November 4, 2015

WATCH: Why Should Christians Care About Government?

 

Editor’s Note: Mark Melton is Deputy Editor of Providence: A Journal of Christianity & American Foreign Policy. The magazine’s inaugural issue will be released in Fall 2015. To attend the official Providence Launch Event on November 6, 2015, simply RSVP online. Also make sure to visit www.ProvidenceMag.com to learn more about Providence and read cutting-edge foreign policy analysis from a Christian perspective.

“God created war so that Americans would learn geography.” I really enjoy this Mark Twain quote. Sometimes it gets some chuckles, but the chuckles often turn into a tinge of sadness because there is some truth in it.

Many Americans do not pay attention to geopolitics until something dramatic gets our attention, at which point there’s a risk of acting unwisely. I understand that I spend a lot more time following international relations than the average citizen, but I’m still amazed when I meet someone, even someone who is very intelligent with advanced degrees, who doesn’t know roughly where Crimea is or what Russia has been doing in the area, as happened to me last week. I could despair about this ignorance. But my hope with this new project is to fulfill what Thomas Jefferson advised, “Do not be too severe upon the errors of the people, but reclaim them by enlightening them.”

This project will have a Christian realist perspective. As a Christian I believe that I am a sinner and that everyone else alive is a sinner. To put it in secular terms- we’re not perfect; we are prone to failure, selfishness, greed, etc.. Therefore, as a sinner living amongst sinners, or an imperfect person living among imperfect people, I do not believe that we could ever construct a perfect societal structure that creates pure happiness and bliss. Our best attempts to create the perfect structure will fail because imperfect people are still in those structures. Or, to borrow Christian terminology, we can never construct the New Jerusalem until God brings the New Jerusalem down to earth.

This state of our nature should not surprise us, and it did not surprise James Madison, who wrote in Federalist 51, “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.” 

What I love about this quote is that Madison not only understands that humans are not angels but that humans should do their best to construct a government that maximizes liberty, even if the society and government can never be perfect.

Christians, and many non-Christians for that matter, may want to escape this sinful, broken world where government is necessary. But we still have to live here. While we long for and pray for God to bring about the New Jerusalem, Christians who are interested in government, or at least vote, should understand how they can engage positively and wisely in politics and geopolitics. For instance, should the government be allowed to use coercion? Clearly, government is allowed to collect taxes, which is an incredibly coercive power. For most people, the collection of taxes is the most coercive thing a government will ever do to them.

My hope is that this new journal would help Christians who are in government, interested in government, or who just vote for government to better understand how government can use its power wisely and responsibly, not just within our artificial borders that we have created but abroad as well.

I admit that I am still a sinner who does not have perfect knowledge as God does, but I am confident that a healthy debate on these issues will create a more enlightened citizenry. I am eager to learn from everyone else, and I invite you to join us.


 

17 Responses to WATCH: Why Should Christians Care About Government?

  1. Curt Day says:

    I hope that in presenting Christian perspectives on gov’t and democracy that it distinguishes between Biblical perspectives from American ones.

    • Charles says:

      Well his studies of the Bible and what God calls for as a society may not relate to yours, so don’t be surprised if he isn’t a socialist.

      • Curt Day says:

        Charels,
        Neither socialism nor capitalism are the issues. And if we hid behind what each person’s studies of the bible about gov’t are, we make the Bible a waxed nose regarding gov’t.

        • Charles says:

          I see what you do. You wait for any opportunity to present your precious socialism as the most viable option for gospel believers. You twist scripture to conform to it and then you say. You yourself have made the Bible a waxed nose by twisting it to meet your view. The clearest testimony to that is that you are a socialist activist/blogger rather than a crusader for the Gospel.

          • Sharon Ellis says:

            I thought I was the only person who saw this in Curt’s writing.

          • Curt Day says:

            Charles,
            I think you are funny, but not in a healthy way. I said nothing about socialism, but you felt compelled to bring it up by accusing me of waiting for the opportunity to insert it in the conversation.

            No, I don’t look to insert it into the conversation and there is nothing I wrote above that indicates that. Rather, I worry about the syncretism of conservative politics with conservative Christianity. And that worry does not necessitate bringing up socialism. In fact, all I would have to do is note the inconsistency of American conservative politics with Christianity.

            Keep acting on those compulsions, but don’t forget to camouflage your intentions by accusing me of forcing socialism in all my conversations. The irony here is that you, not me, were the one who introduced socialism in this conversation.

          • Charles says:

            It’s apparent that this is indeed the issue with you when every comment you author against a reasonable Christian article begins with “I think it’s important to remember a socialist way of thinking here”.
            Syncretism..that is exactly what you do with socialism, isn’t it? Anyone who reads what you write can see that is clearly what you do – merge socialism with the Gospel.
            Just the same as you would note inconsistencies with American conservative politics and Christianity, I simply want you to see there are also numerous inconsistencies with socialism and Christianity. You choose to ignore that. I completely acknowledge the disconnect with politics and the Gospel. In the end, the Gospel is the last thing I cling to, while for you, that thing is socialism.
            The irony is how you don’t see that spewing socialist agenda is at the center of everything you say.

          • Curt Day says:

            Charles,

            Below is the comment you are reading socialism into:


            I hope that in presenting Christian perspectives on gov’t and democracy that it distinguishes between Biblical perspectives from American ones.

