Sermon Notes: The nature and role of government in the bible

4 05 2015

A couple of weeks back we had a church prayer meeting for the upcoming election, and it opened with a short sermon on government in the bible, so I thought, with three days to go until the election, I’d share my notes from it incase they’re helpful.

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
– Colossians 1 vv 15-20

“He said to them, ‘Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” – Luke 20 v 25
Most would say this verse divides the world into a religious domain and a government domain, but God can’t be level with Caesar, He is far above him. “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” – Psalm 24 v 1a.

The Bible has government down as useful yet limited.

David is described as a king after God’s own heart whose throne would be established forever. Yet when Israel asked for a King this was a rejection of God’s rule over them.

Governments can do many positive things, for example: advance education, justice, equality, employment opportunities. Yet they can also abuse power, form oppressive regimes, persecute citizens.

We’re called to submit to government: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” – Romans 13 v 1.

Government is limited, firstly by the existence of other human authorities, including church, family and individuals. We should be lobbying government and campaigning against policies that violate God’s teaching. Try Christian Concern or the Evangelical Alliance.

The word government essentially means helmsmanship (“the action or skill of steering a ship or boat.”). This could be of the state, the church, a family or an individual. Government as we think of it would be civil government.

Government is limited, secondly by the means at its disposal. Its only punishment is the removal of someone’s freedom or property. Whereas Jesus said “Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.’” – John 18 v 36.

Government is limited in the scope and influence God gives to it, for this reason, Christians can legitimately disagree about politics. No government will match up to the rule that we’ll one day live under in a new heaven and earth.

In this country we’re fortunate as Biblical principles still shape a lot of the political landscape.

We need to prayerfully consider our vote and ask God to help us to vote wisely to promote principles of submission to law, accountability of government, equality and justice.

There are many resources to look at political parties’ policies from a Christian perspective. I mentioned some of these in a previous post

Royal Baby: It’s a girl – name guessing time

2 05 2015

I was halfway through my blog of guessing boy and girl name predictions, looking forward to Simon McCoy on my TV, when the announcement came through that at 8.34am, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had a little girl!

When Prince George was born I put forward ten potential names, I guessed at Alexandra for a girl before we knew the gender, but as Alexander is one of George’s middle names, I think this is less likely now. Here are my guesses for this time around.

  • Elizabeth – I think this would be a lovely middle name, I don’t think they’d make it a first name while Her Majesty is still on the throne, but you never know! It’s also Catherine’s middle name, so it would be quite adorable.
  • Diana – Again probably not a first name, but I think this would be wonderful as a middle name in tribute.
  • Victoria – One of the most incredible Queens in history, a very royal name, and not all that old fashioned once shortened.
  • Mary – I’m not sure that this is that likely, but it’s a name of Queens in the past, and one of Queen Elizabeth’s middle names, and not of any current senior royal.
  • Rose – Again probably not that likely, but it’s a beautiful name, and middle name of the Queen’s sister, Margaret. I thought about putting Margaret forward, in fact, yea maybe I will.
  • Margaret – A cute little Maggie could be quite lovely, but will all the links to Thatcher, would it be too political, especially right before an election?
  • Carol – This is Catherine’s mum’s name, and she’s said to be helping out a lot and quite involved, so it could pop up in the middle somewhere
  • Alexandra – You know what, I’m going to keep this on my list, other than it being George’s middle name, there’s no other good reason why not.
  • Alice – This time I heard the bookies favourite before I put my list together, and this is the top one
  • Charlotte – Again, this is another top one at the bookies, who knows.

Friday five favourite: ways to research your vote this election

17 04 2015

With all the leaders debates now over, and the news thoroughly drenched in all the manifestos, statements, spats, all sorts that’s going on, I’ve been trying to find good sources of unbiased information to inform and help me to decide who to vote for next month. I wanted to look beyond all the leaflets that just tell me why I shouldn’t vote for the other parties, or tell me that only 2 parties have a chance in my constituency and to avoid the others, and I wanted to start from scratch in looking at what parties actually stand for.

Here are five of the resources that I have found most useful in doing this!

  • Verto[Quiz] – A great little app from The Independent which they’ve apparently designed to work like Tinder. You swipe left or right to indicate whether you like or dislike policies, and then put the categories you care about nearer the top, from that it will show you for yourself, your region and countrywide, on a pie chart style thing, which way you are inclined – I found it really helpful!
  • Vote For Policies[Quiz] – A slightly more long winded version of the above. I loved this website for the European elections a couple of years ago as it was more concise. Now it’s quite long paragraphs, but again for each category you pick the paragraph you most agree with and it spits out a political party at the end for you.
  • BBC[Info] – The BBC have produced a really helpful breakdown of each parties main policies in each area, so whereas above you’re trying to look at policies anonymously, here it lists all parties policies on education, or economy, or you could look like party, and see a list of all their policies. A nice clear, concise summary of those long manifestos.
  • Evangelical Alliance[Info] – Similar to the above, put together by a Christian magazine. The EA asked five parties for their responses to a few key areas, and so again, just have a nice, light summary of all that info that’s out there.
  • Votewise 2015[Book] – This book is written by a Christian, looking at some of the major issues from a biblical perspective, which takes up the majority of the 100 page book, as well as reminding us why it’s important for Christians to be involved in politics. The book ends with members from the five major parties, some of which are also MPs, explaining why, as Christians, they have chosen to be members of the party they have.

