Sam Storms:

(1) Human government is not inherently evil. The structures of authority in any particular political system are not per se wicked. All human governmental authority comes ultimately from the hand of God. Government is used for evil because people are sinful, not because the authority of the ruling party is wicked or should be abolished.

(2) God is absolutely sovereign and authoritative over who rules, where they exercise their power (its boundaries and extent), over whom they have authority, and for how long.

(3) God is not only sovereign in that he decides who shall rule and for how long, but he also can exert omnipotent and irresistible influence over the hearts and minds of kings and rulers and presidents to do what he wants done.

(4) Although we are ultimately citizens of a heavenly kingdom and only secondarily citizens of an earthly state, we are not for that reason exempt from submitting to the laws of the land where we live (1 Peter 2:13-17).

(5) Although we are submissive to the authority of government, Christians have a responsibility as citizens of both heaven and earth to influence for good the government under which they live.

(6) Although Christians are responsible to exert a positive influence on government, nowhere in the NT do we see that Elders in the local church, by virtue of their being Elders, have authority in or responsibility over local, state, or national government decision-making. Elders can certainly hold public office, but they do so as private citizens and not because of their office in the local church. Likewise, nowhere in the NT do we see governmental officials exerting authority over the local church or selecting its officers or dictating what it must believe or how its people must behave.

(7) No government or earthly authority or political party platform ever sent anyone to hell. Politics has no such power. On the other hand, unrepentant pride and immorality and rebellion and unbelief do send people to hell. They have precisely that power. Similarly, no government or earthly authority or political platform can save a single human soul. On the other hand, Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone can.

(8) The confession that “Jesus is Lord” is not simply a declaration of faith and an acknowledgement that He is the Master of our lives individually and as a church. It is also a political statement.

Read the whole thing for an explanation and defense of each point.

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Comments:


5 thoughts on “8 Theses on God and Government”

  1. christian cerna says:

    I have a problem with point #5:
    “Although we are submissive to the authority of government, Christians have a responsibility as citizens of both heaven and earth to influence for good the government under which they live.”

    I don’t see any place in the NT where it is stated that Christians are responsible for becoming politically active, or trying to influence government.

    The closest thing I can find, is the admonition from Paul, that the churches pray for people in places of authority, so that we may live in peace.

    Whenever the Church becomes involved in politics, or “officially” supports a political party, at some point it will inevitably end up compromising its beliefs.

    1. Christian,

      The reason for this is partly due to the fact that there is no political system in biblical times that parallels a representative form of democracy. Of course, Biblical truths and principles about government reach God’s people in all places with both binding authority and overlapping application (Daniel 4; Acts 17:26-27;Romans 13:1ff; I Peter 2:13-14). And we can look to the prophets and learn much about divine concern for justice and protection of the vulnerable. In Jesus, we find teaching on non-resistance as a personal ethic for His followers (although, I hesitate to apply this ethic too closely to how the followers of Jesus function in government — particularly in law enforcement). Yet none of this biblical instruction was delivered to people who lived in democratic forms of government.

      So what does responsible citizenship look like for Christians when they are part of “We the people….” Are we called (by God) to be a voice at the table as a matter of responsible and compassionate citizenship? Does non-participation (from believers) equal a kind of disobedience to our identity as salt and light? More importantly, what does Christian participation look like in attitude, posture, voice, and overall influence?

      When believers are under totalitarian regimes, influencing government is not a possibility (although a long discussion could focus on the conclusions reached by Dietrich Bonhoeffer concerning Hitler’s rule). When government involves “we the people.” Christians must be involved. We are salt and light and these metaphors imply deep influence wherever possible.

      It might help to consider the two responses contrasted in a quote here from Skye Jethani http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/how-should-the-church-respond/

      1. christian cerna says:

        I refuse to vote anymore. Every politician makes endless promises to better the country. But once they are in office, they forget about those promises, and act like every other person before them who has held that seat.

        1. Thomas says:

          Don’t you think you’re exaggerating? “Every” politician… “endless” promises… Are politicians any more human and sinful than everybody else? Politics is like every other arena of human life — filled with the “tribulations” that JESUS PROMISED we would have “in this world.” Following your reasoning, perhaps we should say to all of life, all of culture, all of our neighbors: “I refuse to be involved with you anymore. You’re sinful!” Brother, I believe you’re mistaken. Please go out and vote before the day’s over — don’t be whiny and irresponsible and immature — get involved in real life!

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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