Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Holiness of Transnationalism - Again.

Other posts relating to the moral difficulties of transnationalism are here.

I listened to a friend expound on the need for Christians especially to identify more expansively than just their own country, expressing his sincere desire for a more transnational, world-Christian approach. I have no doubt that expanding our circle to include who we can, treating Samaritans and even Gentiles as brothers is fully consonant with Christian values. I take his point immediately that when we are patriotic we run the risk of confusing our American and our Christian values and drifting away into some less pure form of the faith.

What he does not see is that his identification with transnationalism as a secular ideal is as strong as any patriotism, and as dangerous to faith. He identifies with American and European progressives, the United Nations, the familiar A&H Clan – that is the nation he is patriotic about. From a Christian standpoint, that is neither better nor worse than the possible temptations of traditional patriotism. As a practical matter, it is worse, for the simple reason that he does not see it, and thus has no hope of repenting of it.

Loyalty to an ideal carries an additional danger. Who, exactly, is in the group can be quite flexible. There is no boundary which demands that you have to try and include this person or that. You can simply not deal with uncomfortable people – no rejection, no impoliteness, no animosity, none of that. But neither do you have to adjust yourself or your own thinking in any way. You can choose what different ideas you will expose yourself to, which reduces the number of surprises.

If anyone claims to identify with all of humanity, he deceives himself. There are no world citizens, we are not built for it. We may, by effort, expand our general boundary beyond our own tribe – and we should. We are also able to make ourselves respond as if we loved Samaritans and Gentiles in specific situations when need arises – and we should do that as well. As Christians we are called outward, to invite the unlikely in and to help those not of our own little circle. But it is hard, and the circle does not stay expanded on its own. As I said, we are not built for it. We will limit the circle of who we feel we must listen to, and deal with, and strive to include. So does my transnationalist friend, but he doesn’t see it, and so allows himself the secret pleasure of self-righteousness. When he says that expanding the circle is hard, he is encouraging you to transfer to his tribe and commiserating how hard that change will be for you. His need to change is not up for discussion, because it is not even visible.


Anonymous said...

Very insightful.

Dubbahdee said...

If he is Christian, would he put the same kind of "loyalty" to the Church? The Church is our true nation, united across the nations by our King Jesus. Transnational? Meta-national.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

The friend is actually a composite of the worst tendencies of three evangelical pastors. They would certainly believe that their loyalty is to Christ, and if presented with a clear choice, would choose Christ. My worry is that their secular views have completely penetrated their gospel, not displacing it so much as changing it.