Federalism is the idea of a group or body of members that are bound together (latin: foedus, covenant) with a governing representative head. That representative head can be a king or God (as in theology), or a prime minister or general assembly (as in politics).
- In politics, federalism is the political philosophy that underlies a system of government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and constituent political units (like states or provinces), creating what is often called a federation. Proponents are often called federalists. In Canada and Europe, "federalist" is often used to describe those who favor a stronger federal government (or European Union government) and weaker provincial governments. The same is historically true in the United States, with those who generally favor a confederation, or weaker federal government and stronger state governments, being called "anti-federalists". However, in recent years in America "federalism" has come to mean something closer to confederacy.
- In theology, federalism is a synonym for basic Covenant Theology. It is a commonly used term in serious theological works since the 17th century (prior to the political use) and to this day, particularly among Reformed thinkers. Federalism describes the relationship between the first representative man, Adam, and those born of the flesh (i.e. all generate mankind), and likewise between the second and last representative man, Christ, and those who are in addition born of the Spirit (i.e. all regenerate mankind; see John 3:1-8 and Romans 8:1-17). This doctrine is most clearly described in Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:20-28, 42-49. In theology, the two parties (i.e. the representative head and the represented members) do not share sovereignty.
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