The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

Democracy: Be Careful What You Wish For

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Democracy is the “rule of the people,” and whatever the people rule is right. Vox populi, vox dei— “the voice of the people is the voice of god.” If the majority of people have a defective worldview, then their vote will also be defective. We’ve seen “democracy in action” when Palestinians voted the terrorist worldview of Hamas into power. According to the philosophical democracy, the Hamas government is as legitimate as any other government because it came to power by way of democracy.

For years now, extremist liberal groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the editors of Mother Jones magazine have criticized conservative groups like American Vision because we believe that “democracy is a heresy.” In fact, Randy Clapp wrote an article for Christianity Today with the title “Democracy as Heresy.” He attributed this belief to Reconstructionists.[1] This is one of those nasty half-truths. If democracy is the final arbiter of truth, power, and authority, then, yes, democracy is heresy. Hamas is the poster child of “democracy as heresy.”

Reconstructionists are not alone in this assessment. John Winthrop (1588–1649), first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, declared direct democracy to be “the meanest and worst of all forms of government.”[2] John Cotton (1584–1652), seventeenth-century Puritan minister in Massachusetts, wrote in 1636: “Democracy, I do not conceive that ever God did ordain as a fit government either for church or commonwealth. If the people be governors, who shall be governed?”[3]

James Madison (1751–1836), recognized as the “father of the Constitution,” wrote that democracies are “spectacles of turbulence and contention.” Pure democracies are “incompatible with personal security or the rights of property. . . . In general [they] have been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”[4]

One of the best definitions of democracy was published in 1928 in a training manual developed by the U.S. War Department in which it was described as “a government of the masses.” Authority was said to be “derived through mass meeting or any other form of ‘direct’ expression.” Direct democracy, according to the manual, would result in “mobocracy.” The “attitude toward law is that the will of the majority shall regulate, whether it be based upon deliberation or governed passion, prejudice, and impulse, without restraint or regard to consequences.”[5] In a word, direct democracy makes “we the people” the immediate sovereigns without any guarantee of external moral restraint. C. Gregg Singer, echoing this opinion, writes that “Modern political theory has replaced the doctrine of the sovereignty of God with that of the sovereignty of man.”[6]

John Adams, the second president of the United States, stated that “the voice of the people is ‘sometimes the voice of Mahomet, of Caesar, of Catiline, the Pope, and the Devil.’”[7] Francis A. Schaeffer described democracy as “the dictatorship of the 51%, with no controls and nothing with which to challenge the majority.”[8] The logic is simple: “It means that if Hitler was able to get a 51% vote of the Germans, he had a right to kill the Jews.”[9]

Endnotes:

[1] Randy Clapp, “Democracy as Heresy,” Christianity Today (February 20, 1987), 17–23.
[2] Quoted in A. Marvyn Davies, Foundation of American Freedom: Calvinism in the Development of Democratic Thought and Action (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1955), 11.
[3] Letter to Lord Say and Seal, quoted by Perry Miller and Thomas H. Johnson, eds., The Puritans: A Sourcebook of Their Writings, 2 vols. (New York: Harper and Row, [1938) 1963), 1:209–210. Also see Edwin Powers, Crime and Punishment in Early Massachusetts: 1620–1692 (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1966), 55.
[4] Quoted in The Federalist, ed. Jacob E. Cooke (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1961), 61.
[5] Training Manual, No. 2000–25 (Washington, DC: War Department, 1928): www.chrononhotonthologos.com/lawnotes/repvdem.htm
[6] C. Gregg Singer, John Calvin: His Roots and Fruits (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1967), 43.
[7] John Adams, quoted by Gilbert Chinard, Honest John Adams (Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Co., [1933] 1961), 241 in John Eidsmoe, “The Christian America Response to National Confessionalism,” in Gary Scott Smith, ed., God and Politics: Four Views on the Reformation of Civil Government (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1989), 227–228.
[8] Francis A. Schaeffer, The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century (1970) in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview, 5 vols. (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1982), 4:27.
[9] Schaeffer, The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century, 4:27.

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