Politics According to the Bible Part 3

Posted: November 9, 2010 in Uncategorized

What does the Bible say about civil government? Does it advocate it? Does it only endorse a theocracy? Wayne Grudem tackles these questions in chapter 3 of Politics According to the Bible (Zondervan: 2010).

Grudem argues that, contrarty to charges by the left, the Bible does not demand a theocracy and Christians are not seeking to institute one.  Grudem asserts that ancient Israel was the only theocracy and it needs to be viewed in historic context.  In other words, Israel was established to witness to the world in a certain way in a certain time and place and to use it as a model today is to ignore the context of the Old Testament, which is poor Biblical interpretation. 

Instead of a theocracy, Grudem argues, in rather broad strokes, that God endorses democratic civil government for they prevent the evil of anarchy, among other things.  He also asserts that God wants these governments to “execute justice and defend the weak” (Ps. 82:4 and Dan. 4:27) and, historically, the only governments that have come close to such an ideal are democratic republics for they prevent despotism.

I agree with Grudem even though he is open to the charge of over reading certain texts and drawing more from experience than Scripture to construct a “politics according to the Bible,” but you should read it and decide for yourself. 

Grudem’s most controversial argument in chapter 3 is that the Sermon on the Mount does not necessarily apply to governments.  He argues that while all governments are established by and subject to God (Romans 13:1-2) that the command to turn the other cheek was directed to individuals not to governments–of course, this was Augustine’s argument as well.

Grudem will unpack his argument later in the book but his trumpeting of Augustine’s just war theory will certainly draw howls from the evangelical left. 

For the record, I agree with Grudem.  I believe that good men and dear Christian brothers like Scot McKnight, Shane Claiborne, Jim Wallis, Greg Boyd, Rob Bell and others have created a “canon within a canon” by elevating the Sermon on the Mount over the rest of Scripture.  God clearly engages in violence in order to punish the wicked or curb evil and there is no reason to believe He does not do so today.

Tomorrow we will tackle Grudem’s chapter on a Biblical Worldview.  Stay tuned!

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