G.K. Chesterton, one of the greatest English journalists and philosophers of the early 20th century, had a lot to say about the interaction of Christianity with government and politics.
Recently, I’ve been delighted in reading Common Sense 101: Lessons from G.K. Chesterton, in which the author Dale Ahlquist teaches how to “look at the whole world through the eyes of Chesterton.”
In the chapter titled, “The ‘D’ Word,” — (democracy), Ahlquist teams up with Chesterton quotes to write something interesting—and helpful:
G.K. Chesterton devoted a great part of his life, especially in his later years when time was very precious, to trying to bring social and economic justice to the world. And his emphasis was always on trying to get people to think clearly, to see first principles. And Chesterton understands that ultimately every political question is also a theological question. He seeks to define these things clearly because, as he says, “We cannot be vague about what we believe in, what we are willing to fight for, and to die for.”
Democracy, he admits, is always difficult, but only a Christian society has the fixed principles to face those difficulties. To make a democracy work, we have to face honestly the problems of injustice. Chesterton reminds us very pointedly: “God Himself will not help us ignore evil, but only to defy and to defeat it.”
There are some people who are very concerned about politics and insist that religion doesn’t matter, just as there are some who are very concerned about religion and insist that politics don’t matter. But both matter. Just like both of the two great commandments matter and must always go together: love God and love your neighbor.
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