You are expected to submit a 3-5-page paper (not including the title page, abstract, and reference
page) in current APA format addressing the four separate content areas. It is strongly
recommended that you use headings and subheadings for this paper. You must include citations
1. all the required reading and presentations from the assigned module/week
2. all relevant sources from Module 1: Week 1 and Module 2: Week 2 (you MUST use the
“Biblical Principles of Government” article), and
3–5 outside sources.

This week, we focus on more specifics on these points.  You will have  the opportunity to read in greater detail those Biblical principles that  are relevant to an understanding of government and public policy, and  you will also have be introduced to the “May-Can-Should” policy analysis  process.  This process teaches you to first look at the moral/Biblical  foundation for a policy issue before tacking the practical logistics of  how to address the issue.  Too often, policy makers jump past the “May”  portion to focus on the “Can” and “Should” portions. 

 As a reference point for the Biblical worldview, keep this verse in  mind, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For  there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been  instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists  what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For  rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no  fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will  receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you  do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is  the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the  wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s  wrath but also for the sake of conscience. …” Romans 13:1-7 

PADM 550

Synthesis Paper Assignment Instructions


The purpose of this assignment is to begin to synthesize the various worldviews with the formation of policy and governmental function, with a specific focus on the Biblical worldview. Please address all four areas in four separate sections.


Four Sections to be addressed:

1. Explain the following Biblical concepts and describe how each contribute to what the Bible says about the role of government:

0. Inalienable rights

0. Natural law

0. Institutional separation of church and state

0. Covenant/federalism

0. Sin/crime distinction

1. Provide one specific federal policy and apply the Biblical principles from section one, explaining how they would be helpful for understanding the government’s approach to the issue. It is not necessary to use all the Biblical Principles, just those that are most applicable to the policy being discussed.

1. Provide an overview of the key enumerated powers in the Constitution relevant for what each branch of government may and may not do. Make sure to discuss all three branches of government and how they are supposed to work together to form a functional government.

1. Compare and contrast how the three basic worldviews discussed in the week 1 presentations and activities would define the role of government and other actors in policy solutions. Make sure to give a brief synopsis of the tenets of each of the worldviews.

* All required sources/presentations from Module 1: Week 1 and Module 2: Week 2 must be used, especially the “Biblical Principles of Government” article, in addition to 3–5 outside sources. The Constitution must also be cited as appropriate, especially for question 3.

You are expected to submit a 3-5-page paper (not including the title page, abstract, and reference page) in current APA format addressing the four separate content areas. It is strongly recommended that you use headings and subheadings for this paper. You must include citations from:

1. all the required reading and presentations from the assigned module/week

1. all relevant sources from Module 1: Week 1 and Module 2: Week 2 (you MUST use the “Biblical Principles of Government” article), and

3–5 outside sources. NOTE: These sources should be focused on the problem and the piece of legislation, and you may find that you need more than just 3-5 sources to adequately research and discuss these items.

1. Please feel free to use the link provided in the assignment resources for the purposes of additional research.

Note: Your assignment will be checked for originality via the Turnitin plagiarism tool.

Page 2 of 2


Scholars Crossing Scholars Crossing

Faculty Publications and Presentations Helms School of Government


Biblical Principles of Government Biblical Principles of Government

Kahlib Fischer Liberty University, [email protected]

Follow this and additional works at:

Part of the Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration Commons

Recommended Citation Recommended Citation Fischer, Kahlib, “Biblical Principles of Government” (2013). Faculty Publications and Presentations. 525.

