The Christian Vision of Government (V)

How can I bear the load and burden of you and your strife? Choose wise and discerning and experienced men from your tribes, and I will appoint them as your heads. You answered me and said, ‘The thing which you have said to do is good.’ So I took the heads of your tribes, wise and experienced men, and appointed them heads over you, leaders of thousands and of hundreds, of fifties and of tens, and officers for your tribes (Deut.1:12-15).

The Bible teaches decentralisation-always. The consistent mark of atheistic, totalitarian governments historically, is that they can’t abide the common people taking the responsibility and authority for their lives, and their problems. Their attitude is, “We’ll run your life for you. We know what’s best, and we can really help, in so many ways.” They consistently have this perverse view, from the days of the debauched Caesars who promised bread and circuses, till now.

So, if we Christians are to going to be consistent, we’d better learn what this Biblical decentralisation business really means. It means that we begin at the beginning, at God’s Word, and start to take responsibility for the things God commanded us to be responsible for. We stop expecting governments to do for us what God in His Word commands us to do.

The threat to liberty of central authority is too great. Even with God’s agent Moses as the supreme civil judge, Jethro warned that Israel would suffer. Moses possessed too much authority. Better to decentralize State authority to untrained judges than to concentrate authority in one man. Such centralized authority will undermine freedom, reduce complexity, reduce the division of labor, and cut short the multiplication of wealth. Men will stand in long lines seeking justice rather than getting on with living.[1]

Are Education, Health and Welfare personal, family and Church issues? Yes. According to the Bible, do they require some government assistance, or intervention?  No. But because we Christians haven’t been thinking according to scripture now for a long time, these issues have gotten right away from us. We have failed to obey God’s commands.

As Ron Paul indicated in 2007,

Parental control of child rearing, especially education, is one of the bulwarks of liberty. No nation can remain free when the state has greater influence over the knowledge and values transmitted to children than the family…The best way to improve education is to return control to the parents who know best what their children need.[2]

But Christians have not really believed this. Here’s an example. Some bureaucrat from the government (State or Federal) comes up and waves a fistful of cash in front of the Christian family or the Christian school, and says, “You can have all this! Just sign here.”

The normal Christian procedure is to say, “Great! Thanks for that. That will be really helpful.” So we stick out our grasping hands, take all that is offered to us, and sign on the dotted line. But a year or so later, we can’t figure out why tax rates have shot up, or government debt has gone through the roof.

“What’s happened?” we say. “I used to have so much more money after the tax man had been and gone. But now…”

Think of this. In 1901, income tax in Australia was… non-existent. You got paid for work, and it ALL came home with you. Government had to make do on very little, and it did. Families were taking a lot more responsibility for their own, and people tended to behave themselves a lot more responsibly.

Did men get drunk at the pub, and fall over on the way home, and did men and women sleep around? Of course they did, but much less compared to today. The level of personal and family responsibility in society was far greater.

Hear what Francis Schaffer said in 1976:

To whatever degree a society allows the teaching of the Bible to bring forth its natural conclusions, it is able to have form and freedom in society and government.[3]

So what am I saying? Any society that has permitted family and church responsibilities to be progressively handed over to government, and embraces a tax rate over 10%, is a society that has lost its way. And a society that has lost its way is one where it’s most important institution (the Church), has been consistently failing in its duty to point the way, and we had better change-fast.

Everywhere there arises before our eyes the spectre of a society where security, if it is attained at all, will be attained at the expense of freedom, where the security that is attained will be security of fed beasts in a stable, and where all the high aspirations of humanity will have been crushed by an all-powerful State.[4]

Conclusion:                                                                                                                                 

Freedom of every kind requires decentralisation, through personal responsibility. It requires that we pick up the load of Education, Health and Welfare, ourselves. And when we get our chance to vote at an election, we vote for those candidates who believe in this.

And if we don’t? History teaches us that we will continue to lose whatever freedoms we still retain, as government demands more money from us and power over us, to do its bungling, inefficient and overpriced work, most of which we could and should do ourselves. Ultimately, people always get the government they deserve.


[1] North, G., “Inheritance and Dominion,” 1999, Ch.3.

[2] Ron Paul, US Senator and Republican Presidential candidate, 2008, 2012.

[3] Francis Schaffer, “How Shall We Then Live?” 1976.

[4] J. Gresham Machen, quoted in Gary Demar, “God and Government,” Vol.3, 2001, p.92.