I hate combining anything that resembles God and politics… but I think it’s time. My book “this is the way” deals with the subject a little bit.
Seems like there’s a contrast from 1 Peter to Romans 13 specifically in terms of how we should honor the government and others in authority over us. This brings up all kinds of theological questions, yet we know the complete lens of the Bible agrees so how do we hermeneutically figure this out?
Did Peter and Paul (arguable author of Romans) disagree on theology? And what about John with Revelation or Timothy using the term entangled when describing the government and Christians? In the years between the mentioned works (letters) did the political climate regarding the church change that much? What about the sermon on the mount, would Jesus have spoken differently closer to 7Oad?! Surprisingly these questions haven’t been approached in detail by any author I know of. (And let’s just say I have a pretty good handle on the world of theology books today.)
Thus, Matt (of x44) has decided to tackle this for his dissertation towards his Th.D. in theology and biblical studies @CTS.
This subject is really interesting right now with the recent timing of Russia’s 2022 attack on the Ukraine.
American nationalism might be seen as a problem within fervent Christianity. I’ve simply questioned many times …” what kingdom are you living for, or what flag are you flying”, and “who are you serving?” America grants us the freedom to worship the Lord. I am grateful. But at the same time, it often acts like a rival kingdom to that of the kingdom of the Lord. The Bible uses a lot of words such as entanglement, it asks if we can serve two masters. It challenges us to choose this day whom we will serve. It also says over and over that our allegiance should only be placed (solely) in the Lord.
The Ukraine & Russian situation has brought a lot of this thinking back to the front line. I taught American social studies at the junior high, high school, and college level for many years of my life. I teach some of it now at the seminary level.
When America became a nation, it was a rebellion towards England. We usually don’t think of the word rebellion in light of Christian character or attitude. Yet, in many ways it can fit as a rebellion against the world taking the mindset of being set apart in Jesus. Isn’t that the backward kingdom that Jesus preached? Yet, most everything about American leadership seems contrary to what Jesus taught.
Some want to position America as if it’s “God‘s country” but it is actually a better picture of “Babylon” and Christians should better be viewed as the exiles.
It seems that Jesus describes loyalty to His kingdom and that any other kingdom or system of the world is counter (rival) to that.
In many ways America seems more like a religion than anything else. We emphatically study the creation of our country, we have sacred texts (Constitution), hallowed saints (presidents and war heroes), sacred ground (Monuments), holy days (Memorial Day, Independence Day), hymns (National anthem, star spangled banner), Symbols to pledge to (Flag), and celebrate soldiers dying on your behalf in a way that seems to describe idolatry.
It merely takes a trip to DC‘s capital rotunda or the Lincoln memorial to completely get this picture of an ungodly temple. Above the Lincoln memorial we can read: “IN THIS TEMPLE AS IN THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE FOR WHOM HE SAVED THE UNION THE MEMORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN IS ENSHRINED FOREVER.”
The hard question we are faced with is, can a Christian honor the Lord first in their life and still be a good “patriot” or allegiant to America.
God created everything and called it good but soon after it was lost. His sacred plan is that everything will be reclaimed for the kingdom and eventually, the earth and the people will be re-created to be completely holy and as one. It is no secret the Christians are part of the plan to bring everything to that end. Does America have anything to do with that? Can we live in America, honor America, place any kind of allegiance to America, allow our sons and daughters to fight in the name of this kingdom…
All while keeping the kingdom of Christ first?!
Some have a major problem with Russia. You may not know this, but Russia feels like they are entitled to the land that was once there’s i.e… Ukraine. From their perspective, they’re just taking back what was stolen from them. Trust me I have no heart for anything Russia is doing.
But consider that in light to what America has done particularly through Western expansion & eminent domain. Didn’t we just take land that wasn’t ours?!
So you might’ve gotten this hint, but Russia has been a little bit pointing their finger at the US warning them to get involved or judge them because of the US track record, (stealing land from Indians, expanding slavery for 100 years, going to war with Mexico to steal land etc…) in many ways what America has done is actually worse than what Russia is doing. At least Russia has some kind of argument for the land they’re fighting for! But even worse, when I put it like this; these attributes don’t sound very much like the way Christians should be acting do they? In fact, it kind of comes off as countercultural to the kingdom of God and the mission that Christ professed.
So where are we at as a Christian person living in America? Are we going to take back this nation for God? Well, the problem with that argument it was never a nation for God… it was a nation formed for people to freely worship whoever they want.
Are we going to reclaim the entire world as Christians? If that’s you’re thinking, doesn’t it make more sense to side with the Christians all around the world then to side with other nations including our own?
Should we start as a Christian with taking back our own land in the name of God? Some think that way. Let’s start with America and then venture to the rest of the world. Or does that describe a better picture of getting involved with the sinful or being unequally yoked? Is that Timothy’s warning of being entangled?
The question comes down to how you can best live as an American for the kingdom of God in the place where you are & the world that has been entrusted to us.