It can sometimes be a strange path that leads to becoming a published author. Just ask David Ritchie, chief pastor at Savior Christian Church in Amarillo.
Earlier this year, his book Why Nations Angry? “The Satanic Origin of Nationalism,” making a fascinating journey from master’s thesis research into a thoughtful 150-page look at nationalism from a biblical and theological perspective.
The project benefited from excellent timing. Ritchie finished his research with the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020 and then delivered the initial draft of his thesis on the morning of January 6, 2021 to a professor in Washington, DC. After what happened later that day, the professor told him. Turning it into a book would be a good idea.
“My teacher said it was an appropriate and needed perspective now,” Ritchie recalls. “There has been a lot of material on nationalism, but not so much from a pastor’s perspective asking how to theologically locate this force in our world. I am grateful for the opportunity. It surprised me that he came out of one of the toughest times of ministry I have ever known — pandemic turmoil. “.
Ritchie came to faith when he was a sophomore at West Texas A&M University while reading the biblical book of the Romans in his dorm room. “I felt that if this gospel was as true and powerful as the Bible has shown me, I would have wanted to give my whole life to see it go forward.”
In the years that followed, he devoted himself to service and watched the church he led steadily grow into a thriving fellowship of believers.
That certainly kept him busy, but as nationalism became more discussed and explicit, Ritchie also thought the book would provide a useful perspective from the pastor who delved deeper into the phenomenon.
He said earlier this week, “Something I noticed more than ever was that I was seeing Christians who seemed more enthusiastic and naturally able to share their political ideals, political values, and political narratives that they felt were best for the nation,” he said earlier this week. week, “but at the same time unwillingness to share the Christian gospel naturally or effectively through excess of heart.”
What Ritchie decided to explore was why and how in the cases on the left and right, “politics has become our functional good news that we are willing to share with neighbors.”
From Richie’s perspective as a pastor, this is important. He has been in full-time service for 18 years with the last 10 serving. He is a native of Amarillo and has deep roots in the area (one side of the family can be traced back to five generations in the Amarillo Canyon area).
“This is my place and my people,” he says of his pastoral role. “I am strongly called to serve these people.”
The book that grew out of the treatise arose from Ricci’s interest in the New Testament letters of the Apostle Paul in which he speaks of “powers and principalities or rulers and powers,” depending on the translation. The book explores, without giving away much, the features of nationalism, which, Ritchie said, can be traced in writing to the incident of the Tower of Babel recorded in Genesis 11.
“Sometimes it’s surprising to people that I don’t deconstruct American nationalism,” Ritchie said. It is a critique of the phenomenon of broad nationalism in all its forms. It has a spiritual dimension to it, but also how nationalism continually uses labels of Christian faith to spread its message.”
Ritchie said that nationalism is different from patriotism. He said: “Love of the homeland is a truly arranged love for the nation, an extension of the divine love for one’s neighbour.” “Nationalism is when that love becomes definitive and your vision of the nation becomes something of absolute devotion. Then you have a fetish in hand with a spiritually charged element.”
For the most part, the book resonated, and Ritchie was invited to present a research paper on the topic at an upcoming meeting of the American Academy of Religion.
“I’ve been well received in academia as much as caring about what the pastor has to say about this issue from a biblical perspective. People in my community have been supportive all the way.”
Doug Hensley is Associate Regional Editor and Director of Commentary at The Globe News.