Doug Gay – How To Be A Christian Nationalist

Doug Gay – How To Be A Christian Nationalist


How to be a Christian nationalist, (Lion-Taming and Dragon-Training). This
talk is not a pitch for a YES vote in Scotland’s independence referendum –
despite me wearing my yes shoes – the referendum which is only just three
weeks away from us. Those who watch the video online
will have the advantage over us here today knowing the result
of that poll. What I’ve been asked to share today are some brorder reflections which have been shaped by the debates around Scotland’s
referendum on how Christians should think about nationalism. Working out what we think and feel about
nationalism and national identity, is I think one of
the most important issues facing us in the 21st century. One hundred years
after the outbreak of the First World War, the nation-state
is still the dominant Union of political organization in the world,
and nationalism is still the most common source of
legitimacy and motivation for those who want to defend or create nation-state. So my argument today is I hope a fairly simple, one spaced on
three convictions. That nationalism is not going to
disappear anytime soon. That nationalism is not inherently
unethical. And that nationalism needs to be
discipled. I use the language of discipleship
because I’m approaching this as a Christian, and as someone who does some of my work in
Christian political theology. And discipleship is the word for use in
the Christian tradition for learning as we follow Jesus Christ,
to love what God loves, and to let that love
shape our living. And one of the great traditional
emphasis of Reformed theology and one which has been a strong influence in Greenbelt over the decades has been the belief that
every area of our living needs to be discipled, both the personal, and the political. A lot turns then in
the first place on how we define nationalism. This is something I tackle
in more depth in my book “Honey from the Lion” on Christianity and the Ethics of
Nationalism, because some people define nationalism as loving your own national
identity at the expense of others, and if that’s the only definition
possible then I would accept that Christians can’t be nationalists. But I believe it’s possible, and it’s
helpful, to embrace a more open definition of nationalism one in which nationalism is a set of
claims to identity and to jurisdiction and to
territory. Now is it dangerous to make such claims?
Of course it is which is why I’m talking about lions and dragons. But
if someone asks “Should we abandon the making up those claims all together?”
then my answer is No. I don’t think the world is ready for a
utopia where there are no countries or borders – nothing. Attempts to create such a utopia are likely to do more harm than good. What we need to do is to weigh those claims that people make. So how do we do that? Well I want to suggest the in a
Christian vision of nationalism we start with the theology of creation, in which we recognize that we’re one
human race, but we are called to be stewards of
diversity. And so we confess the way in which
human sinfulness distorts diversity into prejudice and division, but we respond to that if we’re
disciples of Jesus with a penetant and a passionate political discipleship,
in which we learn to love and steward what is
distinctive about our own identities without seeking to diminish or dominate
somebody else’s identity. The Puritans used to say “Every place is immediate unto God”, and that means that there are no parts
of the world which are in principle godforsaken, not even England. But equally, all of us live East of Eden, in the Genesis term,
so there are no parts of the world which are in principle closer to God than others, not even Scotland. Let me use
an illustration from the traditional theology or liturgy for baptism. A Christian nationalism I want to suggest to you is is one which renounces the world, the flesh, and
the devil. Now what does that mean? By renouncing the world I mean it
renounces imperialism and the desire to dominate or invade
other peoples. Instead at practices recognition and
cooperation. By renouncing the flesh I mean it
rejects ethnic prejudice or superiority and it works with a civic or a
multi-ethnic definition of the nation. We like to say proudly
that Scotland is a mongrel nation. In Woody Guthrie’s
words: “This land is my land, this land is your land”, and by renouncing
the devil I mean that a Christian nationalism recognises every other allegiance in our lives is held under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. In this it follows the lead in the
Barman declaration which Karl Barth and others drew up in opposition to Hitler and the Nazis. So no Christian can ever say “my country, right or wrong”. Now the dilemma for us
today and what makes this such a difficult and demanding question is that
nationalism has a very mixed history, so we live in
the shadow of fascist and imperialist visions of nationalism which have been a terrible source
oppression for many people. But we’ve also seen throughout the 20th
century how nationally organised liberation movements were key to the
struggle against colonialism across the world. Think for example of India claiming its
right to live freely outside of British
imperialism. So my argument is that we need to
imagine a new kind of nationalism one in which the savage instincts
of lions and dragons, which we have on our flags,
those savage instincts are tamed and trained. One in which oppressive and selfish visions of
national interest are broken open so that we can get honey
from the lion. The vision is of an internationalist
nationalism and the prize is a peaceful and a
friendly belonging to the Commonwealth of Nations. One where we claim the vision behind the
BBC’s moto “Nation shall speak peace unto Nation”. In a world where competing and violent
nationalisms are still a huge source of threat and
danger the goal of discipling them I think is a
more fruitful one than a romantic vision in which we all
simply hold hands and sing “Imagine there’s no countries”. Now the
way to this goal is going to be difficult and dangerous but to see as a pilgrim way for
disciples is to see it in the context of Christian hope, and to
see it in hope as following in the way of
Jesus Christ. It’s also I think to see it in the light
of the great vision of Revelation, where heaven is a place where every language and every people and every nation are
united and they’re united under the sovereignty of the lion but
when you look to see the lion in the book of Revelation what you see
instead is the figure of the slain lamb. People are united in their diversity
under the peaceful rule of the lamb. A vision of discipleship which extends not just to our personal
lives but political lives as well. How to be Christian nationalist – Taming Lions and Training Dragons. Thank you very much.

5 Comments on "Doug Gay – How To Be A Christian Nationalist"


  1. Jesus was acknowledging that he was indeed a king, but not over any particular geographical region, any particular people, or any particular political regime. The mistake that these people are making is they think their version of Christian nationalism is a solution… It's not.

    Hence, there is in Christ no longer any place for attaching any significance to one’s nationality or ethnicity—or, Paul adds, to one’s social standing, wealth or gender (Gal. 3:28).

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  2. Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
    After his resurrection Jesus appeared to his disciples and informed them: Matthew 28:18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
    Jesus becoming Lord was predicted:
    Psalm 2 (KJV) 1. Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. 4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. 5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. 6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. 7 I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. 9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. 10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
    Philipianes 2: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
    So countries that don’t serve him, will perish.

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  3. How to be a Christian Nationalist… Nut up or shut up. I think that's better advice. It's the "slain lamb" that leads you, and it's the slain lamb you'll be, too. Ah, what's the use? Why do I bother? This is the work of the Jews. They're to blame for this.

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