Faith in Focus

Should New Zealand become a Republic?


Republicanism is in the news these days and now with Australia moving in that direction, it seems likely that we will follow suit. Is there a view that Christians should take on this subject? I suppose that reality is that Christians will have different perspectives on the matter. There are those who will approach the subject from a sentimental point of view. They may like the Queen and the Queen mother and feel comfortable with the present monarch being 'our' Queen too. This may be generally true of the older generations. Even those who are immigrants from Holland are often supportive of the monarchy. They are used to the idea of monarchy and also see some sentimental attachment to the English Royal tradition through the House of Orange. We could also add here the followers of that nonsense known as British Israelitism, who believe that the English are really the lost tribe of Israel and that the Queen stands in the line of the house of David. There are also some Maori who desire the monarchy to continue, because they are afraid that somehow the Treaty of Waitangi will lose its mana if the "Crown" no longer exists as their partner. One is hard pressed to find anyone defending maintaining the Monarchy on other grounds. With a monarch essentially being a figurehead these days, it is not so important, but where there has been a godly King or Queen (a very rare phenomenon) the Church has generally prospered. On the other hand, a too powerful Parliament of ungodly men and women, can be disastrous for the cause of Christ and His Church.

Since most Christians recognize that the Bible does not define one system of government for all nations, we have to make a decision (if in God's providence that is our privilege)as to what sort of Government we want.

The criterion of the prosperity of the Church

One criterion for our final choice should be the prosperity of the Church of Jesus Christ. In order to make a decision we have to decide whether one form of government is more likely to be beneficial to the Church, or not. We can ask the question, "Will one form of Government be more likely to legislate and rule in such a way that the Church benefits. Will it enable laws to be enacted that protect the Lord's Day? Will it legislate against immorality in a way that acknowledges the standards of the Supreme Law Giver? We can answer this question fairly easily. We know that at the present time, the present form of government will not ensure this. We hardly need to catalogue the open sewer of ungodly legislation that this and former governments have foisted on a gullible public. We know too that there is nothing inherent in a full-blown republicanism that will ensure this either. We just have to look at the greatest republican experiment, the United States of America, to realize that piety and republicanism are not necessarily natural partners.

We could argue that if there were to be a godly monarch in the future, then he or she might be able to be an influence for good upon the Parliament of the day. But we cannot see that this could be the case, simply because the monarch is only a figure-head in this country. The seat of power rests firmly with the Parliament and more particularly with the cabinet, the executive of Government. It is also questionable whether the monarch would even have any moral authority in the eyes of a similar Parliament to this present one.

So even if we had a godly monarch, they could probably have no impact on the moral climate of our Parliament. But if the Parliament was to become Christian, then that Parliament would be able to begin to rule with the prosperity of the Church in mind, which is also their biblical responsibility. They would be able to, irrespective of the religious persuasion of the monarch, because power is centralised with them. And so we could argue that it doesn't really matter if we do retain our present system of Government. At least we won't have the cost of reinventing letterheads and flags and things, and we can still retain our royal traditions with all the sentimental niceness that comes with those traditions - for example royal visits and walkabouts.

The criterion of example

But I want to suggest that, from a Christian perspective, there is another criterion we need to consider - the category or principle of example. We do not have any influence at all over our monarch as a nation. We cannot very easily rebuke her for ungodliness if that became necessary. And so it is a matter of 'what you see is what you get'. In accepting a monarchy that sets an example that is detrimental to the morals of that nation and the mission of the Church, we are obviously harming the cause of Christ. And what sort of example do we get from the present monarchy that theoretically rules over us?. Our present Queen professes to be a Christian. But what example does she give her subjects in New Zealand? Her fascination with race horses and gambling and her well-publicised submission to the etiquette of other religions, her obscene absorption of wealth derived from lands confiscated from long dead political enemies and her support, as head of the Church of England, of numerous heretical theologians who have undermined the faith of many, does not establish her as a great example at all.

Whether the strange way that the British Royals have brought up their children have turned them into the neurotic types that they seem or not, it would be unfair to blame the eccentricities of the Prince-in-waiting on his mother. But what sort of an example will he be as a King of New Zealand? As an admitted adulterer and the future head of the Church of England, Charles himself claims to be willing to be the Defender of Faith, meaning the defender of all religions, rather than the defender of the Faith. We know that he is not a believer and even if he had the power to do so, would not use any influence he might conceivably possess to advance the cause of Christ in his kingdom - of which New Zealand, as it stands, will be a part. So I think that for this reason alone we can safely, and should, jettison the British Royals and leave them to their own devices in Europe.

But you might argue, all of those things that you mention, or at least similar charges can be levelled against our own Parliament. We must agree that this is so. There has probably never been a more immoral bunch in charge of this antipodean green and pleasant land. But unlike the monarch, a change of government in God's providence that brings many Christians into Parliament, immediately can set about being nursing fathers to the church as the Bible requires of them. Unlike a godly King living in a castle somewhere in England, a Christian Government would have the power to effect changes in legislation almost immediately.

So let's do away with the monarchy and endorse the concept of a republic and keep praying for the conversion of our political leaders and the success of our Christian politicians and the CHP.

GM

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Faith in Focus /NZ Reformed Church / gmilne@ihug.co.nz / revised April 1998 / Copyright 1998