This Article is brought to you for free and open access by the Helms School of Government at Scholars Crossing. It has been accepted for inclusion in Faculty Publications and Presentations by an authorized administrator of Scholars Crossing. For more information, please contact [email protected]



Dr. Kahlib Fischer © 2013


The following article seeks to provide an overview of the key ideas and themes of Scripture which relate to the realm of government. The safest way to find Biblical principles is to avoid using just one verse here and there which “seems” to fit, and instead to look for general principles which are evident throughout Scripture and to apply those principles accordingly. The discussion below illuminates major Biblical themes and then provides points of application. These general themes are:

 God is the source of all truth, power, and authority

 Man is sinful

 Jesus Christ is the only Means of ultimate salvation

 Faith in Christ cannot be coerced

 Loving accountability in Christ

The above are general principles of Scripture—the major ideas that provide the basis for numerous Church sermons every Sunday. Usually, these principles are discussed in ways such that church goers can apply them to their own lives personally, but they also have very real and important application to the realm of government and public policy. As you read the information below, be on the lookout for the following key government/policy applications:

 Limited government

 Inalienable rights

 Natural law

 Institutional separation of Church and State

 Covenant (federalism)

 Sin/Crime distinction


Government must always act within the authority prescribed to it by God. God’s Law is the source of man-made law. Emerging from the tradition of English common law and the Western Legal Tradition in general is the notion of “natural law”; that is, an inherent standard of right reason. Natural law is used to explain the presence of this standard of right and wrong. It most definitely comes from a biblical perspective as legal theorists like William Blackstone explained that it co- existed with, but was subservient to, God’s revealed law, that is, Scripture. Further, it was used in part to justify the existence of inalienable rights.

GOVERNMENT STRUCTURE: because government is not the ultimate source of authority, it must be

limited in nature.


 The main takeaway here is that justice does not originate from man-made law. Some argue that morals should change based upon an evolving and consensual understanding of what is right and wrong.

 Adhering to ancient, fixed standards of right and wrong, the argument goes, actually furthers repression of self-expression and freedom, and by default, tyranny. However, this


perspective provides no moral basis for signifying human beings as uniquely eligible for inalienable rights which cannot be infringed upon by the State or by society.

 If the State has the final say, than justice is malleable and can and will fall prey to those who have the most power. A sense of natural law, then, is a bulwark against such injustices because it presupposes God’s authority and the State as subservient to that.


We are made in God’s image and thus are spiritual beings, designed to live under God’s authority. By nature of being made in God’s image, we possess inalienable rights. Inalienable rights are defined as those rights that are inherent to our personhood. They cannot be taken away, nor can they be given away. Inalienable rights are defined as life, liberty, and property. These things are supported in Scripture by virtue of being made in God’s image and by various commandments from the Old Testament (Genesis 1:26, 9:6, the Ten Commandments) as well as the most basic commandment affirmed in both the Old and New Testaments to love God and love others.

 GOVERNMENT STRUCTURE: Government exists first and foremost to protect our inalienable

rights and ensure justice. Citizens are required to participate in the political process as a means of limiting tyranny.

 CRIMINAL JUSTICE IMPLICATIONS: criminal and police investigations must protect inalienable

rights. People must be assumed innocent until proven guilty, and undo force must be avoided in all processes.

 POLICY IMPLICATIONS: any policies which violate the inalienable rights of human beings are

unjust and should be opposed.


We are also sinful because we have rejected God’s perfect ways. Sin is not just about actions that we take, but also attitudes of the heart. Further, the Bible describes sin as an active, confounding force that binds us in spiritual blindness and oppression. Injustice in the world derives from the presence of sin in our lives. Thus, at their core, the world’s problems need the saving touch of Jesus Christ first and foremost. This intervention does not remove the need for government intervention.

GOVERNMENT STRUCTURE: Because of the presence of sin, government itself must be limited. Rule by

consent, separation of powers, checks and balances, use of a Constitution, and federalism are all means to limit the sinfulness of would be rulers.


 No policy issue should ignore the spiritual component of any problem. Any rejection of the spiritual component of problems, particularly those involving human behavior and matters of the heart, will lead to failed policy interventions. Government cannot remove evil; only Christ can. Thus, government, at best, can only restrain evil through the passage and enforcement of laws and regulations. But the more laws and regulations are created, the less


freedom and flexibility exists for citizens, and the more likely it is that rulers will seek to consolidate power through new rules, whether by executive, legislative, or judicial fiat.

