Christians and the State

How should believers think about the state? Is there one type of government better than another? Can believers endorse all types or forms of governments? Is there a biblical ideal of what government should be like? These sorts of questions have been debated intensely for the past two millennia.

But there are some basic biblical principles that can be drawn upon here as we seek to address these concerns. The first and most basic principle is that God in fact created the institution of the state. It was his idea of restraining sinful humans in a fallen world.

The basic purposes of the state are clearly laid out in such passages as Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-17. These passages tell us that the state is from God to maintain justice and punish evil. The state thus exercises delegated authority, as do God’s other institutions, such as family and church.

Another key principle is that of self-government. God’s ideal is self-government, where we put constraints upon ourselves. By means of God’s common grace, and the moral law written on our hearts, this is possible to a limited extent.

But because we are all fallen, this inner law of conscience is helped out by the external law. Thus government is ordained of God, as are police, courts, judges and the like. Cops and conscience are the two main ways we exercise restraint on sinful behaviour.

As to an ideal type of government, Israel was of course under theocratic rule in the Old Testament. But in the New Testament, the ceremonial and civil laws applied to Israel do not have the same binding force on Christians. The moral law of course continues, as expressed in the Ten Commandments, but Christians can and do disagree as to the exact correlation between OT law and what takes place in NT times.

But because of the ability of sin to spiral out of control, and the constant temptation for humans to take unwarranted powers unto themselves, then we must always seek to limit human powers. As Lord Acton famously said, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

This is especially the case with the state, where it can take upon itself powers it should not have. As was seen in the above NT texts, the scope, authority, range and powers of the state are limited. Thus a form of government which keeps powers dispersed and diffused, which has a system of checks and balances, and so on, is the preferred form of government.

Some type of federalism or democracy may be the best shot here. It may not be ideal by any means, but other options can be worse. As Winston Churchill once put it, “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”

One important Christian thinker, Reinhold Niebuhr, expressed it this way: “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.” Or as the authors of the Federalist (No. 51) put it, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”

In a fallen world all we can hope for is a modicum of peace, order and justice, and the protection of basic human rights. We certainly should not expect secular utopian ideologies to be of any use. Indeed, the last century witnessed a number of experiments with humanistic attempts to bring heaven to earth, and they have all been monumental failures.

All these end up being coercive utopias, where the heavy hand of the state seeks to micro-manage every aspect of life, in order to forcefully bring about the particular vision for the good society. Hitler for example wanted to create an ideal world by getting rid of all non-ideal classes of people: non-Aryans, Jews, gypsies and other ‘defective’ types.

In similar fashion the Marxists wanted to create the New Man. They believed that by wiping out whole classes of people (the managers and owners of capital) that they could create their ideal, classless society. Of course these attempts simply resulted in hell on earth, not paradise.

As Chesterton so rightly put it, “The secularists have not wrecked divine things; but the secularists have wrecked secular things, if that is any comfort to them. The Titans did not scale heaven; but they laid waste the world.” Whenever we seek to set up the ideal world, without the help of our Creator, all we end up with is a dystopia, not a utopia.

And the only way to establish and maintain such an earthly utopia is by the jackboot and the bayonet. Only the brute and unchecked power of the state can seek to enforce these grandiose ideologies. And whenever they are attempted, they always result in mass graves and unparalleled bloodbaths.

God created the state for quite specific and limited purposes. He did not create the state to bring about utopia on earth. There is only one ruler who can do that, Christ the King. Nonetheless, we should all work toward having the best state we can in a fallen world.

We all have responsibilities to be good citizens, and to pray for our rulers. Indeed, we need Christians to be involved in every sphere of governance. We need Christian politicians, judges and rulers. That will not result in utopia, but it will help make life in a fallen world better, and more Christlike.

But governments, even the best of them, can and will get things wrong. Indeed, they will often be tempted to promote ungodly and anti-Christian agendas. Thus there of course will be times when the Christian has to disobey the state. I have written about this elsewhere:

But we are called to use the means which God has delegated to maintain a degree of order, justice and civility in a fallen world. Thus Christians are not anarchists. But neither are they naive idealists and foolish utopians. We know that government can only do so much, even at the best of times.

