Instead of firing on Fort Sumter, would the Confederate States have had a better chance of declaring their independence (like Jefferson did in 1776) if they had followed the lead of the Scots and simply voted. I understand that elections are not always decisive as the imbroglio between Russia and Ukraine attests. But a peaceful vote to leave a union may have worked. After all, if the Scots can do it after over three centuries of being governed by London, why couldn’t the South have departed after a mere seven decades of “more perfect” union?
I write this from Edinburgh in a postage stamp of a hotel room that is smack dab in the middle of a city that is amazingly beautiful (and even boasts a statue of Thomas Chalmers). If Scotland secedes, will Edinburgh become less beautiful? And what will happen to all the royal bits of Edinburgh? You can’t walk fifty meters (however long that is) and not see something that was opened by British royalty or land owned or granted by a prince, queen or king. I hear that if Scotland secedes, the Prince of Wales will become the King of Scotland. That sounds like a put down for the Scots, as if a mere prince among the Welsh is the equivalent of a monarch in Scotland. Then again, if it means that the Stuarts don’t return to the thrown, I am for Prince Charles.
David Robertson, a Free Church of Scotland pastor, thinks that ministers — in good 2k fashion — should not preach about secession, nor should the church adopt a stance:
. . . the Free Church does not ,and will not take a stance either for or against independence. Why? Because the Bible says nothing about it and we are here to teach the bible. In applying Gods word to our current society there is nothing in it that would tell us we should vote yes or we should vote no. Each has to be persuaded in their own mind. The Church should not make pronouncements on issues for which it has no scriptural warrant. These are my personal opinions and I hope I would never proclaim them from the pulpit as though they had the authority of Gods Word.
That’s an encouraging word from a man normally inclined to follow Tim Keller on holy urbanism. It shows how sensible 2k is. The church only says that the Bible says — and even then, you need to read the entire Bible in the entire perspective of God’s plan of redemption. So while monarchy was (not so) great for the Israelites and while emperors were honorable for (even while torturing) the apostles, the rest of Christian history leaves believers to make it up as they go.
But after jumping out with such a promising start, Pastor Robertson can’t help himself. He believes — seriously — that nationalism can be redeemed:
I am somewhat bemused by people who warn about the evils of nationalism when it is Scottish, but seem to think it is ok when it is British. As the Mangalwadi quote at the start of this article states, nationalism when yoked to the reforming power of the Bible, can become a powerful redemptive force. At the end of the day – that is what I will work for, whether in an independent Scotland or a dependent Britain.
It is hard to know where to begin or end with this opinion. But for the sake of blogging’s brevity, I’ll keep it short. First, what does Pastor Robertson make of all the nationalism in twentieth-century Europe and the wars of global proportions it unleashed? It’s one thing to be patriotic (a form of loyalty to the land of one’s fathers), but another to wrap up a people’s identity along national lines. What would become of non-Scots in an independent Scotland? That is not an impolite question given Europe’s history.
Second, why does adding the Bible or salvation to something that has such a dubious record — nationalism, urbanism, theater, mathematics (plumbing is fine) — make it better? The record of mixing religion and nationalism is a narrative of the gross excesses of civil religion. And civil religion is a betrayal of the gospel because Jesus did not rise again to save the members of the Church of England or the Church of Scotland or even the Free Church of Scotland. Churches having to negotiate national boundaries is part of the business of Christian ministry in this age. But turning national boundaries and jurisdictions into redemptive purposes is an example of every-square-inch naivete.