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Good Morning Nanty Glo!

Tuesday, February 22 2005

Jon Kennedy, webmaster


Having received no input for a normal Tuesday page for this week, I'm sharing a few thoughts on a current socio-political topic.

A noticeable contingent of the kind of shallow liberals who fancy themselves pundits on programs like The Daily Show and in standup appearances, like to charge that with the second term of the Bush Administration America has been turned into a theocracy. This is based on the fact that "values voters" were considered to have been a deciding factor in last November's elections and the President has been written up from both the liberal side (Bob Woodward, for example) and the conservative side (David Aikman) as a man whose commitment to Christian principle is genuine and guiding. But if sincere faith in God were the defining quality of theocratic government, the United States has been one from the beginning. The truth is far from that.

A theocracy is a human society ruled by God. Ancient (Old Testament) Israel was one under the judges and occasionally under the kings (David, Solomon) but not under the wicked kings (most notably Ahab, but there were many). Israel got its direction from God through the prophets (Nathan, Ezekiel, Elijah, Elisha). Iran under the Ayatollahs aspires to be an Islamic theocracy, though most observers internally and externally say it isn't working. Puritan rule under Cromwell in England and the Massachusetts colonial commonwealth were the closest thing to theocracy in Anglo-American history, but no one seriously questions the failure of both experiments, rooted in their attempts to impose their view of godly living on their publics.

European monarchies and the Byzantine Empire professed to be ruled under and to rule by Christian principles of law, but stopped short of pretending to be theocracies. The modern democracies with established churches (England, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark) openly admit that their Christian roots are mostly relics of the past, though several have robust if only marginally effective Christian-based political parties like the Christian Democrats in the Netherlands and Germany. None of those parties aspire to turn their countries into theocracies.

In fact, none of the three major communions of Christendom (Roman Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox) advocate theocracy as a viable or desirable form of government, all preferring to work in and through any stable political system than to organize or lead political revolutions. Though the Pope (and Cardinals like Woolsey and Richelieu) sometimes ran interference in some of the European monarchies of the middle ages, since the Reformation all major Christian traditions support some version of separation of church and state (at the least, church clergy are not to exercise political power). The New Testament teaching that the Gospel and the church are to be spread by preaching and uncoerced conversion of hearts rules out the practical pursuit of theocracy as a Christian way of ruling.

Some might say that Christian Broadcaster Pat Robertson's bid for the Republican Presidential nomination was the closest we've come to theocratic administration in modern times. I'd say Democratic Jimmy Carter's election, being both a Sunday school teacher and the President simultaneously, was farther along in that direction. But if either of these represent the "threat" pundits are warning against, what's to fear?

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

A complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonals for 2001 - 2005

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Thought for today

With increasing maturity, I have learned to understand the fallibilities of ourselves and others, to forgive. Forgiveness is a basic foundation of my faith. It's through this exchange of criticism, based on mutual understanding and forgiveness, that we are able to grow.

Jimmy Carter   

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