In this very brief and sketchy outline I have only scratched the surface of what is a rather complex discussion. But we can all agree with the words of Paul found in 1 Tim 2:1-2: “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”

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33 Replies to “Christians and the State”

  1. God “did not create the state to bring about utopia on earth. There is only one ruler who can do that, Christ the King” – yes indeed, but he’s not going to do it in this world, or the world as it now is, un-re-constituted. “… the state is from God to maintain justice and punish evil” – but what about when (as in our situation) the state promotes the Culture of Death? Yes, an excellent analysis, Bill.
    John Thomas, UK

  2. “We know that government can only do so much, even at the best of times.”

    Not only that but government MUST only do what God gives it to do, and no more.

    It is not to become paternalistic and take over when parents fail in their homes.

    It is not to substitute for (or actively displace) the church’s roles of education (teaching the truth) and welfare/health.

    Time for the church to push back.

    John Angelico

  3. Hi Bill, do you think Genesis 6 is an implicit early reference to the role of the State in restraining evil? The reason I ask is because the NT references describing the role of the State such as Romans 13 come relatively late in human history and a skeptic could argue that the NT authors were simply describing the State as it had evolved through time. If God gave implicit instruction to the role of the State way back at the time of Noah, then this strengthens the claim that it was indeed God who established the institution of the State.

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  4. Bill, a question for you on this issue more broadly:
    By your reckoning, can you outline key Biblical reasons why Christians should seek to infuse a godly morality into society? particularly as it relates to holding the civil magistrate/state accountable for unrighteousness?
    Yours in His grace,
    Isaac Overton, ACT, Aust

  5. Hi Ewan and Bill,

    I agree that there are aspects of state functions mentioned in Genesis. But the fullest account of a corpus of state laws is, of course, when God established the nation of Israel.

    For all else that Israel was, one function was to show us what a model state is. Deut 4:5-8 makes it clear that the surrounding nations were to see Israel’s righteous decrees and laws and marvel. These laws then define what ‘right’, ‘wrong’ and ‘punishment’ are supposed to mean in Romans 13:1-7.

    The Moral laws, then, are God’s laws given to individuals. The Civil laws are those given to the State, and the Ceremonial laws are the means by which people could atone for failing to keep the first two categories of laws.

    There are still difficult issues in determining which category some of the laws fall into or in establishing their present day application, but this seems to be the plain reading of the text.

    With the coming of Christ, we now have a different and better way to atone for our sin, so the Ceremonial laws are done away with. But the Moral laws are still binding on individuals and the Civil laws are still binding on our governments.

    All Christians therefore have a duty to vote for and lobby governments for the return of God’s civil laws.

    Mansel Rogerson

  6. Thanks Isaac

    I more or less have covered your concerns in various articles here. See these more general articles for example:
    Note also the comments that follow.

    And some general articles on challenging rulers would be these:

    Have a look at those pieces for starters, and if questions still remain, feel free to get in touch again, and we can look at more specific issues.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  7. Bill,

    Thank you for this article. I agree with you that godless systems like communism are flawed and doomed to fail.

    While I agree that democracy seems to work well at this time, I am not entirely sure that we can say that it is the best (or least worst) system of Government. I think that there can be other systems that work just as well at restraining evil and ensuring personal freedom, along biblical lines — for example a benevolent monarchy, or event a benevolent empire.

    Notably, passages such as Romans 13 are written in the context of a monarchy / empire. There seems to be no biblical mandate to strive towards some other system.

    Just because democracy is in vogue now doesn’t mean it is the best. In fact it may just be that future history will reveal some of the failings of democracy. Is it just me, or do all western democracies seem to be sliding inexorably towards secular humanism and socialism?

