An ‘ism’ can be broadly thought of as a doctrine, theory, or cult. Isms, according to Webster, are made up of those who adhere to a system or class of principles.
It is interesting to note that the major religions of the world end in ‘ism’ except those that adhere to the Christian faith.
Charles Krauthammer, a well respected political commentator, recently suggested to a national audience that liberalism in America is dying. Krauthammer, who is considered to lean to the right, previously espoused liberalism during the 1980s.
It is interesting to listen to someone who espouses an ideology in direct opposition to positions previously held. Typically people who significantly redirect their worldview can usually provide substantive reasons for their change. Conversely, those who were born and brought up in a particular belief system are more likely to function instinctively rather than by consistent application of a set of philosophical principles.
Liberalism is usually associated with the Democratic Party. Inasmuch as ‘liberalism’ is not a Biblical term, the dictionary will need to be consulted for a working definition. However, the secular definition will enable us to compare its meaning with Biblical teachings.
For example Webster offers several offshoots associated with the political philosophy of liberalism.
One primary tenet of liberalism is the belief in and support of progress. Liberals likewise support the premise that social and economic progress for the citizenry should be included in the list of duties of government.
This ideology is called ‘progressivism’.
Another primary tenet of liberalism is the belief in the essential goodness of man. This philosophy basically rejects supernaturalism and stresses reliance on individual inner strength, dignity and self worth. Each individual, therefore, has the capacity for self-realization and the opportunity to pursue and achieve the ‘American Dream’.
This ideology is called ‘humanism’.
And a third component of liberalism is that all classes in a society from the proletariat to the elite should share equally in a nation’s resources. There should also be equality with respect to social, political, and economic rights and privileges.
This ideology is called ‘egalitarianism’.
Therefore, in the next several weeks, the basis of each of the three ‘isms’ included within the broader ‘ism’ known as liberalism will be compared with Biblical teachings to see if Krauthammer is on to something.
But before we go there, it would be beneficial to review the Biblical definition of the role of government.
“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.” Romans 13:1-2
These two verses explain that government is sanctioned by God, and all government leaders have been appointed by God. Oft times God’s reasons for choosing leaders are not initially understood by those governed.
“For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” Romans 13:3-4
All government authorities have been appointed to maintain law and order in accordance with God’s standard of justice and righteousness. Such have been granted authority to punish those who break the law.
“Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.” Romans 13:5
Obeying the law is required not only to escape punishment, but also because one’s conscience should direct such obedience.
“For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing.” Romans 13:6
And lastly, taxes are assessed and collected for the purpose of maintaining law and order.
In the coming weeks, we’ll see if any of the ‘isms’ associated with liberalism require tax revenue over and above that required to support the function of government as defined by the Bible.
To be continued.