think we err.
I think we err grievously.

What is the difference between patriotism and nationalism?
Well, this blog has always been about pursuing Truth.
So, really, what I mean is what is the difference between patriotism and nationalism to the believer?
I think patriotism is a good thing.
It is loving the land God has put us in.
It's a contented 'bloom where you're planted' kind of civility.
And what does a Christian patriot look like?
I think he is a good citizen.
He does right by his neighbor.
He leads a law-abiding life.
He prays for his leaders.

Christians can be American patriots
and Korean patriots
and Russian patriots
and Saudi patriots
and Iranian patriots.
In fact, I think God requires that of all believers.
I think the principle of 'moral proximity' makes that so.

But what of nationalism?
Nationalism is 'My country, right or wrong.'
Nationalism cheers for the homeland, sings of the homeland, fights and kills for the homeland
in an eerily idolatrous way.
Nationalism responds to attacks on the homeland's soil by shooting first, asking questions later.
Nationalism is not concerned with the other side of the dispute.
Nationalism assumes a moral superiority about the homeland...
an 'exceptionalism.'
Nationalism defends the homeland--no matter what--and let everyone else be damned.

But the worst thing about nationalism is that it distracts the believer from his real citizenship. Nationalism can be the red herring dragged across the patriotic path that diverts the believer to from his one true allegiance--the Kingdom of God--and his one true King--Jesus.

In a sense, every believer has a dual citizenship.
We have our eternal citizenship which transcends national boundaries and languages and cultures.
And we also have our temporal citizenship wherever our sovereign God ordained to plant us.
It is right and good for a Christian to be a patriot.
Our comportment at every level should reflect the glory of the God we serve.
But it is wrong for a Christian to be a nationalist.
It is wrong for us to be unthinking drones of the State.

We are a holy priesthood, a royal nation.
There is no such thing as a "Christian nation"...
except for the invisible Church of Jesus Christ.

So be a good citizen.
Obey the law.
Love your neighbor.
Pray for your leaders.

But save your allegiance for the King.

1 comment:

  1. This reminds me of the way you approached patriotism vs. nationalism when I was in high school. Can I just say that after Jodo graduates, you will end up taking correspondence courses with my college to get your masters? Yep. I predict it! :D