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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Two essays before the election

Wangerin addresses politics

Part I: God save the state

No longer do we live, as did Israel under the judges, in a theocracy — the direct, political governance of God. People govern. And though they may worship God, they rule by a clearly secular power: by blue blood, by armed force, by a radiant charisma, by obeying (or else manipulating) the traditions of the land.

Or by an empowerment that is conferred, through a commonly accepted instrument, upon selected individuals by the approval of a majority of citizens. Acclamation.

Our instrument is the democratic process and the Constitution that informs it. Our acclamation is the vote. Our government's power is and remains secular. Not religious.

We are not a theocracy. Our leaders do not descend from God above. Neither can they function as pastors, priests, ecclesiastic officials with special access to the Almighty. We are a democracy. Power ascends from the people below.

On the other hand:

A religious voice is not absent in our land. We are not without pastors and prophets willing to speak with effective strength on God's behalf.


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