I was recently asked some questions from a Christian theonomist about my article defending ethno-nationalism from the standpoint of God’s Law. A theonomist is a Christian who is committed to upholding God’s Law as the standard of society. There are theonomists who still aren’t convinced that God’s Law actually teaches ethno-nationalism. Thus ethno-nationalism has been the subject of recent intramural debates between theonomists as to the proper basis of national identity. This is my response to the questions asked by a theonomist who has asked me for some further clarification.
Question on Babel
The first question that was asked was about a statement that I made about the tower of Babel. Here’s a quote from the article:
“It is certainly true that Babel was a punishment for sin, but it was also an act of mercy from God in order to restrain the evil that typically arises in cosmopolitan societies who have lost sight of their tribal identity. Raceless or tribeless societies become decadent due to anonymity and loss of patriarchal authority, which is inevitable in these regimes. When people forget their ancestors they will not regard their children and future descendants!”
My correspondent replies:
“This is where I feel I have an issue with kinism. Both kinists and anti-kinists affirm the sinful tendencies that arise in societies. But here, the statement is made that this is due to ‘[having] lost sight of their tribal identity…[and forgetting] their ancestors…’ What? I thought theonomy-believing Christians, kinist or not, affirmed the corruption of man and society as being due to forgetting God’s law and esteeming man’s own law above it (humanism). Why, in the kinist position, is there instead an esteeming of tribe, identity, and ancestors as the source of keeping corruption in check? Why have these things replaced the importance and necessity of God’s law, or at least taken priority above it?”
And to this I reply:
This is indeed where kinists and anti-kinists diverge. I think that all kinists would agree with your statement that “the corruption of man and society [is] due to forgetting God’s law and esteeming man’s own law above it (humanism).” We have no disagreement there. I think that one of the fundamental differences in the approach that the two camps take in approaching the issue is that kinists affirm that ethno-nationalism is built into the law itself, whereas anti-kinists see the issue as tangential, at best, to the law.
Specifically, kinists see kinism and ethno-nationalism as rooted in the fifth commandment, and violations of kinism as rooted in violations of the fifth commandment. Therefore, from a kinist standpoint, it stands to reason that the subversion of ethnic identity is symptomatic of generalized infidelity to God’s precepts and disrespect for God’s law. I think that in context, the point that I was trying to make with the paragraph you cited was that God ordained separate nationality so that the nations would seek after Him. When the people are one, as in Genesis 11:6, they will be unrestrained in evil, since traditional patriarchal authority, inherent in a strong sense of ethnicity, is undercut by humanistic “oneness.”
The statement, “When people forget their ancestors they will not regard their children and future descendants!” was intended to be a paraphrase of Edmund Burke’s famous and true dictum, “People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.”1
Question on the New World Order and Amalgamation
Next, I was asked if I agreed with this assessment of kinism. “It also feels as though kinism is a response to some idea that Christianity, in its mandate to ‘go into all the world’ and redeem it through Christ, seeks to ‘amalgamate’ the world into one people/order — sort of like a Christian version of the humanist’s goal of creating a one world order.”
I think that this is accurate if I understand you correctly. Kinists are opposed to conforming to the world’s idea of unity. Humanists believe that intermarriage, equal civil rights, and full integration are positive goods that foster lasting and righteous unity between people. Kinists disagree. We think that all of the above will forge a unity that is neither lasting nor righteous.
Next my correspondent offered:
“I would agree with you that within that Scriptural command there are certain realities that ought to be kept distinct and that I believe, as such, would not contradict that command: the retaining of different languages and the need for separating nations by both boundaries and governments, for example.”
My response was the following:
This is basically where kinists are coming from. I would clarify that the boundaries that kinists support aren’t arbitrary geo-political boundaries, but are rather boundaries defined by ethnicity. We believe that this is what the Apostle Paul is referring to in Acts 17:6-27. The word for “nations” here refers specifically to ethnic identity.
Question about Heredity
The next question was “You maintain that nations are held together by common heredity and that this is the ideal to strive for, yes? If that’s the case, what role can evangelism possibly play?”
I do maintain that nations are held together by common heredity. This was true in the Table of Nations, which identifies nations taxonomically by their heredity (“after their families”) and is implicit in the word ethnos. Kinists affirm that this is true after conversion as well, and is implicit in the directive given in the Great Commission in Matt. 28:19-20. Christ commands His Apostles to disciple the nations in the plural, and they remain plural after the Great Commission has been fulfilled. There is no indication that the definition of a nation has changed from hereditary to non-hereditary after conversion and discipleship. Evangelism is best demonstrated by the work of the Apostle Paul, whose work in the book of Acts indicates that he established a community of Christian converts and then turned over the work of the ministry to the natives.
The next question continued discussing heredity. “Heredity is not something that can be changed, so are only those nations who have the ‘right’ heredity the redeemed ones? From this is implied that idea that God’s law is only applicable to the saved nations, rather than to his whole world…?”
