Politics and the Church – Extrication from the Shoal Waters [Part 1]

We have spent the past several weeks taking a look at how we got the ‘ship of state’ into ‘shoal waters’ and the dangers that exists if we don’t do something to extricate ourselves, and soon.  All great societies throughout history have found themselves in such ‘shoal waters’ without the ability to recovery.  Actually the ability was always there but man chose to ignore the escape plan…God’s Word.  We will spend the next few weeks looking at the ‘charts’ available to us as a nation to plan an escape route if we will only follow them.  There are many ‘charts’ available.  It is up to our ‘captains’…national leaders…to choose the right ones; then we as ‘crew members’…citizens…must do what is necessary to follow the plan.  Some citizens will refuse to accept that we are even in ‘shoal waters’.

With declining citizen participation and stewardship, American government has undergone fundamental transformations.  These changes have adversely affected the daily lives of many Americans.  To understand the ‘charts’ that are available to us as citizens,  the ‘charts’ that we must ultimately choose from to lead us out of ‘shoal waters’, we will take a look at seven of them… we know them as primary forms of government:

*   Theocracy – a government run by immediate representatives of God…just ask them…who claim to act directly at His behest on every issue.  The Islamic nations are representative of such governments.

*   Monarchy – a government headed by an unelected king, queen, or emirate.

*   Anarchic or Revolutionary – a government in which written laws are largely meaningless.  Supreme power rests with each individual who does whatever he wishes or has the power to do.  Such a government is described in the Bible…”every man does that which which is right in his own eyes”  (Judges 17:6; 21:25; Deuteronomy 12:8).

*   Democracy – a government where absolute power rests solely with the people who exercise law making power through direct majority vote or referendums rather than through elected representatives.  In this type of government selfishness and popular passions often prevail over reason and deliberation.  This leads to an unstable and fluctuating government. Founding Father John Adams and Benjamin Rush used the term ‘mobocracy’ to describe this type of government.

*   Totalitarian – a highly centralized government that restrains freedom, enforces conformity, and has little toleration for individualism or differences of opinion.

*   Oligarchy – a government where power resides in the hands of a few, who are largely unaccountable to the people.

*   Republic (and Constitutional Republic) – A government where power is exercised through representatives elected by the people.  A weak form of this system is a parliamentary system or representative democracy…those elected by the people become sovereign power until the people elect new representatives.  The highest form of this type of government is constitutional republic where representatives elected by the people are not sovereign but instead are subordinate to a higher law – a written constitution.  Founding Father John Adams called it “a government of laws, and not of men” [Adams, Works, vol. 4; pg.106].

For a short time America was part of a monarchy but as a result of the revolution it became a constitutional republic.  Today, however, the nation has begun adopting key elements from several of the government forms described above…3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th.  even today we are quite different from where we were just a few decades ago.  America today is commonly described as a democracy.  Textbooks and political leaders frequently tell us it is.  The Constitution tells us otherwise:

The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government [US Constitution, article 4, section 4]

We pledge allegiance to a republic, not a democracy.  Our Founders had an opportunity to establish a democracy and deliberately chose not to.

We can see which ‘chart’ our Founders chose to guide this ‘ship of state’.   Unfortunately,  as the years went by some of our leaders chose to try other ‘charts’, ‘charts’ that had proven to be faulty.  Is it any wonder that our nation has ended up in ‘shoal waters’?  Next week we will take a look at our Founders’ justification for the ‘chart’ they chose.   These ‘shoal waters’ can be detrimental to the church as well as to the nation.

For the past several months the thesis of this weekly diatribe has been the part that the church and politics has played in this nation’s foundation and in its ability to remain the longest surviving republic in the history of the world.  Does ‘politics’ mean office holders/candidates?

Not at all.  Some may think that I propose that the pastors stand up in the pulpit and tell the congregations who to vote for.  Once again, not at all.  Politics is a collection of guiding principles that a society uses to conduct itself.  In the case of the United States that set of principles is made up of Judeo/Christian principles as told us through the Word of God…the Bible.  That was the guidelines our Founders used…whether you want to believe it or not.  Some of these principles include respect for our Maker, respect for the sanctity of life, respect for God’s plan for man and woman and family, respect for our neighbors/fellow man, respect for honesty and truth, respect for self, respect for the value of each man, respect for God’s plan for man’s interface…government… here on earth, and more.  When the church is called upon to become involved with politics it is a calling to announce and explain these values and encourage voters to pick out the candidates that will best support these values.  It’s up to an educated congregation to make the decision of who to vote for…not the pastor’s to call.  The elected official…politician…is merely the agent we choose to exercise these principles.  If we choose incorrectly we end up with a government not at all envisioned by our Founders.  It’s the citizens’ decision to make.

– Bob Munsey

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