Sovereignty ultimately belongs to God, but in a liberal democracy it is the people – or ought to be the people – who, as members of civil society, work toward the temporal good of the whole by applying human thought and discernment to the matter of governance, so that government is an organic, responsive and accountable relationship. Some Christians believe that sovereignty has no national borders; that it is enhanced when ‘pooled’; that coerced cooperation is politically justifiable because global concerns may be better addressed by those who know best and understand most. Such is the view expressed here by Lord Deben and his son, Ben Gummer MP:
Other Christians believe that sovereignty not only stops at national borders; it belongs inviolably to the inhabitants of the democratic nation to exercise for the benefit of the national economic order and social development in such matters as health, education, defence, the environment, and so on. Such is the view expressed here by Boris Johnson:
Christians engaged in nation-building must, of course, guard against nationalism, but national aspiration and the desire of the people to be in control of their destiny do not necessarily lead to xenophobia, apartheid, ethnic cleansing or war. Only the most pessimistic apprehension of human nature believes that the sovereignty of the people must somehow be constrained, because, collectively, the mob is dense, defective and incapable of choosing goodness and life.
‘The powers that be are ordained of God‘ (Rom 13:1). It is not the task of the Church to perfect the social order, but who, apart from a fallen people, may hold the elites to account? If those who rule do not govern by popular consent, what is the moral democratic basis for their governance? May not the elites be dense, defective and incapable?