WHAT DOES CHRISTIAN GOVERNMENT LOOK LIKE? — PART 1

What does Christian government look like? It looks like a government of the sinners, by the sinners, and for the sinners.

Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. — Winston Churchill (from here)

This is a spinoff of this post, King Solomon, Proverbs and Politics by scatterwisdom pointed to a reference, 10. Proverbs and Politics by Bob Deffinbaugh that I thought would be worth delving into. Deffinbaugh thinks the Book of Proverbs was written for princes. He observes:

Dr. Bruce Waltke, formerly head of the Old Testament department of Dallas Theological Seminary, taught the Book of Proverbs to his three children. His approach was that this book, written mostly by king Solomon, was intended to prepare his son to rule in his place over Israel. Proverbs, then, was written to princes. Here was a king not only instructing his “son” about wisdom in general, but also about wisdom as it related to governing a nation. If Christians are to “reign with Christ” (2 Tim. 2:12), should we not also prepare ourselves to reign in a righteous way? (from here)

I think the excerpt above makes sense. However, if we look online and search on what the Bible says or what Jesus said about politics, we will find all kinds of references and a variety of widely differing views. Who is right?  That is something we can only resolve by making a serious study of the Bible.  That is, we each must learn the truth for ourselves. So while I have my own point-of-view my primary agenda is to get people to study the Bible for themselves.

What do I think is most interesting about 10. Proverbs and Politics by Bob Deffinbaugh? Proverbs is not one of the books that people usually cite for references about government.Yet as Deffinbaugh observes, it is chock full of observations about how we should make our government work.

What parts of the Bible do people usually cite? Let’s consider some examples.  Here is a list of references that come up in response to this query: what does the bible say about politics?

  • What the Bible Really Says About Politics (relevantmagazine.com): This references focuses primarily on the New Testament. The focus is respect for those in authority and our duty citizens. No mention of Proverbs.
  • Question: “How should a Christian view politics?” (gotquestions.org): Here the focus is that the teaching that Christians should not idolize politics. We should each be good citizens, but “the church’s unique, God-given purpose does not lie in political activism.”

    One of Satan’s grandest deceptions is that we can rest our hope for cultural morality and godly living in politicians and governmental officials. A nation’s hope for change is not to be found in any country’s ruling class. The church has made a mistake if it thinks that it is the job of politicians to defend, to advance, and to guard biblical truths and Christian values.

    Again, no mention of Proverbs.

  • 7 Things the Bible Warns Us About Politics (beliefnet.com): Here we actually have a citation from Proverbs. Here is the theme of the article.

    Are Christians supposed to stay aloof of politics? No says David McGee, senior pastor at The Bridge Church in Kernersville, N.C. He says God has called us to influence society. After all, Jesus spoke out repeatedly on issues such as fair wages, unjust trade, oppression of widows and economics.

  • Lesson 89: Christ: Lord of our Politics (Rom. 13:1-7 and other Scriptures) (bible.org): Here the focus is on Romans 13:1-7. Well considered, but no mention of Proverbs.

Here are additional references that come up in response to this query: what did Jesus say about politics?

  • What does the Bible say about government? (gotquestions.org): The focus here is obedience to those is authority so long as their commands do not conflict with God’s commandments. Again, no mention of Proverbs.
  • Why Did Jesus Not Get Involved in Politics? (wol.jw.org): This is a web page on Jehovah’s Witnesses website. Their emphasis is that while Christians should respect those in authority they should focus on spreading the Gospel, not involving themselves in politics.

    The oldest available records show that Jesus’ followers in the ancient world did not take any active part in politics. Because they gave all their worship to the One whom Christ worshiped, they refused to pledge allegiance to Rome and its emperor, to take up military service, and to accept public office. They suffered all manner of hostility as a result. Their enemies sometimes accused them of hatred against mankind. Was that accusation a fair one?

    No mention of Proverbs.

  • The Politics of Jesus (lifehopeandtruth.com): This website is argues against Christians wasting their time trying to reform government.

    If Jesus were here in the flesh today, what would He do in our present political environment? Would He campaign to get His favorite candidate elected?

    No, He would still be declaring the message He spoke about when He came during the first century. The solution to man’s problems is not to reform present governments, but rather to replace them with the Kingdom of God.

    No mention of Proverbs.

  • 10 POLITICAL Things You Can’t Do While Following Jesus (sojo.net): The folks here don’t cite the Bible. The object here seems to be to use Jesus to further a political agenda. Here is the organization’s vision.

    We envision a future in which Christians put their faith into action in the passionate pursuit of social justice, peace, and environmental stewardship, working in partnership with people of other perspectives, for the common good of communities, families and individuals. We articulate that vision, convene and mobilize constituencies, and build alliances for effective advocacy.

Why do I blog about politics and religion? Well, I am not a social justice warrior. I just consider politics a mission area for Christians. Whatever God calls us to do, whether we are a taxicab driver, a medical doctor, a factory line worker, or a politician, we can do what we do for the glory of our Lord.

