Nomocracy is government based on the rule of law. Rule of law is defined by Britannica as “the mechanism, process, institution, practice or norm that supports the equality of all citizens before the law, secures a nonarbitrary form of government and more generally prevents arbitrary use of power.” This concept of government is designed to prevent, the arbitrariness if you will, of despotic governments or power structures such as kings, committees or parties acting without constraint of the law. The US Constitution in Article IV, Section 4 guarantees a Republican form of government where the people elect representatives to govern them under the rule of law. Why is this so important to Christians?
I would wager that many never heard of or used the term “nomocracy” to describe a government. We in America believe we initiated the idea of representative government based on the rule of law. It is the ultimate Lockean principle of government postulated by John Locke in his 1690 Second Treatise of Government. Locke wrote: “The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but to have only the law of nature for his rule.” The words “Law of Nature and of Nature’s God” are found in the US Declaration of Independence underscoring that the Republic was founded on a universal moral law serving as the legal basis for self-government. It is a form of nomocracy, which is the law given by God Almighty to Moses on Mt. Sinai and was accepted by the people.
The Torah—the first five books of the Bible—is the “teaching” or “law.” It is dedicated to a whole new idea of freedom called, nomocracy. The rule of law, not men, where people do what is right according to the law. God’s law was to set his people apart as holy that they might experience the promise of ultimate freedom of abundant and eternal life. As explained in Romans 2:11-15 “For there is no respect of persons with God…For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness…” If the law is written in our hearts, we become a moral people set apart and living justly.
The Founders of the United States knew this well as summarized by John Adams saying, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” The rule of law, nomocracy, is not a new idea of man. It was the law of freedom instituted by God with the promise of eternal life through Christ. When the law of God is written in our hearts, we want to do what is right because we embody the righteousness of God. The law in stone—where man does what is right in his own eyes–results in the kind of culture we have today where law is used to undermine families, religion, and the community as a whole. May we be a Jeremiah 31:32 people as the Lord declared, “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”