Daily Riches: The Problem with National Exceptionalism (Charles Marsh)

“I am fighting for the work of the Lord.” Adolf Hitler

“The weight of German exceptionalism and the spiritual veneration of military valor were not easy inheritances to disown. In nineteenth-century Protestant Prussia, no less a philosopher-patriot than Hegel resolved that his beloved Machtstaat (the ‘power state’ that was the German imperium) had been chosen by God to rule the nations by example, fiat, or force. It was God’s nature to manifest his will in superior and powerful nations, which demonstrated their providential purpose by imposing their will on their neighbors, as the ancient Hebrews had done. By the end of the nineteenth century, the idea of Germany as such a ‘world-historical nation’ had become as hallowed as the historicity of the biblical narratives. . . . Seeberg believed he was fulfilling his spiritual vocation by helping the German people discern the powerful hand of God in the new forces gathering to propel Germany to greatness. Among the professoriate there were precious few willing dissenters from this conviction. German Protestant theology from Schleiermacher to Harnack and Seeberg presumed the providential blessings of the warrior God. . . . In Protestant faculties and congregations, churchmen of fixed and iron-hard purpose who called themselves the Deutsche Christen, the ‘German Christians,’ were pedaling their loyalty to the fatherland. They claimed that God had chosen a new Israel, the German Volk; that the Christian doctrine of revelation had brought about the disinheritance of the Jews and that Jesus Christ had abrogated Israel’s ancient covenant. They wanted a strong church of muscular virtues–a manly church, eine mannliche Kirche–unified by German ideals. They even convinced themselves that Jesus was not a Jew. They boasted of their mission in the most inspiring terms imaginable: as the completion of Martin Luther’s work.” Charles Marsh

“What are nations without justice but large bands of thieves?” Pope John XXIII


“Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar,
and give to God what belongs to God.”
Jesus in Mark 12:17

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • National “exceptionalism”, God’s “new Israel”, “muscular values”–even “the providential blessings of the warrior God”–we’re hearing these kinds of themes again. What is your response?
  • Do you believe it’s “God’s nature to manifest his will in superior and powerful nations which [demonstrate] their providential purpose by imposing their will on their neighbors?” What’s the danger is such a view?
  • Hitler claimed to serve God, and most of the church supported him. What can we learn from this sad story?

Abba, help us discern your hand in power and in weakness. Ground us in reality, truth and courage.

For More: Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Charles Marsh 

_________________________________________________

I hope you’ll follow my blog and share it with others.  I really appreciate your interest! – Bill

Daily Riches: Summer Vacation Break

Hi everyone. I will be on vacation this week, so I won’t be sending out any Daily Riches from richerbyfar.com. As always, I really appreciate your interest in and support of the blog. Thanks for reading and sharing, and for your prayers!

While I’m away, don’t forget there are about 450 daily posts from the last 18 months. I’m sure there is something there you haven’t seen and that may encourage you as you seek after God and God seeks after you. (see below)

Bill

Daily Riches: A World of People Equidistance From the Heart of God (Daniel Clendenin)

