Monday, May 12, 2008

The Message of the Cross and Democracy

In 1 Corinthians 1:18-21 Paul writes:

18For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.”

20Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

Since Tuesday is Election Day, we are holding no Bible studies at the capitol this week. However, with so much focus on the primaries and the upcoming elections in November, I thought it might be helpful for us to consider the importance of the cross and the gospel in relation to elections and democracy.

In The Cross and Christian Ministry, D.A. Carson deals with the centrality of the cross in contrast to human wisdom and philosophies, including democracy. Carson writes:

"Does the elevation of the virtues of democracy lead men and women to the cross? In America, the founding fathers conceived of democracy as a way of establishing accountability by restricting power. If the populace as a whole did not like the executive, legislative, or judicial branches of government, the ballot box provided a means of turfing them out. Strangely, modern politicians speak of “the wisdom of the American people,” as if special insight resides in the masses. That was not the perception of the founding fathers; it is certainly not a Christian evaluation. Doubtless, democracy is the best form of government where the populace is reasonably literate and shares many common values, but even under these conditions the majority vote does not always display great wisdom. It is the best way to limit power and make government more or less responsive; it is not the best way of determining right and wrong, truth and falsehood, good and bad. Does democracy itself lead anyone to the cross? Is it not always wrong to equate “the American way,” or, more broadly, any democratic system, with the gospel?

"Paul’s point is that no public philosophy, no commonly accepted “wisdom,” can have enduring significance if its center is not the cross…"

The Cross and Christian Ministry. D.A. Carson Baker Books. Grand Rapids, MI. p. 16.

Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians warn us against depending upon human wisdom (including democracy and the political process) to truly change our state and our country. So as we cast our ballots on Election Day, let us remember it is the "word of the cross" which is the power of God to save us and ultimately change our nation.

1 comment:

Mark Patton said...

Thanks for the reminder that our true hope is found in Christ and His cross!