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The Downside of Democracy

by Ron Matsen

Throughout the history of man there have been two basic forms of public government: 1. Rule by the elite (monarchy, aristocracy, and oligarchy) and 2. Rule by the people (democracy). The three basic forms of democracy are:

  1. Direct democracy where the general public vote on every issue of law and governance,
  2. Representative democracy where representatives are elected by the public and in turn vote on every issue of law and governance, and
  3. Presidential democracy where an individual is elected by the public and in turn establishes every law and issues of governance.

The Doctrine of Democracy

At the heart of the idea of democracy is the doctrine of popular sovereignty. Popular sovereignty simply means that the majority of the voting public knows what is best for everyone else. But, as the saying goes, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch.” In other words, democracy is great as long as you share the same sentiment as the majority.

The Dream of Democracy

Upon exiting the United States of America Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was approached by a group of citizens asking what sort of government the delegates had created. His answer was, “A republic, if you can keep it.” A republic simply means a form of government in which the country’s affairs are considered a public matter. Therefore, the framers of the American system of federal government were elevating the role of public participation by implementing a representative form of democracy with checks and balances.

The founding fathers of this fledgling form of federal administration knew that allowing the general public to direct the creation of the laws that would govern them was a risky business. Therefore, they provided a set of foundational principles known as the Constitution that gave a framework for public lawmaking with the hope that this new experimental process would ultimately be governed by people who were themselves governed by Biblical absolutes. In reality, the process of democracy is only played out on the surface of society while the brute forces of dirty politics form the undercurrent that ultimately make laws and provide governance.

The Deception of Democracy

Today it is very popular for various groups to vehemently express their views in an attempt to gain public acceptance and eventually be presented as the majority view. In some cases, a majority in volume constitutes a majority of opinion as the screams of the minority drown out their opposition.

We see that the expression of the “popular will” can create a cacophony of discordant voices, leaving many baffled about the true meaning of majority rule. In far too many places around the world today, the expression of the “popular will” is nothing more than the unleashing of personal passions that have little, if any, concern for the good of the whole society. It can even create and promote genocidal policies toward those without a voice in the democratic process. The sad end of unrestrained democracy is anarchy, where rival factions splinter the fabric of society in order to gain their own selfish means. Ultimately, the democratic process turns into nothing but a horrible form of tyranny that is initiated and enforced by the majority.

The Media and Democracy

In order for democracy to work you must have a minimum of three key ingredients:

  1. A willingness to do what is right;
  2. A resignation to the final outcome of the democratic process; and
  3. An access to unbiased knowledge of the related facts and circumstances.

Sadly, today we live in a world filled with toxic news agencies who serve up their opinion as a replacement for information. Rather than informing the public, they seem totally focused on shaping public opinion.

Therefore, the modern public is caught in a quagmire of fake news, doctored photos/videos, and conspiracy mania. In this world of information overload, sound bites replace sound logic and screaming slogans replace, open dialogue and meaningful debate. In the midst of all this confusion, people seem to be quite happy to make resolute decisions based on nothing more than a cartoon character representation of some very complicated issues.

The Darwinian effect on Democracy

Recently there has emerged a third form of social government: Rule by the individual. Evolving from the parent thought of “popular will,” it is built on the foundational principles of personal sovereignty and personal truth. Although it spreads fastest in the fertile soil of the anarchist movement, it is finding root within mainstream society, as well.

In this hostile world of violently competing agendas, common courtesy is trampled under the feet of contending opponents. This is where the creed of “survival of the fittest” is the guiding motivation that enables social Darwinism. Therefore, this type of democracy paves a slippery slope for society to plunge ever downward. The Bible tells us that ultimately democracy (self-determination) is the agent of societal and personal destruction.1

The Disaster of Democracy

On a placard outside of Auschwitz, George Santayana’s famous quote is a powerful reminder that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The Biblical narrative of the nation of Israel is a great place to start when it comes to gaining both a historic perspective and prophetic insight for the times in which we live.

The nation of Israel was founded on a new type of public government that was based on the Law of God. This allowed each person to rule their own life according to one divine standard. The unifying fact was not the people, but the laws God had given them to follow. The Book of Joshua closes with this final exhortation, “Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. 2 The chapter then closes by stating, “And Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the LORD, that he had done for Israel.” 3

Without the guiding hands of these godly leaders, the nation of Israel soon drifted away and became like the nations around them. “And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim:” 4 Basically Israel ignored the God that had rescued them from bondage in Egypt and became servants themselves of the gods of the Canaanites.

As you review the Book of Judges you are constantly struck with the images of people who are so bent on following after their own desires that they repeatedly find themselves ensnared by their appetites, and subsequently enslaved by their enemies. By chapter 17 we are told, “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” 5 Thus, for the remainder of the Books of Judges you read of the increasing depravity of a nation that has no room for the correction or counsel of God. Here, I believe, we have a perfect picture of the disaster of democracy.

A Modern Prophetic Parallel

We now live in an age when universally it can be said, without fear of contradiction, that there “arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD (The God of the Bible)” and “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Therefore, we now see the distress, disease, demise and destruction of modern society that was promised by God for Israel IF they were not faithful to follow His commandments.6

But let’s be fair, rebellion against God is an endemic problem that has existed throughout the history of mankind. Before the first global judgment by God, the description of the world at that time sounds a lot like it could have been written about today. “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” 7

Jesus gave us an important end-times prophetic insight when He said, “And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.” 8 Jesus goes on to say, “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” 9 Clearly Jesus was predicting a predominantly corrupt world that would be hostile to the Gospel. Sounds like today doesn’t it?

The Action Plan for the Church

If we track back to the seminal moment of the nation of Israel and their subsequent decent into their destructive behavior, we can see an important preceding influence. “And Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the LORD, that he had done for Israel.” 10 These early elders of Israel were a constant source of instruction and correction which served to guide the people into the ways of God’s will.

Simply put, the heart of man’s problem is in the heart of man. If man’s heart is turned toward God then righteousness reigns, but if man’s heart turns away from God then the wages of sin are paid in full.11 To counterbalance a world gone mad, Jesus told His disciples that, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” 12 Jesus went on to say, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” 13 The prevention of putrefaction is purification. Darkness cannot survive where light exists. Providing these influences should be the primary function of the Church today.

The first-century followers of Jesus faced a predominately hedonistic society which was not too dissimilar to what we see today. Confronted by many different pagan cultures, Greek philosophies, political corruption, and Roman excess, the early church was focused on its prime objective which was to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” 14 The early church did not form an army, promote a political party, or in any way dilute their efforts to fully carry out their great commission. If you want to see change in the world around you, start with Good News that goes straight to the heart.

An Apostolic Epilog

At the end of the apostle Paul’s life he was in prison where he was surrounded with the reality of his own impending death. Injustice, social chaos, and political corruption were everywhere. Yet in the midst of these terrible times he penned his last letter to Timothy in which he states, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” 15

This article was originally published in the
July 2019 Personal Update NewsJournal.

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**NOTES**

1 Proverbs 14:12

2 Joshua 24:14-15

3 Joshua 24:31

4 Judges 2:10-11

5 Judges 17:6

6 Leviticus 26

7 Genesis 6:11-13

8 Luke 17:26

9 Luke 18:7-8

10 Joshua 24:31

11 Romans 6:23

12 Matthew 5:13

13 Matthew 5:14-16

14 Mark 16:15

15 2 Timothy 4:1-5