Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Changing government

Now Libya is being rocked by protests. There is political turmoil in the middle-east and it leaves us wondering about the nature of government.

Romans 13 is a key text, reminding us that all authorities are established by God. this is hard to accept for those who don't have a good theological grasp of providence. In short, God somehow decrees all that comes to pass - whether good or bad. We might talk of him provoking or merely permitting something, but either way it takes place according to his sovereign purpose. This means every government has been put in place by him, even if tyrannical as Rome was when Paul wrote.

This means:
  1. Christians are always to submit to government, provided it doesn't mean disobeying God. They can therefore protest in a legal manner against their own government but not generally engage in unlawful revolution. An exception to this may be when acting out of a desire to defend the oppressed from harm.
  2. There is no biblically "right" form of government. Democracy may usually be preferable because it has built in ways of deposing tyrants. However it can also be a means of establishing tyrants. Consider how the mid-east nations could elect a fundamentalist party that oppresses women, those of other faiths and declares war on Israel. In such instances a dictator who does not see these things in his interests may be preferable.
  3. At times such as now, prayer for God to establish a more just and honest government is critical. We have little influence and even if we did, would be hard pressed to see what to encourage.
  4. We should recognise again that inustice will remain until the true govenor, the Prince of Peace returns to claim his kingdom.