“The idolatry of patriotism, believing that any one nation’s or people’s cause is so worthy that to it human lives — whether “friend” or “foe” — should be sacrificed, must be unveiled not first when it has actually led to open warfare but already when the possibility of such slaughter has been accepted into government plans.  Not taking of life, but the idolizing of one’s interest which leads finally to killing, is the deepest sin of militarism. Whether or not the sixth commandment forbids all killing is still debated; in any case the first forbids nationalism.”

                — John Howard Yoder

4 thoughts on “Nationalism”

  1. I would agree that nationalism can become idolatry. In that sense, it takes a lower priority to the Great Commandment. As far as slaughter being accepted into government plans, when a nation plans to do harm to their neighbors solely for the sake of “national interest”, I think that crosses the line. For example Hamas and their Jihad against Israel, seems to cross the line, as did German aggression leading up to and culminating in World War II. My understanding of the 6th commandment, is that we are not to murder. Which is one individual planing and acting to take the life of another individual. The murderous impulse is centered in self-seeking and self-will, which are inimical to the commandments. This fits David’s murder of Uriah. And I believe this is what God was referring to in His statement to David, when He refused to allow him to build the temple. “You are a man of blood”. However, there are numerous instances where God commands the obliteration of whole peoples, to Moses, to Joshua and others. I don’t believe that God commands sin. Admittedly, this is a complex question, and worth discussing.

    1. P. S. — see the passage I quoted from Bonhoeffer’s THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP under the heading “Non-Resistance,” November 1, 2016.

      1. Thank you! Yes, God is my refuge and strength. I consider the meekness of the Genesis God, in human form, who He was IN GOD and who we are IN CHRIST. And yet, when Jesus returns, he will not be the Lamb, but the conquering King, killing the enemies of God, and His robe will be dipped in blood. I think that Jesus offends people.

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