When we talk about democracy, we generally mean our right to vote for the body of politicians who make decisions on our behalf. They are elected every few years and held responsible for the way the country is run. Sometimes they achieve what they promise, other times they fail or change their policies.
Most of us are dissatisfied with this system, but it is the best we have. Winston Churchill famously called democracy, ‘The worst form of government – but for all the rest’. So what does the Bible – much of which was written before democracy had ever been established – have to say about how we engage in politics?
This new pamphlet in our TBA (Thinking Biblically About...) series notes that many different forms of government are described in the Bible, and the injustices of kings and rulers is frequently exposed. It then describes how government was established in ancient Israel in a limited, decentralised way. It operated at multiple levels (individual, extended family, community, the Levites, tribes, and the nation as a whole) and the vision was that right government would ensure justice and enable the common good to flourish.
Christians in the 21st century are called to participate across a broad spectrum of political engagement, with expression at both the local and national level. It requires us to commit to being servant leaders in our communities rather than simply voting every five years. We might volunteer as a school governor or stand for public office locally or nationally. And if we don't have leadership abilities, we can still get involved with campaigning and working for social justice in different ways.
We can send you high quality presentation copies of the Democracy pamphlet; alternatively, you can download the text to read or print here:
Other Jubilee Centre publications on this topic include:
Biblical Lament and Political Protest - Cambridge Paper by Andrew Williams
The Bible and Politics - Cambridge Paper by Nick Spencer
Apolitical animal? booklet by Nick Spencer
Sustaining Democracy by Philip Sampson