Written Jun 28, 2018
Each summer I try to get through a work of classic literature I somehow never managed to read before. This year, I picked up and am reading through Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. It has been a good read thus far, but also a bit quaint. Tocqueville wrote his classic when our country was still young (1835-40). Though much has changed since that time, what he so admired — the spirit of our nation, and our own particular way of organizing our democracy — remain intact.
Last week the subject of our Thursday night Attributes of God series was the Sovereignty of God. In class, I made reference to an English theologian who worried that as Americans, we have an “allergy” to the idea of Sovereignty which inhibits our ability to fully appreciate the rule and reign of God over our lives. True enough, but Tocqueville has helped refine my thinking about this difficulty.
He writes: “In the United States in our day the principle of the sovereignty of the people has been adopted in practice in every way that imagination could suggest. …The people reign over the American political world as God rules over the universe. It is the cause and end of all things; everything rises out of it.” I believe Tocqueville is on to something here. It is not simply that, as Americans, we have thrown off the sovereignty of kings. We have taken sovereignty unto ourselves.
In the political realm, this individual sovereignty has worked well, giving us the freedoms and blessings we will soon remember and celebrate on the 4th of July. In the spiritual realm, our sense of self sovereignty leads to an inclination toward independence which leads us away from God. As citizens, we do indeed rule the political world. Let us not forget that God rules over the universe, and over each of our lives as well. Let us use our freedom to give glory to Him, and may God’s kingdom and rule and reign extend to us and through us.
See you Sunday!