(As usual, the fact I’ve received a free review copy from 10ofthose, does not change my review in the slightest, as I’ve been given free-range to say what I want)
This little book (it could be read in an hour) is a bitesize intro to politics as a Christian. Many would be disappointed that it won’t tell you who to vote for, or even start to list issues that Christians should be concerned about.
Instead Dever concentrates largely on the verse “give to Caesar what is Caesars, give to God what is God’s”. Powerfully pointing out how revolutionary this really is at the time, Dever says:
“If Christians can support Rome, which government could they not support? This is the government which killed Christ and nearly all the apostles. And here Jesus is telling them, pay for it. Pay that tax that is going to pay the very salary of the men who are going to drive the nails into my hands, not because what they are doing is right, but because government reflects the character of God. God will deal with them”
Gems like this are scattered throughout the book and make it well worth the quick read.
But on his original question asked by a Muslim friend that frames the whole booklet, “Does Christianity have a vision for state and for society as a whole?” Dever never really answers any hard questions in full (perhaps just due to the size of the book).
“When should we disobey government?” and “How much should we be seen to campaign for God’s law to be the law of the land?” are two that I’m forever wrestling with. And from what I can tell, Dever would definitely lean towards paying Irish water taxes (as it’s not obviously against any divine laws, even if we felt the government misuse the money) and is as careful to be seen to be about seeking the prosperity of the country/city and against imposing moral commandments (old testament) on a country. He says
“Jesus, then, is not putting himself as a theonomist in the world. He is not saying you should take the old testament laws and legislate them on every nation on the earth” (p.28)
But again this throws more questions in our paths. If we are not forcing (that is what we do in voting) such laws upon our country, what are we voting for? All of us (Dever included) know that we don’t mean Israeli sea-food laws etc, and just mean the moral law (think 10 commandments), so don’t let that put you off. Nor do we have to be theonomists to believe that some aspects of God’s law are helpful for modern day society.
In fact, the alternative to voting in laws which God said were to prosper a nation, would be to vote in laws that are secular in force, or Islamic or [insert other worldview]. There are no neutral laws that keep everyone happy.
So my question back to Mark Dever would be: what is he going to speak up for?
And by the sounds of it, his priorities are elsewhere (in changing human lives at a deeply spiritual level, from their selfish human nature), so much so, that I’m not sure he convinced me in his answer to his Muslim friend. Perhaps if I saw his life, I’d see differently.