    Jereth Kok

  8. Thanks Jereth

    In a fallen world there is no perfect form of government, just as there is no perfect church or perfect individual. So as I keep saying, any system of government that provides a system of checks and balances, and prevents power from being unduly concentrated in the hands of a few, etc., is about the best as we can hope for.

    As to modern Western democracies losing their soul, it is because they were formed on the Judeo-Christian worldview and lived on that spiritual capital for centuries. But as we jettison God, then these forms of government lose their very foundation, and cannot be expected to long last. They are living of the spiritual capital of their forebears, and sooner or later that will run out.

    That is why people like Catholic political philosopher Michael Novak for example could write about the ‘spirit of democratic capitalism,’ arguing that there are three essential legs: a free market economic component, a democratic political component, and moral/spiritual cultural component. All three are needed to make it work.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  9. Surely all institutions, systems, organisations, means of doing things, etc., etc. are flawed insofar as they are all devised and directed by humans, all of which are by nature flawed. Therefore they are never, and never can be, intrinsically/purely good (or bad, since there is an urge to do good in people (the gift of the Holy Spirit, I consider)). Some people believe that, eg., Capitalism of necessity produces freedom, Communism slavery – and some people believe the opposite, of course. I say they can both be a means to badness, and can be abused/abusive, since both are actually directed by flawed humans. It’s not the system that’s bad or good, it’s the people who work it (the same is true of systems of government. education, healthcare, etc., etc.).
    John Thomas, UK

  10. Thanks John

    But I would not go as far as you and try to argue that all systems are in themselves merely neutral, to be used or abused. I think some systems are fundamentally flawed, as was Communism. It was not just an OK system that got misused; it was a bad system to begin with. Its roots were bad, so it had to produce bad fruit.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  11. It’s great to be reminded of this stuff Bill – thanks. The secular drive for some kind of utopian human existence just seems so ridiculous when you really think about it: a lifetime is barely long enough to pay off a mortgage, let alone build heaven on earth!

    On a closely related not, I often take great comfort returning to the thought that, no matter what kind of political system we live under, God is here with us. From the deepest, darkest troughs of oppression, to the libertine bastions of individualism, he is waiting with the roadmap and the means to get us home to him by the most direct route possible.

    While this doesn’t mean we can be apathetic about how we organise our communities and societies, it does provide peace of mind when political battles don’t go our way!

    Tim Cannon

  12. Bill, sure, all systems are not morally neutral, or morally equal. Some contain a logic or rules, that facilitate the incursion of human badness, more so than others. But the less-logically-immoral systems can be used to facilitate self-interest. I’m prepared to accept (being no Leftist) that Capitalism can be ultimately freeing – but I know people can use it to gain personal wealth, perhaps at the expense of others. And (as you affirm somewhere) power corrupts, and already-fallen, “extra-corrupted” people can corrupt any system/institution.
    John Thomas, UK

  13. The American founders opposed democracy, since this can lead to the tyranny of the majority. Instead, they imposed a Republic, with a number of anti-democratic measures such as the Electoral College, a Senate then appointed by the States, and a presidential veto. The perils of democracy were illustrated in the election of Hitler and Hamas. So it was bizarre to see a Republican president spruik forth about the need for democracy in the Middle East, which is useless without the rule of law, protection of minorities (such as Christians) and protection of private property. See for example Democracy and Majority Rule and Democracy and economic growth by economist Dr Walter Williams.
    Jonathan Sarfati, USA

