Periodical Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 126:501 (Jan 1969)
Article: Periodical Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Periodical Reviews

“Christian Foundations In American Government,” Mark Hatfield, Review and Expositor, Summer, 1968, pp. 283-86.

Senator Hatfield of Oregon is an evangelical Christian who is a former professor of political science and an astute practitioner or that science. His article is one in an issue of this journal devoted to the theme of “The American Political Scene and the Church.” The 1968 elections are past, but the need for discerning study of this subject is always vital.

The Christian foundation of American government is summarized as follows: “The basic assumption by our founding fathers was that a free democratic society would require the best spirit within man. This spirit, motivated by God, has the potential of creating the greatest good for the greatest number” (p. 283). The disparity between these ideals and the present state of our political practice leads one to wonder “what has become of the integrity of men in public service which was so paramount in the minds of our nation’s founders. For it is in politics, as in other professional pursuits, that we are again reminded of the moral frailty of man” (p. 283).

Senator Hatfield finds the explanation of our present shameful political situation in the progressive withdrawal of Christian citizens from participation and leadership in “politics—the art and science of human government” (p. 284). He finds the solution to our dilemma in the reversal of this trend. He says, “If each of us, as Christians and citizens, expects moral and ethical leadership in our government, then we ought to be prepared to render that kind of service ourselves whenever called on to do so. By the quality of our own personal ethical and spiritual character we ought to be setting the standard for conduct—both public and private” (p. 284).

The Christian, the Senator argues, is the man to stand in the gap in our present political crisis, because “he has settled the questions of loyalties and priorities. He tends to view all other commitments in the light of his basic commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ in his life. From this vantage point, the Christian gains the necessary insight, perspective, and confidence. I can think of no greater qualities than these for equipping man in the decision-making role. The Christian has escaped the trap of self-serving motivation and tends to see things from God’s point of view (pp. 284 f).

Senator Hatfield describes our present national attitude as one

of “alienation” in which there is “little national direction or purpose.” He diagnoses our national illness as “spiritual bankruptcy” and considers the day in which we ...

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