Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Politics, regeneration and lessons of this week

The expenses crisis, the resignation of the speaker - it all proves what we may have forgotten in our complacency, that as GK Chesterton put it: "Sin is a fact as practical as potatoes." It is one of the Christian doctrines that needs no extra proof.

The 17th century was a time of great political upheaval in Britain, leading to much writing. The great pastor Richard Baxter was one who set forth his policital vision in his book: "A holy commonwealth."

One of his assumtions was that no-one was fit to hold political office or to engage in the weighty task of politics even by voting unless they were a committed Christian and so attending and not under the discipline of their local church. His reasoning was that such tasks required regeneration - the new heart, that could act with wisdom and godly integrity.

Of course in our secular culture such a vision is impractical. But it reminds us that it is hard enough even as regenerate believers to resist temptation, especially over monetary matters that may not be illegal, but are certainly not fully honest.

At the very least, Baxter's assumption then urges us:
  1. to remain aware of the particular corruptability of our politicians when given opportunity, and so to put in place protections to ensure their integrity.
  2. to be realistic that our politicians are imperfect people just like us, and so bring all sorts of personal agendas, presuppositions to their work and policy making, meaning that we should remain vigilent as to when they may be pushing an agenda for personal reasons or simply because they are worldly in their ideas.
  3. to be thankful for democracy as the best of the bunch of forms of government, in giving the electorate a means of removing those who fail in the role.
  4. to be prayerful for Christian politicians, that they would resist temptation, and rise to positions of prominence in which they can shape policy according to God's will (see Romans 13).