cover image How to Be a Patriotic Christian: Love of Country as Love of Neighbor

How to Be a Patriotic Christian: Love of Country as Love of Neighbor

Richard J. Mouw. IVP, $17 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-5140-0402-9

In this indecisive outing, Mouw (All That God Cares About), a senior research fellow at Calvin University, considers how Christians should practice patriotism. Using scriptural interpretation and personal anecdotes, Mouw advocates for a love of country rooted in caring for “the well-being of the larger community.” The author describes his dialogue with a pastor over the appropriateness of expressing patriotism during church services, positing that while preaching on civic themes can highlight God’s love of cultural diversity, parishioners’ allegiance to the flag may come to supersede their allegiance to God. Citing Jeremiah’s advice that Jewish exiles should help their pagan Babylonian authorities prosper, Mouw exhorts Christians to pray for the U.S. government, though he warns that “submitting to those in power cannot be divorced from our solidarity with all the human beings whom those authorities are called to serve.” But the author’s reluctance to take firm stances on the predicaments he discusses—encapsulated in his admission that his “understanding of how to be patriotic as a Christian is a work in progress”—makes this feel incomplete. The discussions are thoughtful and the questions profound, but this is frustratingly short on answers. (July)