As a result of the recent discussion about Islam, and, in my old neighbourhood,
The first question is often, do we want a theocracy? Do we want a god who will rule over our culture? But this question misses the mark. The fact is that every culture, every society already has a god. The question is not whether, but which?
Follow me here. Every society has a supreme authority by which it is governed. That supreme authority finds its expression in the laws of the land. All of its laws are the imposition or expression of the morality of that supreme authority. Or, to put it another way, all cultures, all societies, exist and are maintained by codified law; a set of moral imperatives.
Behind that law is the god of the system, beyond which, there is no higher court of appeal. It was true under Moses, Confucius, Marx and Mao Tse-tung. And it is true in Macarthur. There is an ultimate authority in every culture and that authority is that cultures god.
When you deny a transcendent God, this does not eliminate the position. It just opens the position up for other applicants.
In the case of a democracy, Demos can become the god. The will of the people can become the highest authority, and so instead of a Supreme Being, you end up with a Supreme Court. And if there is no god above the system, then the system itself becomes god.
Now I am aware that a Democracy doesn’t have to lead in this direction. If the Nation is discipled for Christ, then the will of the people will be glad submission to Jesus. But is this the direction in which our democracy is moving?
Having acknowledged that a theocracy – an ultimate authority – is inescapable we are faced with the more difficult question, which theocracy will we serve? As Christians, we are happily stuck with the bible and so the answer should not be hard. As inconsistent Christians, however, we often fail to live out the answer.
As inconsistent Christians, we are vulnerable to falling into the following trap. We believe that God should be centre stage in our hearts, but we appear to worry that if we let Him loose on the really big stuff, like an entire nation, well, who knows where that would lead?
If we should be so privileged so as to disciple a nation, according to the commandment of our Lord Jesus, what kind of society would we have? Here in lies the trap. We want God to fulfil our spiritual and emotional needs, but we seek our civil blessings, like liberty, equality and justice from another god.
Now, there are many things in this society which we prize, liberty and justice among them.
But, as Christians there is only one consistent option for us to take if we want to value such things without
compromise: We must see these things as proceeding from the goodness of God and supported by what he has said in His word.
Let me use a simple example that I heard recently:
“Provided he is plotting no criminal mayhem, should a Muslim be allowed to travel freely in our country? The answer is of course. Now, here is the real question. Why? I would answer that this is because biblical principle requires it.
But if the answer comes back that “our pluralistic way of life” requires it, this is fundamentally idolatrous. It is as bad as praying to Yahweh for sunshine and to Baal for rain.”
Likewise, what do we say about the Muslim who wants to open a school and make crooked by his teaching, the straight paths of the Lord (Acts 13:10)? We say no. Why?
We say no for the same reason that we oppose gay marriage. The great commission involves the imposition on a person to repent and bow the knee to the Law and Lordship of Jesus Christ.
And we are told to undertake that commission. Not with placards, slander and threats of violence, but with the gospel.
Now, it is granted that our “no” needs to be done in all wisdom and prudence. Never-the-less, following Paul’s lead in a pagan theocracy (Acts 13:8-10) the answer must ultimately be repent, “Stop opposing the righteous rule of Jesus Christ.”
But if the answer comes back, “by all means, build your kingdom here” on the basis of multi-cultural tolerance then which theos are we now serving, ours or theirs?
The Christian position in any political or social arena is inextricably linked to the great commission. What do we want? We want to see the nation discipled for Christ.
We may agree on many things already and this is often the case because many of the laws in our culture reflect the goodness of God and are drawn from His word.
But our reason for agreement is built upon the same reason for our disagreement, the Supremacy of Christ.
In saying this, we are not trying to make Jesus Christ supreme, He is supreme. Our mission is not so much to impose Him on others as it is to, by our faithfulness and humility, expose Him to others. And lo, he is with us always.