On the idea of a Christian nation

Miroslav Volf asks: is there really such a thing?



Miroslav Volf asks: is there really such a thing?


Well, my question … a significant question that we have to ask ourselves: is there such a thing as a Christian nation? Many nations throughout history have claimed for themselves to be Christian nations – even entire Christian continents. And that’s maybe understandable, in the sense that Christian faith has shaped much of cultural sensibilities of these nations and these continents, Europe for example. But to describe an entire nation as Christian I think from my perspective is problematic. We think of the Christian churches and Christian people, Christian communities and Christian individuals, but not entire nations that are Christian. And especially, I think, in today’s context where we have plurality of … where pluralism is the feature of public spaces, we ought not to think of our nations as Christian. And to the extent that we think of them as Christian, we will participate in the violence that invariably ends up qualifying the life of a nation. It can be violence that is directed inward toward those who aren’t Christians and they’re kind of pushed out onto the margins, or it might be violence toward other nations who tend not to be Christian or who disagree with the Christian vision. In either of these cases, I think we have to resist the idea of Christian nation, which is to say proximity again of Christianity to the powers that be, and think of Christian faith more on the margins and speaking to the centres of power.