 Government interventions in society, whether they be economic, domestic, or educational, will have limited success because leaders and citizens alike are irrational due to the power of sin. Even the most logical policy plans will fail because even our capacity for rational thought is limited due to sin. Economic and domestic solutions which limit government interventions are more apt to be successful simply because they allow for greater involvement of more people with more freedom. Top-down, hierarchical solutions, no matter how good the original intentions of the policy formulators, are apt to fail because political actors, by nature of being sinful and human, will tend to use policy initiatives to preserve their own political power.


Jesus Christ, as fully God and fully man, died on the cross for our sins. His sacrifice was the perfect legal remedy for the problem of sin. All who put their hope in Christ by faith alone will be saved. But faith must be arrived at freely. It cannot be coerced. All those who are saved by grace in Christ will be also sanctified by grace in Christ.

GOVERNMENT STRUCTURE: Since faith is something that must not be coerced, Government should not

enforce religion on others or interfere with matters of conscience.


 Domestic policies dealing with issues like poverty are also problematic if and when they ignore the spiritual components of problems like poverty, such as selfishness, laziness, and the power and destruction of addictive behaviors.

 It is vital, therefore, the Church have an active and engaged role in such issues. Where the Church abdicates, the State will overstep. Where the State oversteps, tyranny will increase.


Christ was not interested in using political or military power to enforce his kingdom. What results from the building of Christ’s kingdom is not a military or political kingdom but the Church. The Church is redeemed through the power of Christ, in conjunction with the Holy Spirit and God’s Word. Followers of Christ are knit together into the body of Christ, and we are called to love and care for one another, and to be accountable to one another. This is expressed through the Biblical idea of covenant, which involves mutual care and accountability, steadfast love, and cooperation. Further, the Holy Spirit works in the Body of Christ to sanctify its members, and the body of Christ, that is, the Church, is used to preach the Gospel to the world, to care for the poor, and to fight injustice.



 Government is not under Mosaic Law but must uphold general principles from Scripture: Christians may wonder if we are still under Mosaic Law as found in the Old Testament. Specifically, in the Old Testament books of Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, God introduces many rules and laws to the people of Israel. Christians might wonder if these laws are still relevant today. These laws were divided into moral law (specifically the Ten Commandments), ceremonial law (all of the rules associated with the temple, sacrifices, etc.) and judicial law (the punishments for those who disobeyed the rules). It can be confusing to know whether any of these laws are still relevant today. First, we know that Jesus Christ, by being the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, replaced any need for a temple or further sacrifices (Hebrews 9), so the ceremonial law has been removed. Secondly, we know that he took the punishment for our sins, so the judicial component of Mosaic Law is no longer relevant. Finally, he promised to write the moral law in our hearts, which is to say that the spirit and essence of the Mosaic Law is still relevant today, but it is upheld in different ways.

 God works through the Church and with the power of the Holy Spirit and His Word (the Bible) to change lives. Government cannot do this. Thus, the institutions of Church and State are separate as a means of protecting freedom of conscience and liberty.

 The covenantal nature of Scripture further suggests that power should be shared among various “spheres” of authority throughout society: including: a) the individual, b) the family, c) the church, d) state and local communities, e) businesses, f) non-profits, and of course, g) the national government.

 Related to the Biblical idea of covenant is the political term federalism. Federalism describes the process and structure by which our national government shares power with the State governments. The reason we refer to our national government as our “federal” government is because it shares power with the State governments and recognizes the States as sovereign entities rather than just “administrative” offices of the national government. As you can see, the notion of sharing power with the States and respecting the autonomy of the State governments is in keeping with the Biblical idea of covenant which seeks to empower and respect all involved in the covenant. In fact, in Scripture, the Latin word for covenant is fedis and there is a rich history of “federal theology” as part of the Protestant Reformation, which certainly had an impact on the early American colonial tradition. Numerous scholars have studied the impact of federal theology on the social and political structures in early American life. City, state, and ultimately national government structures and constitutions were impacted by this idea of covenant. We see federalism specifically honored in 10th Amendment.

