Democracy

Posted: December 10, 2008 by joelmartin in Politics, Social Issues, Theology
Tags: , ,

     Recently, President Bush said, “One of the best ways to safeguard religious freedom is to aid the rise of democracy. Democratic governments don’t all look alike. Each reflects the history and traditions of its own people. But one way — but one of the defining features of any democracy is that it makes room for people of all backgrounds and all faiths. Democracies allow people with diverse views to discuss their differences and live in harmony. The expansion of democracy also represents the most promising path to peace.”

     This is pretty standard stuff in our time. Leaders or would-be leaders use words like ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’ and many of us conjure up warm images of flags, troops, people voting, peace and money in our pockets. 
     It has not always been so. The Puritan, John Cotton said “Democracy, I do not conceive that God ever did ordain as a fit government either for church or for commonwealth. If the people be governors, who shall be governed?”

     C. Greg Singer writes of the colonists, “..they sense(d) that in the democratic philosophy, with its emphasis upon the sovereignty of the people lay a fundamental contradiction to the biblical doctrine of the sovereignty of God.  They clearly perceived that democracy was the fruit of humanism and not the Reformation concept. John Winthrop also reminded his fellow-citizens of Massachusetts that a doctrine of civil rights which looked to natural or sinful man as its source and guardian was actually destructive of that very liberty which they were seeking to protect.”

     Singer summarizes a perennial battle in our country, he writes: “American history is characterized, in its political aspects, by a continuing conflict between the Puritan political philosophy on the one hand, and the rise of a democratic conception of the state and human liberty which has emanated from non-Biblical sources. The insistence that God is truly sovereign and that his sovereignty must be recognized in the political affairs of mankind is an anathema to those modern schools of thought which seek to enthrone man as a sovereign in his own right.”

     Given this history, how is that a modern President whom many consider a “conservative” is a leading exponent of democracy as the best thing going in the world? Is this really conservative, or merely more of the same at a slightly slower pace? As John Cotton said, if the people are governors, who shall be governed? We are facing the results of mob rule now across the nation as millenia old strictures and mores are struck down with no thought given to the voice of the past. 

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Comments
  1. It is right to say that great danger lies in making man the source and guardian of certain ideals. Nothing is therefore transcendent. In our context, the Constitution, Court, Legislature, and President are our guardians…however lawlessness is creeping into these structures and it is only a matter of time before the Constitution becomes irrelevant.

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