Nationalism and Globalism – which does God say is better?

Since I began blogging over four years ago, and given some of the significant events taking place in the world since then, I have found myself writing regularly on subjects like Brexit, Donald Trump and the rise of popularism. Moreover, while I have voiced criticism, I have often been sympathetic to all of these based on what these are a reaction against. The common thread is nationalism and what is being reacted against is globalism. While this is my opinion and in my writings I give reasons for this, I am mindful of good people with a strong and sound Christian faith who see things differently. It seems to me a useful exercise is to work out what the Bible says, and what I share is based on my understanding. But first some definitions from the Cambridge English Dictionary, which while not the final word, will help us to know what we are talking about.

nationalism

Globalism: the idea that events in one country cannot be separated from those in another and that economic and foreign policy should be planned in an international way

Nationalism: a nation’s wish and attempt to be politically independent or a great or too great love of your own country

When it comes to government, we are called to pray for and submit to all those in authority and are encouraged in that however bad those governments may be (and many have been awful) we need to trust the Almighty, who raises up and deposes rulers and kingdoms. As I see it, nation states are the norm, and will be so when Christ returns to set up His Kingdom, which I will get to, and we need to be good citizens, whoever is in power. I refer to Paul’s sermon on Mars Hall: “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man 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. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us”. Acts 17:24-27

It should be added though that in Bible times there were also empires e.g. Babylon, Persian, Roman and Greek although the control of those empires were from those countries. But except in the case of the nation of Israel, which I believe still has a place in God’s economy, there is nothing theologically to say that nation states has to be the way things should be if we are to follow God’s rule. But neither is globalism and whenever globalism is mentioned: Babel in the first book of the Bible, and the rule of the AntiChrist in the last book of the Bible, it has always exalted man and been anti God, and is ultimately judged by Him.

I recognize that some nationalists have been and are bad people, e.g. Hitler’s Third Reich, but the same can be said about globalists e.g. under Communism. Whenever I look at the lives and messages of those who advocate globalism e.g. the New World Order, I see more bad than good. It is interesting that when I grew up in the 1950’s nationalistic fervor seemed to be the norm but these days it is less so and it has been replaced by internationalism and often the advocacy of unrestricted open borders, i.e. allow free entry of those from other lands along with giving up aspects of national sovereignty in order for the world or parts of it to draw closer together, and a growing assortment of international agreements with the net effect of lessening national sovereignty. Like many, I have watched this development with concern and it is probably the main reason I support Brexit and Trump and am at least sympathetic to some of the moves toward popularism, insofar it is a reaction against what I see as the imposition of tyranny by an unelected and unaccountable elite whose motives are selfish if we adopt globalism.

But I see the dangers of my country England becoming nationalistic as well as globalist. Some nationalists are racist and xenophobic and pay scant regard for the other. That is against the “Love Your Neighbour” teaching of the Bible. It is also short sighted and narrow minded to not recognize what is going on in the world at large and to seek cooperation and a sharing of what is good when we can. But to sell out on national sovereignty to entities that are not benevolent and to open our borders to those who are not interested in adapting, integrating or contributing to the common good are steps too far. As one example, these past two weeks has seen millions on the streets of Pakistan call for the execution of Christian whose only crime is to offend Muslim sensibilities. To allow such ideologies to infect one’s own is unacceptable. What we have been seeing under globalism, albeit more slowly and subtly, is comparable, and needs to stop.

I have no doubt nationalism and globalism both attract good and bad elements. While globalism, which leaves out God, seems to me to be an alien concept as far as the Bible is concerned, I see doctrinaire nationalism as also unbiblical, although national borders and strong national governments, safeguarding their countries and protecting the interests of their citizens all seem to me perfectly consistent with Bible teaching. Both nationalism and globalism can become idols and it is quite clear only the Lord God Almighty is to be worshipped. My own citizenship is firstly in heaven, which is where I am bound, but being a citizen of my country I see also as important, as is protecting it from the insidious and anti-human forces of globalism. I look forward to Christ setting up His kingdom on earth, a far cry from the vision of any globalist I have come across. I am excited about a vision of heaven where Christ is exalted:

You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:9.10

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