Empire is sin incarnated

The highlight of sin in this world is empire and imperialism, both shown by force and subtle political leanings against the oppressed. Politicians and individuals who don’t see the sin of empire in their beliefs and actions are as blind as we all are to our own sin, if it wasn’t for the Holy Spirit to have opened our eyes. Empire does damage but it always looses in the end because it’s master lost the greater battle and the King of Kings won – Jesus. Thats why I live in hope despite current evil attitudes towards Welsh, Scottish and Irish freedom aspirations from English centric politicians both in London and from within the Celtic nations.

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12 Responses to “Empire is sin incarnated”

  1. spufidoo Says:

    Interesting, but a little clouded by the spectacles of nationalism, whereby any threat to a cultural or national identity is deemed a “sin.”

    Surely pride is a greater sin than “Empire” (which is not a sin in Biblical terms at all), one for which Satan was thrown out of Heaven?

    And what is nationalism, but refined, cultured pride in one’s national identity/language?

    And what is language but a judgement from God (Genesis 11:7) as a result of man’s pride?

    So nationalism is a celebration of God’s judgement upon our pride?

    Discuss…

    Yours, tongue-in-cheek…

  2. welshwilderness Says:

    God actually destroys empire in Genesis 11. Babel was an empire project and God destroyed it and reinstated diversity. Men, because we are sinners, throughout history have tried over and over to re-build our very own Babel but throughout history it has failed. The Babel of North-West Europe, The British Empire, is on it’s last legs, why? Because although we live in a fallen world we live under Christ Lordship which won the battle on the Cross. It first of all effects our own hearts but it also sets a chain of events to restore the entire creation. And in the new creation there will be no Empire. Haleliwia!

    Nationalism can be both evil and good in my opinion. Nationalists, you must remember, are on both sides of the Empire argument. Unionists are British Nationalist whilst we are Welsh Nationalists. And even within Welsh nationalism many do not bring God in to the equation therefore their nationalism is nothing but idolatry. Christian Nationalism never raises the nation and culture the the thrown only Jesus should sit on. The problem with secular-Welsh Nationalism and British Nationalism is that the nation is seen as the devine.

  3. Martin Williams Says:

    Interesting you should post this today as I’ve been reading about culture and imperialism this week, looking at Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’, Freire’s ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’ and most notably Edward Said’s ‘Culture and Imperialism’. Lots more than I have time to say now, but I would be interested in what you think of the work of Said, especially his ‘Orientalism’ which is mainly focused on the Middle East (esp Palestine) but has relevance for the Welsh. He thinks that England is holding on to its colonial past in the way it interacts with the world today, for example in Iraq/Afghanistan.

  4. Gethin Says:

    Interesting. One could link sins with Babel in many different ways. I suppose empire-building would be one way of doing it. Another way I’ve come to think about it recently is doing culture on one’s own terms. It was good for the people at Babel to engage in some architecture and building, a great project to promote unity – although it was far from the Biblical pattern of unity together with diversity – hence the judgement was to be swung along the pendulum from unity without diversity to diversity without unity. It’s not that linguistic diversity itself was a curse, it was the original mandate. I’m sure there are many other ways of seeing it.

    However, I’m sure if we only look at this level, the sin against other men – and against themselves, I suppose – I’m sure we’d be missing the main point. THE great sin of Babel was the desire to “make a name for ourselves” rather than to do all to the glory of God – it was primarily a sin against the Lord, and the way in which it worked itself out meant that they sinned against others. One is reminded of something Carson sometimes points out in some of his talks (such as this one: http://www.clayton.tv/?channel=16&bandwidth=5&prog=374&t=3&g=3&e=e_3_374) in a certain view or presentation, rather, of the gospel where God somehow stands outside the system and our greatest crimes are against each other and against the creation. The offence is idolatry – man turning in on himself, as Luther defined sin, however it works itself out, is first an offence against God.

    Thus I think, although I’d be more than happy to be corrected on this, that there could be times when, although the building of an empire itself would be wrong, it would be the best thing for a culture if that culture were conquered. For example, I think we should be open to thinking that there could be situations where the best thing to happen to Welsh culture and language etc is for it to be wiped out. I am not saying this is what should happen now – I just think we have to be open to thinking that way. Because although it would reduce the diversity, which would indeed be tragic, and despite the obvious massive losses culturally – especially with such a rich culture – if Wales (or any group for that matter) were totally to turn in on itself and seek only to make a name for itself, and to raise itself above its role in the higher purpose of being one of many cultures in this richly diverse, yet (in the new creation, at least) unified, creation which does, and will, bring great glory to the Redeeming Lamb, I think (although, as I said, I’d be happy to be corrected) the best thing for it would be to die.

