Foundations for Democracy .... Bob Moore

The United States of America was not the first nation to form a democratic government; neither is it the last. Throughout history, especially during the last two centuries, many states have established democracies. Most have failed. The French and American revolutions, for example, were nearly simultaneous events. Since then, France has periodically reorganized its republic and endured several emperors. America, on the other hand, has remained under its initial constitution.

The success of American democracy has motivated advocates of freedom to try to duplicate its provisions in their native lands after liberating their nation from dictatorial and, sometimes, oppressive rulers. Despite their best efforts, the republics they formed generally disintegrated. Corruption, violence, and, even tyranny returned. Sometimes anarchy developed before the first elections could be held. More often than not, their citizens were no better off and, sometimes, much worse after their efforts were over.

Today, South Africa is teetering as it tries to extend democratic privileges to all its citizens. Instead of expressing their desires with a ballot and submitting to the will of the majority, some are expressing their intentions with bullets and enforcing their will on the people. Perhaps fearful their own views will not be reflected in the results, they threaten bloodshed to undermine the elections.

The failure of so many attempts to found democracies around the globe illustrates the unique nature of our republic. Efforts in both rich and poor nations, among educated and ignorant populations, whether evolving from within or enforced from without, have ended in tragedy. The limited success of so many democratic efforts asks the question, "What provision has made American democracy succeed?"

American democracy was founded upon the gospel of Christ. The first colonists understood that liberty thrives only when God is honored. The Bible itself says, "Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." This is because those submitting to the gospel submit to Gods commandments. They willingly conform their wants to the provisions God has decreed in His word. Disciplined to divine regulations, they remain free from the selfishness that would otherwise undermine and corrupt their public activities. Tolerant of others, they are willing to tolerate the wishes of the majority.

Because each person is by nature competitive and selfish, they must be restrained from taking "advantage of the weak. No restraints would eventually lead to anarchy, with each person relying on himself to obtain want he wants and protect what he has. The freedom guaranteed in a democracy allows connivers to misuse their liberty for selfish ends. The endurance of liberty depends on restraining those who by misusing their freedom would destroy it for others.

The gospel of Jesus Christ protects liberty by providing the necessary restraints to self-indulgence. Without the gospel the government would have to exercise greater control to protect its population. Governmental restrictions could quickly decay into repression. Without the discipline of the gospel democracy rarely endures. Robert Winthrop put it this way: "All societies of men must be governed in some way or other. The less they may have of stringent State Government, the more they must have of individual self-government. The less they rely on public law or physical force, the more they must rely on private moral restraint. Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled, either by a power within them, or by a power without them-, either by the word of God, or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible, or by the bayonet." William Penn expressed the same sentiment when he said, "If we are not governed by God, then we will be ruled by tyrants."

Not only does the gospel restrain those obeying it, but it remakes them into new creatures. According to the Bible, those receiving Jesus, receive "power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." Born again, they are regenerated from their degenerate nature so that they no longer prefer the behavior that can destroy both personal and national liberty. True Christians need not be restrained by bayonets or laws. Having their natures remade in Christ, they serve their country because they serve their Savior.

Since Christianity is the only foundation upon which a democracy can endure, its advancement is the only thing that protects our republic from disintegration. If the gospel should be lost, then our democracy will soon fail. This is why John Witherspoon, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence said, "He is the best friend of American liberty who is most sincere and active in promoting pure and undefiled religion."

Across our nation today a number of people are advocating the abandonment of Biblical Christianity. They claim its precepts are antiquated, its morals confining, and its principles unscientific. In. its stead they advocate situational ethics and humanistic morals, neither of which have any power to restrain selfish people, let alone remake sinners into saints. Such teachings not only undermine Christianity; they subvert democracy. Whether unwittingly or intentionally, proponents of immorality promote anarchy mid tyranny- Perhaps they believe the disorder ensuing from a collapse of Biblical morality will provide them greater liberty to pursue their selfish interests. They are mistaken. The void caused by the elimination of true religion would be filled by intolerant leaders who would eventually eliminate liberty to ensure their position and power.

The republic, even our American way of life, was founded on Christian principles. They under gird and support all that is honorable and true in both our churches and our nation. Without them our government would have failed long ago. Their absence would have limited our prosperity and curtailed our freedom Submitting to them we further the success of our democracy. Abandoning them we threaten its continuance. Unless American retains its Christian foundation, it can not endure. Its citizens cannot be restrained. Its freedoms cannot be guaranteed. Those anxious to advance liberty in our. land, as well as abroad, can only do so by advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ and conforming to his doctrines.

In a day in which an increasing number of people are assailing Christian values, the true patriot clings to the gospel of Christ. He not only submits to its doctrines in his personal life, but he invites others to conform to its principles. He knows that real liberty, both temporal and spiritual, is gained when sinner., embrace the Savior, and it is lost when saints forsake righteousness May the gospel go forth until every citizen is willing to believe and obey it. In that day America will be both free and secure.