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.