Christians should reject nationalism, Moltmann says
Renowned theologian Jürgen Moltmann has called on young Christians to reject nationalism.
Moltmann, who is 93 and grew up in Nazi Germany, says there are worrying parallels between the world today and the Nazi Germany that he grew up in.
This, he says, includes a new wave of nationalism in many countries, which he called a “setback for humanity.”
“Humanity precedes nationality,” he said.
In a lecture to students at the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Institute last December, Moltmann called on Christians to reject nationalistic ideas.
“The church of Christ is present in all the people on earth and cannot become ‘a national religion’,” he said.
“The church of Christ ecumenically embraces the whole inhabited earth. She is not a tribal religion, nor a Western religion, nor a white religion, but the church of all humanity.”
“The church of Christ is not national, but it is a church of all the nations and humanity.”
Moltmann recalled his upbringing in Nazi Germany.
As was expected of him, he participated in the Hitler youth. Moltmann later had a conversion experience inside a POW camp after the end of the war.
“In my youth, I lived in extreme nationalism, patriotism, and the Nazi dictatorship,” he said.
“When Hitler came into power in Germany in 1933, I was seven years old. My larger family was divided in anti-Hitler socialists and pro-Hitler Nazis.”
According to Moltmann, he took part in the Hitler Youth because he “was a patriot.”
Moltmann described his father as being torn between
allegiance to his country and his opposition to Hitler.
“During World War II, he had said: ‘Hitler must not win this war.’ He also said, ‘A man must defend his fatherland.’ He couldn’t solve this contradiction,” Moltmann said.
At the age of 16, Moltmann himself was later drafted into the German Army. He later spent three years in British prisoner of war camps.
He returned home to Germany in 1948. He says he felt, “lost over Auschwitz and the killing of German soldiers by the SS.”
“Since then, I have been convinced there is no fatherland in dictatorship,” he said. J
Jürgen Moltmann has written dozens of well-regarded theological texts, including The Crucified God and Theology of Hope.