I agree that heredity cannot be changed. I believe that it doesn’t have to change in order for conversion to be efficacious. I don’t believe that only those nations with the “right” heredity are redeemed. Redemption occurs without heredity being a factor. God’s law is applicable everywhere, and should be universally recognized. This universal recognition doesn’t mean that ethnicity is rendered irrelevant, however, since ethno-nationalism will still be characteristic of fidelity to God’s law. In a Christian world, separate nationality would exist, and the second table of the commandments would be applied universally, but the notion of universal civil equality would dissipate.
There would be no reason for me to believe that, just because I’m a Christian, I could become a permanent resident of Japan, permanently own large amounts of property there, vote in any elections that might take place, or hold any positions in civil government.
This is what kinists typically mean when we deny universal civil rights. We do believe in applying the second table universally, regardless of ethnicity. Everyone has a right not to be stolen from, murdered, lied to, etc. But everyone does not have an intrinsic right to immigrate anywhere they want to, especially not with the intention of becoming permanent residents (the word “stranger” in the Bible can often mean peaceful sojourner). There is no intrinsic right to vote in elections or to hold office. I think that I pointed out in the article that God can use and does use exceptions to this rule. Joseph was an example of a righteous regent in Egypt, and Cyrus ruled Israel righteously by allowing them to return to their homeland and restore their political and religious identity by rebuilding the temple. I’m sure that, as the Gospel spreads throughout the world, other such exceptions will occur. The caveat is that these are exceptions, and that there is no right established by the existence of these exceptions. The concept of universal civil rights, regardless of ethnicity, gender, language, etc., is a post-modern innovation that was developed apart from Christian morality.
From an eschatological standpoint, God promises the stranger who keeps his law and covenant an everlasting inheritance with God’s people. The stranger is anticipated as being concerned for his future posterity, since he might think that the Lord had utterly separated him from God’s people or the nation of Israel (Is. 56:3). The presumption is that because the stranger is a non-Israelite, he will not ultimately enjoy the benefits of being an Israelite. The son of the stranger along with the eunuch will be given an everlasting name and inheritance.
This is more fully fleshed out in the New Testament. We are told that God redeems out of every nation, language and people (Rev. 5:9; 7:9). We are told that the church is comprised of multiple nations of them which are saved (Rev. 21:24). The tree of life in heaven is also said to be for the plural nations in Rev. 22:2. What will this be like? I believe that the unity that God desires will finally be realized in the eschaton. The nations will be unified in their worship of God. My guess is that we will thoroughly enjoy each other’s company. I don’t think that this means that familiarity as we know and enjoy it won’t exist in heaven. I think that it will. Our parents, relatives, spouses, and children will still retain their relationship to us. When fellowshipping with other Christians, we will enjoy their company, but I think that we will still enjoy our own home, family and people the way we are intended to here as well.
Second Round of Questions
This was the conclusion to the first round of questions that I was asked by a theonomist inspired by my theonomic defense of ethno-nationalism. After I sent my responses, I was given a few more questions that requested further clarification.
Elaboration on National and Ethnic Distinctions as a Means of God’s Grace
My correspondent begins:
“You said, ‘The source of restraint of corruption is of course the internal ministry of the Holy Spirit as well as the common grace that God has given that restrains man’s baser instincts. God accomplishes this through the use of means…Ethnicity is integral to the law and is a means by which the law is transmitted.’ I think these statements are important premises for kinism, so I think it’s important for them to be very Scripturally supported. Can you show how this argument is made biblically? I know you referenced the 1 Corinthians 7 (as an example) and Acts 17…those are good starting points but I’m looking for a little more, I guess…”
Something that kinists and anti-kinists disagree on is what role race plays in the life of a Christian. Kinists don’t believe that we are saved by our heredity or lineage. We acknowledge that salvation is accomplished by God by grace through faith. It is important to understand that this isn’t accomplished by God in a vacuum though. God could simply “zap” someone and confer saving faith on them, but I would suggest that He normally doesn’t. I think that we can safely say that, throughout history, most Christians have been born into Christian homes. God uses the family as a means of transmitting the Gospel message. When the family breaks down through divorce, feminism, etc., then you necessarily see the transmission of the Christian faith suffer.
The example that I used before was the relationships between spouses in marriage. The text that I used was 1 Corinthians 7:14. This verse explains that a believing spouse sanctifies their unbelieving spouse, and that any children that result from such marriages are sanctified as well. This is the reason that the Church has baptized the children of one believing parent. I think that this clearly indicates that God uses the ministering of believing spouses as a means of bringing their unbelieving spouses to the faith.
I think that Acts 17:26-27 explains national identity along the same lines. The Bible clearly explains that nations aren’t just geo-political entities or propositional in nature. If you’re still hung up on this issue, let me know. In v. 26, Paul states that God has “made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.”
