Faith: Nationalism, Patriotism, and the Christian


     There is an ongoing debate in the confessional Christian blogsphere about the nature of the Christian with regard to patriotism and nationalism. This debate is wide and far ranging, yet in many cases, it fails to understand one of the most basic tenants of being a Christian American or an American at all.

     Very often, the debate centers on the Biblical principle of “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” Indeed, this is the very command we Christians are to follow when dealing with governments in general. The question becomes, how does this command apply to us as Americans in specific?

     This question is striking because we American Christians live in a nation where we are the government, not ruled over by it. Our nation is not one ruled over by tyrants or oligarchs- at least in principle- but rather by its very citizens who select those who govern and who hold those who govern accountable by determining whether they can continue to govern.

     Because of the nature of our government, what then do we owe to Caesar and to God? Certainly, we own to God our very lives by Grace through faith. To God we owe our actions and our words as a constant testimony to the Gospel. Yet, as citizens of a nation governed by citizens, how do we separate our lives as Christians from our lives as Americans?

     The truth is that we cannot. As Christian Americans, our allegiance to our God becomes our allegiance to our nation. If we are living the life God wants us to live- seeking first His Kingdom and His Righteousness- then that life will also be reflected in the life of the nation.

     How will that life be reflected? It will be reflected in whom we vote for and why. It will be reflected in what political parties we belong to- or form- and how we select those who we wish to run for office. Perhaps more importantly, our lives as Christian Americans will be reflected in the everyday. Our lives will be reflected in how we spend our money, how we entertain ourselves, and how we support those who are less fortunate than we are.

     In a land governed of, by, and for the people, there can be no separation between the Christian and the government. We are Caesar; therefore, we owe not only ourselves, but our nation to our God. As Christian Americans, it is our task to bring the life of the Christian to the life of the nation. As the governing governed, we must never separate our faith and our citizenship. Instead, we must always seek to bring our citizenship into our faith, thereby bringing our nation into the Grace we have through that faith.

     By that standard, our patriotism and our nationalism are what we owe to both Caesar and to God, not in some militaristic conquering sort of way, but in the way of a nation made up of the royal priesthood of all believers, bent on using our nation to do God’s will among the world and ourselves. We are a nation founded on the notion of Christian Liberty, and we should act like it.


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