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Author Topic: Patriotism, nationalism, and statism as forms of idolatry  (Read 5555 times)

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repottinger

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Patriotism, nationalism, and statism as forms of idolatry
« on: September 06, 2015, 03:03:09 PM »

Hello all,
One of my many criticisms of orthodox Christianity is its tendency to make idols of institutions like patriotism, nationalism, and statism (which can all be included under the term “civil religion,” I guess). As shown by the following verses:

John 18:36, AKJV
36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

II Corinthians 5:20, AKJV
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

II Corinthians 6:14-18, AKJV
14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,18 and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

Ephesians 2:19, AKJV 
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Ephesians 6:12, AKJV
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 

Philippians 3:18-20, AKJV
18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) 20 For our conversation (often translated as "citizenship") is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

II Timothy 2:4, AKJV
4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

Hebrews 11:13-16, AKJV
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded ofthem, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

James 4:4, AKJV
4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

I John 2:15-17, AKJV
15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

To me (and most of us here, I would think), these verses show that our minds are not to be on worldly matters such as politics and patriotism, and that, by conforming to the larger culture and putting their faith and efforts into things like the nation-state, ethnic or racial group, and government (as we are all indoctrinated to do from childhood by our Babylonian society), mainstream Christians are committing a type of idolatry.
I know that Ray addressed this subject in general numerous times, but I would appreciate it if anyone could tell me if he ever specifically mentioned the idolatry aspect of it; I would also welcome any comments or thoughts that anyone might have.
Your brother in Christ,
Randy
« Last Edit: February 14, 2017, 02:46:58 PM by repottinger »
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indianabob

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Re: Patriotism, nationalism, and statism as forms of idolatry
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2015, 03:36:52 PM »

Hi Randy and folks,

When I was very young, during WW2 I was aware of the minister requesting prayers for our soldiers to overcome, destroy, annihilate the Japanese and Nazi German hordes that attacked our nation. I was aware that Martin Luther the namesake of local Lutheran folks we knew was a German and that many immigrants to America were Germans, like my ancestors. In fact I had been called a Nazi by school children just to tease me.
I had many questions in my young head and no real answers.

So then, how did we all or each pray to the same God to answer prayers for German Lutheran families and for American, Canadian, British Lutheran families. Especially when I had learned that 14 year old boys were being conscripted by Adolph Hitler to fight for Germany. Would God take sides? The German boys didn't start the war. And toward the end history tells us that the allies used Carpet bombing around munitions factories knowing that "innocent civilians" were being annihilated along with factory workers.

It is a sad situation and it all fits into God's plan, but can we believers at least remain neutral?
Indiana Bob
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Dave in Tenn

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Re: Patriotism, nationalism, and statism as forms of idolatry
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2015, 04:34:20 PM »

To add on to Bob's comment:

Given the alternative available to the carnal mind, I'm glad for the allied victory in that war.  But what Bob started to understand at 14, it took me twice as long to understand, and twice that to refine--that 1.  All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. and 2.  NOBODY has a will free from cause and ultimately free from God.

In this world, there are only alternatives.  Alternatives which are more or less or about-the-same good; and more or less or about-the-same evil than the 'thing' they wish to supplant or replace or compete with.  With every 'good' comes or has come an evil.  And with every evil, comes or has come a good.  You can't have one without the other until we eat of the tree of LIFE.  100% happiness for all is not going to flow from any earthly paradigm. 

So.  What is the 'alternative' to the nation-state?  If it's defined, what is more good or less evil about it than the nation-state? 

If it can be defined, and if it can be determined that it is a worthy replacement, what then?  MAYBE this is one reason WE are called not to be entangled.  Because once entangled in an ideology or platform, or party, or movement, we can then simply shift our "allegiance" or "patriotism" to the new paradigm.  Don't tell me it can't be done...I've done it.  MAYBE we are always to speak truth to power.  God help us if we don't KNOW the truth.  Maybe we are ALWAYS supposed to look after the orphans and widows of all sides.

