As our culture becomes more secular and anti-Christian, a Christian political party committed to applying the Word of God to every area of life may be a useful alternative. However, Christian parties must be very careful about the direction they take.
Short Term Strategy
Initially, any Christian party will be a small minority (even if it hopes to eventually achieve a majority). It will need a short term strategy for survival, while it is a minor party in a parliament that may often be hostile to Christianity.
Christian politicians should be humble and not claim too much for themselves. They should not pretend to have all the answers or the solution to every problem. There is nothing wrong with admitting that there are some problems that they cannot solve. They should recognise that there is a lot of work to be done in developing a Christian solution for all economic and social issues. Although they may sometimes know what is best, because we have God's revelation, they should be careful not to appear arrogant.
Christians should always take a long term view. What they learn for the future may be more important, than what they achieve in the present. For example, a long history of Christians avoiding politics will have to be overcome. A serious consequence of withdrawing from the political sphere is that very few Christians are now familiar with how political systems function. Initially, Christian politicians should put considerable effort into learning how the political and parliamentary system works. Linking with experienced parliamentarians to learn the process for passing legislation may be beneficial. This may limit what they can do in the present, but it will bear fruit in the future when there are more Christians in the parliament.
Christian parties should be very clear that they will not misuse any power they gain as a minority party to force their views onto an unwilling society. Modern political parties tend to be elitist. They believe that they know what is best for society. Even if they in a minority, they are willing to manipulate political power to enforce their views on the rest of society. There is a widespread fear that Christians would do the same. To maintain credibility, a Christian party will have to be different. It should state clearly that it would not try to force a full Christian position onto and unwilling society.
Christians must understand that there are many aspects of a Christian political program that cannot be implemented in a nation where they are a minority. A Christian party should state clearly that it would not try to implement a full Christian programme until they have gained a significant majority. The reason is that law can act as a restraint against sin and evil, but it cannot force people to be good against their will. If a majority of people do not accept a law that is enacted, many will be inclined to break it. To have large numbers of people breaking the law is bad, because it undermines the rule of law. Enforcing Christian laws on an unwilling society would just undermine the law and result in a backlash against Christianity.
This approach is consistent with the position of Moses. He allowed divorce due to the hardness of the hearts of the people. Enforcing biblical standards for marriage would have been too harsh on such a wayward people. He exercised compassion, by slackening the application of God's law. He did not change God's word, and I am certain that he also warned the people of the consequences of their waywardness. There would be many changes that are important to Christians, which could not be implemented due to "hardness of heart".
Christian politicians should state clearly that they would not enforce Christian laws on a society which found them unacceptable. However, they should also be clear that failure to implement Christian laws is one reason that our judicial system is unreliable and crime and evil are rampant.
A Christian party should focus on developing a prophetic role. It's MPs should challenge the dishonesties of the secular parties. They should point out the errors in their policies and warn of the consequences of ungodly laws. Parliament would be a tremendous platform for men of wisdom, who understand the times in which they are living, to challenge the nation.
Members of a Christian party should understand that other Christians may choose a different path, by joining a secular party. Rather than being hostile, Christians on these two paths should support each other, because they are on the same side.
In a "television democracy" image becomes all important, policies take second place, and the character of politicians is considered to be irrelevant. A Christian party should resist this trend. It should articulate sound, practical, biblical based policies. The character of its parliamentarians will also be critical. They should be people who meet the biblical standards of leadership. Their wisdom, honesty and integrity should be demonstrable. They should have proved themselves by providing leadership in some other sphere of activity.
Integrity is generally more important than power. A Christian party should be very careful about joining in a full coalition with a non-Christian party. Being "unequally yoked" can be dangerous. The best approach may be to agree to support the governing party or coalition on issues of supply and confidence. This would contribute to political stability. Anything more than this might involve too much compromise. Recent experience shows that a minority party can easily be swamped and lose its credibility because it is seen as compromising on the things that it stood for. This would be disastrous for a Christian party.
If a situation did develop where a Christian party decided to join a coalition government, it should not try to negotiate a coalition policy for all of government responsibilities. Rather it should aim to get full responsibility for one or two areas of policy (eg education or justice). The most effective use of its bargaining power may be to gain responsibility for a limited policy area, in which it can implement its policies. It would leave all other policy to the coalition partner. This would allow it to distance itself from those policies, and maintain its political integrity. The advantage of this option is that Christians would get experience in government. This will be important as the time when there is a Christian majority draws near.
