8/17/11

Worldviews and Government

I have to admit it ~ I'm a political junkie. I love everything about the crazy season ~ the year or two before national elections. I watched the recent Republican debate before the straw vote in Iowa like an Australian Sheepdog eying a flock of unpredictable sheep.

I long for some discernment in my "addiction," so I searched the scriptures, looking for wisdom and clarity.

I discovered that government is not evil, as some people believe. It was God's invention, established after the Flood (Genesis 9:6). He also gave guidelines for the theocratic government of His covenant people in the Old Testament.

In the last decade, I've come to realize that one's worldview determines his or her behavior, and also has much to do with a person's political perspective.

In my search, I considered some online sources. One that resonated with me was written by Kerby Anderson, national director of Probe Ministries. He wrote in "Christian View of Government and Law" about two elements of human nature. First, he said, Humans are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) and second, they are "able to exercise judgment and rationality." However, as fallen creatures, they need civil government to control their evil behavior," he said. *

A Christian view of human nature is the basis for judging various political philosophies. Christians must "reject political philosophies which ignore human sinfulness," Anderson said, as well as a Marxist view of government, because "Karl Mark believed that human nature was conditioned by society..... His solution was to change the economy so that you would change human nature."

"The view of Karl Mark," he explained, "contradicts biblical teaching by proposing a new man in a new society perfected by man's own efforts." This is contrary to the Gospel. People become new creatures through conversion (2 Corinthians 5:17); but the truth is, this side of heaven, man continues to sin, and a change of government does not insure a change of heart.

Anderson teaches that civil government is "necessary and divinely ordained by God" (Romans 13:1-7). Therefore, we are to submit to civil authority (1 Peter 2:13-17), although we don't give "total and final allegiance" to the government. The Christian's final loyalties must always be God-ward (Acts 5:29).

Still, Anderson's encouragement to Christians is that they "have a responsibility to work within government structures to bring about change." Christians are to be salt and light, even in the political arena.

Just because government may at times be unjust or make foolish decisions, that does not excuse Christians from continuing to seek the best in government and call political leaders to integrity and strong moral leadership. We have a voice and a vote ~ and we need to use both! We need to call America back to her biblical heritage in law. [Note: Faithfacts.org has a chart that illustrates the biblical principles that were and are the basis for America's laws, both from America's foundation and through the years.]

While he explains the importance of government, he also addresses the need to place checks on governmental authority to protect against abuse/misuse of power.

And a key difference for Christians is the understanding that God has ordained other institutions, not just civil government, to exercise authority ~ the church and the family (and parents are also charged with their children's education) ~ and there is sovereignty in each sphere.

"In a Christian view of government," Anderson said, "law is based upon God's revealed commandments ... not based upon human opinion or sociological convention." While law in the Christian view is rooted in God's unchangeable character and revealed moral absolutes, Humanist law, he said, is "rooted in human opinion, and thus is relative and arbitrary."

So when Christians consider candidates in different political affiliations (and there are no perfect candidates), it might be wise to consider their basic philosophies and determine whether they are advancing a worldview that is opposed to the governing truths of the scriptures.

I need to remember that legislators will naturally tend to lean toward legislation that supports their personal worldview.
I need to be prayerful and careful, and ask God for discernment.

* [Anderson believes government would have existed even without the Fall, since there seems to be a structure of authority in the Garden of Eden and among the angelic host; and the rest of creation is governed by instinct (Proverbs 30:24-28) and God's providence.]


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