The Godliness of Government

Judging by the low voter turnout in American elections—even in a presidential election year—some people just aren’t that into politics. But for a Christian, politics is not a choice; it’s an obligation, even if it is not always a passion. Politics is not just one subject among many, which one may take up with interest or lay aside with indifference or perhaps distaste. God is political, and so the godly must also be political and demonstrate to the world what the beauty of holiness looks like in political life. God made all things, and so he is king over all his creation. He is not just “like” a king; he literally rules, and with absolute authority. It is no surprise, then, that we find political language throughout the Bible to describe, as the Shorter Catechism puts it, “what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.” The Fall was an act of rebellion against God’s divine government. Graeme Goldsworthy calls it “man’s unilateral declaration of ... Read more

Bad Faith, Good Politics?

Has the Religious Right been good for American conservatism? One way to answer that question might involve looking at the success of the Republican Party since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. Since the votes of white Protestants who identify themselves as “born again” have been crucial to the GOP’s dominance of the White House for the last three decades, students of American politics would have trouble looking at the Religious Right’s influence as anything but positive, at least for Republican leaders and candidates. But the answer to questions about the Religious Right’s relationship to American conservatism becomes complicated if it is possible to distinguish between American conservatism and the Republican Party. Of course, American citizens who hold conservative convictions vote overwhelmingly for Republican candidates. But the reasons sometimes have less to do with the party’s platform than with the limited candidates that a two-party system provides. What conservatives believe ... Read more

The Church, History, and Politics

The problem of the church and politics is really just a part of the larger problem of how the church relates to society at large. In the American church today, some are alarmed by what they see as a catastrophic collapse of the church’s influence over society; many of them have sought to regain that influence through politics. Others believe the true church never really had much influence over society and are frustrated by demands that we seek it; many of them have sought to keep the church out of politics. Missing in most of these discussions is an understanding of history. The church needs to return to history, along with its study of the Bible and theology, before it can develop a sound framework for finding its proper place within twenty-first-century American civilization. New Covenant, New Approach The Bible obviously provides general moral principles to guide us, but it does not provide a detailed blueprint for how to run a society in the context of the new covenant. In the Old Testament ... Read more

Let’s Not Repeat the Sin of Jeroboam

The sin of Jeroboam, son of Nebat, was a sad and tragic response to God’s goodness to him. The evil that he did in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord’s response to it, are most instructive to us as we consider matters of church and state. From the kingdom of David and Solomon, the Lord had torn ten tribes from which he created the northern kingdom of Israel, and made Jeroboam its first king. Through the prophet Ahijah, the Lord spoke clearly to Jeroboam regarding two things (1 Kings 11:29–38): First, the kingdom was being torn apart as a judgment on Solomon, because he was not faithful to the Lord, having broken God’s commands by marrying pagan wives and bringing the worship of their false gods within the realm of God’s holy nation. Second, the Lord promised Jeroboam a dynasty over Israel as enduring as the house of David in Jerusalem—“if you will listen to all that I command you, and will walk in my ways, and do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and my ... Read more


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