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#1 of 15 Old 07-02-2002, 10:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It seems like the conservative Christians who post on this site are very patriotic. I feel like an odd one out! I am a Christian, but I am not patriotic, in a large way BECAUSE of my faith. I was hoping that some of you could explain to me how your Christian faith supports your patriotism.

- I worry that patriotism could become a form of idolatry.
- I believe that our loyalty to humanity should not be limited by geographical boundaries.
- I don’t believe that Jesus was politically active, nor did he endorse one way of government over another. Instead He called us to be concerned about it (and invested in) spiritual matters.
- Countries change. Laws change. Rules change. I am hesitant to place my trust and align my loyalties with something so shifting and worldly. The Kingdom of God is forever. I’d rather not become too attached to what I could loose in an instant.
- Certainly we take for granted the good things that we have in abundance. But shouldn’t we be grateful to God alone?

Help me out here.
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#2 of 15 Old 07-02-2002, 11:05 AM
 
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Mamaduck, that's an interesting question. You're right in many ways. I guess the answer to the question kind of depends on your interpretation of the word patriotism.

If patriotism means being grateful for our freedoms, our traditions, and all the blessings God has given us, then Christians should be patriotic. We have much to be thankful for. Also, if it means defending our religious freedoms and using our abundance and liberty to be salt and light, then we should be patriotic.

But if patriotism means thinking we're better than everyone else, or putting our faith and trust in our army and leaders, then no, we should not be patriotic. Nor if it means "My country, right or wrong."

Although I defended freedom of religious speech in the "Pledge ruled unconstitutional" thread, I want to make it clear that I do not say the pledge, nor did I say it in elementary school, b/c somewhere along the line I got the idea it was akin to idol worship. Although I haven't thought that one through, I figure better safe than sorry...

Also, in the aftermath of 9-11, instead of donating $$ to N.Y., I donated to Afghanistan through World Vision b/c I felt the need was greater. In fact, all the $$ I regularly give goes to either missions and relief overseas (Ethioia, Colombia, and Sri Lanka) or to pro-life org.s which are dissatisfied with current U.S. policy and trying to overthrow it.

I guess I would hope that most American Christians would consider themselves, first, citizens of Heaven; then, world citizens, with great need beyond our borders calling for our attention; and last, citizens of a great country whose freedoms (more than most other countries) allow us to exert great influence for God.
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#3 of 15 Old 07-02-2002, 01:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Super Pickle:

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If patriotism means being grateful for our freedoms, our traditions, and all the blessings God has given us, then Christians should be patriotic. We have much to be thankful for.
I guess I don't see this as an adequate definition of patriatism. Yes, we should be grateful. We can be grateful without reference to the flag, to our government, to our country. We can simply be grateful. I'm sure that gratitude is a part of patriatism, but it doesn't cover it.

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Also, if it means defending our religious freedoms and using our abundance and liberty to be salt and light, then we should be patriotic.
I agree about salt and light. I don't know about "defending our religious rights." I have more respect for the man or woman who dies for praying, than I do for the man or woman who dies protecting his/her RIGHT to pray. Because one can only assume that they not only died in that fight, but at least intended to kill. I don't think God wants us to kill for our right to pray. Of course, He wants us to pray. But I don't think He ever told us to expect the legal freedom to do so.

NM:

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Yes, we shouldn't play favorites to humanity. People are people, but we can be proud of our country and love its people as a family loves each other.
But why consider the citizens of the US your "family?" Isn't your family the Church of Christ (global.)

And I have a problem with the "proud of our country" part too, because what exactly are you proud of? Doesn't pride indicate that we have somehow done something better than other people have? I think it is only by the grace of God that we have what we do.

So be grateful to God, be proud of Him. But I think patriotism is pride in ourselves.

Furthermore, we ought be proud of our Father God and grateful to him regardless of our legal freedoms.
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#4 of 15 Old 07-02-2002, 02:39 PM
 
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Here is my answer -- a prayer written by the Rev. Dr. Peter Marshall, a Presbyterain minister and Chaplin of the Senate in the 1940s. (He died while serving as Senate Chaplin). Marshall was an immigrant from Scotland who came to the United States becasue of the freedoms allowed here and becasue he felt that God lead him here.

"O Gracious God, giver of freedom...
May freedom be seen,
not as the right to do as we please,
but as the opportunity to please to do what is right.
May it ever be understood that our liberty is under God
and can be found nowhere else.

May our faith be something that is not merely stamped upon our coins,
but expressed in our lives...
to the extent that America honors Thee,
wilt Thou bless America,
and keep her true as Thou hast kept her free
and make her good
as Thou hast made her rich."


