Baptist professor urges ‘moderate’ love for America

Bruce Ashford slanders God and Country American Christians

Evangelical Elites promote many crazy ideas. For example, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) Professor Bruce Ashford believes one should only moderately patriotic. In other words, a Christian should moderately love their country. He comes up with this patently absurd formulation in a post published by Lifeway titled “Proud to be an American?

First, Ashford does a decent job pointing out nation-states are elements of God’s plan and that one has a duty to it. Unfortunately, he goes from here into a diatribe that slanders patriotic Christians.

Ashford writes, “Another type of national idolatry is ‘God and country’ nationalism. In America, some citizens have given America’s history a larger-than-life stature in their hearts and minds. Some Americans have spoken of our nation having a God-given ‘manifest destiny.’ Often, God-and-country nationalists apply God’s promises to Israel (e.g. 2 Chronicles 7:14) to the United States. Sometimes, they pledge an almost-uncritical loyalty to the nation.”

This a total joke. The Christians who apply 2 Chronicles 7:14 and are the most patriotic are also the most vocal about looming judgment on America and any nation that murders babies and exults in sexual sins. For example, see Dr. Robert Jeffress.

Dr. Jeffress is pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas and said just a few months ago, “I can say without any hesitation that America is in danger of God’s judgment because of abortion…The reason I can say that is because of what’s already in the Bible.”

The people Ashford describes do not exist. Every patriotic Christian couples his love and devotion to America with criticism and complaints.

Ashford takes time to admit nations are part of God’s plan. Yet, he cannot leave it at that. He must take a shot at America’s history.

He writes, “It is the Christian church, not the United States, that has a manifest destiny.”

That is nice rhetoric. It is also patently false. God’s plan for the United States to exist within its current borders from sea-to-shining-sea was necessarily and now manifestly part of God’s plan. The Apostle Paul affirms that God concerns himself with the times and extent of nations. In fact, God sets these limits (see: Acts 17:26).

Further, Ashford seems to imply that thinking America is a force for good in the world is somehow elevating our history into some “larger-than-life stature.” No doubt, what he really means is idol.

Yet, America saved the world in two world wars in the 20th century and saved it once again in a Cold War against the Soviet Union.

As Ronald Reagan said America was “the greatest force for peace anywhere in the world today.” He was right.

Yet, Ashford has negative things to say about America and its history. He writes, “Although surely God has used our nation to do good, we are, and always have been, a deeply flawed nation.” 

Reagan in that same speech mentioned above called on all of us to reject the voices of the “Guilt Complex” that cheapen America. Those are good words to remember in a time such as this.

Believing America has done good in the world and that God gave it a special mission is not wrong. It upsets weak men like Ashford; however, it is the truth.

There is some good in Ashford’s essay. He points out the errors of the extremes. He condemns internationalism and ethno-nationalism. Of course, he then offers a Third Way—moderate patriotism!

This is nonsense. It is doubletalk.

Does one moderately love their wife? Should one moderately love his children?

Why then should one moderately love their people? Why is national identity—something created by God for a specific good purpose only deserve a moderate amount of love and duty?

If one is to love, then one should love as perfectly as they are capable. And this is likely where Ashford falls into error. If one truly loves his country, then it follows he would be the best Christian—showing loyalty to Christ and the true doctrines of the Church. Ashford creates a division when one in fact does not exist.

Look at how Ashford argues for this absurdity. He writes, “As Christians, we must cultivate a moderate patriotism. We must be grateful for what is good in our nation’s history and appropriately critical for what is bad. We must cultivate a real but limited allegiance while reserving our ultimate allegiance for Christ.”

The true Christian is a patriot. The true patriot is a Christian. This is what the God and Country Nationalist Christians Ashford attacked do.

How could one love his wife if he did not share the Gospel? How would one love his family if he did not guide them spiritually and physically?

It is absurd that one could love their spouse and not fulfill his duties to her. This holds true for anyone or anything we love. How could we really love it if we neglected telling it the truth?

As noted above, that is exactly what the God and country nationalists do. They proclaim the Gospel, rebuke decadent national sins and celebrate what is great about America.

It is Ashford’s ilk who fail to appreciate the greatness of America. It is Ashford’s “moderate” patriotism that fails to be either patriotic or Christian. His view is rhetoric designed to move the church away from true patriotism. It is dangerous. It is just as dangerous as Ashford’s shameless smears on a conservative talk radio host.

This is what Southern Baptist churches are funding. Sad times.