The Idolatry of Government Worship
“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.” (Romans 1:21-23)
I am thankful for the Word of God, which informs me not only on God, salvation, and the judgment to come, but also the darkened condition of man’s heart without God! It effectively interprets current events through the lens of sin and rebellion against God. Mankind is not “basically good”, only having evil behaviors due to “cultural influences”, as humanist Carl Rogers has proposed. No, we are corrupt to the core, needing salvation in the form of a spiritual heart transplant. Faulty social institutions are not the source of the problem, we only have to look within at our own human hearts!
If God’s Word is true, that “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”(2Co 4:4), then we cannot expect “the blind to lead the blind” in an upright manner! To continue the flow of thought from last month’s article, we touched on how government itself is infected by this, but what is to be the cure?
At some point our society’s thought leaders have flipped in their understanding of the role of government. Our founding fathers generally understood the “Depravity of Man”, and sought to construct a very limited government with multiple safeguards with its checks and balances to contain the corruption possible (such as one person or group gaining too much power). They rightly recognized that the government was not the answer to all the world’s ills, and the rulers themselves were subject to God’s authority. Over time in our nation, as the preeminence of God was pushed out of the prominent marketplace of ideas in favor of views that exalt humanity. It was inevitable that as humanist practices pushed their way to the forefront, prosperity itself could not continue, because without a fear of God, leaders would predominantly serve themselves over the people!
Those “blinded” are deceived by the notion that they are the sum of all things, the center of their existence. To those outside places of “power” and without God, it is understandable, according to their worldview, that they would replace the highest authority with something else. They cry out to this lesser replacement for help, devote their attention to religiously, and even “worship”!
Yet God does not sit idly by, in their rebellion against Him. “God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses his wrath every day.” (Ps 7:11) He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice.” (Psalm 9:8) How does He do this?
I find Job 9:24 quite fascinating: “When a land falls into the hands of the wicked, he blindfolds its judges. If it is not he, then who is it?” For those whose hearts have turned away from God, is it not fitting to “give them what they want” (from Rom 1), to their own destruction? Does it surprise you that God can bring judgment through unjust judges?
I just heard a statistic that atheists are more “politically active”, spending more money & time than Christians. Though we shouldn’t be uninvolved, this really shouldn’t surprise us, based on where we have placed our hope. We should not be uninformed about the world’s activities, but balanced, between studying and praying, prioritizing the eternal things over the temporal ones.
Dutch Prime Minister and theologian Abraham Kuyper in the early 1900s, was very helpful in illustrating the government’s role for the Christian, which he would call, “Sphere Sovereignty”. For the atheist, where man is the measure of all things, they might group communities under authority like this*, with all groups subservient to the State. In this worldview, even the Church is fully under the State’s control.
For the Christian, we understand that “All authority has been given (by God the Father) to Jesus Christ, (Matthew 28:18) meaning that the even the State is under the authority of God. * In addition, the institutions created by God, such as the State, the Church, and the family, are intersecting circles, but none of them are fully within another circle, other than Christ. This means that governments are not to dictate that which belongs to the Church (moral law of God), nor are they to dictate the education of children, which belong to the family. In areas where we ought to submit to state, we must.
On the other hand, the Church IS to be a prophetic voice to the State, meaning that they are to inform the rulers of God’s Law and Will, which is found in scripture! We are also to declare, as Daniel and Paul did (Daniel 4:27, Acts 24:24-25) that these rulers are accountable to God for how they rule, and that they themselves will be judged some day! Will WE fulfill the roles we’ve been given, within the institutions God has placed us?
The State, in their propensity to rule heavy-handedly, may not like being told by “another sphere” what to do, but it is the way society must be oriented to bring God the greatest glory, with the freedoms He bestows, and the standards that He graciously gives us.