We all have the power to change things. Very few have the courage.
briefly exists between Anarchy and Tyranny, because liberty requires the least
government to avoid anarchy. As government inexorably increases,
liberty decreases until tyranny reigns. And such tyranny will end only at the cost of anarchy. It's a cycle, not a pendulum. -- W. H. Gross
Politics is about community
governance: polity. Because we are citizens in a
democracy, Christians in America are entitled to participate
extensively in the political process. This can cause conflict with
fellow-citizens, and it often produces backlash on the Church. On the Ethics
Page are a number of articles on theonomy. Those address the
proper extent of Christian participation and control in the community.
This Politics Page is more about the relation between the
State and the Individual, the interaction between our public and private spheres. Give to Caesar
what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's. But don't give Caesar
more than his due.
For the record, America is not a Christian nation; it was not intended to be a Christian nation;
and theologically speaking, it cannot
be a Christian nation. Nations cannot place their faith in Jesus Christ
unto salvation; only individuals can do that. But America has
been a nation of Christians; and that has helped to influence America's
politics, culture, laws, and education, often for the better.
Even so, the presence of
Christians cannot make a nation "Christian."
late James Montgomery Boice wrote that Augustine (in City of God)
"distinguished between two entirely different societies: the city of
man, which is characterized by self-love, and the City of God, composed
of those who love God and want to serve him. The city of man will never
be God's city. It has a different origin, progresses along a separate
path, and is moving to a radically different end. Yet those who are
members of God's city are nevertheless in the world and need to conduct
themselves as a renewing force within it." That's what Christians did in America for
nearly two centuries; they were its salt and light. But the light is
now dim, and the salt isn't as salty...
How can I say
that? Well, consider the evidence:
A moral people will
not tolerate immoral leadership; and an immoral people will not
leadership. Thus we always have the government we deserve. If
immoral leaders, then we have become an immoral or an indifferent
Christianity will become increasingly intolerable...
During the formation of the United States
government, and preceding the adoption of its Constitution, a series of
letters were sent by three men in support of the proposed Constitution
to the editors of a number of prominent newspapers, from October of
1787 to April of 1788. These men were John Jay, James Madison, and
Alexander Hamilton. The composite of what they wrote is arguably the
finest treatise ever written on political philosophy. It reflects the
heart and soul of the American system of government, and the intent of
its founders. Forty-six of the letters advocate a strong central
government under which certain rights were reserved to the states –
this shared system of state and federal control, emphasizing central
control, is called federalism; and its adherents were known as
federalists. Hence, the collective title of these papers. To encourage
a fair reading on the merits of the case presented, they each signed
their letter “Publius.”
In our current era, the Executive
branch is striving to reassert its independence. It
wants to be acknowledged as a "separate but equal" federal branch,
rather than being a mere agent of the Legislative Branch; it believes
it has been kept on a short leash by the Judicial Branch far too long.
Meanwhile, the Judicial Branch continues to exercise legislative
and executive powers which the Founders never intended. They
understood that the federal Judiciary would be tempted to
abuse its power because it is unelected, and therefore
unaccountable. The Constitution thus restricts the Judicial domain
to judging the laws and their enforcement against a strictly
constructed Consititution. The NSA lawsuit of 2006 reflects this
ongoing struggle for power and control between the three branches
that I described 30 years ago. The Leviathan grows because the
American people have been convinced that government is somehow a force
for good rather than a necessary evil. I believe our Founders
would be appalled at the thought.