Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel (Samuel Johnson).

Patriotism is popular. Loyalty to a nation is seen as important and good. Most Christians think that it is important to be patriotic. Many churches display their nation's national flag.

Patriotism is dangerous because it sustains nationalism. Nationalism can only survive with patriotic support. During the last two centuries, the political space has been dominated by nationalism. The nation-state has been the main actor in the world stage. Patriotism has made nationalism is one of the most powerful forces in the modern world.


Humans seem to have a need to give their allegiance to a larger group. For modern people that allegiance is given to their nation. However, our greatest allegiance should be to our families. Parents are must love and nurture their children. Children must honour their parents.

Our next greatest allegiance should be to our local community. The Bible speaks about hundreds, fifties and tens (Deut 1:15). Ten refers to ten families. A group of ten families is the basic social unit. These tens will join together into fifties or hundreds for specific purposes. In traditional cultures, this was allegiance to a tribal group. In the modern world, this should be the local community.

The local community is where we should get protection from evil. The local community is the place where justice must function (Deut 1:17). Education functions best in a committed community. Effective social welfare must be provided within a local community.

Modern people refuse to commit to their local community. They drive past it to belong to something bigger.


Patriotism can be loyalty to any or all of the following, but none are valid for the people of God.

We need to think about each one separately. We must remember what Paul wrote to Timothy.
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen (1 Tim 1:17).
We must be loyal to the King of Kings and celebrate his glory. Giving glory to anything else is idolatry.

Artificial Community

Nations are relatively modern invention, as five hundred years ago they did not exist. People lived in villages and their main loyalty was to their family and broader tribe. They might be loyal to a local leader who provided protection, but that loyalty only lasted as long as protection. Since urbanisation has broken down these local, nationalism has provided a less meaningful substitute for real communities.

Nationalism does not provide much, as it is a poor substitute for real community. On the other hand, it demands a lot. During peacetime, it demands taxation to support national goals. It also demands support for the national sports teams. During wartime, it demands commitment and death for the national cause.

The emergence of nationalism was driven by national political leaders. They needed to create a bond that would enable them to hold diverse and disparate people together under their rule. Nationalism filled the bill.

Nations are artificial entities created for political purposes. Membership of a nation is actually defined by submission to political powers. The modern nation state needs this loyalty to survive. Without nationalism, modern nation states would not exist.

Nations have no place in the Kingdom of God. They create loyalties that are false. They divide groups of people apart on the basis of differences that are not real. Our loyalty is to the Kingdom of God, not to a nation, or race. As the Kingdom of God emerges, the barriers between nations will become irrelevant. The only division will be between those who are in the Kingdom and those who are not.

I can understand why the people of the world cling to these loyalties, but Christians are citizens Kingdom of God. Our main allegiance must be to our king. We should also have an allegiance to our families to the part of the body of Christ that supports us, but in the Kingdom of God, “there is neither Greek nor Jew” (Col 3:11). When we become citizens of the kingdom, loyalty to a nation is made irrelevant.

False Promise

The nation-state has taken over all the roles that should be being provided within local communities. However, it promises to give everything but gives very little. It takes a lot, but provides very little in return. Nations states cannot protect their citizens from violent crime. National bureaucracies are run very ineffective social welfare programs. Justice from the centre is rarely just. Nation-states cannot produce a stable society.

Patriotism is the thin end of the wedge of nationalism.
Nationalism buttresses state power

A nation-state has a strong tendency to get involved in wars. Most of the wars of the twentieth century were driven by nationalism. Nationalism dominated the twentieth century and terrible evils were done in the name of nationalism.

We commit to a nationalism, that cannot protect us from crime and violence, that cannot provide economic security and cannot provide us with security. The nation-state is a failure wearing a facade of respectability provided by blind patriotism.

Nations will Disappear

When the Kingdom of God comes, nations will disappear. Although we see them as a normal part of life, they have no place in God's plan.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28)

A nation is not created by a common language. Canadians and Americans speak English, but they are not one nation. A common culture does not create a nation. A nation is defined by a common ruler: whether king or parliament. A nation is a group of people that are ruled by the same political ruler. A nation has a common set of laws. The boundary of the nation includes all territory where that law applies.

When the Kingdom of God has come, all people will acknowledge the law of God. His law will be the only law, so kings and parliament will have nothing to do and will cease to exist. If there is no king or parliament, there will be nation. The only boundaries will be between areas were the law of God is acknowledged and nations that still want human laws. Within areas where God is acknowledged, there will be no boundaries, because there will be no kings and parliament.

Different localities and communities will have their own judges, but they will be all applying the law of God. Different languages may be spoken in different places and culture will differ from place to place, but their will be no political boundaries, because there will be no political institutions. Christ will be all in all.

The book of Revelation is about the disenfranchisement of kings (and democracies). They will hide under the rocks and in the caves (Rev 6:15-16).

Patriotism and Nationalism

A common teaching is that nationalism is wrong, because it combines political allegiance with faith, but patriotism is fine.

A Christian leader defined patriotism as "a benign pride in a place", as if this made it cool. However, we need to dig a bit deeper. If patriotism is pride, what is the basis for the pride?

Jesus spoke incessantly about the Kingdom of God. He called his followers to give their allegiance to his kingdom and its king. He said that we cannot serve to masters.
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other (Matt 6:24).
Loving a nation and the Kingdom of God at the same time is almost impossible. Paul was a well-born Jew,
of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews (Phil 3:5).
He had plenty of basis for patriotism, but considered his nationality to be worthless.
Everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of the Messiah... I consider them garbage (Phil 3:6,8).
Paul was passionate about the Kingdom of God, so he had no room left for patriotism.

Patriotism is often the thin end of the wedge that leads to nationalism. Extreme nationalism has produced terrible evils, so God’s people need to be careful about going too far down the patriotism path.

Prophetic Blind Spot

Loyalty to their nation can sometimes prevent prophets from hearing clearly. Reading the words of the prophets, there seems to be a strong presumption that God has to bless the prophet’s nation. The modern prophetic movement has several blind spots that open the door to deception. The nationalistic deception is a big problem in this current season of decision.

Unfortunately, the scriptures do not guarantee the future of any nation, or the church in any nation. The reality is that only God knows what the outcome for a nation will be. Anyone who presumes otherwise has slipped into presumption. Once a nation has had several revivals, it becomes hard to escape from religiosity and receive another one.

No nation is essential for the coming of the Kingdom of God. God achieved the greatest advance of the gospel ever under the cruel and pagan Roman Empire, so he can work anywhere. The greatest revival last century was in China under a hostile government. God can do his next big work anywhere in the world that he chooses. God does not need any nation to achieve his purposes. The next big advance of the Kingdom of God will most likely occur in places where it is not expected. Assuming otherwise is conceit.

Humble prophets would be more uncertain about the future of their nation. They would not just assume that revival must come to their nation, because their forebears were faithful. Sound prophets do not assume that their nation is so important for God’s purposes that the Kingdom of God cannot advance without it. Humble prophets should be listening to see what God is saying about other nations who seem to have fewer prophets.