Bob said can't we be 'neutral'.  I think I understand what he means in the context of this discussion.  I think of it more as can't we be 'above'.  But let us not think too highly of ourselves.  We're not really THAT kind of 'above'.  You want to be THAT kind of 'above' you better be the servant of all.

 

   
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Heb 10:32  But you must continue to remember those earlier days, how after you were enlightened you endured a hard and painful struggle.

repottinger

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Re: Patriotism, nationalism, and statism as forms of idolatry
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2015, 05:06:03 PM »

Yes, Bob, I’ve also thought about the insanity of both sides in a war praying to the same God for victory, but, as you noted, Dave, there is no room for hubris in this situation, because most of us used to be in exactly the same place as the rest of Christianity. 
Randy
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lilitalienboi16

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Re: Patriotism, nationalism, and statism as forms of idolatry
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2015, 05:33:57 PM »

Amen Dave.

Philippians 3:17-21

17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.
18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
20 For our citizenship is in the heavens; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Ephesians 2:5-7

5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 12:22-24

22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in the heavens, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

Just some scriptures that I felt contribute to this discussion.

God bless,
Alex
 
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1 Cor 1:10 "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."

repottinger

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Re: Patriotism, nationalism, and statism as forms of idolatry
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2015, 06:31:00 PM »

Thank you, Alex. The scriptures you share always contribute tremendously to the discussion; I always really appreciate them.
Sincerely,
Randy
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Extol

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Re: Patriotism, nationalism, and statism as forms of idolatry
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2015, 12:00:37 AM »

This morning I read this marvelous truth from the Lake of Fire (page 56): "even the things that are perceived to be hindrances to God's will are not hindrances at all, but rather are the very instruments for the accomplishment of his will."

Nationalism can be appealing for a variety of reasons, and for many people it is probably their highest hope in life. Thank God that we have hopes for something better. And thank God we don't have to get involved and try to "fix" things by voting in better leaders.
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repottinger

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Re: Patriotism, nationalism, and statism as forms of idolatry
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2015, 01:05:23 AM »

I completely agree, Extol, and again, it shows how blessed all of use here are to be chosen by God to have these truths rervealed to us.
Randy
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judy

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Re: Patriotism, nationalism, and statism as forms of idolatry
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2015, 11:55:24 PM »

yes, yes and yes!!! Always thought there might be something missing in myself because I wasn't very patriotic. I am grateful to be living in this country but there have been grand empires of the past I would have liked to live in also. This country isn't perfect. I do and will always support our troops though, I know they went voluntarily but some have suffered so much horror. 
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repottinger

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Re: Patriotism, nationalism, and statism as forms of idolatry
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2015, 02:06:53 AM »

No, Judy, I definitely don’t think that there’s anything “missing” in you if you’re not patriotic, at least in the eyes of God’s people. One other verse that I forgot to reference is John 18:36 (AKJV):

36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

Thanks a lot for your comment.
Sincerely,
Randy
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lareli

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Re: Patriotism, nationalism, and statism as forms of idolatry
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2015, 01:56:29 PM »

Nationalism definitely can become idolatry. Anything can become an idol. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich can become an idol.

When does nationalism become idolatry?

We can't serve two masters.

Christ said love your enemies.
Nationalism says kill your enemies. Christ died to give us freedom. Nationalism says kill others for your freedom.

Christ said don't just hear and agree with His words but do them. So if we agree with His words but then with our actions we do the opposite out of loyalty to Nationalism, then isn't it clear where our loyalties lie? Isn't it clear who we serve and who/what our god is?

Is there a difference between bowing down to a golden calf or putting my hand over my heart as I pledge my allegiance to a piece of cloth?

Scripture says we are not of this world, do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, do not love this world, if you're a friend to this world you're an enemy of God.

Nationalism says we are of this world and in particular this geographical land mass, and we must love or at the very least be loyal to this worldly kingdom or nation. And if we aren't going to kill and/or die in service to this worldly kingdom then we should at least be thankful and supportive of those who do.


