The Christian worldview is the truth about everything. It is a comprehensive perspective about every aspect of life, including government. And this outlook is formed by reflecting on God’s revelation to us which is given in the Bible. Although the Bible does not provide a full fledged political theory, it does provide us with principles and ideas which are helpful in deducing a sound understanding of Civil Government. These thoughts are presented below.
Firstly, we understand from Scripture that God is the sovereign ruler of heaven and earth. He is the Lord over all things (cf. Isaiah 44:6,7). By implication, every authority on earth is delegated and subservient to God’s own authority. Any rule exercised must be carried out in recognition of God’s higher and comprehensive rule over all humanity. Civil government possesses authority, but it is a limited authority. The Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper famously declared:
There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’
Secondly, there are distinct spheres within society, with each sphere equal to the others. These are the spheres of Family, Church, State, as well as numerous social groups and voluntary organizations which we may group under the sphere of Society. The state is thus one sphere among others and thus has its defined role. According to Scripture, this role pertains to punishing evildoers and promoting good (1 Pet. 2:14).
We are to submit to every edict or law of the state, provided it does not oppose God’s moral principles. Disobedience to the state in what is lawful is disobedience to God (Rom. 13:1-2, 7).
A separation of ruling or governing powers is essential on account of fallen human nature. No entity is to have absolute power. We are reminded of Lord Acton’s dictum: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The corruption of human nature makes this expedient.
We need a system whereby representatives are elected to represent the people (cf. Exodus 18:13-26; Numbers 11:10-25 ). Just as it exists within the local church (Titus 1:5-9), these must be men of character and wisdom. They will make decisions on their behalf, but must still be accountable to their electorate.