By Nathaniel Torrey
In a segment entitled, “On Faith, the Economy, and the Election” on Odyssey Networks, president of the Ethics & Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention Dr. Richard Land commented on the role of government and what this election means for people of faith. “I think that this election, more than most elections in our history, is about big issues,” said Dr. Lang. “It’s not going to be an election about whether you like Romney or you like Obama. The big issue is the role of the federal government in American peoples’ lives on a daily and weekly basis for the next generation.”
Dr. Land asked Christians who would vote for larger government in order to help the poor to “reexamine what the Bible says about human nature.” He continued, “If human nature is what the Bible says it is, socialism and radical redistribution of income will never work. People are not going to work according to their ability and receive according to their need. It’s contrary to what the Bible says human nature is.”
Limited government follows from human nature. Since man is a fallen creature and therefore “There is no one righteous; not one” (Romans 3:10), he cannot live out the old Marxist motto, “From each according to his ability and each according to his need.” Therefore, the further expansion of government to help the poor will simply not work. One of the better meditations on the role of government and human nature can be found in James Madison’s Federalist Paper 51. It is worth quoting at length. Madison argued that human nature requires a limited government replete with checks and balances to curb its tendencies to tyranny. He writes:
But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.
Ultimately, Dr. Land said the state of most Americans is “the equivalent of being born on third base and we didn’t hit a triple. We are of all people in the history of the world most blessed.”