When the Pilgrims came to this land they came with the intention of setting up "A City On A Hill" - a "Light to the Nations".
And the success of our quest for independence was ignighted by a Chrisitian world view (there is historical documentation that supports this view in fact King George called it "the Presbyterain rebellion").

In light of this, I don't think Chrisitans are patriotic becasue it is "My country right or wrong" rather it is "My country as it was created to be" It is the ideal that people strive for and if we ever accomplished that ideal -- we would be better than all the rest. However, our own selfishness and fallen nature gets in the way as we fall away from the calling our nation has been given. (Read those documents -- our founders felt this nation was called by the Divine to something greater)

Even our national anthem proclaims this in the verse no one sings...
"O thus be it ever, when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven rescued land
Prasie the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just;
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust!"
And the star spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!


Then there is a prayer by Avery Brooke..

"O Christ we love this land. We wish it were always a simple love and often it is, but life had become complicated. Good gets mixed up with evil and mountians of laws and regualtions and numbers and systems get in our way when we wish to make everything work as it should. When things go wrong it becomes easy to give up, to blame other people and to do nothing.
O Christ,
give us the unashamed courage to beleive in the highest and the best ideals of our country, and enough passionate patience to make them come true. "

I don't think there is anything wrong with being patriotic and proud to be American especially as Chrisitans. As to idolatry -- you find that in every walk of life -- from cars to beauty to money to self -- sure there is going to be some nationally. But for the most part I don't think it is the Chrsitnas who idolize the nation, most Chrsitnas I know love the country and look for it (us) to reach to it's (our) higher calling.

"O beautiful for heros proved in liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
and mercy more than life!
America, America May God thy gold refine
'Till all success be nobelness and every gain divine.
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#5 of 15 Old 07-02-2002, 03:24 PM
 
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I guess my thoughts about this come from a different perspective. I lived in Germany for 5 years in the 70's. We had a friend who climbed over the Berlin wall. My Dad and I were given the opportunity to cross the border and visit East BErlin. We smuggled money in to the family of our friend. I can tell you that as a 7 yr old, that journey was life changing for me. I COndsider myself a Christian because of my faith and love of Christ. I consider myself to be a patriot because of my personal experiences with countries that oppress, demean and torture their citizens. Because of my faith as a christian, I feel truly blessed to live in a country where I have the freedom to worship my Lord and Saviour. Does that make any sense?

Before you were conceived, I wanted you. Before you were born I loved you. Before you were a minute old, I would have died for you. That is the miracle of life. ~Maureen Hawkins~
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#6 of 15 Old 07-02-2002, 05:27 PM
 
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Nursing Mother wrote:
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Also I feel I am more obligated to love and protect my family, neighbors, and those around me more then I should protect people that I don't know. So I am thus proud to help secure peace and freedom for the place of where I live. I see nothing unbiblical in that.
Well, Jesus said we should love EVERYONE and show no special consideration for our families. In fact, he said something about how whoever does not hate his family does not really love God. The human lifestyle he seems to have recommended is one with no consideration for biological relationships, laws, or private property, wherein everyone treats each other kindly out of love. My Savior is quite the hippie.

It's very understandable and practical to feel as you do, and I don't think it's a bad attitude. It's just not especially Christian.

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#7 of 15 Old 07-02-2002, 06:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I really appreciate these responses. I hope I am not sounding critical toward any of you -- I don't have a problem with your patriotism. It is just the additude that a Christian *ought* to be patriotic that bothers me, because I can see another side to it. I appreciate your validation NM.

Gossamer -- what an amazing experience for you. Of course, the freedom we have in the US would astound most of the people in the world. And it does. And I am very grateful for these freedoms, and grateful that my life is not worse than it is.

RM -- I think what you are saying is that patriotism is the conviction to carry on with the calling of our Christian forefather's who had an amazing vision for this country. And that it is also a sense of pride in their accomplishments, and admiration for their efforts, and gratitude for what they left us. The problem I see is that I'm not convinced the way they went about it was best. I would not give up what we have now that we have it -- but I'm not convinced the prices paid were worth it. War, mainly. And the disregard for native american life. While we can be grateful for what we have, I'm not convinced that reflecting on the process for that acheivment should be prideful. And what about the exploitation, the violence, the capitalism that maintains our contemporary "right" to freedom?

Again, I'm not suggesting we give up our freedom. I'm saying that perhaps we ought receive this gift more humbly.

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It is the ideal that people strive for and if we ever accomplished that ideal -- we would be better than all the rest.
See, to me, this sounds like a another tower of Babel. Or at least like building a house in the sand. Our efforts as Christians should be toward spiritual ends. The ideal country just can't happen in this kingdom. But it is happening, and it will be complete. However, it is not a place on a map that we can draw boundries around.

