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One on one thread about Christian theocracy?

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  • Andius
    replied
    Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
    I view the corruption of governments as more or less inevitable; I don't at all view this as tied in any way to theocracies. (It even happened to King Solomon, the wisest of religious men.) When things do turn out for the worse, I would rather not have the stain of the church on it.
    Ah, well, it be an attitude I myself share. I don't consider States inherently good organizations in the first place. I do find it good that you are awares that it's crookedness is not tied to theocratic organization (good example by the way). But I too also agree, when disaster hits in State management, it be best if the Church be not part of the blame.

    But it's important to differentiate between ruling according to Christian principles and strictly enforcing one's interpretation of Christianity. So perhaps it is at the least best to keep some distance between ecclesiastical bodies and ruling bodies (contra the example of various churches during much of European history, most notably but not limited to the RCC).
    And a very good differentiation indeed. In praxis, it is a prudent thing to maintain such a distance, lest the disasters that plagued Europeans in the past repeat themselves. Keep in mind however that some Christians will not exactly be content with a government that continues to destroy peoples lives, and let me give you an example;

    Amongst the Christians of Honduras (of primarily Protestant congregations) there is a growing attitude that views the "Secular Progressives" in abysmally falling short in their promise to end the injustices that plague the country (Especially in the area of Organized Crime and Unemployment, THE biggest problems of the moment). They are committed to the belief that if they as a Church do not do something about it, justice will never come, and it has fueled a growing civic participation unlike I have ever seen before, and it's all grassroots movements originating in Church and their teachings in social justice.

    The current president, Juan Orlando Hernández, has the support of such folk (and naturally, fought for a long time to give religious organizations tax exemption, so naturally, you can see the tit for tat relation here, common interests and all), and he has a fairly clean track record for a politician, and a confessing Christian. Time will tell if he maintains a fairly just praxis in his presidency.

    And of course I cannot speak for every historical example that has ever happened, only to tendencies I have noticed from what I am familiar with.
    Fair enough. Well, if you want to see a relatively good example, I strongly recommend reading the history of the Iberian Kingdoms of the Middle ages. Prior to the renaissance, some Christian Iberian kings had the reputation of integrating Jews and Muslims in their courts, and accepting them as vassals without resorting to conversion (paying the tribute sufficed). Muslim, Jew, Christian coexisted peacefully in varied fashions in the dominions of the Iberia, even during war times when Christian and Muslim lords and kings fought for control of the Peninsula. It is most fascinating history (a history whom I tend to view as my cultural forerunners, naturally being a descendant of them), and by my reckoning, a fairly good testament on how theocratic or theocratically leaning dominions can still exercise tolerance of creeds alien to the official one.

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  • Darth Executor
    replied
    Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
    I'm not unsympathetic to this line of argumentation though I wonder if it would have thoroughly prevented it altogether. Not all Christian denominations even then had an issue with abortion; not even the Southern Baptists, and I'm not sure how firmly the line would have been held.
    Well, Roe vs Wade was just one step in a trend that started well before that. Ideally it never would've gotten to that point.

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  • KingsGambit
    replied
    Originally posted by Darth Executor View Post
    There was no Roe vs Wade when churches had more political influence and heads of state drew their power from God, even when it was a farce. Let's face it, the removal of the church from politics has granted us the abortion holocaust, which alone is worse than anything the church ever did. At least with corrupt churches and divine rights of things the leaders still have to pay attention to Christian ideals or risk getting erased by opportunistic political opponents or angry mobs.
    I'm not unsympathetic to this line of argumentation though I wonder if it would have thoroughly prevented it altogether. Not all Christian denominations even then had an issue with abortion; not even the Southern Baptists, and I'm not sure how firmly the line would have been held.

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  • KingsGambit
    replied
    Originally posted by Andius View Post
    Mmhhh, are you sure that you have actually examined conclusively of how theocracies turn out? Are you sure that such a thing is inevitable?
    I view the corruption of governments as more or less inevitable; I don't at all view this as tied in any way to theocracies. (It even happened to King Solomon, the wisest of religious men.) When things do turn out for the worse, I would rather not have the stain of the church on it.

    But it's important to differentiate between ruling according to Christian principles and strictly enforcing one's interpretation of Christianity. So perhaps it is at the least best to keep some distance between ecclesiastical bodies and ruling bodies (contra the example of various churches during much of European history, most notably but not limited to the RCC).

    And of course I cannot speak for every historical example that has ever happened, only to tendencies I have noticed from what I am familiar with.

    Leave a comment:


  • Darth Executor
    replied
    Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
    Another thing is that in many cases, trying to find legislative solutions may not be the most effective use of time. With the example of abortion, evangelicals and Catholics have been working for decades to find a way to overturn Roe v Wade with absolutely no progress.
    There was no Roe vs Wade when churches had more political influence and heads of state drew their power from God, even when it was a farce. Let's face it, the removal of the church from politics has granted us the abortion holocaust, which alone is worse than anything the church ever did. At least with corrupt churches and divine rights of kings the leaders still have to pay attention to Christian ideals or risk getting erased by opportunistic political opponents or angry mobs.

