Now the story told by yet another “Bible-believing” politician who thinks he is contributing something—and contributing something true. Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and once a presidential contender, has produced a “historical” DVD that supposedly highlights God’s “love for our nation.”
But what is the nation to which he refers? The ethnically identifiable “nation” of the scriptures was a different kind of entity from the “nation” of the United States. We do have ethnic nations in our world today, but the U.S. is not that kind. Often, the term “nation” is a synonym for “country”; at other times, “nation” symbolically signifies a group brought together by some other force, such as a college or professional sports team. Many modern countries, including the U.S., seem categorically different from the Hebrew nation or the Philistine nation. (See this post for additional pondering of the nation concept, drawing attention to the Christian identity. Ironically, I’m probably more ethnically related to someone from Switzerland or Scotland than to someone from South Dakota, but I hardly feel nationally connected to any of those, and I would always prioritize my Christian nation.)
In any event, the yarn spun by Huckabee and lots of other “Christian conservatives” about the American nation is a yawn. “God’s love for the U.S.” is an idea concocted out of thick air—thick with people who not only believe, but also blithely promulgate, the idea that God has especially guided the United States. These people are almost as common as, and even more deluded than, those who think they can play the guitar. God only has a role in American history in that He has been a factor, to whatever extent, in the individual lives of certain key figures. But God has not been orchestrating historical events¹ in/for the U.S.A. as a country. To the extent that Huckabee’s (or any other) history claims God’s protection of a modern country, it is off-base.
There is little more ideologically ridiculous than the idea that God would (now) love or protect one nation or country over another. God is not about geopolitical entities.
It is conceited for a U.S. Christian to feel God’s special love upon his/her country. What does this delusion communicate to someone visiting from Canada or Mexico? And what about people from a country halfway around the globe (whether physically resident at home or here, as an alien)? Are we saying God loves our country more than South Korea or South Africa?
It is wrong-headed to assert that God’s loves any country per se. Rather than loving or championing countries, God loves people—for instance, those in Uruguay, Uzbekistan, the UAE, and the United States equally.
A probing question for philosophers or sociologists might be how, and to what extent, do geopolitical systems affect individual souls? Theologians, in turn, might inquire at the nexus of God’s will, government as His “agent,” and a person’s response to injustice, and evangelists might ask what extent should Christians become involved in civics in order to affect individual souls? Those are good topics that any thoughtful person might pursue, but the supposed guidance of God over the U.S.A. is a silly story, deserving scrutiny and even censorship by reasonable people, whether they are believers in God or not. The story has been told far too often for its dubious merits.
Mr. Huckabee, I’m sure your intention was good, but your assertion that God loves our U.S.A. “nation” is as redundant as it is bogus. We’ve been there and done that. It’s high time for a new narrative, allowing more mature, more biblical (and even more appropriately patriotic) understandings to take root.
¹ I would assert that God did specially orchestrate some events for the ancient Jews for centuries, but the scenario then changed. The Jews served their holy purpose roughly up to the time of Jesus and perhaps for a few more decades. Then the destruction of the temple, etc., constituted a final cataclysm within that faith-system. Ethnic Jews and the modern state of Israel are no longer of any specialized concern for God. In other words, ethnic Jews and others in Israel today have the same standing as all other people in God’s eyes.