Tuesday, March 31, 2015
The Rise of Messianic Nationalism?
So I've been reading Al McCarn's "Give Me a Place Where I May Dwell" (LINK)... I'll eventually do a review of it--still have a few pages to go. But he brings up an interesting point that I'd like to discuss.
First, I should explain that I do not consider myself an "Ephraimite", that I disagree with any movement amongst Gentile Believers that would promote a hint of ethnocentrism, that I believe with absolute conviction that Gentile identity in Messiah must be based on covenant through Yeshua our L-rd and Messiah. I am interested, however, in assessing the idea of nationalism and how it might relate to our Messianic movement.
THE IDEA OF NATIONALISM
What is a nation and what is nationalism? That's one question. Another is: what should nationalism be in an ideal sense? Another way of asking the latter is: is there a Biblical basis for nationalism for the Jewish People? And, related to that question, is there a Biblical basis for nationalism for Gentile Believers?
It seems that nationalism is not a new phenomenon. The first examples of nationalism do occur in the Bible--we see the emergence of the Two Houses of Israel which are types of nations. One is forced to wonder what type of nationalist movement (if any) led to the creation of Two Houses in the first place. And we see the nationalism in the era of Ezra/Nehemiah, in the era of the Maccabees, and in the era of Herzl.
But this Jewish nationalism is an ethno-religious (covenant) nationalism. And, for Jews, this makes sense. Because nationalism is traditionally defined (except in the case of the United States) as a convergence of worldview, way of life, ethno-centric social group identification, and territory (e.g. Russian nationalism, French nationalism, Jewish nationalism). The United States being an exception in that it doesn't have the ethnocentrism (although an argument could be made that it does).
THE RELEVANCE OR UTILITY OF NATIONALISM FOR THE MESSIANIC MOVEMENT
Now the benefit of a nationalist movement for Messianic Jews makes sense in that it is merely an extension of Zionism--the goal of returning Jews to their homeland.
But is this goal compatible with Messianic ideology of a unified One New Man? Are we Gentiles to be content with being separated from our beloved Jewish brethren? Is that the ideal state?
Or could it be that the destiny of Messianic Jews and Gentiles is intertwined?
This is a bit much to tackle in a short blog post and for that I apologize. Let me summarize: I'm not an Ephraimite but neither am I opposed to the goal of the Ephraimite camp. Do we not share a common goal? We both desire to live in a unified Messianic Israel. The Ephraimites just have a slightly different analysis on the form that this nationalism will take and the type of national identification that Gentiles should have. I'm simply interested in being a part of the discussion. We shouldn't be afraid to talk about these things.
Does anyone have thoughts on the idea of nationalism and the relevance it might have to Messianics?
Posted by Peter at 5:20 AM