It is quite clear if one reads Christopher Hitchens or Friedrich Nietzsche that the image of “God running the world” against which they are reacting is the image of a celestial tyrant imposing his will on an unwilling world and unwilling human beings, cramping their style, squashing their individuality and their very humanness, requiring them to conform to arbitrary and hurtful laws and threatening them with dire consequences if they resist. This narrative (which contains a fair amount of secularist projection) serves the Enlightenment’s deist agenda, as well as the power interests of those who would move God to a remote heaven so that they can continue to exploit the world.
But the whole point of the Gospels is that the coming of God’s kingdom on earth as in heaven is precisely not the imposition of an alien and dehumanizing tyranny, but rather the confrontation of alien and dehumanizing tyrannies with the news of a God—the God recognized in Jesus—who is radically different from them all, and whose inbreaking justice aims at rescuing and restoring genuine humanness. The trouble is that in our flat-Earth political philosophies we know only the spectrum which has tyranny at one end and anarchy at the other, with the present democracies our dangerously fragile way of warding off both extremes.
- NT Wright, “Kingdom come: The public meaning of the Gospels“
If [Martin Luther] King’s actions against war prove anything, it’s that there’s a huge difference between patriotism and nationalism. Patriotism is the critical affirmation of one’s country in light of its best values, including the attempt to correct it when it’s in error. Nationalism is the uncritical support of one’s nation regardless of its moral or political bearing.
(…) The confusion between the two has blurred the difference between love and worship of country, a distinction King never failed to make.
- Michael Eric Dyson, professor of theology and African American studies at Georgetown University