Jesus did not come to affect political change, as much as the people of his time would have liked. And as persecuted as they were, the apostles and early missionaries did not "fight for religious freedom." They didn't argue their right to worship God or to preach salvation. They just DID it. They knew that time was short, worldy establishments ever-changing, and that their priority was singular and spiritual in nature.

EnviroBecca -- Yes, I like what you said. And I also struggle with the boundries by which we define "family," wishing to broaden them. Though, that is OT.
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#8 of 15 Old 07-03-2002, 06:43 PM
 
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Nursing Mother, I understand why you feel obligated to take care of your young, dependent children before others. But I don't think the same reasoning means that you should favor "neighbors and those around me more than...people that I don't know." Loving all people means loving the Taliban just as much as your best friend. It's difficult, and I'm sure no ordinary mortal has ever fully and consistently managed it! But that's what Jesus wants us to do. "Love thy neighbor" doesn't mean only the person literally living nextdoor to thee.

Yes, I am a Christian. I attend a liberal Episcopal church. I read the Gospels regularly and derive my understanding of Christianity primarily from that, the best report we have of what Jesus actually said and did during his time on Earth.

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#9 of 15 Old 07-04-2002, 08:31 AM
 
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Mama duck,

you misread me. The Pilgrims did all the sacrificing and they made peace with the Indians/Native Americans. Also, they didn't want to draw borders, they wanted to be "a city on a hill" - in Biblical terms that would be a place where everyone would want to come.
One other thing -- when Jesus came he said "The Kingdom is now" (or in breaking). God's kingdom is here, in this world. We are to be co-builders with Chrsit of the kingdom. Our founders wanted to contribute to this kingdom, not build a towe of Babel. Babel was the attempt to reach God's level, to BE gods. A "city on a hill" is under the direction and guidance of God.

As to war -- war is like spanking. People do it when they run out of options. If you read the documents and journals and letters surounding the Revolutionary War you will see that they tried all else. Their ralling cry was "No King but Jesus". While not all our wars have had such nobel men, each one must be looked at not through 21st century eyes, but the times and the world view of the day. Building a country is much like raising a child -- I hope my children don't hold me accountable for every mistake i make as a mother, but rather learn form the mistakes I make.
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#10 of 15 Old 07-04-2002, 04:08 PM
 
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I think that a religion that tells people that their way is the only way is EXTREMELY dangerous and is the root of most of our problems today. When Jesus says "love thy neighbor", well, the people of the world are our neighbors.... government has profoundly twisted a religion that was once based on peace and mutual respect for others' way of life (or at least, I would like to believe a "religion" was based on this)... and for people to go to other parts of the world and preach that their way is the only way is an egotistical assumption. White people (beginning with who, The Europeans? Don't know for sure) have killed, mutilated, and massacred in the name of religion for so long... think of Africa, the Native Americans... I mean, command and conquer seems to be the idea between Christianity and patriotism 'til this day.
Think of it this way: people who are truly "religious", or spiritual, realize that love and respect for others is a true path to walk. Now, if Bhudda came to a Christian in a vision, it wouldn't mean much -- that's why Jesus, and the Mother Mary, may appear to Western worshippers. And if some Bhuddist kid in rural India saw Jesus, it wouldn't mean anything to him, because Jesus is not a symbol of spirituality for him. But if he saw Bhudda, it would be a profound and meaningful experience for him. These "idols" of worship give people a focus for their immense spiritual power; to claim that one's idol is more "right" or "better" than someone else's is very childish and can cause more harm than good.
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#11 of 15 Old 07-05-2002, 12:59 PM
 
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I am soooo tired of Christianity taking the blame for all the "evils" of the world...

First of all -- Chrsitianity is not a white-anglo/european religion, it started in the middle east.
Second, while Jesus proclaimed peace and love he also said that faith in the one true God would set "brother agaist brother".
Third -- ditto to nursingmother's quote.
Fourth -- "command and conquer" are not Chrisitian words, they are words of the world that has used Chrisitianity. Chrisitians are commanded by God to put God first and to love neighbor as ourselves -- those are not "command and conquer" words. However, Chrisitians do not spread the Truth to others to "command and conquer" but to share in the most amazing thing - the kingdom of God and Salvation, this we are commanded to do (no exceptions).