Besides the Holocaust, our world has experienced many other genocides – “a million or more Armenians under the Turks … two million Cambodians under the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot; Kurds under Saddam Hussein; Muslims, Croats, and ethnic Albanians under the Serbs; thirty million Chinese under Mao; tens of millions under Soviet atheism; nearly a million ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus by extremist Hutus in Rwanda; and in Darfur the Fur, Zaghawa, and Massaleit peoples by Sudan’s government. The deadliest war of our generation has also been the most under-reported conflict – the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since the start of conflicts there in 1996, five million people have perished out of a population of fifty million – a staggering 10% of the population. Over half of those deaths occurred since the war ended in July 2003. …In his book Worse Than War; Genocide, Eliminationism, and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity (2009), Daniel Goldhagen describes how 127–175 million people have been ‘eliminated’ in the last century. These people came from all regions of the world, and from all social, economic and political groups. The vast majority of them were killed in their own countries, by their fellow citizens, by willing and non-coerced murderers, and almost never with any substantial dissent. By Goldhagen’s count, ‘mass murder has deeply scarred countries home to 4.4 billion people, two-thirds of the world’s population.’ Civilian deaths and injuries outnumber military ones by a factor of nine to one. …[In Acts 3] Peter says that God is the ‘author’ of all life. He concludes his sermon by proclaiming that in Jesus ‘all peoples on earth will be blessed’ by God. This echoes the global promise first made to Abraham four thousand years ago in Genesis 12:3. This story of Jesus, says Peter, anticipates the ‘restoration of all things.’ We can say with unqualified confidence that God knows and loves every name of every person in every nation. Christians are thus geographic, cultural, national and ethnic egalitarians; for us there’s no geo-political center of the world, only a constellation of peoples equidistant from the heart of God. Proclaiming that God lavishly loves all the world, each person, and every place, the gospel doesn’t privilege any nation as exceptional. No one should think they are forgotten, and no one can claim special favor. …from a specifically Christian point of view, America is no more ‘exceptional’ in God’s eyes than any other country. While allowing for a natural and wholesome love, even pride, in your own country (‘there’s no place like home’), this geo-political egalitarianism subverts the claim of absolute allegiance to any one nation. The claims of the gospel are absolute and unconditional; the claims of the nation and state are relative and conditional. This Christian global vision requires me to care as much about every country and its people as I do my own. Christians grieve the deaths of Iraqis and Congolese as much as Americans. That implies that our politics become reoriented, non-aligned, and unpredictable by normal canons.” Daniel Clendenin

“[God] said to Abraham,
‘Through your offspring
all peoples on earth
will be blessed.'”
Acts 3:25

Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • Do you think of your nation as being especially “favored” by God? If so, what would that imply? What wouldn’t that imply?
  • Has nationalism prevented you from seeing all other people as “equidistant from the heart of God?”
  • Has you faith caused your politics be “reoriented, non-aligned, and unpredictable by normal canons?”

Abba, lead us out of illusion and into reality.

For More: Worse Than War by Daniel Goldhagen

_________________________________________________

Thanks for following and sharing “Daily Riches.” – Bill (Psalm 90:14

Daily Riches: The Limits of Patriotism (Thomas Keating, Parker Palmer and Os Guiness)

“This sort of spiritual discipline is a therapy for the tyranny of the false self … for our over-identification with family, nation, religion, or group. Of course we owe a measure of gratitude to our nation, religion, and family. But it is interesting that Jesus said that unless we hate our parents, we can’t be his disciples. By this he didn’t mean that we should not love and respect them and care for them in their old age, as commanded by the Fourth Commandment of the Torah, but that we should not have a naive loyalty to a particular group (even one’s family) that disregards injustices that need to be corrected.” Thomas Keating

“Our problem as Americans—at least, among my race and gender—is that we resist the very ideas of limits, regarding limits of all sorts as temporary and regrettable, impositions on our lives. Our national myth is about the endless defiance of limits…. We refuse to take no for an answer.” Parker Palmer

American Cultural Core Values: information, convenience, options, time maximization, comfort, feel good, independence, happiness, entertainment, instant gratification, skepticism, image, style, and control  –  Os Guiness

“…give back to Caesar
what is Caesar’s,
and to God
what is God’s.”
Jesus in Luke 20:25

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Are you loyal to any group (family, church, denomination, religion, political party, nation) in a naive, uncritical way? in a way that puts that group outside the reach of the prophetic voice of Scripture and its insistence on justice?
  • Does your gratitude for, or loyalty to, any of these groups allow you, or perhaps even cause you, to “disregard injustices that need to be corrected?”
  • Have you embraced our “national myth” as described by Parker Palmer? Can you see any weaknesses in that “mythology?”
  • How many of the “American Cultural Core Values” Os Guiness mentions do you embrace? Are you allowing your religious faith to critique these values? Take some time to consider that.

Abba, forgive my blindness, my careless assumptions and my cowardly silence. Help me to pledge uncritical allegiance and absolute loyalty to you alone – the God over all, and only savior.

__________

For More: The Human Condition by Thomas Keating 

_________________________________________________

In “Daily Riches” my goal is to give you something of uncommon value each day in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others. I appreciate it! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)