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Political Commentary from C.S. Lewis

July 11, 2009

I read this the other day in Tim Keller’s commentary on The Gospel according to Mark.

Keller, who is discussing how we must absolutely submit all of our thinking and practice to the Lordship of Christ, prefaces the quote by saying,

 Modern people in the West struggle with the idea of Jesus’s absolute authority, because we have abolished monarchy in our political lives. When we come to Christ, we almost always come looking for someone to help and love us, not to rule us. But we must receive him as a ruler. Democracy is good for society, but it is not the ultimate nature of spiritual reality.

He then quotes Lewis, who says this about democracy in his essay “Equality” (by the way, I found part of this particularly relevant to church leadership as well):

I [believe in democracy] because I believe in the Fall… a great deal of enthusiasm for democracy descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought humankind so wise and good that everyone deserved a share in the government. The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they’re not true. And whenever their weakness is exposed, the people who prefer tyranny make capital out of the exposure… The real reason for democracy is the reverse. We are so fallen that no person can be trusted with unchecked power over others. Aristotle said that some people were fit to be slaves… But I reject slavery because I see none fit to be masters…

But [democracy] is medicine, not food… The mind that hates all superiority is stunted… The man who cannot conceive of a joyful and loyal obedience on the one hand, nor an unembarrassed and noble acceptance of that obedience on the other, the man who has never even wanted to kneel or bow, is a prosaic barbarian. It would be wicked folly to restore these old inequalities on the legal or external plane. Their proper place is elsewhere… Where we are forbidden to honor a king we honor billionaires, athletes, or film-stars instead. For spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served. Deny it food and it will gobble poison. Human nature will not permanently endure flat equality if it is extended from its proper political field into the real, concrete fields within. Let us wear equality [with each other], but let us undress every night [before God].”

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