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repottinger

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Re: Patriotism, nationalism, and statism as forms of idolatry
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2015, 08:39:25 PM »

You make an interesting point, Largeli, that anything, such as food, can become an idol if we put it first in our lives. I think that nationalism is different in one respect, because there is a proper place in the life of a Christian for things like eating, which are normal, necessary activities if not done to excess, but we are specifically told not to practice to any degree such things as promoting the interests of our own culture and nation above other those of other nations of this world. Thus, there is no room at all for nationalistic feelings or practices in the lives of God’s people.
Thanks a lot for your comment,
Randy
« Last Edit: September 16, 2015, 01:05:15 AM by repottinger »
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lareli

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Re: Patriotism, nationalism, and statism as forms of idolatry
« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2015, 12:52:19 PM »

You make an interesting point, Largeli, that anything, such as food, can become an idol if we put it first in our lives. I think that nationalism is different in one respect, because there is a proper place in the life of a Christian for things like eating, which are normal, necessary activities if not done to excess, but we are specifically told not to practice to any degree such things as promoting the interests of our own culture and nation above other those of other nations of this world. Thus, there is no room at all for nationalistic feelings or practices in the lives of God’s people.
Thanks a lot for your comment,
Randy

I agree with you on this. I have a question though.. Several times in the book of Acts we read about Paul declaring his Roman citizenship. He did not promote Roman culture above any other culture but he did claim his roman citizenship in order to avoid being wrongly mistreated.

What do you make of this?
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Dennis Vogel

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Re: Patriotism, nationalism, and statism as forms of idolatry
« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2015, 01:51:27 PM »

You make an interesting point, Largeli, that anything, such as food, can become an idol if we put it first in our lives. I think that nationalism is different in one respect, because there is a proper place in the life of a Christian for things like eating, which are normal, necessary activities if not done to excess, but we are specifically told not to practice to any degree such things as promoting the interests of our own culture and nation above other those of other nations of this world. Thus, there is no room at all for nationalistic feelings or practices in the lives of God’s people.
Thanks a lot for your comment,
Randy

Don't know.

But one of the things Ray taught me is every word has a meaning and that statement means something.

I agree with you on this. I have a question though.. Several times in the book of Acts we read about Paul declaring his Roman citizenship. He did not promote Roman culture above any other culture but he did claim his roman citizenship in order to avoid being wrongly mistreated.

What do you make of this?
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John from Kentucky

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Re: Patriotism, nationalism, and statism as forms of idolatry
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2015, 02:50:25 PM »

You make an interesting point, Largeli, that anything, such as food, can become an idol if we put it first in our lives. I think that nationalism is different in one respect, because there is a proper place in the life of a Christian for things like eating, which are normal, necessary activities if not done to excess, but we are specifically told not to practice to any degree such things as promoting the interests of our own culture and nation above other those of other nations of this world. Thus, there is no room at all for nationalistic feelings or practices in the lives of God’s people.
Thanks a lot for your comment,
Randy

I agree with you on this. I have a question though.. Several times in the book of Acts we read about Paul declaring his Roman citizenship. He did not promote Roman culture above any other culture but he did claim his roman citizenship in order to avoid being wrongly mistreated.

What do you make of this?


It shows how smart Paul was.

In one place in the Book of Acts, Paul being in the Temple had produced a riot of the Jews in Jerusalem.

The Roman commander took Paul into Fortress Antonia to be beaten with a whip in order to find out the cause of the riot.

It was illegal under Roman law for a Roman citizen to be beaten without a trial.

Paul told the Roman commander that he was a Roman citizen, which caused the Commander not to beat Paul.

