The word democracy is derived from the same Greek word we get humanism from. It originates from the Greek word demokratia, which is the “rule of the people.” Demokratia comes from two root words: demos, which is “people,” and kratos, which is “power.”
What is a democracy?Democracy means that all people, regardless of their social class, have political equality and are given full and absolute control of power and government while they respect the laws and institutions.
Americans believe that the Founders, with divine wisdom from the Bible, gave America a constitutional form of government called a republic—not a democracy, as some would suggest. But there is little difference between the two.
A republic, is defined by Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary as a “government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who…is unusually a president,” and “a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law.”
This clearly embodies the central principles of a democracy, which is a government by the people and for the people—especially the rule of the majority. Webster’s goes on to define a democracy as a “government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.”
We all prefer to live in a democracy rather than a tyranny, but even a democracy is not God’s original choice of government. However, the monarchy, which He will set up on the earth someday, will actually be a theocracy, where God is the true King and Ruler of all the earth.
Although many of the principles of democracy are biblical, such as individual human rights, liberty, and human dignity, democracy itself is not a biblical concept. So the reason we have a democracy now is because we don’t have a “righteous rule” monarchy. Therefore, we need some kind of checks and balances in place, which is why most governments are established on this basis.
The Greek philosopher Plato gave an overview of the different forms of government. He started with the best form of government and ended with the worst. Here is how he ranked them:
- Theocracy: The rule of God over all the affairs of humanity.
- Monarchy: The rule of one good person.
- Aristocracy: The rule of a few good people.
- Oligarchy: The rule by the elite or a few individuals.
- Democracy: The rule of the people by themselves.
- Republic: The rule by a constitutional republic.
- Tyranny: The rule of one evil individual.
- Anarchy: The rule of none.
Abraham Lincoln, in his Gettysburg Address, resolved that “government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” I don’t think the president was right in saying that this government will not perish, because it is not God’s type of government.
When the thirteen colonies were still part of England, Professor Alexander Tyler wrote about the fall of the Athenian republic over a thousand years ago:
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, followed by a dictatorship.
The authenticity of this quote is often disputed and cannot be verified, but the words of the original author are still relevant to what is going on in the West today. The author noted that the average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years (the comparative data cannot prove this span of years).
During those 200 years, however, these nations have always progressed “from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; from dependence back into bondage.
This progression can be seen throughout the historical books of the Bible, as well as in Greece, Persia, Babylon, and in Rome. Each of these Empires passed through the above series of stages from their inception to their decline.
Where are we today on the scale? Today we have a deteriorating form of government, no matter what party is elected or who is president.Politicians criticize each other, but they both play for the same team; the losers are always the people who vote for them, except maybe for this upcoming election.
History tells us that in 1776 America supposedly came out of bondage with faith, understanding, and courage. Even against great odds, and with much bloodshed, they battled their way to achieve liberty.
Liberty is that delicate area between the force of government and the free will of man. Liberty brings freedom of choice to work, to trade, to go and live wherever one wishes. In fact, liberty leads to abundance. Abundance, if made an end in itself, will result in complacency, which in turn leads to apathy. Apathy is the “let someone do it” philosophy that always brings dependency.
For a period of time, dependents are often not aware they are in fact dependent. Rather, they delude themselves by thinking that they are still free—“We can still vote, can’t we?” they ask themselves. Eventually abundance diminishes and dependency becomes bondage once again.
Carroll Quigley wrote a book entitled Tragedy and Hope that was based on a two-year study of the internal documents of the power elites and their history. He wrote:
The chief problem of American political life for a long time has been how to make the two Congressional parties more national and international. The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can throw the rascals out at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy.
Philip Schaff, a German-American theologian and church historian, described republican or democratic institutions in the hands of a virtuous and God fearing nation as very best in the world, but in the hands of a corrupt and irreligious people they are the very worst and most effective weapons of destruction:
An indignant people may rise in rebellion against a cruel tyrant; but who will rise against the tyranny of the people in possession of the ballot-box and the whole machinery of government?
Here lies our great danger, and it is increasing every year. Destroy our churches, close our Sunday schools, abolish the Lord’s Day, and our republic would become an empty shell, and our people would tend to heathenism and barbarism.
Christianity is the most powerful factor in our society and the pillar of our institutions. It regulates the family; it enjoins private and public virtue; it builds up moral character; it teaches us to love God supremely, and our neighbour as ourselves; it makes good men and useful citizens; it denounces every vice; it encourages every virtue; it promotes and serves the public welfare; it upholds peace and order.
Schaff noted that Christianity is the only possible religion for the American people, and with it are bound up all our hopes for the future where God’s form of government will eventually be a monarchy of one perfect King—His name is Jesus Christ.
Isaiah declared, “Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule with justice” (Isaiah 32:1). Jesus will lead a righteous rule and He will share His authority with His church, which is a governmental assembly.
He purchased His church with His own blood and has trained it through suffering, affliction, and discipline. God has His chosen ones, and they come from every tribe, nation, people, and tongue. If we are members of the church, we can expect to be part of a governmental assembly that will rule the world, headed by one righteous Man Jesus Christ, who will establish His kingdom of God on earth.
In a nutshell, although many are saying the America’s Election 2016 could turn out to be the most important election in many years, we need to put our hope and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ who can change the hearts of those He wants to put in power for His gospel purposes.
Remember democracy without the lordship of Christ (in people’s hearts) is simply another form of tyranny, where the majority frequently deprive the minority through the institution of unjust laws.
Let us pray for America that the invisible Hand of God will restrain evil in these elections and awaken the soul of a nation.
Part of this article is excerpted from Reclaiming the Forgotten Biblical Heritage Volume 1