Theocracy or Pluralism?

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If you have read the past two postings on this blog, what do you think? Are there other possibilities for governing our biblical constitutional republic besides theocracy and pluralism? I can’t see any. If you have any ideas, let us know in the Comment section. It seems to me we are stuck with one of these two options for how we lay the foundation for that republic.

We have seen the historical record of both political theocracy and religious pluralism, and its not a pretty picture. They each contain typical, human blind spots and screw-ups that are correctable. However, they each have a different fatal flaw that is permanent and cannot be corrected, no matter how much we desire to do so. What are they?

1. The flaw in historical theocracy

The flaw in historical theocracy has been a denial of liberty of conscience−the freedom to openly believe what is in one’s heart to believe. Theocratic nations have attempted to force their citizens to believe in the national faith, when, in fact, true faith cannot be demanded.  A man can neither believe when he does not believe, nor not believe what he truly believes. He is a prisoner of his faith. He does not decide what he believes. Faith is a gift from God, and He either gives or withholds that faith, according to His sovereign will. 

“YOU DID NOT CHOOSE ME, BUT I CHOSE YOU and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain” (John 15:16).

“For by grace you have been saved through FAITH, and that not of yourselves; IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD” (Ephesians 2:8).

Any theocracy that coerces its citizens to be believers, or assumes that all in a certain geographical area are believers, is a flawed expression of the kingdom of God. If a man is forced to claim a religious conviction he does not genuinely hold, the civil government that forces him to do so will eventually collapse

However, our God is an amazing God, and He specializes in using flawed vessels, both individually and nationally, to do His work. At the cross, God began the process of restoring His world that had been under the control of Satan since the Fall, and He used the instrument of Christendom, a collection of flawed, historical theocracies, to do so!.

Restoration was definitely in order. Joe Sobran, deceased scholar and commentator, described the ancient world as follows:

“Before the advent of Christianity, Satan had held mankind in the bondage of tyranny, darkness, fear and misery for many years. This was just a way of life in the pagan world. We tend to venerate and romanticize the Greco-Roman culture because of its brilliant scholars, philosophers, writers and political theorists, but during that time, sin, debauchery, and degradation were prevalent everywhere, and human life was practically worthless.  

“For example, in the Classical world, so admired and revered by academia, women were treated as nothing more than property. A father had literal life and death power over his wife and children, and a common practice was to leave unwanted children outside in the elements to die.

Slavery was taken for granted, and defended vigorously by Aristotle, as the natural, normal and preferred state of affairs. Many of the great, revered Greek philosophers were pedophiles. Routine brutality made the classical world seem unbelievably callous to us, but it was just the way things were to them.  

“They thought nothing of ordinary people in Rome going to the Coliseum, like we go to a football game, to watch ravenous lions eat screaming people, or to watch gladiators literally bash each other’s brains out.  Nobody even considered this to be brutal.  It was normal in the Classical world over which Satan ruled.”

But that all changed definitively at the cross. Satan was legally stripped of the authority he had stolen from Adam, and for the next three centuries, the early church was the launching pad for the spread of God’s reclamation project.

Then, from the fall of the Roman Empire to the high Middle Ages, commonly called the “Dark Ages,” Christianity was actually, quietly, gradually, spreading over Europe through the imperfect theocracies of Christendom. During that time, most of the everyday barbarisms of the Classical world were quietly mitigated or eliminated altogether. Abortion, infanticide, slavery, pederasty, at-will divorce, crucifixion (once a common punishment for petty crimes), all disappeared within the boundaries of Christendom. 

However, in the midst of this progressive victory through the Church from the cross until now, the weaknesses enumerated in the theocracy blog posting, particularly no liberty of conscience, were always present, with God continuing to move in His church despite its ever-present sin, just as He does today! 

2. The flaw in pluralism.

Just as the fatal flaw in a theocracy is a lack of liberty of conscience for the individual, the fatal flaw in pluralism is the assumption that there can be religious neutrality in civil government. That is an impossibility.

Jesus said “He who is not with Me is against me” (Matthew 12:30). Neither man, nor the institutions he has established, which are simply a corporate expression of man, can be neutral. Man has been created to worship, and he will do so.. He may worship a formal, false religion, an idol he has erected, or even man himself. His god is what demands his supreme and final loyalty. It is the authority to whom he looks and the god whose law he has chosen to obey.

Therefore, a de jure (by law) pluralistic society will never be a de facto (in fact) pluralistic society; it cannot be, because a composite society demands a composite law system, which is impossible. When controversy comes, as it always will, the law system of the state’s de facto religion will ultimately be followed. There is no neutrality.

Some would say “natural law will be followed,” a sense that all religions have the same basic, recognizable, understanding of right and wrong, but our current situation in America contradicts that belief.

Even if competing religious systems have some degree of basic agreement, i.e., it is wrong to kill someone, to steal, etc., once we are passed a few foundational similarities, competing law systems have little in common. There is great discrepancy among the three primary, competing religions in our country today—Christianity, Islam, and Secular Humanism (Cultural Marxism)—as to what the law should be and how it should be enforced. 

For example, look at any controversial issue in our day—homosexual marriage, gun control, welfare, education, foreign policy, family authority relationships etc.—and there is a broad, often antagonistic, difference of opinion. We are finding it impossible to reach a consensus now that we are no longer a de facto Christian nation. The law systems of other religions are fighting with Christianity for ascendency (and currently, winning!).

Pluralism has no solution. Competition inevitably will continue until one of the religions wins the war and forces its law system on the rest of the population. When that happens, the country may remain a de jure pluralistic one, but eventually it will become a de facto theocracy. The winner will be decided as one of the various gods’ law system will be followed. A theocracy is always, eventually inevitable.

So, we have no choice. We will be a theocracy. Next week we will look at, not a reworked historical theocracy, but a biblical one—a constitution that allows complete freedom of choice.  The Bible lays the foundation for a government that honors Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords, reigning from God’s right hand by His law, over all the nations of the world, including the United States of America!  It is a remarkable and amazingly satisfying plan we have clearly forgotten.

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  1. Jerry Buccola says:

    Robert, once again, an excellent presentation. I am especially struck by: “Just as the fatal flaw in a theocracy is a lack of liberty of conscience for the individual, the fatal flaw in pluralism is the assumption that there can be religious neutrality in civil government. That is an impossibility.” This insight is the axis of your presentation.

    I am eager to see how you resolve this dilemma in the structure of civil government, in next week’s presentation!

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