  14. I have heard it said that “utopia” means “no such thing”. Not sure if that is right, but it certainly describes well both the impossibility of the attempt and the practical outcome of all social experiments so far.
    The problem with the idea of “heaven on earth” that it is usually heaven according to the idea of often not just fallen, but evil men who have consciously and willingly abandoned God.
    The Chesterton quote pretty much nails what our Christian response should be, if we are attempting to make this world a better place and I don’t think that Jesus would oppose that, he healed in this time and taught principles that apply to this world, but if we do that then our first responsibility is to not only include God into our deliberations, but ask of Him direction and wisdom as to how to do it.
    The influence and inroad the state can or will have is directly related to the degree that churches take the teachings of Jesus seriously and apply them wherever possible. For example, the state feels the need to legislate what parents can do in their homes in regard to physically disciplining children because children were abused, neglected, etc. Before the state took over schools in Australia in the late 19th century, schools were run by churches. Welfare was the responsibility of Christian individuals and churches, but because their efforts were insufficient or at least deemed insufficient, the state took over. The state can only inroad into a moral vacuumed I believe it is not too late for the reverse process to take place. Just like the number of abortions do not necessarily have to go up just because we have laws allowing abortion, so individual good choices can over time with God’s help push back the intrusion of state into areas where it is not wanted. This will take time, a lot of prayer and hard work and rough choices.
    But I believe the responsibility for godly lawmakers is to make the law what it is supposed to be, “the school master that leads us to Christ”. I can’t remember the exact scripture reference. Christians of all people have the opportunity and I believe the responsibility to not only make laws that work well in this life, but to point constantly to the need of man for salvation. I don’t mean make church attendance mandatory, but to lift up God’s righteousness and thereby make people hungry for the one who originated such good laws. Utopian? Maybe, but I believe that was meant in Deuteronomy where it says that the nations should marvel that their god was so near to them. Is that the charge of the church today and are we failing in it?
    The Christian prayer that at least the NSW government starts each session with, gives, I believe a good guideline of the place of godly lawmakers in society, to glorify God and to work for the benefit of fellow man.
    Just a final comment on the issue of left and right being different or similar. It should not be surprising to find great similarities in both of them, as they are both ungodly man centred thought structures. Only God himself can weave goodness and life out of seemingly opposite things. Jesus is the “way” as well as life and truth, the way we do things must be godly as well as the truth we start from and the life we seek at the end of our journey.
    Ursula Bennett

  15. Thanks Ursula

    The term comes from the Greek, which could go in one of two directions here. Topos means place, while eu means good. But it also could be ou, which means not. So a good or ideal place is often meant by the term, but no place or nowhere is quite appropriate as well, since it cannot be achieved in a fallen world.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  16. Yes, the abuse of democracy is where a small pressure group or interest group holds sway over those who are in power – as seen by the total enthrallment to the Gay Power lobby (call it what it is) over politicians of all political persuasions/parties, in the UK (and no doubt elsewhere). The politicians’ behaviour is characterised by a total blindness, seeming inability to question, and non-rationalism that inevitably causes some Christians to see it as Satanic.
    John Thomas, UK

  17. And now a view from a left wing Christian ,,,, the state is a servant of the civil society – not a master. I gains it authority in the same way the church does – through Gods power coming through the people in a civil society to the government.

    The state has a negative function of protection of liberty. It the traditional law and order function.
    Pauls’s reference in Romans 13 is a prime example of this. Another aspect of this protection the poor and disposed. I would take injunctions about protection the poor in Isaiah and the other prophets.

    The state has a positive aspect of assisting people to reach their full potential. A kind of equality of opportunity which provides all regardless wealth access to good health care and education.

    Finally, I would argue that the state has a function of promoting equality. It is interesting that when the new society was formed after pentecost it was a commune with a common purse (Acts 4 and 5).

    Michael Boswell

  18. Thanks Michael

    Equality of opportunity is all a just state should seek, never equality of outcome.

    And I believe we have debated the Acts passage before. This of course was nothing other than a voluntary, temporary and personal attempt to alleviate hardship during a crisis, and was never mandated for all believers for all times. And it certainly has absolutely nothing to do with the welfare state, and/or government enforced collectivism.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  19. Furthermore, in Acts, the people voluntarily brought their possessions to the Apostles, not the Government. Yet later on, Paul had to take a collection for this same Jerusalem Church.
    Jonathan Sarfati, USA

  20. Bill, why not seek equality of outcomes…..without a reasonable equality of outcomes you cannot really have equality of opportununity. It nice seeing a conservative agree with the equality of opportunity. The Whitlam government did not have the conservative agreement of equality of opportunity.

