Thought for the Day - Rev Joel Edwards
We’re emerging from a weekend, deluged by the deafening sounds of democracy.
The election results in France and Greece have left us breathless and baffled about the future. Here in Britain, the outcomes from last Thursday have provided a field day for political analysts. Yesterday President Putin’s controversial victory was officially endorsed. And it appears that President Obama has now entered the race in earnest.
The downpour of bulletins and reviews has included complex analyses of how these radical results will affect us in the current economic storm.
But as we’ve heard from reports on this programme, ‘the people’ in France and Germany have also featured significantly.
Even if we are cynical about people participation we cannot marginalize it. “The best argument against democracy,” Churchill once said, “is a five minute conversation with the average voter.”
Its understandable cynicism from a bulldog; but its not one the Bible would necessarily endorse.
The God of the Bible is so deeply committed to us that he is implicated in the imperfections of our political life and the creaking features of our democracies. Christian theology registered a ‘Yes’ vote for democracy over three thousand years ago when the prophet Samuel led a participative process in electing a new king and put the constitutional arrangements in the Ark of the Covenant – a kind of biblical version of Hansard.
The New Testament is a three-line whip commanding Christians to pray for political leaders. The very word ‘ecclesia’ or ‘church’ was drawn from a Greek understanding of a democratic community making choices for the common good.
For good and ill, Christian faith has baptized political life in the very idea of God. So much so that even in secular states such as France or America the people’s faith cannot be entirely submerged in the ebb and flow of the democratic process.
In their brilliant book, ‘God is Back’, Micklethwaite and Wool-dridge expressed it well: “If you want to understand the politics of this century” they claim, “you cannot afford to ignore God whether you believe in him or not.”
To believe this, is not to become triumphalist or arrogant about faith and its troubled relationship with politics. Rather, it’s a recognition that as we head upstream towards the white waters on our political landscape, for many of us, hope in politics is only possible because we have faith in God.