    However, many have also been reaching out to people on an individual level who are struggling with these issues (people considering or recovering from abortion), and progress very much has been made with improving these individual people's lives. Without abandoning political action altogether, I suspect more of us need to concentrate on what we can individually do rather than trying to play a game that may or may not have any prospects of victory.
    If every Christian thought like I do we'd have victory overnight. One need not give up on the ideal to focus on small, immediate improvements.
    Last edited by Darth Executor; 03-14-2014, 01:26 PM.

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  • Andius
    replied
    Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
    My skepticism of theocracy more comes from the historical examples of how it has resulted. Inevitably, over time, political power seems to wind up in the hands of people who aren't personally that religious but who abuse both church and state for their own ends, and I see this as the worst possible outcome.
    Mmhhh, are you sure that you have actually examined conclusively of how theocracies turn out? Are you sure that such a thing is inevitable?

    I find your fatalistic attitude towards how political powers and ecclesiastical powers turn out to not exactly be conclusive. If what you said is true, then the fight that fighters like Simon Bolivar carried out should have been doomed, and the Ecclesiastic Governmental Conservative elites that governed Latinamerica should have crushed the Liberal factions that took arms to challenge them. Especially in light on how some Latin American peoples violently kicked the Church out of politics in different measures when said Ecclesiastic authority challenged the interests of new elites that rose to power.

    And what makes you think that ALL theocracies/theocratic like governments have been necessarily disastrous?
    Last edited by Andius; 03-14-2014, 01:11 PM.

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  • KingsGambit
    replied
    Originally posted by The Remonstrant View Post
    [SIZE=3][FONT=Palatino Linotype]Again, I would reiterate my statement above: "We may seek to apply Jesus' ethics or way of life to every area of our lives as best as we are able to discern, of course, but believers are provided with no special divine insight as to how we are to handle many of the complexities of life" (this would include political matters). Today I get the sense that many believers are politically obsessed. This is just a simple observation. I don't see any such obsession in the New Testament if we are to follow Christ's lead or the various authors of the New Testament. E.g., Paul is concerned with the salvation of the people of Israel (cf. Romans 9-11), but I don't see his concern being about the overthrow of Rome as Israel's oppressors.
    While it would be somewhat anachronistic to read our modern systems of democracy into NT ethics, I think I largely agree (and will expand on this in a moment), with a couple of caveats... First, political/legal/etc. constructs are inherently neutral. Paul had a working knowledge of his legal rights as a Roman citizen, and took advantage of them when he was imprisoned without trial for the sake of the advancement of the gospel. Also, Paul mentions Erastus as working for the Corinth city government in Romans 16:23. Neither of these examples point directly to the type of political engagement we're talking about here but they are reminders that we cannot be too hasty to jump into a radical estrangement.

    As a collective, the people of God (i.e., the church) may have a tremendously positive effect on society. The unfortunate tendency, however, is that we become conformed to the pattern of the age. So the world ends up transforming us more than we end up transforming it.
    This is very well put. It is unfortunately not at all uncommon to read about professing Christian politicians (even those whose political identities are closely identified with Christianity) involved in unethical behavior such as bribery and slander. There is plenty of evil in our modern political culture and entering the fray yet remaining unstained is incredibly difficult.

    Another thing is that in many cases, trying to find legislative solutions may not be the most effective use of time. With the example of abortion, evangelicals and Catholics have been working for decades to find a way to overturn Roe v Wade with absolutely no progress. However, many have also been reaching out to people on an individual level who are struggling with these issues (people considering or recovering from abortion), and progress very much has been made with improving these individual people's lives. Without abandoning political action altogether, I suspect more of us need to concentrate on what we can individually do rather than trying to play a game that may or may not have any prospects of victory.

    Leave a comment:


  • The Remonstrant
    replied
    Originally posted by The Remonstrant View Post
    I'm rather Anabaptistic in my view regarding a strict separation between the church and the state. It can be very dangerous when the two are mingled or conflated (as they unfortunately oftentimes are). I'm deeply suspicious of the neo-conservative religious right and their obsession with voting for the right politicians, the right measures. As far as politics are concerned, we cannot neatly or glibly apply the "WWJD?" cliché to suit whatever cause we may or may not like. Jesus pretty much stayed out of politics (perhaps we should take a hint here; I don't know). The political climate in his day was hot, but he refused to be pigeonholed as supporting any particular cause or special interest group outside the kingdom of heaven/God. We may seek to apply Jesus' ethics or way of life to every area of our lives as best as we are able to discern, of course, but believers are provided with no special divine insight as to how we are to handle many of the complexities of life.
    Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
    Appealing to the ethics of Jesus is never going to fully settle this debate, because these arguments might always be met with the rejoinder "well, that's because Jews/early Christians had little to no political power, so it doesn't tell us what to do if we do have political power", though I am very open to the Anabaptist perspective on that matter and several related issues (though not pacifism). I also believe it is fairly clear that Jesus did call for societal transformation; he didn't really specify through what means other than by making clear that this is the responsibility of every Christian and isn't to be delegated to others.
    Again, I would reiterate my statement above: "We may seek to apply Jesus' ethics or way of life to every area of our lives as best as we are able to discern, of course, but believers are provided with no special divine insight as to how we are to handle many of the complexities of life" (this would include political matters). Today I get the sense that many believers are politically obsessed. This is just a simple observation. I don't see any such obsession in the New Testament if we are to follow Christ's lead or the various authors of the New Testament. E.g., Paul is concerned with the salvation of the people of Israel (cf. Romans 9-11), but I don't see his concern being about the overthrow of Rome as Israel's oppressors.

