Uneasy Marriages between Christianity and Nationalism
This chapter discusses the relationship between Christianity and nationalism. The twentieth century—and in particular the years after the First World War—saw the global diffusion of the European idea of the nation-state and the corresponding spread of mass nationalist sentiment. As Western colonial intrusion into the economies of Asia and Africa deepened, Asian and African peoples drew on a wide variety of ideas and strategies in pursuit of a goal that was increasingly defined as “national” liberation from alien rule. From the dawn of the twentieth century, nationalism and Christianity, at least in its traditional Western forms, were set on a collision course. In point of fact, at least during the first two decades of the century, nationalism was not generally aligned in opposition to Christianity, nor even to Western thought as a whole, for the simple reason that the educated elites who pioneered the first Asian and African nationalist movements were often the product of mission education and took many of their ideas from Western ideological sources. Indeed, right through the century, there remain a few striking exceptional cases of a continuing, or even growing, convergence between Christian and nationalist identities, both in Europe and beyond it. The chapter then considers two such examples. The first, that of Korea, is largely Protestant in character; the other, Poland, is decidedly Catholic.
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