A “Threat to Democracy”? Isn’t that a Good Thing?

Sep 9, 2022 by David Fowler

A “Threat to Democracy”? Isn’t that a Good Thing?
Recently President Biden has come under attack by conservatives for speaking about Trump supporters, MAGA adherents, and even a solitary heckler at one of his speeches as a “threat to democracy.” But isn’t that a good thing?

The Perspective of Our Founding Fathers

Our Founding Fathers certainly would have thought ridding our nation of democracy was good. James Madison, sometimes referred to as the father of our Constitution, had this to say about democracies (Federalist Paper No. 10):
[A] pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual. (cancel culture??)
Consequently, he continues:
Hence it is that such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. 
If this is true of democracies composed of a “small number of citizens,” we should expect the “turbulence” and “violent death” to be magnified when the democracy is composed of a whole nation of several hundred million people.

The push to abolish the Electoral College and award the presidency based on national popular vote is democracy, and elected Republicans in Tennessee have pushed for it.

The Alternative Form of Government Bequeathed to Us

It is for the aforesaid historically demonstrable reason our Founding Fathers bequeathed to us a Republican form of government “by which I [Madison] mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place.” 
According to Madison,
The two great points of difference between a democracy and a republic are: first, the delegation of the government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest; secondly, the greater number of citizens, and greater sphere of country, over which the latter may be extended. . . . The effect of the first difference is, on the one hand, to refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations. (emphasis supplied)
Biden and all those, including many Republicans, who urge upon us a mindless embrace of a democratic spirit, namely that we, collectively, are the source of truth, meaning, and law—in place of a republican spirit are not statesman (the lack of which was my subject last week) but revolutionaries who would destroy the Republic.
If we keep electing them, revolution will come; it will just be a matter of time. Anyone trying to stay in the middle will get crushed between the Democratic and Republican party revolutionaries.

The Church and Democracy

The word democracy should be an anathema to every Christian who adheres to the Apostles Creed or at least its contents. Here are its opening lines: “I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.”
Compare those truth claims to the etymology of the word “democracy.” It is made up of two Greek words, “demo,” from the word “demos,” meaning “common people,” and “kratos,” meaning “rule.”
On its face, we would be tempted to say, “So? Isn’t that better than an aristocracy, oligarchy, or monarch?” 
But Biblical history would have to say no. Daniel proclaimed to King Nebuchadnezzar, 
Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him. (Daniel 2:20-23, NKJV) (emphasis added)
For Christians, two things must be taken from this. 
First, lest Christians think the description of God’s authority over kings is poetical imagery and not descriptive of reality note how the passage is structured. God’s authority to establish and remove kings is set in-between God being described as having “wisdom and might” and the final description as one who gives “wisdom and knowledge” and is omniscient (His knowledge is independent of something being visible to the eye). We are presented with this choice: Take all of God as He reveals Himself to be or take none of Him.
Second, to say that a King as a form of rulership is malum in se is to accuse God of injustice if not downright evil, even toward His people—He is the one who gave them King David. 
And lest one points to evil kings as an exception to the rule in Daniel, consider Pharoah. Did not God say in the Old and New Testaments that Pharaoh was on his throne for the sake of revealing God’s glory?
We get the rulers—monarchs, aristocrats, oligarchs, as well as Congress and state legislative bodies—that God knows we need for the sake of revealing His glory (or disciplining His people by letting them see what it is like to put “demos” in charge).
Finally, and corresponding to the preceding assertions made in Scripture, democracy—people rule—must be understood in light of the alternative given by Scripture and throughout Scripture—theocracy, or “God rules.”

Why Do Some Christians Prefer “Democracy” to “Theocracy”?

Sadly, many Christians, even pastors I know and respect, balk at the word theocracy. Why might that be so? I will offer two reasons, and you may have others.
First, based on the portraits of God I grew up with, I suspect many Christians are like I was. God the Father is not so much good in the essence of His being (what the Serpent got Adam and Eve to believe), but He accepts us if we accept Jesus. God the Father, it is said or implied, loves Jesus, and that is what holds back God’s wrath and anger toward us as sinners. “Accepting Jesus” is the fire insurance policy we present at the Pearly Gates so the Father will “accept” us.
But that is exactly the oppositive of the real gospel. God sent His son for the sake of sinners because of the love that is God (John 3:16). Wrath cannot be of the essence of the eternal relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that is God. It is impossible that wrath would ever be part of that relationship, and thus it cannot define who God is.
Second, we tend to look at how authority and power are exercised among us, even by professing Christians, and, having made God in our image, think God is like us. And if God’s sovereignty—unquestioned rule—is anything like ours, then that is horrifying. We can try to run from the demos, but we can’t run from God (Psalm 139:7-10).
In sum, when the word democracy flows easily from a Christian’s lips but theocracy is scary, one must wonder if that person has come to know God as a Heavenly Father who is love and that this is a safe place for a Christian to be because it is His world.
I pray those who don’t know Him will, and that more do because demos-rule is really scary.

David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006.

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