    As a collective, the people of God (i.e., the church) may have a tremendously positive effect on society. The unfortunate tendency, however, is that we become conformed to the pattern of the age. So the world ends up transforming us more than we end up transforming it.


    Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
    My skepticism of theocracy more comes from the historical examples of how it has resulted. Inevitably, over time, political power seems to wind up in the hands of people who aren't personally that religious but who abuse both church and state for their own ends, and I see this as the worst possible outcome.
    This is to be expected. Again, I consider this to be a kind of mingling of the kingdoms of the world with the kingdom of God. In the end, it all ends up looking mostly like the former. I don't believe it should work or even can given the present fallen human condition. No one person or institution should be entrusted with too much power. I personally do not want a theocracy until Christ returns.
    Last edited by The Remonstrant; 03-14-2014, 12:49 PM.

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  • Obsidian
    replied
    At least the principle of the Sabbath can be found in the Bible. So at least the people who believe in that law seem to have their hearts in the right place. But I would submit that by creating a new Sabbath on a different day, they are "chang[ing] times and laws," much like the little horn of Daniel 7. We shouldn't have laws against working on either Sunday or Saturday, because the Bible does not make any law against working on Sunday, and the Bible makes it clear that the law against Saturday work was fulfilled.

    The people who would criminalize alcohol (and other substances) generally have no scriptural argument for it that is even remotely reasonable.

    Leave a comment:


  • KingsGambit
    replied
    Originally posted by Obsidian View Post
    Basically, it is co-opted by people who are intentionally ignorant of God's law. One clear historical example would be criminalizing alcohol, based supposedly on religion. I leave it up to you to think of more recent examples.
    In a number of states one still can't buy a car on Sundays.

    Leave a comment:


  • Obsidian
    replied
    Unfortunately, the kingdom of heaven/God is constantly being co-opted by religious persons in favor of some other ("good") agenda.
    Basically, it is co-opted by people who are intentionally ignorant of God's law. One clear historical example would be criminalizing alcohol, based supposedly on religion. I leave it up to you to think of more recent examples.

    Leave a comment:


  • KingsGambit
    replied
    Appealing to the ethics of Jesus is never going to fully settle this debate, because these arguments might always be met with the rejoinder "well, that's because Jews/early Christians had little to no political power, so it doesn't tell us what to do if we do have political power", though I am very open to the Anabaptist perspective on that matter and several related issues (though not pacifism). I also believe it is fairly clear that Jesus did call for societal transformation; he didn't really specify through what means other than by making clear that this is the responsibility of every Christian and isn't to be delegated to others.

    My skepticism of theocracy more comes from the historical examples of how it has resulted. Inevitably, over time, political power seems to wind up in the hands of people who aren't personally that religious but who abuse both church and state for their own ends, and I see this as the worst possible outcome.

    Leave a comment:


  • Paprika
    replied
    Originally posted by The Remonstrant View Post
    Unfortunately, the kingdom of heaven/God is constantly being co-opted by religious persons in favor of some other ("good") agenda. Jesus made a strong distinction between the kingdoms of the world and the kingdom of God. Taking the broad history of Christendom into account, it seems difficult for us to follow suit. It appears too hard of a line to follow.
    Agreed.

    Leave a comment:


  • The Remonstrant
    replied
    Originally posted by Paprika View Post
    During a period of revolutionary fervour, talking about the Kingdom of God while acting according to some Messianic expectations is acting "politically" (note of course that the Enlightenment "religion"-"politics" distinction did not exist during that period). You are right that he did not support any other cause, but he promoted his own.
    Unfortunately, the kingdom of heaven/God is constantly being co-opted by religious persons in favor of some other ("good") agenda. Jesus made a strong distinction between the kingdoms of the world and the kingdom of God. Taking the broad history of Christendom into account, it seems difficult for us to follow suit. It appears too hard of a line to follow.

    Leave a comment:


  • Paprika
    replied
    Originally posted by The Remonstrant View Post
    Jesus pretty much stayed out of politics (perhaps we should take a hint here; I don't know). The political climate in his day was hot, but he refused to be pigeonholed as supporting any particular cause or special interest group outside the kingdom of heaven/God.
    During a period of revolutionary fervour, talking about the Kingdom of God while acting according to some Messianic expectations is acting "politically" (note of course that the Enlightenment "religion"-"politics" distinction did not exist during that period). You are right that he did not support any other cause, but he promoted his own.

    Leave a comment:

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