Divine Science: Why Christians Should Be Involved in Politics
“Plainly put, politics is not simply about who has what or enjoys what. ”
Multitudes of Christians seem to be far too-short sighted when it comes to understanding the implications of their own faith. Especially is this the case regarding how the principles of God work themselves out in the affairs of men. For example, biblical teaching of God’s creation eliminates any compromise with evolutionary theories that dominate the educational system. Not only are there bold contradictions between them, but both creationism and evolutionary theory are expressions of an entire world view. There are also principles involved in each which are at cross-purposes with the other.
Yet, many there are who name the name of Christ but also wish to honor the name of Charles Darwin. Sad is the state of the complacent Christian mind that does not recognize the disconnect and even contradiction between these or thinks it not substantial enough to “give answer” to designed assaults against its worldview (see 2 Pet. 3:15).
Exactly so pertaining governing concepts or the polity in a society. Too many Christians have been fooled so as to consider the realm of politics to be divorced from any religious or biblical principle. “These are two different realms and never the twain shall meet,” seems to be the motto. The exact opposite is the case. As Founding Father John Adams instructed, “The foundation of every government is some principle or passion in the minds of the people. The noblest principles and most generous affections in our nature, then, have the fairest chance to support the noblest and most generous models of government.” Adams recognized the plain simple fact that there are only two basic worldviews. One, theism; Two, atheism.
In spite of the many subsets that may be offered of the two basic worldviews– whether pagan, polytheism, socialism, fascism, communism—all fall neatly into two categories; Theism or Atheism. Every form of governance, be it the United Nations or the United States of America, or any other political organization, is an offspring of one of these two philosophies. Governments are the outworking of principles that flow from a God-centered worldview or a Naturalistic worldview.
Divine Science of Politics
The above is the very reason why a host of the founding generation sacrificed their fortunes to serve in politics. John Adams even described “politics” by the well-known phrase divine science. “Politics are the divine science, after all. How is it possible that any man should ever think of making it subservient to his own little passions and private interests? Ye baseborn sons of fallen Adam, is the end of politics a fortune, a family, a gilded coach, a train of horses, and a troop of livery servants, balls at Court, splendid dinners and suppers? Yet the divine science of politics is at length in Europe reduced to a mechanical system composed of these materials.”
Plainly put, politics is not simply about who has what or enjoys what. It involves whether or not God has bestowed upon man certain rights and whether or not we are enabled by God Almighty to construct any formulation government to protect those rights based upon those principles. This alone explains why Adams thusly wrote, “What is to become of an independent statesman, one who will bow the knee to no idol, who will worship nothing as a divinity but truth, virtue, and his country? I will tell you; he will be regarded more by posterity than those who worship hounds and horses; and although he will not make his own fortune, he will make the fortune of his country.”
What Adams realized, and what is surprisingly so lacking today in the churches and pulpits, is a cross-examination of the basic principles behind prevailing winds of political doctrine.
The American Revolution. As illustrative of these basic concepts one might consider the difference between the American Revolution and the French Revolution. John Quincy Adams explains that they were “actuated upon very different principles” (Forward to Frederick Gentz; The American and French Revolutions Compared, iv). Our American “principles of religious liberty did not result of indiscriminate contempt of all religion whatever.”
“The essential difference between these two great events, in their rise, their progress, and their termination, is here shown in various lights … A modern philosopher may contend that the sheriff, who executes a criminal, and a highwayman, who murders a traveler, act upon the same principles; the plain sense of mankind will see the difference between them …”
Either Christian principles are at work in society or not. The French Revolution proved, at least in France, they were not. The American Revolution ended in a very different place, precisely because of differing principles.
Communism. Writing with reference to the worldviews of Communism versus Christianity, Lester DeKoster observes, “The American Declaration of Independence is the last significant political document which attributed human freedom to a superhuman force. Its immediate successor, the French Declaration of the Rights of Men, its title betraying already the shift of emphasis, ignores the Creator; and fifty years later, the Communist Manifesto sneers at Him” (Communism and Christian Faith).
Like it or not, both communism and socialism are the out-workings of religious principles. For a modern counterpart to the French Declaration one might peruse the United Nations’ Declaration of Rights and be enlightened on the very different principles that inspired America.
Socialism. The philosophy of socialism is a competing worldview with Christianity. In the Encyclopedia of Religion Vergilius Ferm writes, “American socialism is heir to the tradition of materialism and atheism. It relies on the growth of automatic perfection, not indeed by virtue and the given faculties of man, but as the product of causally inevitable economic changes. The result is parallel to that of the liberal utopia …this is an overtly anti-Christian doctrine” (720).
Socialism is “an anti-Christian doctrine.” It is a matter of no little concern that hardened atheists such as Karl Marx, who popularized a socialist state through The Communist Manifesto, readily recognized that his mandates for government were a direct thrust against the God of the Bible. Materialistic philosophy was a bold and direct repudiation of a God-centered and biblical worldview and so it continues today.
For the same reason the early 20th century Swiss socialist-theologian Karl Barth came to a crisis point in his faith. Having bound himself to the eternal “progress” of man, he had a re-thinking in the wake of World War I. Either man was continuing onward and upward in an evolutionary trajectory as taught by his utopian socialism; or man was a creature made in God’s image whose fallen state demanded governing principles of a different sort. It was all about religion.
What a person believes about mankind, about the future, and about God, has everything to do with how he will behave in the present. That includes what kind of governing principles we will own upon which to operate a society. Call it politics or civic society or whatever, but the administrative concepts which govern decisions at a local and national level are religious in nature. If Christians remain unaware of the implications of their own belief-system, little shall we expect them to “give an answer” to the political assaults that arise from atheistic socialism. Even Donald Trump cannot change this.