Democracy: The Great Modern Idol

Judges 21:25
       In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

PHILIP MAURO (1859-1952): We have, in the days of the Judges, the only democratic period of the history of Israel. In Egypt they had no political existence at all, but were slaves to a foreign despot. In the wilderness, Moses was “king in Jeshurun,” Deuteronomy 33:5. And, in Canaan, Joshua exercised the same kingly authority…
      According to man’s most cherished notions the change from the autocracy of Moses and Joshua to the democratic era of the Judges was a great advance, and it should have introduced a period of unparalleled prosperity and progress in all departments of human activity. No conditions could be imagined more favourable to the development of all the conditions and possibilities of what is called “self-government.” The people of Israel had splendid start, a land abounding in the richest products of the earth, and the incomparable advantage of good laws. Moreover, an ample period of time―longer than from the discovery of America to the present day―was allowed for the great political experiment. Therefore, it would be the part of wisdom for those who are shaping―or trying to, at least―the political destinies of the world at this critical hour, to learn from that book what conditions must inevitably develop in any society where there is no king, and every man claims liberty to do that which is right in his own eyes.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Please the people with the word “democratic,” and then amuse them into morality. This is the latest new ‘fad.’

PHILIP MAURO: According to man’s view of the matter, the state of things described in the verse quoted above would be perfectly ideal. Such a state of society―that is to say, one permitting the largest measure of individual liberty―would, according to the most approved view of civilized [modern] man, present the desirable conditions under which men and peoples and nations, big and little, would enjoy the greatest attainable prosperity, and wherein all the peaceful arts and sciences that adorn the highest human culture and civilization, would reach their fullest and most fruitful development. For that state of human society, wherein there is “no king”―that is, no one having authority to curb, restrain and control―and wherein, as a consequence, “every man” is free to do “that which is right in his own eyes,” is a state approximating pure Democracy, for which “the world” is just now being made “safe.”

JEROME (340-420): You err, my brother, you err, if you think that anywhere a Christian is not to suffer persecution.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): I suspect our greatest danger will be in the sunshine of liberty.

ALEXANDER CARSON (1776-1844): Under no forms of government―monarchial, aristocratic, or popular―will the man of God of a decided fearless character be a favourite. There is no greater mistake than to think that Christianity would be better treated under a pure democracy than under a pure despotism. Neither monarch nor mob will love the people of Christ, but only as they are individually themselves the partakers of the knowledge of God. Better to stand before a single despot, than to encounter the bigotry of the multitude. Paul stood before Caesar, and was delivered out of the mouth of the lion; Pilate desired to save Jesus, but the multitude condemned Him. Do we not every day see the same thing, as far as circumstances allow it to be manifested?

R. L. DABNEY (1820-1898): Persecution for opinion’s sake is disavowed in theory by all in this age and country. Whether the persecuting temper is not present already, the observant man can judge.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Let us confess we have never yet seen a Christian country upon the earth.

G. CAMPBELL MORGAN (1863-1945): There are no Christian nations! There are nations that profess to be founded upon Christian principles, but there are no Christian nations. We are not a Christian nation. The principles of a Christian nation have never yet been put to the test, and proven, and revealed to the world in national life.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): A Christian state is impossible. All the experiments have failed. They had to fail. They must fail. The Apocalypse alone can cure the world’s ills. Man, even at his best, even as a Christian, can never do so. You can never make people Christians by Acts of Parliament. You can never ‘christianize’ society. It is folly to attempt to do so―and the idea that you can impose a Christian life or culture upon a non-Christian people is a contradiction of Christian teaching.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): When I look around upon the present state of the nation, such an attempt appears to me no less vain and unreasonable, than it would be to paint the cabin while the ship is sinking.

PHILIP MAURO: The days of the Judges were days of increasing moral corruption and violence. Such was also the character of the days before the flood, when, as is written, the earth “was corrupt before God,” for “all flesh had corrupted His way upon earth;” and, furthermore, “the earth was filled with violence,” Genesis 6:11-13. It is very important that we take note of this, because the Lord Jesus Christ has foretold that “as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the Son of man,” Luke 17:26. We need not dwell on this, for the resemblance to the days of the Judges in point of moral corruption, and of violent methods to which men resort for the attainment of their ends, is apparent to every observer.

JOHN MILTON (1608-1674): Licence they mean when they cry Liberty―None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license.

JOHN HOWE (1630-1705): So far from doting on that popular idol, liberty, I hardly think it possible for any kind of obedience to be more painful than an unrestrained liberty.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: I suggest that our overriding concern should always be our relationship to God, and our looking for, and longing for the coming of Christ. That is the only answer. Man has reached the ultimate. He can no longer be persuaded. He has gone beyond that and worships himself. I can see nothing beyond the present position. Democracy is the ultimate and highest human idea of government, but because of man’s fallen sinful nature it must lead to lawlessness and chaos. Little can be done to arrest this or prevent it, so we look to this glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, Titus 2:13; and in the meantime we do our utmost to open the eyes of our fellow men and women to what is coming to them. They are entitled to liberty and freedom; but, still more important, they have to meet God and stand before Him in judgment.

JOHN NEWTON: You and I, dear Sir, know how much they are to pitied who are frantic for what they call liberty, and consider not that they are in the most deplorable bondage, the slaves of sin and Satan, and subject to the curse of the law, and the wrath of God. Oh! for a voice to reach their hearts, that they may know themselves, and seek deliverance from their dreadful thraldom. Satan has many contrivances to amuse them, and to turn their thoughts from their real danger; and none seem so ensnaring, in the present day, than to engage them in the cry, “Great is the Diana Liberty.”

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The programme of God is not one of social or political improvement. It is individual, it is personal. It is a Gospel that takes hold of us individually and delivers us out of this present evil world, and translates us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): The Gospel is a proclamation of liberty…Christ not only proclaims liberty to the captives, but He sets at liberty them that are bruised, Isaiah 61:1. Jesus Christ, as one having authority, as one that has power on earth to forgive sins, came to set at liberty.

C. H. SPURGEON: The Gospel runs thus: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. He that believeth not shall be damned.”


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