Christian Cyclopedia

About the Cyclopedia


The action of governing, ruling with authority, directing, controlling, regulating the affairs of the body politic. Govt. is ordained by God for punishment of evildoers and for common welfare (Pr 8:15; Ro 13:1; 1 Ptr 2:14). Obedience, payment of taxes, and prayers for rulers (Ro 13:1–7; I Ti 2:1–2) belong to duties of citizens, who are to render to the govt. what is due to it and to God what is due to Him (Mt 22:21).

Monarchical govts. have usually been hereditary; they have been absolute, as that of Louis* XIV, or limited (constitutionalism), as that of the Brit. monarchy after 1688. Govts. may be autocratic (1 person having unlimited power), benevolent or tyrannical, with or without a strong undergirding of bureaucracy. They may be aristocratic or plutocratic (rule of the “best” or favored few regarded as superior, e.g., in rank, intellect, or wealth). Totalitarian govts. in the 20th c. have claimed total control over all their subjects for the benefit of the state; they have furthered a 1-party system and rule of 1 person. Democratic govts, allow direct or representative voices of the people to function (“of the people, by the people, for the people”). J. J. Rousseau* popularized the social contract theory of govt.; it holds that govts. are based on agreement bet. the ruled and the rulers. See also Hobbes, Thomas.

The powers of govt. have gen. been classified as legislative (making of laws), administrative (enforcing or carrying out laws), and judicial (interpreting laws and fixing penalties for lawbreakers). Exercise of governmental functions through commissions and agencies has extended the police powers of govt. CSM

See also Church and State.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

Internet Version Produced by
The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

Original Editions ©Copyright 1954, 1975, 2000
Concordia Publishing House
All rights reserved.

Content Reproduced with Permission

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