There is still much debate around these days about theocracies…
…should the civil kingdoms of this world, including our own, be administered not just by the Judeo-Christian principles as are found in the Bible, but should Government be run and administered upon the Laws and punishments as are found in the Bible, and most notably in the Old Testament? This has been a serious question ever since Christianity has found itself in ascendency as a religion in any temporal kingdom or government. The debate about theocracies especially tends to heat up when it is perceived that government is running amok, and civilization itself seems to be sliding into a moral abyss. But many crucial questions would have to be answered, such as who would run such a government? Who would administer the laws, and execute Judgment? Obviously, churchmen come first to mind, since they are most acquainted with biblical laws and their interpretations. However, history is rife with abuse when there has been an intersection of church and state. Even the Covenanters were not without their errors regarding the administration of government.
The other evening I was reading a biography of the great Puritan, Edward Deering, and I came across his defense which he used at his hearing. Now Deering was not ordinary man. He was extremely gifted intellectually, he had stern integrity, and he was absolutely fearless. In his defense, he goes on the offence to biblically attack the underpinnings of Church and State. And he does so by attacking the temporal power of the Roman Catholic Church. The year as far as I can ascertain this “trial” occurs sometime just after 1573, and while it is against the Roman Catholic Church, it holds great truths for the Protestant community of today; especially, that conservative segment which wonders whether a theocracy is what God might be proscribing as a defense for the moral evilness of this present age. With this thought in mind, I tender to you, Deering’s spirited and spiritual argument:
“The lordship and civil government of bishops,” says he, “is utterly unlawful. The kingdom of Christ is a spiritual government only. But the government of the church is a part of the kingdom of Christ. Therefore, the government of the church is only a spiritual government. What the kingdom of Christ is, and what government he hath established in it, learn not of me, but of God himself. What can be plainer than the words of Christ? My kingdom is not of this world? How plainly doth St. Paul say, “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal?” Let him, therefore, who is the King of kings, have the pre-eminence of government. And let him, whose dominion is the kingdom of heaven, have the sword and the scepter that is not fleshly. Let not a vile pope, in the name of Christ, enact a new kingdom, which Christ never knew: a kingdom of this world, which, in the ministry of the gospel, he hath condemned.
This kind of rule hath set all out of order, and in confusion, mingled heaven and earth together.—As the minister hath nothing to do with the temporal sword, so it much less becomes him to be called lord. The reason is plain from scripture. Ministers are called fishers of men, laborers in the harvest, callers to the marriage, servants of the people, workmen, stewards, builders, planters, etc. In all of which, they are removed from a lordship over the people. And again, they are called fellow-elders, fellow-helpers, fellow- workmen, fellow-soldiers, fellow-servants, fellow-travelers, etc. In which names, they are forbidden lordship over their brethren. And, surely, it must be great rashness to refuse so many names, which God hath given us, and take another, which imports dominion over others. Can we doubt then in the question of lordship? We appeal to Christ, and the words of his mouth, to decide the controversy. The disciples had this contention, as well as ourselves. They strove much, who should be highest; against which strife, our Savior Christ pronounces this sentence, He that is greatest among you, let him be as the least. And whosoever of you will be the chief shall be servant of all. This is a brief account of the superiority in the ministry. And this shall forever determine the controversy, though all the wisdom in the world reply to the contrary.”
Deering’s quotation was taken and adapted from, “The Lives of the Puritans,” Vol. 1, pages. 196-197.
Written by, Benjamin Brook, published in 1813.