Democracy: does the Bible have a view?
Democracy as an idea only came into being in the last 350 years. Democracy emerged from the revolutions within France as it rejected the idea of the divine right of kings and priestly authority, replacing hierarchy with non-hierarchy and revelation with reason. It overturned the prevailing view of Providence with the idea of Progress, replacing God with Man. The idea that government is accessible to all, is a good idea in principle but democracy in practice is largely a limited choice between political parties who depend on rhetoric to win votes at elections. Only war or revolution rearranges the pieces on the board.
However much politicians insist that they, ‘Don’t do God’, He never went away. The use of militaristic force of arms only results in more wars and orphans who want to take revenge. Democracy is a foreign idea to cultures that live with religious and political affiliations different from ourselves. It is therefore incumbent upon the West to begin conversations that seek reconciliation and peace that do not smack of the ‘Pax Romana’ with force of arms but through a process of repentance and humility with those who have been oppressed and violently treated.
The temptation will be to retreat and make Europe a fortress. How do we deal with the tide of refugees from Syria, Libya, Africa, who make their way in small boats to escape the conflict in their own land? What about the fathers desperately seeking sons who have been misled by radical ideas and now want to return?
The Bible doesn’t have a view about democracy because it doesn’t believe in it. It does talk a lot about living God’s way, under his guidance, acting with love and humility towards God and our neighbour. It starts with each one of us.