Earlier this week, Anissimov, Avenging Red Hand, and Anti-Democracy Blog got into a Twitter discussion around Christians and ethno-nationalism. At one point, Mike asked about a write up on Christianity and ethno-nationalism, so, it looks like this is turning to race week here, as I’ll give some thoughts.
First, Mike is right in that Christianity is universalist egalitarianism, but he uses it in the wrong sense. Christianity is universalist egalitarianism in a metaphysical sense, but not in a physical sense. It is universal in that the church is a universal brotherhood of all Christians; it is egalitarian in that all men will have to give an accounting before God and God will favour no nation.
But even metaphysically, the accounting is not equal. Each person is given a varying amount in life (in talents, wealth, ability, etc.) and will judged based on how he used those talents. “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”
The Bible is clear that people are inherently unequal, and each will give an accounting before God, where his life and works will be tested based upon how he used what blessings he was given in life.
The story of the Tower of Babel indicates that God purposely made it so that all people were not of the same language and nation.
So, yes, it Christianity is universalist egalitarianism, but metaphysically so, not physically so.
Next we come to racism.
Hating someone because of their race is simply non-Christian. We are to love our neighbours as ourselves and a neighbour is anyone you come across in need regardless of race or ethnicity, as demonstrated in the parable of the Good Samaritan.
While hatred is disallowed, truthful stereotypes of racial groups are accepted in the Bible. As St. Paul himself wrote, “One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.”
Non-truthful stereotypes, bearing false witness against your neighbour, is definitely unChristian, but “racism” consisting of truthful stereotypes and generalizations are acceptable to Christians (either that or you have to accept that the Word is sinful).
Having a love or preferring your own race and ethnicity is also acceptable. Again, we turn to Paul who writes, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.”
When it comes to close family, Paul is vehemently unmistakable, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
Paul shows a strong natural affinity for his own people and demands a strong affinity for close family.
Jesus himself showed a natural affinity for his own people and was not concerned about racially insensitive remark.
He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.”(Matthew 15:24-28 ESV)
The Christian is allowed, but not commanded, to commit the “racist” actions of truthful generalization and loving their own kin preferentially, and is commanded to preferentially care for his own relatives. The Christian is not allowed to hate his neighbour or commit evil against him because of his race or ethnicity.
I will address Galatians 3, as someone always brings that up whenever race or ethnicity is mentioned.
Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. (Galatians 3:23-29, 4:1-2 ESV)
What Paul is obviously referring to, when “neither Jew nor Greek” is not ripped entirely out of context for ideological purposes, is that all Christians are heirs to the promise of salvation given through faith. It is a metaphysical claim concerning our salvation and equality in Christ’s covenant. It is not a physical claim that all ethnic differences are now entirely meaningless and everybody is equal in every earthly way.
With that objection taken care of, we continue on.
The Israelite state of the Old Testament was very strongly ethno-religious. Inter-ethnic/religious marriage was forbidden, as was religious tolerance. Although, whether this was just religious or both religious and ethnic is debatable. Although later, it is confirmed that Jews marrying other races is a sin detestable before God. On the other hand, other inter-racial marriages such as Ruth and Boaz were viewed positively. People born of a forbidden union were forbidden from the Lord’s assembly.
As far as I know, there is no talk of inter-racial/inter-ethnic marriage in the New Testament.
So, as far as I can tell there is no real prohibition on miscegenation, but neither is there an encouragement of it.
The sojourner is mentioned many times in the Old Testament, usually positively. Sojourners, foreigners who lived among the Israelites, are not to be oppressed or wronged, are to be given fair justice, and they are sometimes lumped in with the poor. They are also to keep the same laws and be subject to the same punishments.
Sojourners were allowed to be treated differently in some ways. They could be charged interest and could be kept perpetually as slaves as well.
On the other hand, the state is to enforce the rule of law, people can not be allowed to violate the law and the law should not be violated.
So, any immigrants a nation does have should be treated well, judged fairly, and subject to the law, but a nation and its rulers has the right to create and enforce its own immigration laws.
Finally, we come to war. God is not a pacifist, as He often called for wars, quite often wars of extermination in the Old Testament. Jesus never condemned war as a concept either, He never really talked about the ethics of war at all but rather He seemed to like Roman soldiers. On the other hand, calls to peace in the general are common, so Christians can not just go declaring war for any reason. Most Christians accept some form of Just War theory derived from Biblical principles, but I’m not going too deep into that because it is tangential.
Mike specifically asked if Christians would kill their co-religious for their co-ethnics.
A Christian can righteously be a soldier and fight, even in a pagan or non-Christian army, as shown by the almost-always positive appearances of Roman soldiers in the New Testament or by David’s mercenary service for the Philistines. Assuming a just war, the Christian could easily fight for his co-ethnics, even if some on the other side may be Christian. So Christians can fight for both Christian and non-Christian nations.
As for fighting for a non-Christian nation against a Christian nation, in David’s story Philistine leaders prevent him from having to choose between fighting for Philistine against Israel, or turning on Israel, and, as far as I remember, it is not dealt with elsewhere, so it is never made clear what the proper choice would be. I would say this would generally fall under just war theory. If the non-Christian nation has a just cause for war, there would be no problem.
Although, if the non-Christian nation did not have a just cause, I’m unsure. I doubt it would be held against the individual soldier as long as he fought honorably and justly, even if for an secular nation in an unjust war.
The question has less to do with who-whom and more is the cause just.
I’ll just say, that if NATO goes to war against Russia, I’ll probably fight only if I’m drafted.
Mike also mentioned meekness, I will simply direct him to Simon Grey who wrote on meekness recently. To summarize, meekness does not mean weakness, it means strength constrained and directed through discipline.
In sum, to the Christian, religion comes before ethnicity. Ethno-nationalism is not commanded, except possibly for the Israelites, but ethnicity and ethno-nationalism can still be part of a Christian worldview as long as they do not overtake religion. Any ethno-nationalism has to be out of love for your own, not hate of the other and even so, one can not be unjust to the other. Immigration is not commanded and a country has the right to make and enforce its own laws, but any immigrants allowed in have to be treated properly. As far as I know, miscegenation is generally not written of, except Israelites couldn’t marry non-Israelites. A Christian can fight for whomever they wish assuming the war is just. If it is not, then the question is less clear.
If I missed something, please tell me in the comments.