    Jonathan … Acts is the new Jewish society with the Apostles being the new priests…and all Christians contributed to the common purse except the two God killed, (Acts 5:1-6)

    Michael Boswell

  21. Thanks Michael

    But you lefties go on about justice and fairness so much. To enforce equality of outcome, you have to treat unequals equally, which is neither fair nor just. Given that we are all different (not equal in talents, giftings, motivations, etc), you have to use unequal treatment to get equal results.

    Many have written on this obvious point. Mark Cooray is as good as any here:

    And you continue to mess up what Acts 4:32 – 5:11 actually teaches. The pair were killed for lying, not for withholding their goods. There was no state compulsion here whatsoever, only individual voluntary freedom to take part.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  22. How do lefties manage to read Acts or any other part of Scripture, and hallucinate big government confiscating wealth by force?

    These types think that the USSR would have been fine were it not for evil people like Stalin. They fail to realize that a government big and powerful enough to equalize outcomes, including redistributing wealth forcibly, is exactly what attracts and enables the Stalins.

    Jonathan Sarfati, USA

  23. Bill,

    Ah, the selective literalism of politically consevative Christianity. I think you mess up what Acts is about. A lie to cover up stealing form God. It does not alter the fact that Christianity stated as a commune with a Common purse. if this does not say something about the early Christian vision of society … what does?

    I know about the unequal treatment – it is called positive discrimination. It was the basis of those long run of victories in the 1980s for the ALP. The positive basis in favour of preselecting women took the ALP from being the least favoured party with women to the natural party of women.

    Michael Boswell

  24. Thanks again Michael

    So what does that first line of yours means? That you do not take the Bible literally? No surprises there I guess.

    But let’s cut to the quick here. Just what were you typing on when you sent your comment in? Was it someone else’s computer? Or do you in fact own one? Do you own a car? A home? And other property? According to your tortured reading of the text, if you do own all these things, then you are a sinful capitalist pig who is out of the will of God. Repent bro! And give me your computer!

    With all due respect, just why are you preaching to us about your socialist spin on the Book of Acts if you can’t even put your money where your mouth is?

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  25. Michael Boswell: “Ah, the selective literalism of politically consevative Christianity.”

    Well of course: only the literal parts should be taken literally. This is determined by the grammatical and historical context—see for example Should Genesis be taken literally?. But let’s look at the Acts 4–5 passage, since you don’t:

    34here was not a needy person among them [them = the church, not the wider society], for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold [Note this is a descriptive passage not a command, i.e. this is what the Jerusalem church did, not necessarily what they ought to have done. It was not followed by the other churches. Later on, a collection was taken up for the Jerusalem church which had impoverished themselves by their socialism. Another factor is knowing that Jerusalem was condemned property, and it would fall in AD 70]
    35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet [I.e. not the Government’s feet, as leftards want], and it was distributed to each as any had need.
    36 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus,
    37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet [again, the government had nothing to do with it. The apostles, not a welfare bureaucracy, distributed it].
    1 ¶ But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property,
    2 and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
    3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?
    4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own?
    [see, the property was theirs, not the Church’s, let alone the government’s] And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? [once again, it was up to them, not the church or the government, what to do with the proceeds] Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” [How clear does it have to be that their sin was lying about it?]
    5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it.
    6 The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.
    7 After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.
    8 And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” [She also lied about how much. If they had been honest about keeping some back, there would have been no problem. Nor would there have been if they had not sold their property.]
    9 But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”
    10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.
    11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.

    MB: “I know about the unequal treatment – it is called positive discrimination.”

    So treating people unfairly is OK, as long as it’s the politically correct target? Yet if discrimination on basis of sex and race is OK now, then on what basis is it wrong to condemn racism and sexism of the past. Right and wrong is not just a question of whose ox is being gored.

