Study of Public Policy

The study of public policy recognizes the importance in public affairs of worldview, principled analysis, and political expertise. A Biblical worldview is regarded as the key to restoring the effective witness for Christ in public affairs; this worldview recognizes God as Creator and Author of history, Who has ordained the family, the church, business, and civil government, along with cultural institutions such as schools, the media, and other associations, as the interacting spheres of society. Each has its jurisdictions and responsibilities. Civil government is unique in its coercive power, and therefore must have appropriate limits to its domain.

From this perspective, public policy first involves the definition of principles which should guide individual behavior, business and cultural activity, and governmental action. Articulating correct principles requires an awareness of history's progression, how ideas influence culture and government, and how the civil state emerged and exists to protect individual rights. More importantly, correct principles rest on God's laws as expressed in Scripture and in creation. The relation of divine laws to society's governance is a major issue, resolved by models (which Christians have offered) ranging from theocratic Israel to the modern democratic nation, from a church state to a state church, with Christianized political parties in between. But the selection of the appropriate model will always rest on the foundation that Biblical principles, once understood, immediately yield direction for public laws, or point the way to Christian and discretionary practices to be formulated into public law. Also, in all cases, the proper procedure for model selection and implementation involves the democratic process.

The scope of concerns under public policy certainly emphasizes the civil sphere, but is not limited to it. This follows because matters affecting the public are not limited to the practices of civil government. The policies and practices of the other spheres of society, to the extent that they have public impact, are also involved. Thus, public policy deals strongly, but not exclusively, with the affairs of civil government.

Policy per se can refer to a viewpoint, an agenda, or a course of action. Thus, public policy may range from political platforms to legislation to civil programs in the public sector, and to organizational practice and educational efforts in the private sector. The Christian in today's world is being called into these diverse arenas in order to bring the light of Christ unto all men, that God's blessings may flow freely throughout society.