Also, I must say that I resent the implication that Chrisitans are
"childish and casue more harm than good."
That is a narrow view point and not founded in historical study. Without Chrisitianity and the Judo-Chrisitan world view we would not have a nation like the United States and the freedoms we enjoy (inspite of our imperfections).
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#12 of 15 Old 07-07-2002, 03:24 PM
 
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Sorry for the wrong choice of words, Reverendmother. To call someone childish was childish of me
Yes, I agree that Jesus is the Truth, the Way, the One Path to God. FOR CHRISTIANS. But to assume that the Christian Truth is everyone's Truth is, in my opinion, quite narrow-minded. You have your Bible, and your version of God, and your idol, Jesus. That is YOUR TRUTH, but that doesn't make someone else's Truth false. They have the Koran, or the Torah, or Buddha, and that is THAT person's and society's truth; it doesn't mean it has to be your truth.. but God is huge, and all paths lead to God... in my opinion, a loving, non-judgemental God who claims "We are all His children" would not send His child to hell for disagreeing with Him/Her/It. (Depending on one's religion...) Would you send YOUR children to eternal damnation for living a life that is different than yours? For thinking for him or herself, and choosing the way of life that best suits him/her? But again, I am not Christian; your truth is that people DO go to hell, so that truth will exist for you when you die. But it will not exist for someone who's never even considered it before... ie, Buddhists, Jews, etc.
Did Ghandi, a man who changed millions of lives through peace and prayer for the better, go to hell simply because he did not subscribe to your Truth? Did Buddha go to hell? Did all the people who lived before the Christian crusades go to hell? When government and the Church told people that they would go to hell if they didn't behave and pay their taxes, do you honestly think that was true? Of course not. I will stick my my statement that any religion or group of people that claim their way is the only way is extremely dangerous; history has not taught me otherwise.
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#13 of 15 Old 07-07-2002, 03:47 PM
 
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Reverendmother, I know how you feel. I was thinking last night of posting something about how it's rude to attack people for their beliefs or insult their religion, since this is happening to Christians all over the Spirituality forum these days.
But then I was reading the Beatitudes and boy that last one really spoke to me.

Also it's actually a good thing imho when our beliefs are being challenged and hashed out. It's better to struggle with the words of Jesus than to shrug them off as "someone else's truth."
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#14 of 15 Old 07-07-2002, 04:33 PM
 
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"Yes, I agree that Jesus is the Truth, the Way, the One Path to God. FOR CHRISTIANS. "

Christ did not come for Christians. There were no Christians before Christ died and rose. Christ emphasised that he came for all people. My understanding and belief is that people who have not heard of Christ are not condemned to hell but once you have heard the Gospel and turn away from Christ as your saviour, you have taken responsibility for your actions and are separated from God.

"When government and the Church told people that they would go to hell if they didn't behave and pay their taxes, do you honestly think that was true? Of course not."

People do not go to hell or suffer damnation for disagreeing with their church, or not tithing, or not paying taxes. The church is the house of God, but it is made up of people. People do not have the ability to condemn or damn people, only God does. When confronted by a similar issue, Christ himself said to render unto Caeser that which is Caeser's and render unto God, that which is God's.


"Did Ghandi, a man who changed millions of lives through peace and prayer for the better, go to hell simply because he did not subscribe to your Truth? Did Buddha go to hell?"

I don't know where Ghandi and Buddah went. Only God determines a soul's fate and it is arrogant for humans to assume they know the mind of God. That is not my decision or choice to make. My job as a christian is to live a life according to God's will and spread the Gospel to those who have not heard the good news of Christ's sacrifice for the children of God. There are some people who call themselves Christians who will vehemently condemn Ghandi, BUddah,and Mohammed to hell. BUt they are rejecting the instructions of God to "Judge not less yee be judged" and "let he who is without sin, cast the first stone." Too many people worry about where others are going and what others are doing and don't clean up their own house.

Before you were conceived, I wanted you. Before you were born I loved you. Before you were a minute old, I would have died for you. That is the miracle of life. ~Maureen Hawkins~
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#15 of 15 Old 07-08-2002, 02:25 PM
 
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Okay, I deleted my original post because I felt it may have been a tad bit offensive.
One of you mentioned that it's not up to us to know the mind of God. Yet, over 2,000 years ago, when God spoke to His people and they transcribed The Holy Bible, were they not understanding and knowing "The Mind of God"? Did God only speak His Mind to a few men, very briefly, over 2,000 years ago, never to be heard from again? God speaks His (Her) Truth to me every day; I do not need to be told through Priests and Holy Books what He has to say.
The Truth is not told to me by Jesus in holy visions. The Truth is brought to me through subtle signs, brilliant revelations... when I'm feeling hopeless and down and out and a spiritual meaning arises from the darkness and I know I'm not alone... Just because I know God by another name and do not take the Bible's teachings literally -- I know that the Bible has been "doctored" by "Holy Men" quite a few times over the past 2,000 years -- does not mean that my Truth is less of a Truth than your Truth. As Buddha says, many people all over the world point at the moon. We may use different words to describe it, we may use different myths and stories to speak of it, but we are all looking at and speaking of the exact same thing.
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