This response focuses on four key questions that need to be considered about politics and government in a Christian worldview.
- What is God’s purpose for government, and why did it become necessary? “Human government was instituted by God to protect man’s unalienable rights from mankind’s sinful tendencies.” And it became necessary “because of the fall”. Since every person is inherently sinful, our evil inclinations must be kept in check by laws and by a government capable of enforcing such laws.” For this reason, the Bible advocates limited power in government. To disperse power, our republic has divided federal government into three branches–legislative, executive, and judicial–with a system of what are called checks and balances. Power is further dispersed below the federal level into local, county, and state governments. In summary, the state is a God-ordained institution with God-ordained limitations.
- From where do our rights come? This is brilliantly answered in our nation’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence (1776): “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” This testifies to the Founders belief that our rights come from God, not from government, a sentiment later echoed by President John F. Kennedy: “The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.” From the book, Thinking Like a Christian, we are reminded of two assumptions of the founders that are the basis for our Christian worldview: “First, man was created by a supernatural Being; second, this Being is the foundation for all human rights.” Our rights are further defined in the first ten amendments to the Constitution (1789), known as the Bill of Rights.
- What is justice, and why is it crucial to our politics to promote it? Another key function of government—besides protecting man’s God-given rights—is to administer justice, i.e. “the practice of truth in human relationships….and rendering to each his due according to a right standard.” Thus, “promoting justice becomes more important than any other aspect of government.” When government oversteps its bounds—specifically when it tries to usurp God’s sovereignty—utopianism (socialism) and totalitarianism are the result. “Abandoning God and placing trust in an individual or in the state will always result in a power-mad and abusive state.” As William Penn said, “If we are not governed by God, then we will be ruled by tyrants.” One need only think of the atrocities of the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin or Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler to see the result of a misplaced “hope that the state will someday create the perfect environment and perfect human beings.”
- If government exists to protect man’s unalienable rights and promote justice, what is the Christian’s responsibility to a just government? “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities,” we read in Romans 13:1, “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” “Thus,” again from Thinking Like a Christian, “the Christian is called to obey the government, to honor justice, and to preserve order.” This may include voting, running for office, serving in non-elected offices, and, if politics goes awry, attempting to “correct the deviance, so that he or she will not be forced to disobey the state.” Still, when God’s commands conflict with those of the state, the Christian has the right—even the duty—“to engage in acts of civil disobedience in order to remain obedient to God.” Think of Daniel opting for death in the lions’ den rather than worshiping the king, (Daniel 6) or the apostles continuing to preach Jesus even in the face of persecution and death. (Acts 7, 12, 21 et al)
What is important is that the Christian remain faithful to God and his truth in all circumstances including politics just like Daniel and the apostles. (Source for quotes, Thinking Like a Christian: Understanding and Living a Biblical Worldview by David Noebel and Chuck Edwards. Answer provided by Allen E. Hye, PhD)