Rev. Mark H. Creech on Patriotism, War, Christianity, and Memorial Day

One of my favorite quotes is by Benjamin Rush, who once shared his thoughts on Patriotism as a moral and religious duty. Rush said:

“Patriotism is as much a virtue as justice and is as necessary for the support of societies as natural affection is for the support of families. The Amor Patriae is both a moral and a religious duty. It comprehends not only the love of our neighbors but of millions of our fellow creatures, not only of the present but of future generations. This virtue we find constitutes a part of the first characters in history. The holy men of old, in proportion as they possessed a religion, were endowed with a public spirit. What did not Moses forsake and suffer for his countrymen? What shining examples of Patriotism do we behold in Joshua, Samuel, Maccabeus, and all the illustrious princes, captains, and prophets amongst the Jews! St. Paul almost wishes himself accursed for his countrymen and kinsmen after the flesh. Even our Savior himself gives a sanction to this virtue. He confined his miracles and gospel at first to his own country.”

Over the years, I have heard some high-sounding professing Christians disparage Patriotism as if it’s something beneath Christianity’s global view. For instance, the Reclaiming Jesus Declaration, signed by numerous progressive clergy, targets President Trump’s “America First” policy as “a theological heresy for the followers of Christ.” The assertion is nonsense. As Lord Byron once put it, “He who loves not his country, can love nothing.” A vision of Christ for the nations doesn’t exclude the Patriot’s more ardent, “God Bless America, my home sweet home.”

These same clergy also argue that all war is wrong – wrong for both sides – and even when it’s waged to restrain evil, it more often than not produces greater evils than it seeks to suppress. Again, such assertions are pitifully wrong.

The late Dr. Loraine Boettner, a renowned Presbyterian minister, in his classic book, The Christian Attitude Toward War, cites several instances where war was just and necessary. Boettner writes:

“If the people of Europe had not resisted the Mohammedan invasions, Europe would have been conquered and, humanly speaking, Christianity would have been stamped out. If at the time of the Reformation the Protestants had not resisted the Roman Catholic persecutions, crimes such as were practiced so freely in the Spanish and Italian Inquisitions would have become common over all of Europe, and Protestantism would have been destroyed. If the American colonists had not fought for their rights, this country would not have gained its independence. In international affairs, as in individual affairs, it often happens that there is an innocent party and a guilty party…”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Rev. Mark H. Creech