From time to time a Christian party will join an informal coalition of parties or parliamentarians around a particular issue to prevent or implement change, when a majority in Parliament can be obtained for the Christian position. Examples may be prostitution and euthanasia and other so-called moral issues. (All laws are based on a moral system so there are really no non-moral issues). In some cases a Christian party may take a lead in forging a coalition around an issue.
Coalitions with conservative parties are appealing, but dangerous. In a democracy, liberals and conservatives have a symbiotic role. When the progressive government is in power it pushes through laws to bring about social change. The conservative opposition fights against these changes tooth and nail.
Once the conservative government gets elected to power, it does not reverse a single one of the laws that it so bitterly opposed. The supporters of the conservative party do not complain about this, because they are glad that social change has been halted for a while. What they do not realise is that the conservative party has a different role. By not reversing the laws they opposed, the conservative party makes them mainstream. Once a law has the support of the conservatives, it is normalised.
People think that the role of the conservative party is to slow down social change. That is not true. The role of the conservative party is actually to cement social change in place. Christian parties often support a conservative party, thinking they are opposing humanistic changes to the law. The reality is that they are supporting a process that strengthens humanistic change.
Long Term Strategy
A Christian party strategy should always focus on the long term. It should look to a time when the majority of people are Christians.
- Christianity must win the battle in the market place of ideas. God does not want to force his will onto an unwilling society. We do not want to dominate society using political force (all law is an attempt to impose the morality of a group of people onto the entire population). Evangelism must come first.
A Christian party must be prepared to be in for the long haul. It must have a long-term strategy so that it will be ready for the time when the nation is converted by the power of the gospel. Leaders will have to be trained up well in advance, so that Christians are ready to govern when the opportunity arises.
The Christian political party must articulate a clear vision of a Christian society. It should describe what a society in which most people are Christians would look like, and how a society governed according to God's word would function. Articulating this vision is important as it allows a Christian party to be positive. It gets round the problem that Christians involved in the political process too often appear to be negative or "killjoys". This is because they tend to focus on what is not allowed. They seem to be always telling people that they cannot do what they want to do. By focusing on the benefits and joys of Christian society and contrasting it with the pain and agony of a non-Christian society, we can be positive, and show the ungodly as those who are really negative. "Imagine what this nation would be like if ............".
Christian parties must also be realistic that the church has only begun the task of defining how biblical principles and laws can be applied to politics, economics and government. This is a big task and there is still a lot of work to do. However, although we do not have all the details, we can give an outline of how a Christian society will function.
People who join a Christian political party should be prepared for a tough battle. The modern media can be quite ruthless in atacking Christians. Only the tough and the gracious will survive.
- Christians should be aiming for a
reduction in the role of the state.
The reason that its power should be limited to a few areas is that is
has such great coercive power. Romans 13 states the central
government has the power of the "sword". This means
that it has power to punish the wicked and protect the
righteous. Thus providing a system of courts will be it's key
responsibility. However crime will be a much reduced problem as
the gospel becomes more effective.
The power of the sword also implies defence against invaders.
The provision of a defensive army will be a key part of its
However, many of the roles that are commonly accepted as belonging to the central government will disappear. Caring for the poor will be the responsibility of the church and other voluntary associations. Education will be the responsibility of families, although they may delegate some of this responsibility to schools. Business (and employment) will be the responsibility of business, although businesses will be under the law to ensure that they act righteously. Health will be less of a problem as the salvation of Jesus brings wholeness.
A Christian party must be prepared to "wither away" (to borrow a phrase). In a Christian society there would always be a need for civil government to restrain the evil which would remain. However, there should be no political parties. Galatians 5:20,21 states that party spirit and factions are rooted in our sinful nature, and have no place in the Kingdom of God. In a godly society, parliamentarians will be selected for their wisdom and knowledge. They will not be representatives of the people who do the will of the people. They will be commissioners; people who have been commissioned by the people to serve God and do what is best for the nation. They will implement laws according to God's standard of justice. When an issue arises there will not be a power struggle between factions who represent different sections of society. Rather politicians will work together, sharing the benefits of their wisdom to establish a godly solution to the problem. If Gods will is done, then the whole society will benefit.
However, God is on our side. The gospel will eventually be successful (if they do not believe this, Christian politicians will just become negative). Through the proclamation of the gospel, this nation will be won for the Lord. When this happens a Christian party will be able to gain a powerful majority and be able to implement its policies with the support of the nation. Even those who do not become Christians will recognise the benefits of godly rule.