Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Limits of Politics

Bringing up politics in polite company is a great way to ruin a pleasant evening meal--so says T. M. Moore in his insightful brief study, The Limits of Politics: What Government Can and Cannot Do. With general elections coming up in November it's a timely topic. He begins by stating that government in necessary, but not necessarily evil.
Politics is often seen as the black sheep of family America – a source of disappointment and disgust, who only comes around at certain times, but from whom we’re never entirely separate. But politics is simply the science of government. Politics describes the ways people in society organize their relationships and apportion the exercise of power in an effort to establish order and maintain peace. The problem is not with politics, as, doubtless, most of us realize, but with politicians. Politics is a noble science, and the practice of politics can be a way to bring glory to God and much good to people. That politics has come to be associated with corruption and contention is not the fault of politics but of those who practice it.
Moore goes on to lay out his central thesis. Politics is necessary to a good society. But it’s not necessarily evil. And it falls to those whose senses are trained by the Word of God to differentiate between good and evil to do whatever they can to ensure that what God intends for the business of politics is actually what we in our society enjoy (Heb. 5:14).
Moore then presents a brief outline of what government can and cannot do: establish order, but not define order; promote goodness, but not make us good; ensure justice, but not create arbitrary standards. The stakes are high. The power of government can be unwieldy. The good and sobering thing is that in our country, we are directly involved in the political process. Even better, the LORD rules as sovereign over all the leaders of the land (Proverbs 21:1). So get through with your political discussion (as important as it may be) and get back to your pleasant evening meal.