Patriotism, nationalism, and Christian worship (a roundup)
The last few days have seen quite a number of posts on the question of whether nationalistic symbols (e.g. flags) should be displayed in worship services and/or whether Christian churches should celebrate/recognize national holidays like the 4th of July. Here are some of the more interesting posts:
- We discussed whether Christian churches should celebrate national holidays, with several commenters arguing that we should not.
- Mike Bird called for an end to displaying national flags in churches; Nick Norelli responded with a caution that use the word “idolatry” more carefully. And Joel used this as his “question of the day” today, which should generate some more interesting discussions.
- Bob Hyatt looks specifically at 4th of July celebrations and asks what a visitor would think people were worshipping in such services. In general, he thinks that such displays of patriotism lean dangerously close to idolatry.
- Matt Dabbs considers the same issue, but he draws a potentially useful distinction between patriotism and nationalism, arguing that the former is a legitimate celebration of the good that a country provides, and the latter is where the real problem lies.
- And, Michael Gorman argues that churches should stop referring to this as “Independence Sunday,” as though this actually was a day on the liturgical calendar.
I’m sure there will be other posts over the next couple of days, but this seems like more than enough for now.