Kinists don’t really dispute the fact that all of humanity is related somehow. Many non-kinists suggest that racial differences exist exclusively as a result of God’s judgment at Babel. God certainly did intervene to protect the different nations in existence, but I think that Acts 17 makes it clear that this was not the sole reason for the existence of ethnicity. What kinists assert is that God’s providential division of humanity into different nations (ethnicities) was done purposefully and intentionally. Different races and ethnicities are not a historical accident, and they aren’t purely a result of God’s judgment. Acts 17:26 states that God providentially placed the boundaries of the nations, and v. 27 explains why.
In v. 27, we read that God divided the nations “that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him.” We should understand that this doesn’t mean that people grope for God and find Him apart from the internal ministry of the Holy Spirit. No one can make a saving Christian confession without the regenerative work of the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. 12:3). What I believe Paul is suggesting is that, like families, nations and national boundaries exist to promote the spread of the Gospel. Undermining ethnic distinctions ultimately undermines patriarchal authority. This is why efforts to spread the Gospel in a cosmopolitan society have very limited success.
Is Ethno-Nationalism Predicated Upon Racial Superiority?
My correspondent writes:
“You said, ‘Kinists are opposed to conforming to the world’s idea of unity. Humanists believe that intermarriage, equal civil rights, and full integration are positive goods that foster lasting and righteous unity between people. Kinists disagree. We think that all of the above will forge a unity that is neither lasting nor righteous.’ I definitely see some merit in this argument. However, I want to understand how kinism doesn’t consequently lead to racial superiority. And if it does, how is this biblically supported? What if a converted African saw some level of superiority in the white race and, as a result, came to hate his African ethnicity? Perhaps then he would be tempted to hate God for creating him as such?”
Kinism certainly isn’t predicated upon racial egalitarianism. It doesn’t bother me at all that a particular race might have intrinsic strengths that another doesn’t. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m not really bothered by the fact that I don’t have the musical talent of the Bach family or the basketball skills of Michael Jordan. I suppose someone might become angry with God for creating them a certain way, but this problem still could exist even if we didn’t believe in racial inequality. Suppose we were to dispense with racial inequality for a moment. There is no doubt that personal inequality still exists, and someone could grow to resent not having the aptitude or personal attractiveness of someone else. Personally I think that Christians should thank God for what he has accomplished through different people and races throughout history.
National Citizenship as a Christian
My correspondent writes:
“You said, ‘There would be no reason for me to believe that, just because I’m a Christian, I could become a permanent resident of Japan, permanently own large amounts of property there, to vote in any elections that might take place, or hold any positions in civil government.’ What if you wanted to, though, from a standpoint of purely wanting to learn about the life and culture of others? (As opposed to doing so because you reject your own people’s values and laws and posterity.) What if you had to, because of a job change, for example?”
Someone could move to another country among another people in cases of necessity. It would be hard to imagine anyone deciding to do this permanently. I think that this is understood in the word “stranger,” essentially meaning “sojourner” in the Bible. Ideally, such a person could ultimately return to his native land. Even while residing in a foreign land, the stranger in Scripture receives neither universal suffrage nor civil rights. Resident foreigners were allowed to lease land temporarily until jubilee, but didn’t really become permanent land owners. They also did not have to be released at Jubilee, and could be held in servitude in perpetuity. Sojourners were also restricted from the office of the civil magistrate. I believe that the reason for this is that an immigrant population will naturally seek their own good at the expense of the good of the host population. This is essentially what we see with nonwhite politicians in this country and elsewhere throughout the West.
What About Possible Exceptions to this Rule?
My correspondent writes:
“You said, ‘There is no intrinsic right to vote in elections or to hold office. I think that I pointed out in the article that God can use and does use exceptions to this rule. Joseph was an example of a righteous regent in Egypt, and Cyrus ruled Israel righteously by allowing them to return to their homeland and restore their political and religious identity by rebuilding the Temple. I’m sure that as the Gospel spreads throughout the world other such exceptions will occur. The caveat is that these are exceptions and that there is no right established by the existence of these exceptions.’ What makes an exception acceptable?”
That’s difficult to answer definitively. I suppose that a civil magistrate might see the wisdom that an honorable Christian man could offer. In both the cases of Joseph and Cyrus, it is clear that foreign magistrates (Joseph in Egypt and Cyrus over Israel) did not supplant the natural ethnic magistrates that each country already had. Pharaoh was still the king of Egypt, and the Davidic dynasty was restored in Israel.
I can’t reiterate how grateful I am for kind and reasoned discussion on these sorts of issues. Many times, discussions about the proper role of race become extremely heated and often can produce fruitless hatred or bitterness. The reason for this is that race and equality is the most divisive and controversial topic today. The erasure of ethnic distinctions is the common goal of capitalists behind multi-national corporations, Fabian socialists, academic leftists, and post-modern Christians. I’m glad to see Christians asking these questions, because asking these questions is the first step to discovering the correct answers!
- Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, Paragraph 56 ↩