In America, we are currently right in the middle of a political season. And as we survey the current political landscape, two very different visions of the purpose and use of government come into view. As Christians, we need to be very discerning in the way we interact with the possibilities. While the Bible does not advocate a specific form of government, there are some principles that emerge out of a Christian worldview which inform how a government should operate.
A Christian Worldview Concept
Based on a biblical worldview, government exists to promote an environment which provides for the work of God to be accomplished in the world. This does not necessarily imply a theocracy. However, God did create the world and humanity for a specific purpose, and every part of life, including government, should be an instrument which allows that purpose to be fulfilled.
Based on biblical teachings, God’s purpose is that every person come to know him in a personal relationship and live in fellowship with him. Thus, a godly government provides the means for this to be accomplished. To be sure, it is not the government’s job to do the work of the church. Government should not be dictating religious beliefs and practices. But it is its job to provide an environment where the church can freely advance the purpose of God. The provision of this environment is enabled by having laws and regulations which allow people in society to have freedom to do the work of God.
As the framers of the American constitution did their work, they had this purpose clearly in mind. And the constitutional republican form of government which they chose was designed to create this environment. The constitutional approach was designed to mimic the idea of an objective, absolute authority. As God’s law was seen as the absolute authority for the faith and practice of individuals, the constitution was designed to be the absolute authority for the operation of the government. This approach has built into it the two primary responsibilities of a government based on a Christian worldview – deliver justice and promote societal order. The framers of the constitution also attempted to build in checks and balances to keep government from overstepping its role and squelching human freedom. The perceived need for this was based on their understanding of the need to check the fallenness of man.
A Non-Christian Worldview Concept
There are, of course, other forms of government which could also accomplish these goals. However, with other forms it is much easier for man’s sinful nature to get in the way. Human beings have a tendency to usurp God’s power for themselves when put in a position to wield the levers of governmental power.
In modern American society, there is a move to create a governmental structure which has a different purpose than what was originally established. This alternative structure is born out of a Naturalistic worldview and has its most prominent expressions in socialism and communism. Rather than recognizing the accomplishment of God’s purpose as its primary goal, this form finds its purpose in the hopes and desires of humanity. And, of course, the particular humans which get to determine this are the ones who have control of the levers of power.
The entire basis of this approach is relativism based on the desires of those in power. As such, law is subject to the whimsical interpretations of those who hold power. There is no recognition of an absolute authority or of the fallenness of man.
Contrasting the Two
Obviously, the approach taken to governing has significant effects on the approaches and priorities of governmental operations. For instance:
1) Social issues – Under a Christian worldview approach, morality is expressed in law as an objective standard. Using a Naturalistic worldview approach, morality is changeable based on the whims of those in power.
2) Economic Issues – Under a Christian worldview approach, individual responsibility is the ruling concept for the acquisition and disposal of wealth. A Naturalistic worldview approach sees economics as the domain of the government and subject to the dictates of governmental authorities.
3) Foreign Affairs – Based on a Christian worldview approach, the promotion of freedom based on the purpose of God is the ruling concept. Using a Naturalistic worldview framework, the priorities are based on the perceived best interests of the nation as understood by the one’s wielding governmental power.
The Priority of the Spiritual over the Political
As Christians, we recognize the objective reality of God and his purposes. And, while we must live in a physical world subject to the limitations of our physical existence, we do recognize that the physical is, in the end, subject to the spiritual. The ultimate authority is God, and his purposes must govern the way we structure every part of life – including government.
As we watch what is going on in modern society, we are seeing a shift to a different approach which values the material over the spiritual. This is outwardly expressed in numerous ways. We see:
1) Judges who create new law from the bench based on their own beliefs.
2) Judges who interpret existing law in ways which are contrary to the original intent of the writers.
3) Presidents and governors who governs by czars and bureaucratic decree rather than by following the constitution and the law.
4) Executive officials who refuse to enforce and defend laws they don’t personally agree with.
5) Legislative officials making laws which benefits themselves and their friends rather than focusing on what is best for society based on God’s overall purpose for government.
All this being said, whatever form a government ultimately takes does not affect the priorities of God or of Christians who are determined to follow him. God’s priorities are for all people to know him in a personal relationship, regardless of the form of government they must live under. It is just that some governmental forms promote our ability to do that better than others.
The worldview foundation of a nation does affect the operation of the government in some very specific ways. While it is possible for sincere Christians to disagree on various policy issues and priorities, we cannot disagree on the worldview foundation if we wish to retain the freedoms we have under the law. A Christian worldview provides a means and an impetus for retaining these freedoms. A Naturalistic approach works in the opposite direction. While it is still possible, Christians ought to be diligently living out a Christian worldview in a way which not only keeps a priority on the spiritual, but which also promotes the kind of freedom which allows God’s work to be accomplished in the material world.
© 2012 Freddy Davis