Lebanon (MNN) — Christianity fused with national identity? When this happens, it is called “Christian nationalism.”
That’s different from Christians being patriotic or loving their country, says Caleb Hutcherson, a lecturer in historical theology at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Lebanon. “Christian nationalism is this fusion between Christianity, Christian beliefs and symbolism, and even practices and politics that, in some way, become focused around and centered on a national identity.”
Hutcherson gives some examples of what Christian nationalism looks like. “Probably the most recognizable, infamous example is when German Christianity blended a form of Christian doctrine, Christian beliefs, and Christian practices with Nazi ideology.”
This fusion happens in other places with large churches as well, Hutcherson says, like the U.S., England, Spain, and Russia. “But even here in the Middle East, we’ve had similar kinds of blending or fusing of these Christian religious symbols, along with national symbols.” Read more in an article by Hutcherson on the subject here.
Fighting this fusion
Ever since the Roman Empire adopted Christianity as the state religion, Christians have struggled with the relationship between faith in Jesus and political power. So how can Christians around the world prevent this sort of fusion from creeping into the life of the church?
Hutcherson quotes an early Christian writer who faced a very similar situation in his time. “‘A living faith consists in thinking little of oneself and showing tenderness towards others.’ I think that idea really points to this caring for others, and particularly the marginalized, the oppressed, those who are outside of and are crushed by empire power and by that authority.”
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