Don’t Expect Too Much from Tony

Anyone who expects the size of government to shrink dramatically under Abbott, [should] think again. Depending on the rate of economic growth, government spending as a proportion of GDP is unlikely to fall in the coming years.[1]

I’m glad we’ve gotten a new Prime Minister. His government ought to be an improvement, not that it would be hard after the last two. His Cabinet will be hopefully busy using a mop and bucket for quite some time, cleaning up the mess they have inherited after the last six years. He may well need a big bucket and lots of mops.

What should we Christians want from Tony Abbott? That goes to a deeper question: what do we expect from political leaders? If we Christians kid ourselves into believing that politics holds much real hope for the nation, we only fall into the trap that humanists have been falling into, for centuries: Salvation through Politics.

Salvation through Politics denies that man must change. Salvation through politics denies the God of the Bible, implicitly denying that man is a sinner that needs the grace and salvation only available through Jesus Christ. It denies that a better world requires better men,  implying that man’s real problems are merely structural ones of environment. Salvation through politics effectively teaches that, “We’ve only got to get the right political leaders, and Presto! Problem solved.”

Wouldn’t that be convenient? Why, every society could all going on living like the devil, and our political leaders could do all the work of getting us out of a hole. We ignore the true Messiah and everything He represents, and come up with another one. Hail Caesar! Societies that accept the notion of salvation through politics are in danger of getting tyrants like Hitler at the helm.

This was the story during the time of the judges in Israel. If the nation was degenerate and had turned away from God, the nation’s politics would quickly reflect this. This is why political change in any nation means little, unless there is a change of heart and attitude towards God. And let’s be honest: we aren’t seeing that in Australia today.

Gideon understood something of the folly of salvation by politics, around 1250 BC. After his victories, “…the men of Israel said to Gideon, ‘rule over us, both you and your son, also your son’s son, for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.’ But Gideon said to them, ‘I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you’” (Judges 8:22-23).

Seeking political saviours is something God expressly forbids. He said “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other” (Isa.45:22). When Israel wanted Jesus to be their political saviour (Jn. 6:14-15), He would have nothing of it.

When the Church is in a mess and has little to say of any merit about national affairs, we must begin the place of reform at home, in the Church. Why? Because the Bible describes the household of God, as “the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth” (I Tim.3:15). If we cannot determine what is right for society and the human race according to scripture, what do we think the humanists will come up with? We’ll just get disaster after disaster, and these will serve as rebukes to us.

Some may say, “But Andrew, we’ve just got to get the right people into government.” Well, that sounds good. But the facts of history show this: people elect governments like themselves; thus they get the government they deserve. The task of the Church has always been to influence the way people think, and when we are failing to do this Biblically, it quickly shows up. Today, though a supposedly conservative government has just been elected, a vast proportion of the Australian community wants the State to be its saviour. This testifies to the manifest failure of the Church to function as salt and light in the nation.

[Calvin] was prudent enough to realize that the best way to reform the culture was indirectly, that is, to first reform the church.[2]

We have to go back to the first place of failure, the Church, if we want to see lasting change in the nation. Political solutions to what are fundamentally spiritual problems simply will not cut the mustard.

The issues are theological, moral, and cultural; they are not primarily economic. They are not primarily political. They are more deeply rooted than either economics or politics. Ultimately, there is almost nothing that economic reform or political reform can do to restore lost cultural foundations.[3]

Conclusion:

Tony Abbott may believe that he has a lot of cleaning up to do in government. I agree. And  we in the Church have a hundred times as much. His job may take him years; ours will require generations.

The question now is this: what form of social, moral, and religious transformation can take place outside the state, outside the universities, outside the media, and outside the Establishment of the West?

We have let the task slip so far. Now, we have to begin the task of clearing away the rubble of humanistic thinking that has been dominating all that we do. But as Nehemiah acknowledged, when the gates of Jerusalem have been burnt with fire, much damage has been done. And when there is a general discouragement about, we can either go on lamenting, or get on with the task of building.

Let’s arise and build, trusting we will have grace from God to do so. And don’t expect help or money from politicians. The Church has never needed government money. What it does need is freedom to function in obedience to scripture, and perhaps some leadership along the way.

Others have done their work in history, and made their mark to God’s glory. So must we.



[1] Judith Sloan, ‘Learning the Lessons from Labor’s Mistakes,’ “The Australian,” 7/9/2013.

[2] David Hall, “The Legacy of John Calvin,” 2008, p.59.

[3] Gary North, (www.garynorth.com) “How the Culture Battles were Lost. The War Continues,” 13/9/2013.

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