Religion, politics, sex, and money are just four of the very dominant topics that we seem to debate aggressively over in our modern day society. Though religion used to seem to have the leading hand in these discussions, it seems as though they have now taken the back burner to many topics, and completely overshadowed by humanity’s self-impression of itself. Heritage and the credit that we lend to our understanding of history, culture and the basic evidence of history itself has always seemed to be a good starting place for making some of the assumptions we use in forming our world-view of things; and in some cases, our loyalties. However, Benedict Arnold seems to upset the fruit basket when analyzing the true nature of one particular topic…Nationalism. In his work “Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism,” Anderson seems to evaluate the standards for classifying one’s view of Nationalism, and calls into questions the methodologies that had preceded his own. His book reviews many cultures predating out nations by centuries to demonstrate what he projects as his own understanding of identifying one’s associate to its nation. Based on the numerous book reviews that can be found an compared, not everyone is as willing to comply with Anderson’s ultimate view.
The reality I found while reading this book at first was that I thought it would be terribly boring, extremely complicated to follow, and to bluntly honest, of no consequence to the line of study that I was trying do through this program. However, though I was right in many of these regards, there was a commonality that I started to find with the point I believe Anderson was trying to make and my own doctoral research; that point was based on identity. Though I could not tell you what it was now, I watched a brief clip on television a few months ago that addressed the fact that even though we as a world seems to have embraced the same idea that Adolph Hitler and his regime were evil, the simple fact was that Hitler was successful because he was so adept at having his troops dedicated to him completely. How could one of the most “evil” men in history still manage to have so many supporters? The truth we are forced to recognize is that not everyone thought he was evil; in fact, many believed that he was the answer to lead their people to be the nation they desired to be. Their identity was forged in the beliefs of their leader, and thus led them to do atrocious things. As Christians, we cling to the teachings of the bible, we embrace the story of Christ more than we embrace any other story in history, and we revolve our entire lives around the fact that “this world is not our home,” as the song so eloquently puts it. We have placed our identity in our leader, Jesus Christ.
As I worked through the text (sometimes painfully), I found that even though I did not want to agree with his views of the Christian world-view, in some aspects he was right. At one point he writes, “No nation imagines itself coterminous with mankind. The most messianic nationalists do not dream of a day when all the members of the human race will join their nation in the way that it was possible, in certain epochs, for, say, Christians to dream of a wholly Christian planet.” Realistically, we do dream of a day when all members of the human race would unite to become a Christian planet, however, we also know that it is not realistic to ever see that happen. In fact, even the Bible tells us this will never happen: “13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” We realize that not everyone sees Christ the same way we do, therefore, they identify themselves with a completely different leader. Anderson makes this classification, “The Christians regard Jesus Christ as their divinity; the Saracens, Mahomet; the Jews, Moses; and the idolaters, Sogomombar-kan, the most eminent among their idols.”
So the point; Anderson has perhaps a more political view than I have; however, in regards to Christianity and even global evangelism there is a necessity that lies before us should we desire to win as many to Christ as possible. We need not try to understand someone in the manner that we identify ourselves, but rather seek to see how he or she have come to their own identity. There are so many things that help us to form that identity; gender, race, nationality, personal experiences, culture, and education, to name a handful. We do not bend the Word of God to the will of their identity, but we do try to connect to their identity through the Word of God.
Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso Publishing, 2106.
Cromwell, Matt. A Critical Review of Benedict Anderson. November 2010. https://www.scribd.com/doc/45202059/A-Critical-Review-of-Benedict-Anderson (accessed January 18, 2018).
Nguyen, Cindy A. BOOK REVIEW Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (1983, 1991, 2006). April 3, 2016. https://cindyanguyen.com/2016/04/03/anderson_imagined_communities/ (accessed January 18, 2018).
 Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso Publishing, 2106. P 8. Kindle edition.
 Matthew 7:13-14 (NKJV).
 Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso Publishing, 2106. P 16. Kindle edition.