 All of these spheres are accountable to one another and must not transgress the other domains of authority. This is yet another reason that the institutions of Church and State must be separate.

 Further, these various spheres need one another. The State cannot remedy spiritual concerns, just as the Church, for instance, cannot deal with injustices related to the violation of inalienable rights.

 The Sin/Crime distinction helps us understand the different roles of Church and State:

All crimes are sins, but not all sins are crimes.


The State prosecutes and tries to prevent crimes. Crimes are only those sins that essentially equate to a violation of inalienable rights, whether a person’s one inalienable rights (suicide, addictive/destructive behaviors, etc.) or the inalienable rights of others. If we understand that you and I may only use physical force to protect ourselves and others in extreme, life threatening circumstances, we understand that the same is true of the State as well—it can only use it’s God-given authority to prevent crimes which amount to violations of inalienable rights. Some may wonder whether forgiveness in Christ removes the role of the State in punishing crime. But again, the role of the State is different from how the Church serves society. The New Testament (Covenant) is clear that government still has a role in punishing crime. Even Genesis 9:6, which existed well before Mosaic Law (and is therefore not bound by it) states that government must kill murderers (capital punishment). Meanwhile, the Church, in participation with the power of God’s Word and Spirit, seek to address other types of sin which do not equate to crime. Matters of conscience and personal obedience to the Lord, therefore, cannot be coerced with political or physical power.


 Education policies in particular are prone to an improper fusion of Church and State because education ultimately involves matters of the heart and therefore matters of conscience.

 For a policy intervention to be successful, it is best to include a holistic, multi-sphered solution to the problem, so that churches, families, businesses, non-profits, local and state communities, etc. and work together.

 The State cannot be viewed as the only solution to any problem such as crime. Punishing criminals restrains evil; it does not remove it.


Part of accountability in the Church is receiving loving reproof and correction. Brothers who consistently reject Biblical admonition and truth must be removed from fellowship, lest they lead others astray. This removal from fellowship is only done after many attempts at thoughtful engagement and efforts help the person see the error of their way. Then and only then does breaking of fellowship occur.


 Likewise, rulers are accountable to the truths of God’s Word and to the people.

 A well-designed system of government will have built-in accountability measures that allow the people to intervene in a non-violent way should rulers, laws, agencies, etc. become tyrannical. This again speaks to the importance of checks-and-balances, rule by consent, use of a Constitution, etc., etc.

 If rulers do not submit to these things they must be removed from office. There may be times, however, when this is not possible because the system of government itself is so


corrupt that no minor interventions will suffice. “Breaking of fellowship” in the political context may look like resistance, peaceful rebellion, martyrdom, or war.

