Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Is Nationalism Right? - A Christian View of Nationalism

What is nationalism?  The goal to form a separate country is often based on language and culture.  It can also take the form of putting your country first.  For America, our foundations are the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and Bill of Rights within the Christian Worldview.  This does not imply that we worship the State.

Nationalism is the opposite of globalism and we might think of those who conquered large regions of the world:   Alexander the Great, Napoleon and Hitler.  We might take the analogy with a family.  We put our family first, but respect other families.  It's somewhat like the free market - if there are several countries we may have an opportunity to be part of the "best" one.  President Trump is pro-nationalism and contra-globalism.

Scholars have noticed a pattern in different civilizations that is very clear in the book of Judges:

Bondage => Liberty => Abundance => Apathy =>  Dependence => Bondage

As globalism threatens, we still have a sure hope.  Jesus said,  "... I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Mt. 16:38).

Borders are from God:

From one man [or "of one blood"] he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. (Acts 17:26) 

Remember the days of old,Consider the years of many generations.Ask your father, and he will show you;Your elders, and they will tell you:When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations,When He separated the sons of Adam,He set the boundaries of the peoplesAccording to the number of the children of Israel.Deut. 32:7,8

This passage from Deuteronomy apparently refers to Babel.  One key lesson from the confusion at Babel is that when all the people of the earth get together and unite against the Lord, it will only lead to trouble.  Much later, God gave the Promised Land to Israel:

I will fix your boundary from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the River Euphrates; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out before you.  (Exodus 23:31)

What happened at Babel and why was it wrong?  The world leaders of the time refused to obey the Lord's clear command: 

Let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth. (Gen 11:4) Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth." (Gen. 9:1)

Globalism is one world government which might sound nice, but what if our philosopher king is evil?  In 1798,  Napoleon wrote to General Sheik El-Messiri and made this shocking statement:

I hope the time is not far off when I shall be able to unite all the wise and educated men of all the countries and establish a uniform regime based on the principles of the Quran, which alone are true and which alone can lead men to happiness.

Was he being serious?  Was this just some political ploy? 
Should we follow the path of the European Union or Brexit?  In the European Union we see a downgrade of sovereign countries, the result is assaults, hygiene problems and terror attacks.  In addition, free speech has been squashed, homeschooling is banned in some places and Darwin is king.  The Brexit movement is a pushback to that.

In 2006, the Polish Deputy Minister of Education publicly rejected evolution.  In contrast, the European Union (EU)  backs Darwin all the way.  A 2007 non-binding EU statement pushes the molecules-to-man theory:

Evolution is not simply a matter of the evolution of humans and of populations.  Denying it could have serious consequences for the development of our societies.   Advances in medical research with the aim of effectively combating infectious diseases such as AIDS are impossible if every principle of evolution is denied.  One cannot be fully aware of the risks involved in the significant decline in biodiversity and climate change if the mechanisms of evolution are not understood.

The average age of great civilizations is around 200 years.  How long will America last?  Between 1789-1858, France had 16 constitutions, one from 1835 remained in force for only 21 days.

What are the global aspirations of the Muslim world?  The Ottoman Empire, in the late 1600's, almost reached to Vienna and controlled North Africa and the Middle East.   At one time, part of Spain was under Islamic control.  There were even raids into France.

Is nationalism always positive?  In the 1500's there were wars of religion with Protestant areas and Catholic regions.  Let us all urge the young people we know to look into the  Biblical basis for the U.S. Constitution and the Christian  heritage of America.  Here is a thought provoking article on the ethics of globalism vs. nationalism.

Poland and Hungary have relatively stricter immigration policies and as a result they have fewer terror incidents.   Without God, unity can merely become a despotic source of power that is abused.  Consider atheistic Communism and secular socialism.  Concentrated, centralized power can be a serious problem indeed, if God is not its center and source.

