Friday, March 06, 2015

Big Bertha: "Torn Apart to be Repaired"

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The Seattle Times reported yesterday that "Bertha, the world's largest tunnel-boring machine, is in position to be torn apart so it can be repaired."

The Times says, "The broken machine reached a stopping point inside the rescue pit late Tuesday, clearing the way for workers to start the disassembly process."

As I read this article, I could not miss the metaphor.

Bertha is our government.

Bertha, as many in Washington State know, weighs 2000 tons and is being used to bore a tunnel that will replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct in downtown Seattle.

The Viaduct was damaged in a 2001 earthquake.

The machine started drilling the massive tunnel in the summer of 2013, but broke down in December of 2013.

The Transportation Department says Bertha "has moved forward 57 feet since February 17 in its effort to reach the pit, but now must be disassembled so it can be repaired."

The metaphor is irresistible.

Government affects our daily lives. It tells us how fast to drive. It regulates commerce. It protects us from foreign and domestic strife. It weighs more than 2000 tons, in fact its weight is crushing many ordinary citizens.

If you want to bore a freeway underground, you need a "Bertha"---if you want a civilized society, you need some form of government.

In America we are blessed because we have a government that was designed to be of the people, by the people and for the people.

As Bertha needs to be repaired, our broken government also needs repair.

What is a biblical view of government? What kind of government does the Bible allow?

And should Christians be involved in the repair work?

Kirby Anderson, an old friend of mine, has written extensively on cultural and ethical issues. He is heard on hundreds of radio stations across the country. Kirby has a BS degree in zoology, an MFS in science from Yale, an MA in Government from Georgetown University and studied Bioethics at the Kennedy Institute in Washington DC.

He is a deeply committed biblical Christian and a regular lecturer at many seminaries, universities and other institutions.

Kirby has written a paper titled, "Christian View of Government and Law." I strongly suggest you read it.

The following is taken from his writing combined with some of my own thoughts on government, the Bible and you and me.

I know there are some who believe government should be abolished. There are also those who feel as Christians we should be involved in such things as politics and government, because we are citizens of heaven---and there are those who believe government should supply all of our needs.

What is the balance from a biblical worldview?

The Old Testament teaches that God established government after the flood (Gen. 9:6). It was a theocracy and the Old Testament provides clear guidelines for that kind of government in which God is the Head.

These guidelines, however, were written for particular circumstances involving a covenant people chosen by God.

Apart from that unique situation, the Bible does not propose or endorse any specific political system. The Bible does, however, provide a basis for evaluating various political philosophies because it clearly defines a view of human nature.

We are created in the image of God (Gen. 1: 26-27) and are able to exercise judgement and rationality. However, humans are also fallen creatures (Gen. 3), and thus human sinfulness (Romans 3:23) has created a need to control evil and sinful behavior through civil government.

A Christian view of government differs significantly from views proposed by political theorists such as Karl Marx, Plato and others.

In "The Republic," Plato proposed an ideal government where enlightened philosopher-kings would lead the country. The Bible teaches that all are sinful and all leaders are affected by the sinful effects of the Fall.

Christians should also reject a Marxist view of government. Karl Marx believed that human nature was conditioned by society, and in particular a capitalist economy.

Marx taught that if a capitalist society changed to a socialist society it would solve most if not all of the societal problems.

This belief is manifested every day in our current left leaning administration.

Political policies do not make people better people, as Marx believed. The Bible teaches that we become "new creatures" in Christ and His redemptive work on the cross (II Corth. 5:17). This does not mean, however, that the effects of sin are no longer evident in society.

The view of Karl Marx is in direct contradiction to Biblical teaching. Marx proposed that we can become a new man in a new society, perfected by man's own efforts---political policies. That can't happen---and never has happened.

Government is divinely ordained (Romans 13:1-7), therefore it is ultimately under God's control whether people chose to recognize it or not.

Government has been given 3 political responsibilities: the sword of justice (to punish criminals), the sword of order (to thwart rebellion) and the sword of war (to defend the state).

As citizens, we have been given several responsibilities to God ordained government. We are called to render service and obedience to the government (Matt. 22:21) and we are to submit to civil authority (I Peter 2:13-17).

However, Christians are not to give total and final allegiance to the secular state. Other God-ordained institutions exist in society alongside the state. Christian's final allegiance must be to God.

We are to obey civil authorities (Romans 13:5) in order to avoid anarchy and chaos.

However, there may be times when we are forced to disobey (Acts 5:29).

Christians have a God-given responsibility to work within government structures to bring about change. Regardless of current circumstances in a culture, Christians are divinely called to work for change within that system and to be salt and light to the world. And those 2 commissions are not mutually exclusive.

We don't chose one or the other. We do both if we are faithful. We do not give up on marriage as an institution simply because of divorce rates or the relentless attempt by homosexuals to redefine marriage and the family.

A radio host in Seattle once asked me, "Gary, when are you going to give up in your fight about marriage?"


We don't give up on protecting the sanctity of life---ever.

We don't give up on sharing the gospel no matter how repressive laws may become or sinful the culture may become.

We don't give up on the church because there are internal problems. We must be true to these institutions because they are created by God.

To the secularist, the state is the sovereign agent over human affairs, and it exercises its power and sovereignty over every other human institution.

We are experiencing this in a growing and disturbing way now in our culture.

The Christian view of government is different.

The first institution is the church (Hebrews 12:18-24; I Peter 2: 9-10). Jesus taught that the government should work in harmony with the church and should recognize its sovereignty in spiritual matters (Matt. 22:21).

The second institution is the family (Eph. 5: 22-32; I Peter 3:1-7). The family is an institution ordained by God and under His authority. When the family breaks down, the government often steps in to protect rights and provide some kind of safety. This can, as we are experiencing, expand the government in ways never intended by well meaning people or by God.

A third institution is education. Children are not and must not be wards of the state. They belong first to God, (Ps. 127:3), and secondly to the biological family. They are a gift. Parents are to teach their children (Deut. 4:9) and may also entrust them to tutors (Gal. 4:2).

In a humanistic system of government, the institutions of church and family are most often subordinated to the state. In an atheistic system the state ultimately becomes a substitute god and is given additional power to adjudicate disputes and bring order to society.

Law has been the foundation of our government. It is often said, "We are a nation of laws."

The laws of this new nation were based upon Sir William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Law of England which embodied the tenets of the Judeo-Christian values.

Unfortunately, our modern legal structure has been so influenced by relativism and secularism instead of moral absolutes revealed in Scripture that we are attempting as a nation to move forward on the shifting sands of moral relativism and have miserably lost our way.

Our culture is broken. Big Bertha isn't working properly. We must disassemble some parts of it in order to repair it.

If God's people will humble themselves and pray, God will hear and heal the land. If God's people will assume their rightful and biblical responsibility in the culture, it will be "repaired."

There are parts of our political system that are broken and must be replaced.

All citizens are journeyman repairmen. It's called voting. And that may require some disassembling in order to repair.

Be Vigilant. Be Diligent. Be Discerning. Be Prayerful. Be Pro-Active. Be Healed.