  • Biblical Principles of Government
  • tmp.1619806588.pdf.bV4ya



I want to visit with you for just a moment, about a 50 thousand foot overview of the process. In this case, a fuller process of policy analysis than you typically get in the modern approach. You see most of the time when we talk about policy analysis. In modern American political circles, what we really mean is what option among the available options is the best? And we almost always answer that question in a pragmatic way. We literally compare one and say, I like the outcome that better than the outcome of another set of ideas that may be employed to solve a particular problem. But what I’d like for you to do is you approach policy analysis in liberties, Public Policy program is to think of it a little more deeply because there are some other questions that are going on other than just what’s best between two or more available options. And the way you should really approach that is by asking at least a three-part question. May I do a particular thing? Can government do a particular thing? And then, and only then do you reach what it normally dominates the political discussion of whether you should do a particular thing. So you can think of it in that way, may, can, and should. Now, if you want some clarity on this, I would encourage you to take a look at a couple of Supreme Court cases where the United States Supreme Court took a long look at what they call the political question doctrine. You can look at cases like Baker v. Carr or Nixon versus the United States, where the court looks at the difference between those things that are legal questions and those things that are political questions. And that’ll go a long way to help you understand the difference between a meta-analysis and a should analysis. But let me boil it down for you again from a 50 thousand foot, very general gestalt overview. It works something like this. The Mahan now says it is asking when and from where does government get the authority to do a particular thing? Now that’s going to sound a little odd to most policy analyst because we tend to presume these days that government may do anything that government wants to do. But that’s not at all how the founders viewed government. That’s not at all how the government was approached when, when we sent the Declaration of Independence to England, or design the United States Constitution that set up the separation of powers. In Baker v car and in Nixon versus the United States. What the Supreme Court is doing is drawing that distinction between saying, when are we talking about a question of authority, usually legality, and when are we talking about a question of choices? What should somebody do? Because that’s the political question. So it works very much like this. If you’re going to approach any particular question where you’re asking what the government should do in a particular situation. The very first question that you have to answer is whether the government can and may do anything in that realm whatsoever. So the first question, if you remember from frederick boss The off you haven’t read Frederick boss the OS, the law, you should. It’s an excellent beginning point for this. Is this. Where does government get the authority to do the thing that it would like to do? Now in the United States, That’s a very particular question because we’re a nation of enumerated powers. Which means if government has the authority to do a thing, the sovereign, We, the People, granted it that authority in the Constitution. So there’s 0.1 in your May analysis. You’re asking very specifically whether the government has the authority to do a thing from where did it gain that authority? So for the United States federal government, the only place that authority could come from is the United States Constitution. But that alone doesn’t fully answer the question. Because you have to ask yourself, where did the authority of the United States Constitution come from? And we’re told, we’re not hiding the ball. It said We, the people in order to form a more perfect union. So you see that the authority that is built into the Constitution arises from the people. But that begs yet another question, where did the people get the authority? So I’d like for you to think of it very much like this. And again, if you’ll review frederick boss, the hasta la, you’ll kinda see how this works. That if you can imagine that there’s a God who holds all authority, all authority that exist belongs to the Lord God who created the universe, ex nihilo. And you can imagine that there’s a picture and that picture contains the whole universe of authority. And he pours out to man just a little bit of authority and says, Man, this is yours to govern with as you will. Now. Man then has an, has rights that God gave him. Now, in the Declaration of Independence, we refer to those as things that are, are absolutely apparent, that they are self-evident. Things like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Now the Declaration of Independence goes a step further and says that it’s for the protection of these things that governments are instituted among men. So you see that man take some of the authority that God has given him and he pours it out just a little bit. Not all the authority that man asked, but just a little bit to government. Those are what we call the enumerated powers in the United States Constitution. So then boss DR. drew, very logical conclusion. Instead, this, if you’re asking yourself whether government may do a particular thing, ask yourself this, would you be able to do that thing? Because if the people don’t have the authority to do a thing, then logically, the people could not grant the government the authority to do a particular thing. Let me show you how it works in real-world terms. Let’s say, for instance, that we’re examining an issue, one that that bossy I dealt with a lot was one that he call plunder. We would call it redistribution of wealth or something along those lines. Imagine asking yourself, government goes into a place, takes money from one group of individuals and gives to another group of individuals boss, the odds analysis for the May analysis would look something like this. It would say if you’d like to know whether government take money from one set of individuals and give it to another set of individuals, ask yourself this, can an individual, could you, if you wanted to go to your neighbor and take their money and give it to another neighbor that you liked better or that you thought deserved it more. And the question is obviously no, that would be theft. We’ll Boston AA says exactly. That’s the point. If you didn’t have the authority to do that, because God didn’t give you the authority to take from your neighbor and give to another, then you couldn’t pass that authority on to government. So the government could take from one and give to another. That same method works repeatedly in a variety of circumstances, such as life and death. Did God give you the authority to take your own life will? If not,

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