    In any case, positive discrimination or affirmative action has been tried on all continents, and it has been a disaster wherever it has been tried. This has been documented in Affirmative Action Around the World by Thomas Sowell (himself African-American). In fact, he documents the same patterns of social harm are repeated.

    Jonathan Sarfati, USA

  26. “The reason there is less poverty today is not because the poor got a bigger slice of the pie but because the whole pie got a lot bigger—no thanks to the left.” — Thomas Sowell

    “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” — Winston Churchill

    Jonathan Sarfati, USA

  27. Dear Bill and Jonathan,

    Bill I could say that ‘private property is theft’. I was a member of the Communist party. When it existed the CPA was probably the wealthiest Australian political party. Many of the wealthiest members left large amounts of money to it. However, I thought we are supposed to be above self interest.

    Bill you know I am not a so called ‘biblical Christian’ and have long rejected any form of Biblical inerrancy. Hence, I am not tired to the cultural views of the Biblical writer who wrote from the fifth century BCE to the first century CE. That is your problem and mine to exploit; hence, the reference to Acts 4 and 5. To deny that that did not represent to Luke’s vision of the Christian community is to ignore both Luke writings and the mind of an East Mediterranean person during the first century. Does that mean the Church should advocate a socialist agenda? Because I reject Biblical inerrancy, I can answer no!

    I think it is difficult to argue against a Biblical vision or radical equality. The extent of that equality is not Biblically clear. Even within a Christian tradition it is not clear. You have wondered how someone can be a ‘left’ and Christian while one Lord Donald Soper could not understand why someone could be a Christian and a conservative. For too long we have been reading a political ideology into scripture (which is difficult not to do).

    The problem you still have Jonathan is that, according to Luke, the first Christian community organised as a collective with a common purse. However, if you went up to either Luke or one of the members of that early Christian community and used the word “collective” in a modern sense they would not know what you were talking about. Modern socialism, whether Marxian or not, was alien them.

    Further Jonathan, we have been practicing discrimination since Jesus was on the right flank or the Nazarene Rebels. The question is whether it is explicit or implicit. I provided one example in relation to the ALP pre-selection. In the days before Whitlam government, university entrance where first chosen by those who could afford the fees. I doubt that Thomas Sowell included those examples in his essay.

    Finally, I have never owned my computer, I have not owned one for 10 years. I rent one. After buying a business it took two years to go bankrupt. So I am a dead capitalist pig being processed into bacon. At least I have got my library.

    Bill, good luck with writing on Acts 4 and 5.

    Michael Boswell

    PS Julia Gillard has been elected leader of the ALP – it should have happen 2004.

  28. Thanks Michael

    But you really should stop pretending you are a Christian if you reject God’s word, and make yourself to be the sole arbiter of what is true and false, right and wrong. There is only one God of the universe, and I am afraid he is not you.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  29. Just for information, I encountered the same Michael Boswell on the Creation Ministries International fan group on Facebook, and he was defending the christophobic Bishop Spong. Tells us all we need to know, really. So it’s hardly surprising that he supports an atheistic abortion-loving fornicatrix like Commissar Gillardova.

    Also, for his information, Dr Sowell grew up a poor black orphan in the 1930s, a time of much more racism, and was a Marxist in his 20s. He points out that many black race-baiters had privileged backgrounds, while he knows what it was like to be thrown out of a restaurant because of his skin colour. He also says that it was the real world that turned him into a supporter of the free market and traditional values—realizing that the diffused wisdom of millions of people solving the same sorts of problems outweighs the limited knowledge of a few Anointed elites.

    Jonathan Sarfati, USA

  30. I would commend the introduction to the very old book, Lex Rex. In the book, Samuel Rutherford points out that the strength of any form of civil government is the moral condition of its people. A government and its laws cannot save anyone. We are saved by grace, through faith, not as a result of works (works of the law – neither God’s Law nor the laws of the land) lest any one should boast.

    On the other hand, when the majority of the people share a common faith, by passing laws against: murder, theft, adultery, and so on, the civil government can protect the majority from the minority who do not share that faith.

    Lance A Box

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