Israeli History Professor Yuval Noah Harari (Hebrew University, Jerusalem) gave an anti-Nationalist TED talk.   Last year he wrote Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow.  The book description speaks of "our quest to upgrade humans into gods."  What does globalism have to offer?  We read this from the book blurb:

What then will replace famine, plague, and war at the top of the human agenda?  As the self-made gods of planet earth, what destinies will we set ourselves, and which quests will we undertake?  Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century - from overcoming death to creating artificial life.

"Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust." (Is. 40:15)

Was Benjamin Franklin a Christian?

In 1790, just one month before his death at age 84, Benjamin Franklin penned a letter to Ezra Stiles in which he said that he had some doubts about the deity of Christ.  Is this an anomaly and did "The First American" get saved after his flirtation with deism?

The Eagles won their first Super Bowl this year!  Just nine years ago, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson was coaching high school.  After the win he proclaimed, “I can only give the praise to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for giving me this opportunity."  While coaching high school kids, did he ever get frustrated and say some choice words or has he ever been tempted to road rage?  I don't know.  But would we deny his testimony because of one unkind remark?   Consider the analogy with Franklin - let's consider the bulk of the evidence.

According to his autobiography, he decided to become a deist at the age of 15 around the year 1721.  Despite what many textbooks say, Franklin did not remain a deist.  He even suggested prayer during the constitutional convention!

Voltaire (d. 1778) is often considered a typical deist.  He was very much anti-Christian and ridiculed the Bible.  In his later years, Franklin was no deist and referenced the Bible regularly.  Deism compares God to a cosmic watchmaker who builds the world and then forgets about it with no interaction.  Deists deny the afterlife and divine revelation.

Ralph Frasca wrote Benjamin Franklin's Printing Network and claimed that Franklin was indeed converted (University of Missouri Press, 2009):

Despite being raised a Puritan of the Congregationalist stripe by his parents, who  "Brought me through my Childhood piously in the Dissenting Way," Franklin recalled, he abandoned that denomination, briefly embraced deism, and finally  became a non-denominational Protestant Christian.

In 1735, Franklin wrote A Defense of Mr. Hemphill’s Observations (Hemphill was a local preacher) and said:

... Christ by his Death and Sufferings has purchased for us those easy Terms and Conditions of our Acceptance with God, proposed in the Gospel, to wit, Faith and Repentance ... That the ultimate End and Design of Christ’s Death, of our Redemption by his Blood ... was to lead us to the Practice of all Holiness, Piety and Virtue ...

We are not saved by good works.  Franklin defended this thought in a letter to his  sister in 1743:  "You express yourself as if you thought I was against Worshipping of God, and believed Good Works would merit Heaven; which are both Fancies of your own, I think, without Foundation."  Ben repeated this theme when he wrote to George Whitefield in 1753:  "You will see in this my notion of good works, that I am far from expecting to merit heaven by them."

In Franklin's autobiography (1791), he proposed thirteen virtues with the last two being:

Chastity - Rarely use venery [intimate relations] but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.
Humility - Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Franklin also referenced Jonathan Edwards' book Some Thoughts concerning the present Revival of Religion in New England in a positive light.  Franklin published George Whitefield's sermons and considered him a friend.

Ben Franklin signed Pennsylvania's first constitution (Sep. 28, 1776).  Members of the Pennsylvania's House of Representatives had to make this pledge:

I do believe in one God, the creator and governor of the universe, the rewarder of the good and the punisher of the wicked.  And I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine inspiration.

At the Constitutional Convention Franklin urged that "We should remember the character which the Scripture requires in rulers."  I agree with Bill Fortenberry's  conclusion: "The evidence for Franklin's conversion is far too solid and secure to be shaken by the single admission of a particular doubt in his old age."   Notwithstanding, some scholars do not accept the idea of Franklin's conversion.

Amazingly, Ben Franklin was a creationist and held to a young earth.  Be sure to get your copy of YES - Young Earth Science today.  It declares independence from Old Earth Fallacies (OEF) and contends for a youthful world from history, philosophy and science - what a revolutionary concept!

What do you think?  Did Franklin become a real Christian?