I agree that the measure of success is not merchandise but character. But I do criticize those sentiments, held in too many respectable quarters, that our economic system is fundamentally wrong, that commerce is only selfishness, and that our citizens, holding the hope of all that America means, are living in industrial slavery. I appeal to Amherst men to reiterate and sustain the Amherst doctrine, that the man who builds a factory builds a temple, that the man who works there worships there, and to each is due, not scorn or blame, but reverence and praise. — Calvin Coolidge (from his second speech to the Amherst Alumni Association in 1916)

If commerce can be an act of worship, why can’t our involvement in politics be to the glory of God? In a republic or democracy, the people we elect to rule do so in our name. Therefore, when we go to the polls as citizens to vote, our vote should be in concert with our beliefs as Christians. As much as possible, we should be voting for people whose values are compatible with our own Christian values.

As Deffinbaugh observes in his article, Proverbs shows us how to make the leap from being a People with rulers to a People who have the responsibility for selecting their rulers and directly influencing public policy. So I think Christians should carefully examine what Proverbs suggests we should do about our politics. Should we also be familiar with the rest of the Bible? Of course we should.

12 thoughts on “WHAT DOES CHRISTIAN GOVERNMENT LOOK LIKE? — PART 1

  1. Good and thought reflecting post Tom, as usual. I agree mostly with what you say and think Proverbs would be an excellent area for all government personnel to study and master. Of course most of them would rather light their hair on fire, but it’s fun to contemplate.

    What’s interesting to me is the divide in the evangelical community between Jerry Falwell’s method of building up a moral majority of Christian focused politicians and his son Jerry Jr.’s seemingly insistence of separating politics and religion. Lots to chomp on with that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What does it mean to separate church and state? The Constitution does not actually call for that. It just prevents the government from interfering with the church. There is no special prohibition on the church.

      There is a type of scheme people use to get their way we call legalism. Some lawyers think coming up with legalistic arguments to twist the law to get the interpretation they want is in fact their job. The lawyers who came up with that phrase, “wall of separation between church and state”, most likely think coming up with legalistic argument to twist the law to get the interpretation they want is in fact their job. Can’t be certain, but it seems likely.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is interesting. Just a thought I had while reading your post: we talk about a Biblical worldview. We see everything from parenting to marriage to death to our finances through the lens of Scripture, right? Nothing is separate from the Word of God. However, when it comes to our politics, there is a disconnect. What is most troubling is how many Christians are willing to throw their hands in the air and not care one bit. We should care because, as you stated in the beginning, our government is run by sinners…for sinners. If involves and affects us. But one quick addendum, I do agree that we can allow our government/law to be an idol dictating our morality. That’s worth expanding upon in my opinion. Good stuff, as usual.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Tom,

    Thanks for the mention, If I may add my opinions why proverbs and Bible relate to proverbs.

    If politicians would run a private business, they would be bankrupt in a short time, in my opinion.

    Why

    When a purchasing agent makes a purchase, he makes a decision to trust a vendor will provide a service or part according to the purchase promise.

    A written purchase order is issued for evidence of any significate purchase to prevent disputes by providing evidence of what was purchased and the terms of the agreement. If a dispute is brought before a court, the written purchase order or contract will take precedence over oral arguments.

    The vendor will not allows do as they promise in a timely manner, so the buyer must have a system to follow up his often numerous orders. Vendors who turn out to be unreliable may require the buyer to cancel the order if possible according to a set of Business Law well defined laws.

    However, only a fool buyer would ever place another order with a known unreliable source ever again, especially if it requires a lawyer to become involved.

    Politicians

    If voters would consider their votes as would a purchasing agent, how many two term politicians would be rehired?

    What’s My Point

    Proverbs give clues of guidance for voters from past observations, who not to trust The 1980 reference gave guidance for Christians to become involved in politics of our nation. In the very least to choose legislators with character they may trust to do what they promise when they campaign.

    For Example, Proverb Chapter 16

    11 The Lord wants weights and measures to be honest and every sale to be fair. 12Kings cannot tolerate evil, because justice is what makes a government strong. 13 A king wants to hear the truth and will favor those who speak it.

    In My Opinion

    Trust is what the USA entire economic supply chains of businesses conform to contribute to growing both parties, buyer and vendor, to conduct and profit in the present and future.
    Newt Gingrich was fairly successful when he introduced his “Contract with America.”
    We voters be involved in making our contract terms and choices to trust legislators to be accountable to live up to our beliefs of what will benefit both our present and road direction for ourselves, family, and nation.

    For example, today’s immigration is a hot topic in the news. A simple promise is to secure our borders. Once secure, a promise to find a fair solution to resolve the issue that legislators of the past ignored for 35 years, a fair and equitable immigration system for the best interests of God and our nation.

    Sadly, the reason we need immigrants is because every year, the USA aborts one million babies and at the same time, allows one million immigrants to legally enter the USA.

