The Bible and Forms of Government

Is there a biblical form of government? In the Old Testament there was a period of monarchies.  In the future when Christ returns, there will be a supreme monarchy and I won’t be in charge! In the United States, we often celebrate the democratic republican form of government that we practice as the best in the world. Can we justify such a sentiment from Scripture? Is there a biblical basis for the U. S. Constitution?  Is there a mandated form of government during the Church Age?  These are very interesting issues.  We need to make our statements with credible biblical backing.  I hope someone will tackle this for the upcoming Council.

Mike Stallard

3 comments

  1. Dr. Stallard: I would hope that whoever picks up the gauntlet that you have thrown down would include considerations of some or all of the following suggested topics:

    1) the impact of the Reformation on the American form of government;

    2) the relationships between various forms of ecclesiastical government and political structures;

    3) the possible significance of the parts and component elements of the image in Daniel 2 for the changes from the imperialism in the ancient world to less centralized or authoritarian forms of government;

    4) the post-Reformation shift from the ancient sacralism adopted in Constantinianism to pluralism [on this see especially Leonard Verduin, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964; 1991 reprint by Christian Hymnary, Sarasota, FL), and Anatomy of a Hybrid: A Study in Church-State Relationships (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976)];

    5) the impact of doctrines other than ecclesiology on political theory, e.g., anthropology (total depravity), soteriology (the priesthood of every believer), etc.; and

    6) millennial views and their impact on political theory, particularly theonomic postmillennialism.

    Of interest:

    Simply limiting research to articles and book reviews in Bibliotheca Sacra on the subject of democracy illustrates that they seem to be more prevalent in the first century of its publication than recently as found, for example, in the following volumes: 25:100 (OCT 1868), 63:249 (JAN 1906), 64:255 (JUL 1907), 70:277 (JAN 1913), 73:290 (APR 1916), 76:301 (JAN 1919), 77:308 (OCT 1920), 79:313 (JAN 1922), 102:405 (JAN 1945). It is understood that this last issue goes slightly beyond that first century of publication. If the envelope is expanded to 1951 the three article series by Stanley D. Starr on “The Political Philosophy of John Cotton” would be included: Bibliotheca Sacra 108:429 (JAN 1951), pp. 74–83; 108:430 (APR 1951), pp. 216–226; and 108:431 (JUL 1951), pp. 334–346. Suggestion: Perhaps this political interest has more to do with the theological and political climate at Andover Theological Seminary and Oberlin College where it was published during the bulk of this period (1844–1922).

    Food for thought during the last ¾ of a century in Bibliotheca Sacra is there, nonetheless. See for examples:

    Clyde W. Taylor, “The Christian and World Affairs Part I: Where Is Your Church?,” Bibliotheca Sacra 122:486 (APR 1965), pp. 144–157; “The Christian and World Affairs Part II: Christian Citizens,” Bibliotheca Sacra 22:487 (JUL 1965), pp. 200–214; “The Christian and World Affairs Part III: The Clergy, The Church, and the State,” Bibliotheca Sacra 22:488 (OCT 1965), pp. 302–318; and “The Christian in World Affairs Part IV: Involvement,” Bibliotheca Sacra 123:489 (JAN 1966), pp. 15–29.

    Emilio A. Nú-ez, “The Theology of Liberation in Latin America,” Bibliotheca Sacra 134:536 (OCT 1977), pp. 343–356.

    Norman L. Geisler, “A Premillennial View of Law and Government,” Bibliotheca Sacra 142:567 (JUL 1985), pp. 250–265.

    Thomas D. Ice, “An Evaluation of Theonomic Neopostmillennialism,” Bibliotheca Sacra 145:579 (JUL 1988), pp. 281–300.

    G. Joseph Gatis, “The Political Theory of John Calvin,” Bibliotheca Sacra 153:612 (OCT 1996), pp. 449–467.

    Finally, this volume should not be ignored by whoever grabs the baton on this subject:

    Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010).
    Note: It is to be regretted that a volume this size with many footnoted resources, and indices of Scriptures (pp. 602–607), Names (pp. 608–614), and Subjects (pp. 615–619), failed to include a bibliography.

  2. Dr. Stallard: It did it again! I am wondering if there could be something in the HTML as it posts my comment. Very strange! Let’s leave it as is. Delete either the original or the one I just added.

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