Paul used his legal rights in order not to suffer a beating.  It shows Paul was intelligent with a sound mind. 
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repottinger

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Re: Patriotism, nationalism, and statism as forms of idolatry
« Reply #15 on: September 17, 2015, 09:11:51 PM »

That’s a very good question, Largeli. I completely agree with what you wrote, John, and I might add that we’re also told to be “subject unto the higher powers” because they are “sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.” As we read:

Romans 13:1-7, AKJV

13 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

I Peter 2:13-17, AKJV

13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16 as free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. 17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

So, it would seem that things like reporting crimes to the police or making use of laws that might benefit us without compromising our faith are acceptable to God, because, in those cases, we’re “sent…into” the world, but are “not of the world,” as we would be by participating in such things as partisan politics or nationalistic or patriotic pursuits. (“13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. 18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” [John 17:13-19, AKJV])

Thanks again for your comments,
Randy
« Last Edit: September 18, 2015, 12:05:36 AM by repottinger »
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indianabob

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Re: Patriotism, nationalism, and statism as forms of idolatry
« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2015, 02:50:53 PM »

[quote author=John from Kentucky link=topic=16319.msg147475#msg147475

Hi JFK ,

Declaring Roman citizenship also led to Paul being taken to Rome to spread the gospel there. So it seems that Paul's declaration had even more meaning than just his good sense. It seems that all of this was pre-planned by god.

Indiana Bob

date=1442508625]
You make an interesting point, Largeli, that anything, such as food, can become an idol if we put it first in our lives. I think that nationalism is different in one respect, because there is a proper place in the life of a Christian for things like eating, which are normal, necessary activities if not done to excess, but we are specifically told not to practice to any degree such things as promoting the interests of our own culture and nation above other those of other nations of this world. Thus, there is no room at all for nationalistic feelings or practices in the lives of God’s people.
Thanks a lot for your comment,
Randy

I agree with you on this. I have a question though.. Several times in the book of Acts we read about Paul declaring his Roman citizenship. He did not promote Roman culture above any other culture but he did claim his roman citizenship in order to avoid being wrongly mistreated.

What do you make of this?


It shows how smart Paul was.

In one place in the Book of Acts, Paul being in the Temple had produced a riot of the Jews in Jerusalem.

The Roman commander took Paul into Fortress Antonia to be beaten with a whip in order to find out the cause of the riot.

It was illegal under Roman law for a Roman citizen to be beaten without a trial.

Paul told the Roman commander that he was a Roman citizen, which caused the Commander not to beat Paul.

Paul used his legal rights in order not to suffer a beating.  It shows Paul was intelligent with a sound mind.
[/quote]
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repottinger

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Re: Patriotism, nationalism, and statism as forms of idolatry
« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2015, 02:18:17 AM »

Yes, Bob, as everything is planned (as most of us here know); this particular chain of events was just much more momentous than most as far as God's plan for humanity is concerned.
Thanks,
Randy
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lareli

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Re: Patriotism, nationalism, and statism as forms of idolatry
« Reply #18 on: September 24, 2015, 05:18:17 PM »


So, it would seem that things like reporting crimes to the police or making use of laws that might benefit us without compromising our faith are acceptable to God,

It might seem that way.. But are there any examples or instructions in Christs teachings or in the epistles that would have us call upon those who bare the sword to punish a crime? I can't think of any.. Based off what is written in the New Testament I also can't imagine Christ or Paul or any of the apostles calling upon the Roman soldiers to report a crime.

Doesn't the might of any government lie in that governments ability to punish law breakers? If a government did not have the authority to punish law breakers then wouldn't that governments laws no longer be laws but merely suggestions?

The Roman soldiers or police are those who's job it is to enforce laws by using violence (the sword) or the threat of violence. I can't imagine Christ calling upon the enforcers of mans laws to punish a violator of mans laws. I can't imagine Christ calling upon the enforcers of mans laws to punish a violator of Gods laws either.

Didn't Christ teach that we should not resist an evil man? If a man strikes me on the face and I turn the other cheek.. But then afterwards I report this man to the authorities then have I truly turned the other cheek?

Christ said if we live by the sword we will die by the sword. If I call upon the sword of the government to report a crime aren't I living by the sword?
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John from Kentucky

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Re: Patriotism, nationalism, and statism as forms of idolatry
« Reply #19 on: September 24, 2015, 05:30:57 PM »

"...Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."

Matt 22:21

Mark 12:17

Luke 20:25
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