    In Other Words

    Stop electing legislators who do not understand proverbial wisdom to help guide them. Guide them not alter the weights and measures, tolerate evil, and falsehoods. Because when we do not follow up and allow legislators not to provide what they promise, justice in our nation.

    Ask them to sign a contract what they promise to accomplish and how they will accomplish their promises before we vote for them. Then compare their written promises to their performance. at the next election. Same as what business managers do every year in their performance reviews.

    Same as faith believers believe their Creator will do when their term is up.

    That is what a Christion Government should look and do, in my opinion.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. “What does Christian government look like? It looks like a government of the sinners, by the sinners, and for the sinners.”

    Amen,Tom. I think that’s what our founders intended with all those checks and balances. They had an awareness that we are all sinners. Conversely however,in order for the US to work properly we need a whole bunch of people holding onto the ideal that we are actually sinners redeemed, saints. Freedom, an attitude of self-governance, requires a big chunk of us to share some values, to be adults rather than errant children in a dysfunctional relationship with our Gov.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is not that difficult to find quotes from the founders that indicate that they thought only a moral people could make the government that they had fashioned work. They were right. It was not that long after the country started that the Federalists passed the Alien and Sedition Act. The party of Jefferson and Madison fought that battle and won. Nevertheless, after 200 hundred years the Constitution has become quite tattered.

      When some Christians say politics is a futile and dirty business, that we should not get involved in it, they have a point. Still, if we care about each other, we don’t have a choice. How can we say we love each other and then leave each other at the mercy of corrupt public officials?

      What we need to do I think is consider the matter of evil from a different perspective. What about religious institutions? Are all religions good? Haven’t some priests sacrificed human beings to idols? Are all Christian churches good? Aren’t some preachers just scoundrels looking for ways to fleece their flocks? So are we supposed to give up on the church? No? Then why should we give up on government? I think the following passage answers that question.

      Matthew 5:13-16 New King James Version (NKJV)
      Believers Are Salt and Light

      13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

      14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. As individual citizens, Christians have a calling to honor and obey the government. In a democracy, that includes voting and communicating with elected officials. On the other hand, the Church as Church has nothing to say to the government. The Church as Church warns sinners of their sins and proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ as God’s answer to sin. J.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Does the church have anything to say about government? The primary job of the church is to spread the Gospel. Spreading the Gospel includes promoting certain values. Sometimes those values relate to how our government operates. Therefore, when what the government wants us to do and believe conflicts with our duties as Christians, it is not possible for the church to remain silent.

      Consider.

      John 14:15 New King James Version (NKJV)

      15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.

      If we love Jesus, we will keep his commandments. We will render unto God what belongs to God.

      Usually it is easier to understand this problem when we consider what seems to us a more extreme example. When the likes of Stalin, Hitler and Mao Zedong rose to power and began murdering millions, was it the duty of the church to remain silent or speak out?

      Today we have a genocide in progress. Millions of mothers have had the lives of their unborn children extinguished within their wombs. Is the church supposed to remain silent?

      Today our government wants to redefine the institution of marriage. Yet Christians are supposed to promote marriage as an institution sacred to God. Is the church supposed to remain silent when the wicked corrupt marriage?

      I could go on, but I think I have made my point.

      Are all Christians in agreement on these issues? No. God has spoken, but sometimes we don’t hear and see His Word too well. So we bicker and argue. Still, that is just part of what it means to be human, imperfect.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Tom, love this: “Therefore, when we go to the polls as citizens to vote, our vote should be in concert with our beliefs as Christians. As much as possible, we should be voting for people whose values are compatible with our own Christian values.” Right on target.

    While we should try to influence politicians towards the values of Jesus, I also think it is important to realize that Jesus is intent on bringing about the Kingdom (country) of God. That is his mission and our mission. Your insight seems to recognize that.

    Be blessed. God is God and in control.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your comment.

      I agree. Our primary mission is to serve Jesus as He brings about the Kingdom of God. However, to spread the Gospel we must have a decent government. A strong government that is vehemently opposed to Christianity can crush it. When such a government resolutely sets about executing and locking up followers of Christian soon no one is left to share the Gospel.

      Christianity “conquered” the Roman Empire, but the Roman authorities did not resolutely oppose Christianity. Occasionally, the authorities used Christians as scapegoats, but mostly they just ignored Christians. We forget that Muslim caliphates conquered Christian lands in the Middle East and for the most part eliminated the Christians. Revelation 2-3 mentions seven churches The Seven Churches are Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos (a.k.a. Pergamum or Pergamon), Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.They are all in modern Turkey. See => https://www.conformingtojesus.com/charts-maps/en/map_of_the_seven_churches_of_asia.htm. Not too many Christians there. Because Christians did not stop or adamantly oppose Muslim warriors from Saudi Arabia, then just a wasteland, those warriors forced them to become Muslims.

      Liked by 1 person

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