Given the formative role Christianity has had on Western civilization, we should ask the question of how much a Christian view of God played in the ideals that characterize Western governments. I intend to stay clear of philosophical libertarianism and theological austerity, instead focusing my attention on what the Trinity offers us as a theological foundation for government. I have developed a robust, complex, and what I consider to be a faithful view of the Trinity elsewhere: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OGSAX2W if anyone wants more data. The Trinity is a difficult idea, but it is rationally intelligible: God is one nature, Three Persons. Simply, one divine nature (what) expressed in Three distinct Persons mutually related (how). I will not unpack this now, but feel free to ask in the comments. The key to what I want to say in this post is that God is truly distinct Persons who are in communal loving relationships. Where love is, so also is freedom. Because all Three Persons are one in nature, there is no inequality among them. Because all Three Persons, Father, Son, and Spirit, are equal in nature, so must their relationships be loving and free. This is not to say that there cannot be genuine obedience in such love and freedom, but it is to say that such obedience is not forced in the Trinity. Probably the best text for making this point is John 10:17 – 18, where Jesus says that “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” We see a clear order to the Persons of the Trinity, that is, the Father gives the “charge,” but clearly the Father doesn’t force the charge on the Son: ” . . . because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me.” This part of the verse doesn’t demand that we remove Jesus’ obedience or the Father’s commanding to protect freedom. Instead, we have to modify our understanding of obedience and commanding to match this heavenly reality; the Father’s commanding is not domineering, and the Son’s obedience is not fearfully or forcefully compelled. This is what we would expect love to do in situations where there is a commander and the commanded. The one who commands is no longer a tyrant, but lovingly, that is, non-coercisely, commands. The one commanded acts from love, affection, and trust, not from the instinct to survive or being forced. Love, then, is on both sides of this heavenly exchange because the Father commands without force or fear and the Son obeys without being compelled or intimidated into obeisance. What does this offer human governance? Can we set up libertarian policies in government that uphold the individual’s and community’s ability to say yes or no while similarly establishing policies that engender trust and lead to trustworthiness between government and the public? Such policies, informed from the points made about the Trinity above, could be structured to incentivize the public’s willing adoption and practice of them. These laws would offer some positive effects — fiscal, communal, moral, familial, et al. — but would leave it to individuals and communities to decide if they wanted to “trust” such policies. Such policies require certain embedded cultural values in order to entrust the public with responsible freedom and the public to entrust the government with certain powers to responsibly guide the nation. The current situation in the US, where little confidence in government competency is increasingly common, says that mutual trust is a distant cry. When there are two equal partners in a governing-governed relationship, it seems the test of leadership which reflects God the Trinity best is one that makes intentional room for freedom, not limitation to it. I have more to say on this, but this must suffice for now, drawing a summary principle in close: when both partners of a governing-governed relationship are sufficiently trustworthy or “mature,” there should be no force — other than that persuasiveness that is neither frightful or domineering — because such force is suggestive of distrust. A similar principle is that trust enables freedom; distrust is hostile to it. I want to be clear in close, the Father isn’t “governing” the Son of God like the human government situation; indeed, it hardly seems accurate to use the word “government” at all among the Persons of the Trinity. I see Them as in covenantally relationships, lovingly related, intimately communal, and distinctly living in the tasks proper to them: the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.
You must be logged in to post a comment.