            So first,how did my comment criticize the article?

            Second, where is socialism in the comment?

            Third, why is your judgment about how reasonable the article here so absolute?

            Fourth, everybody is vulnerable to falling to syncretism whether the Christians involved are political conservatives or political nonconservative. But I am not going to answer question about this because the above article isn’t about it. I would hope that we would stick to the issues of the article. Instead, your question is seeking to make me the issue. And if you continue to do that, I will simply no longer respond to your comments. Let’s discuss the article, not me.

            Finally, before you point out the inconsistencies between socialism and Christianity, first, find the appropriate artlcie on which to do that. If we did that here, it distracts from the article above. Second, since socialism, like capitalism, is not a monolith, one needs to identify the speicific form of socialism before noting the inconsistencies.

            Now, do you want to discuss the above article?

          • Charles says:

            “one needs to identify the specific form of socialism before noting the inconsistencies.”
            Ah, here you make sure I understand you believe in a special type of socialism, not to be confused with something else. Just like many other comments you’ve made, this really shows how precious your socialism is to you.

            “I hope that in presenting Christian perspectives on gov’t and democracy that it distinguishes between Biblical perspectives from American ones.”

            Let me just read between the lines here, because like I said, many of your comments start this way. When you say you hope the author distinguishes between Biblical and American perspectives, you are (a) assuming that since this is a TGC article, then you are dealing with a Christian conservative who loves his conservative politics and (b) choosing not to delineate into your usual socialist agenda because he clearly didn’t say anything you could attack in the article.
            Your comment also assumes that you have figured out what the correct Biblical perspectives are. But hidden behind that is the way you have twisted your perspective to fit inside your socialist worldview. After all, as I’ve said many times, you are a socialist activist (since 2005, right?). Socialism, capitalism, or whatever -ism you can think of, they are square pegs trying to fit in the round hole that is the gospel. I suppose if you try to make it fit long enough, it eventually will.

            So basically you looked at this article and said, “well, there isn’t really anything in here that contradicts my messed up socialist/Christian worldview; however, I better let the author know that if subsequent articles on the subject do bring forth contradictions, I will let him know about it.”

            To me, there is no difference between me dissecting your socialist comments and you criticizing every Christian article you come across by filtering it through your socialist objectives.

          • Curt Day says:

            Charles,
            First, some and all are two different words. No, I don’t always talk about socialism.

            Second, we either discuss the artlcle above or I will not respond.

          • Charles says:

            Well you have a blog set up that is riddled with it, and you are a socialist activist.

            In regards to the article, I am responding to your comment on it. You said, “I hope that in presenting Christian perspectives on gov’t and democracy that it distinguishes between Biblical perspectives from American ones.”
            Basically, you sniffed it out and said, “Hmm, no counter argument to be made here, but I will make a reference to Christianity’s association with American politics nonetheless.”
            My comment to you is that your comment is a load of socialist crap.

          • Curt Day says:

            Charles,
            Obviously, you want to talk about me instead of the article. So enjoy. No more responses

          • JeffreyRo55 says:

            Coward.

          • Charles says:

            “I hope that in presenting Christian perspectives on gov’t and democracy that it distinguishes between Biblical perspectives from American ones.”
            This is typically how you sound when you start to spew your socialist agenda, because after all, you are a socialist activist and that seems to be something you dance around as if it doesn’t matter.
            This comment assumes that Christians, particularly the good folks writing articles seen on “The Gospel Coalition” site, embrace their politically conservative politics over the message of the Gospel. I see you attack people like Joe Carter, constantly refuting his well researched pieces with socialist ideas. You even twist the Gospel into your socialist view. The truth is, no one at TGC cares as much about their politics as you do.

  2. Ashita Aditya says:

    Good article.

  3. Kingdom Ambassador says:

    The new or heavenly Jerusalem is one and the same as the kingdom, per Hebrews 12:22-24, 28, which was brought down, at least definitively, in Acts 2 and continues progressively here on earth:

    “…Many Christians reject these inescapable facts of Yahweh’s sovereignty, believing He has no kingdom at present or that His kingdom
    is limited to heaven. They lift their favorite proof text from John 18:

    ‘Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.’ (John 18:36)

    “The exact same Greek phrase ek toú kósmou, translated “not of this world,” is used several times and is explained in the preceding chapter:

    ‘I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world…. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.’ (John 17:14-18)

    “Clearly ek toú kósmou does not mean Yahweh’s kingdom exists only in heaven. Although it is certainly true that His kingdom is not of this world, this does not mean that He does not intend for it to be in this world. His statement in John 18 is better understood to mean that His kingdom is nothing like the other kingdoms in this world. As someone once said, ‘The only kingdom that will prevail in this world is the kingdom that is not of this world.’….”

    For more, see free online book “Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant” at http://www.bibleversusconstitution.org/law-kingdomFrame.html.

    Remove the barrier that God’s kingdom is yet future and/or exclusively in heaven and many more Christians will see the importance of not only being involved in but taking control of government, much the same as did our 17th-century Christian Colonial founders.

  4. Joseph O'Neill says:

    US foreign policy = do whatever apartheid Israel tells you to do, and pay $3.8 billion per year for the regime to kill Palestinians.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *