13 and democracy
Romans 13 we are told to “be subject to the governmental authorities” (v. 1)
and that they are “God’s servant for good” (v. 4).
In that culture the governmental authority was the emperor and those
delegated by the emperor.
a democracy the locus of governmental authority is quite different.
The sovereignty rests in each individual.
That is the source of authority to which we are to subject ourselves. The actual and concrete carrying out of this power is
transferred to representative governmental leaders.
They are functionaries who have no special meaning of their own; they are
representative of the power of the people (cf. Stephen Mott, A
Christian Perspective on Political Thought
has significant implications for our actions.
Professor Richard Mouw, Christian ethicist and former president of Fuller
Theological Seminary, points out the implications of the power of the
governmental leaders being derived from the populace, the primary locus of
God-given authority. Our subjection
to governmental authority includes participation in the process of debating and
electing those leaders and reviewing, criticizing, and challenging current
policies and procedures. Subjection
to government includes the duty of being involved in that type of participation
every person has the human right of this political participation, our subjection
to democratic political authority means we have to work with people who are
different from us in their theological beliefs. This participation is focused on seeing that government is a
servant of God for good, expressed publicly in social justice.
An effective tool of participation for justice is
community organizing, which will include the diversity required in democracy.
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