    I think what I mean, basically, is this – the main problem with any “English-centric” politicians, is not their offence against other nations, British or other, or even against the poor and oppressed of the rest of the world. The main offence is against God; the failure to acknowledge that the chief end of the whole of their lives, both as politicians and as human beings in general, is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. And I guess the answer is for all (whether emperor or subject) to see not so much the sin of any empire against any other group, but rather to see, as Stott said, that “only one imperialism is [right]. . . and that is concern for His Imperial Majesty Jesus Christ, and for the glory of his empire”.

  5. Gethin Says:

    wow – that was long – sorry.

  6. welshwilderness Says:

    Long, but very interesting Geth. Thanks for the contribution.

  7. welshwilderness Says:

    I especially agree when you said “Another way I’ve come to think about it recently is doing culture on one’s own terms.” That is the very reason why i think Welsh culture which rejects the place of Jesus is no better than empire.

  8. David Says:

    Interesting discussion so far.

    I am not that convinced that there is such a thing as structural sin, ie that a particular political structure is “sin incarnated”. I would not want to live under a dictatorship, but I am unconvinced that dictatorship is sinful per se. The actions of the dictator may very well be sinful, but that is a different issue.

    One of my problems with the sinful structures type of argument is that it seems to go hand in hand with an unrealistic and utopian type of political vision; a belief that if the sinful structures were removed then justice would reign on earth.

    I believe that all political structures and arrangements are fallible and imperfect and that all political arrangements will bear the stamp of fallen humanity as a consequence.

    How does this relate to empire and nationalism? Well both the empire and the nation state are types of political arrangement which exist. Those who seek to advance their empire or nation often do so in terms which are sinful. Imperialism is often advanced by advocating conquest, but nationalism too is often advanced by advocating the elimination of minority groups which do not conform with the nationalist self image of the nation.

    Unfortunately I believe that nationalism is a bigger promoter of injustice in the early 21st century world than imperialism, which had its moment in the 19th century. The Robert Mugabe type of “anti-imperialist” nationalism is all to prevalent in the Third World where leaders loot their own countries for private gain then blame outside imperialist forces. Similarly in eastern Europe nationalism is a cover for lots of very unsavoury anti-semitism; it is about dividing the nation along the lines of a preconceived notion of what is nationally authentic.

  9. welshwilderness Says:

    Thanks for your comments David. But one thing you miss out on is that fact that imperialism is actually a form of Nationalism!

    So the question at hand really is this: what constitutes healthy nationalism and cultural awareness? I suppose the answer lies with that famous quote by R. Tudur Jones which said that Christian Nationalism “asks nothing for itself it does not wish for others”. And of course a realisation that all nations and cultures are just different patches of a one humanity created by God.

  10. David Says:

    I suppose the issue of whether imperialism is a form of nationalism depends on how the terms are defined. I would suggest that most nationalist forms of politics subscribe to the following 3 propositions:

    1. Humanity is divided into differing (usually) cultural groups called”nations”;
    2. Each of these nations possess a historically connected “national territory”;
    3. The nation is entitled to self-determination in its national territory.

    Empires really do not need any of this. Classic empires, such as the Roman Empire or the British Empire, were political arrangements where political power lay with the Imperial institutions rather than the “nation”.

    I am hesitant about the concept of Christian nationalism. I can see attempts at Christian nationalism coming from Reformed Protestantism that ended up in very problematic places, Apartheid South Africa or some of the extreme nationalists in Hungary (Lorand Hegedus) would be two unpleasant examples. Closer to home, I am from Northern Ireland and I believe that a lot of the Ian Paisley type politics (not really nationalist though) has been detrimental to the Church.

    Christianity seems to have two principles which are difficult to reconcile:

    1. The Lordship of Christ overall areas of life;
    2. Rendering unto Ceasar that which is Ceasar’s.

    My own inclination (and it is merely an inclination) is that nationality may lie within the realm of Ceasar. As such I have problems with “Christian nationalism” as a concept.

    I am interested in the Welsh thinking on this issue. Has anything been put on the internet by Tudur Jones on the net (in English)? I suspect your own thoughts might be condensed somewhere on your blog, would you recommend any particular postings?

  11. thomas Says:

    You should travel.

    When you have travelled over many borders, seen how men behave, and then go back to your country by the emerald sea, you will understand how these currents and tides of culture & language matter so little in reality.
    There are much less tolerant places than a little lost celtic civilisation in the north atlantic.

  12. David Says:

    Thomas, are you smoking something illegal?

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