Wednesday, September 14, 2016

God and Government - Biblical Principles for Today: An Introduction and Resource

by Cornelis Van Dam
330 pages / 2014

Like perhaps some of our readers, I am already involved in politics, and I know other Christians who are far more involved than I am. However, any Christian who wants to be involved in politics, or any politician who wants to understand Christians involved in politics, needs to read this book. Cornelis Van Dam makes clear the two great foundations for politics (particularly in Canada) - Christianity and humanism - and the nature of the conflict between them. Then he makes clear how Christian principles can function in a world dominated by humanistic ideals.

Christians and humanists have very different views of the origin and task of government, the relationship of church and state, and the concepts of human rights and toleration - but, as Van Dam shows from both Biblical and historical evidence, the Christian understandings of these concepts leads to both greater stability and freedom for society.

That same general form of looking at the fruit of the two worldviews leads to enlightening discussions of the differences an approach guided by the Bible could make in areas like the abortion and euthanasia debates, the issue of capital punishment, the need for traditional marriage, the balance of productive work and necessary weekly rest, the stewardship of creation, and immigration policy. By this point in my reading, my renewed commitment to see Biblical values reaffirmed in our politics had me primed for the last section - "Working for Change," which first describes the Biblical reasons for getting involved in the government of the country, and ends with a look at the many excellent organizations that are doing just that.

The study questions and bibliography at the end make this an excellent resource for starting some political activism of your own, with both insightful Biblical application and plenty of  written and online works, as well as the groups mentioned above, to help you (and me) and like-minded Christians to get going (or to keep going, only with a little better grounding in basic principles).

The only regret I have in reviewing this excellent overview of the rationale and strategies for Christian involvement in (especially Canadian) politics is that I waited too long to read it. The edition I read is from 2011, but there is now, esteemed review reader, a slightly longer updated 2014 edition available for Kindle. You can find both versions at here and at here but while the Kindle version is a reasonable price there, I can see that the print editions are getting a bit expensive there. So a cheaper alternative is to go to the ARPA Canada book section at this link where you can find information on how to get a print edition for a donation of $10.

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