  • **EDIT**

  • I Side With[Quiz] – I found this one last night too, haven’t had a chance to do it yet, but it’s a lot of statements that you can select yes, no, or a variation on them, and say whether or not it’s a statement that matters more or less to you

  • **EDIT 2**

  • Christianity Magazine[Interviews] – Premier have published interviews with David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg

  • **EDIT 3**

  • How to vote[Quiz] – another policy quiz, quite a simple and short one, just looks at four major policy areas, and asks your opinion on a load of bits, let’s you select which you care more about, and always offers a “no opinion” option, which is quite nice

Of course, it’s also important to look at what your local candidates are saying, while a lot of it may sound like bravado, they are the ones that will be representing you in government.

And don’t forget, there’s local council elections on 7th May too, this is where those who make decisions about the place you live get elected, and so it’s still really important to vote knowledgeably there too!

Votewise 2015

9 04 2015

I’m one of those people that doesn’t have an allegiance to a particular political party, and so with the election coming up, and trying to read and compare all I can to form an opinion on who I’d like to vote for this time around.

This book is excellent for an unbiased overview of various policy issues with a biblical perspective, and hearing from Christian members and MPs of the five major parties.

It starts with a general intro to why we should be more involved in politics as Christians, not just at an election, it says in fact that voting should be the last thing we do! Then we cover various topics from the deficit, to Europe, to the NHS and many more and look at what the bible might have to say in each vein. The book finishes off with a couple of pages each from Christians who are either MPs for their party or members of their party, each explaining why, as a Christian, they have chosen to be a part of the party that they have.

I’d say it’s a great piece to help with your research if, like me, you haven’t settled on who to vote for in 4 weeks time. At just over 100 pages it’s not too heavy, and comes in decent size chunks to digest as well.

votewise 2015

Royal Baby – it’s a boy! Next: guess the names!

22 07 2013

How exciting! So although most people thought they were having a little girl (I’m afraid that teddy probably went to the dog), the Prince of Cambridge was born this afternoon!

The next guessing game is going to be on the name! When William was born his name wasn’t announced for a week, but Harry was the same day so who knows when we’ll hear!

In my last blog I said my money was on George William, but we know they tend to have a lot of names, and more have come to light over the day, so here’s my list of 10 of the possibilities. I’d like to think that if he has 4 names, which seems to be fairly normal, he’d have at least a couple from this list!

  • George – This is the bookies favourite, one of Charles’ middle names, name of the Queen’s father and many British Monarchs, but importantly, not the name of any current senior royal.
  • James – Another name going back in British monarch history, also the name of Catherine’s brother, which I don’t knnow if it’d be enough to make it less likely, but again, not a current senior royal name.
  • Spencer – This was Diana’s surname, William’s uncle is the Earl Spencer, it’d be a nice tribute for a middle name as Diana is obviously now out of the question this time around.
  • Charles – Lots of family links here. William’s father and uncle, also a middle name for Harry and lots of British Kings of the past. But maybe a bit confusing to have Grandad’s name?
  • Arthur – A middle name for Charles and William so probably a strong candidate for a middle name again, obviously a pretty famous King too!
  • Philip – Name of the Queen’s husband, also another middle name of Charles and William, but a bit close to home with his current health?
  • John – Again no senior royals of this name currently and t was the name of one of the Queen’s uncles.
  • Louis – the last of Williams middle names, maybe a little French but it’s maybe more likely than Tyler!
  • David – a good King-y name, but not very likely. I don’t think they’d want people thinking he was named after the Prime Minister! Though it is one of Harry’s middle names.
  • Michael – Not sure where this stands in British history, but it is the name of Kate’s Father, so not out of the question, maybe a middle name?

So there we go – what do you think they’ll call him?!

Royal Baby on the way!

22 07 2013

It’s a VERY good job I have today off of work – I can’t imagine I’d be able to leave BBC News alone if I was in the office!

There’s rumours everywhere about her due date, the gender etc, but it turns out they’re based on nothing! Here’s some bits and pieces from the BBCs article this morning:

  • Although we all said Kate was a week late, the due date was never announced, it was a guess at ‘mid July’, but even that is not certain!
  • Although everyone said she let slip she’s having a girl (a child gave her a toy and her response was “Oh thanks, I’ll give that to my d.. baby” – was that daughter or dog?!), she and William don’t even know what they’re having!!
  • The Queen, senior members of the Royal Family, and the duchess’s family – if they are not at the hospital – will be told about the birth first. (Not a tonne of politicians as some have thought)
  • Then the birth announcement will be displayed on an ‘ornate easel’ in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace, followed by a Twitter/Facebook announcement and then the Media will be informed
  • As for names. Royals often seem to have about 4 first names, but I’m just going to put two in for each gender – no one would ever manage all 4, surely?! If it’s a girl, I’m guessing Alexandra Diana, if it’s a boy, George William. To be honest I’m more confident in the middle names than the first as there’s reasoning behind them! For the first names I just chose royal names that no senior royal currently has!

    What are your guesses for the names?!

    **EDIT** So I’ve just read that Alexandra and George are the bookies favourite names, I honestly guessed them before hearing that!!! ****