How to Be a Patriotic Christian: Love of Country as Love of Neighbor

Reviewed by:

Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.


How to Be a Patriotic Christian: Love of Country as Love of Neighbor


Richard J. Mouw


InterVarsity Press

Publication Date:

July 19, 2022




160 pages


What does it mean to love the country you are from… and also live out the Bible’s clear teachings that our citizenship is ultimately toward Jesus Christ? Christians have been debating this question for centuries, but events like the Jan. 6 insurrection and the rise of alt-right nationalism have made it especially relevant for Americans. Richard J. Mouw has been pondering this question for decades as a scholar of politics and religion, exploring it in books like Uncommon Decency. Here, he takes readers through important discussions about patriotism, like:

  • Can Christians balance love for their particular country with care for the global church?
  • Should Christians support “big government” or “small government”?
  • What is civil religion and what does it provide?

As he considers these ideas, Mouw shows a way forward that is neither anti-national pride nor nation-idolizing, something Christians can live out without resorting to hypocrisy or reductionism.

Mouw states in the beginning that the biggest thing he’s learned about patriotism is to “keep wrestling with the questions.” This attitude creates a sense of humility that extends throughout the book—this is an invitation to a discussion that people will continue having with themselves and others throughout their lives, not a one-stop answer to everything. The humility particularly plays out in sections where Mouw discusses views that he knows not every Christian will support—for example, he argues that Christians are permitted to say pledges of allegiance, something Quakers and Mennonites would argue is inherently inappropriate. He also keeps his ideas practical, noting things that will never be ideal but are still useful—for example, civil religion (prayers at presidential speeches, etc.) can’t have a seminary lecture’s deep theological content, but that doesn’t make civil religion superfluous. When it comes to discussing how to be patriotic when a government is making evil decisions, Mouw uses some excellent examples of Christians (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Simone Weil) who found ways to love their country even as they publicly opposed evil policies.

The humility, clear writing and practical emphasis make this book a breath of fresh air for Christians who have been tempted to give up on discussing politics or patriotism at all. A wonderful primer on loving God while also loving one’s nation.


Rating (1 to 5 stars):

4 stars

Suggested Audience:

American Christians seeking to understand the line between having their ultimate allegiance to Jesus Christ and having a love for the nation they come from.

Christian Impact:

Mouw builds on his Reformed tradition (which owes a lot to Dutch theologians like Abraham Kuyper) to make a case for humble yet clear patriotism that recognizes when governments are or aren’t honoring God with their choices. He also provides practical thoughts on how Christians can converse with each other when they don’t agree on political matters.

Note: ECLA readers who enjoy this book may also enjoy the following:




How to Be a Patriotic Christian: Love of Country as Love of Neighbor

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