Monarchy vs Democracy

Sitting Bull

Woodpecker
"Let every soul be subject to the higher authorities. For there is no power that is not of God: the powers that be are ordained by God" - Romans 13:1

Sure, but there are also unfaithful servants of God or even outright impious people among the higher authorities - Pharaoh, Pontius Pilate, even the Hebrew High Priest who condemned Our Lord, etc.
Bottom line : we must always be humble and obey the last victor, as long as what he commands is not sinful.
 

ilostabet

Pelican
Orthodox Inquirer
Yes, theologians - especially the ones who wanted to be comfy with all manner of rulers - have loved that passage. And against their own tradition leave it completely untouched by that pesky thing, context.

On the one hand, of course, there is scarcely any positive thing about political rulers in the whole Bible, and none at all from Jesus himself. But that of course is to be forgotten.

And on the other, without worrying about the context, let's think for a minute. If we take that completely literally, then we have to conclude that Stalin, Pol Pot and every other blood thirsty maniac had their power ordained by God. Are you willing to accept this? I am not.

And because I am not, I am driven to conclude that the passage is not as simple as it might seem when taken out of context, and therefore it is useful to put it into context. That Pauline saying, while it starts chapter 13, is within a discussion which starts in chapter 12 and when taken within it, is not as clear as the apologists of tyrants want it to be.

Chapter 12 begins so: "I BESEECH you therefore, brethren, by the mercy of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God, your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world; but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God."

That is a strange thing to begin with when later on you will tell everybody to do exactly the opposite. Do not conform yourselves to the trends and fashions, but do to all manner of political rulers, which includes the ones which aren't good, acceptable and do not follow the will of God?

After that Paul starts speaking about love - for fellow Christians, for other people, for our enemies. In this context, he ends the chapter with "Revenge not yourselves, my dearly beloved; but give place unto wrath, for it is written: Revenge is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord. But if thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat; if he thirst, give him to drink. For, doing this, thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good.»

After this, comes the passage in question. Could it be that Paul is saying, in keeping with the context, that Christians must love even the authorities, that even if they are tyrannical and repulsive, we still must love them and respect them, since after all they are people?

So which is more likely, which makes more sense?
 

MichaelWitcoff

Hummingbird
Orthodox
Tertullian and Origen both preached against involvement with government, but they were both ultimately anathematized (though for different reasons). The first political theologians of the Christian Roman era were Lactantius and Eusebius, who both viewed Monarchy as the government best reflecting the celestial government. There have been bad kings, sure. But I try not to confuse principles with contingents; ie, the existence of bad kings does not negate the idea of kingship in general.
 

Enigma

Hummingbird
Orthodox Inquirer
Gold Member
Yes, theologians - especially the ones who wanted to be comfy with all manner of rulers - have loved that passage. And against their own tradition leave it completely untouched by that pesky thing, context.

On the one hand, of course, there is scarcely any positive thing about political rulers in the whole Bible, and none at all from Jesus himself. But that of course is to be forgotten.

Christ affirms authority in the Gospels, not only of the emperor, but of the Pharisees as well. Even as He harshly condemns their abuses, He points out that they sit in the seat of Moses and that their authority is legitimate.

Also, one of His titles is "Son of David" -- as in, King David.

Secondly, Christ is present in the Old Testament, from Genesis on, both implicitly as part of the Trinity and explicitly as the Word. He appears regularly as theophanies, often as the "Angel of God". There is no disconnect between the Old and New Testaments in actual Christian theology, nor is there an disconnect between the Father and the Son.

And on the other, without worrying about the context, let's think for a minute. If we take that completely literally, then we have to conclude that Stalin, Pol Pot and every other blood thirsty maniac had their power ordained by God. Are you willing to accept this? I am not.
Yes, and that's Christian tradition.

It's also repeated over and over again throughout the Old Testament. The Israelites turn away from God and God then allows them to be ruled by impious and/or pagan rulers.

This is made very obvious in Judges, for instance, where we're also repeatedly told:

"In those days there was no king in Israel. A man did what was right according to his own vision."
 
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ilostabet

Pelican
Orthodox Inquirer
As I said: without context everything can and has been argued from Scripture. I offered the context for Paul's words. It did not suffice.

But we can play that game, if nothing else because it is entertaining.

Consider 1 Samuel 8:

6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”

10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”
 

Enigma

Hummingbird
Orthodox Inquirer
Gold Member
As I said: without context everything can and has been argued from Scripture. I offered the context for Paul's words. It did not suffice.

But we can play that game, if nothing else because it is entertaining.
The "context" that I'm operating on is 2,000 years of Church tradition and Christian civilization, along with the voluminous writings of the saints, which overwhelmingly affirm monarchy.

St. Gregory Nazienzen, 4th century:

“The three most ancient opinions about God are atheism (or anarchy), polytheism (or polyarchy), and monotheism (or monarchy). The children of Greece played with the first two; let us leave them to their games. For anarchy is disorder: and polyarchy implies factious division, and therefore anarchy and disorder. Both these lead in the same direction – to disorder; and disorder leads to disintegration; for disorder is the prelude to disintegration. What we honour is monarchy.”

St. Theodore the Studite, 9th century:

“There is one Lord and Giver of the Law, as it is written: one authority and one Divine principle over all. This single principle is the source of all wisdom, goodness and good order.…Hence the establishment among men of every dominion and every authority, especially in the Churches of God: one patriarch in a patriarchate, one metropolitan in a metropolia, one bishop in a bishopric, one abbot in a monastery, and in secular life, if you want to listen, one king, one regimental commander, one captain on a ship. And if one will did not rule in all this, there would be no law and order in anything, and it would not be for the best, for a multiplicity of wills destroys everything.”

St. John of Kronstadt, early 20th century:

“Hell is a democracy but heaven is a kingdom.”

Even today, Mt. Athos represents itself with the Byzantine double-headed eagle, which symbolizes the unity of Church and state under the Christian imperium.

In order to go against that context and push your radical 20th century Christian anarchist perspective, which you curbed from Jacques Ellul, you have to make ridiculous arguments, like saying that all power comes from technology or that Christ doesn't affirm authority. But He does, all throughout the Gospel.

Not only does He affirm Pontius Pilate's authority, He specifically said that power was "given you from above" (John 19:11).

And as I pointed out, Christ is inseparable from the Father. Your implication that Jesus is only present in the Gospels and that His divine will is contrary to or separate from the Fathers is based upon a whole grab bag of heretical presuppositions.

As for Samuel:

1. This argument is based on a strawman that Christian monarchists think monarchy is the ideal form of the government. But that's just not true. It is simply the most suitable form of government for fallen man in a fallen world that allows us to maintain some semblance of order on earth and continuation with heaven.

2. The "context" here is that the Israelites had already spent centuries upon centuries living under some form of leader, whether it was a pagan pharaoh, Moses, Joshua, or one of the eleven judges. And every time they did not have a leader, or that leader even stepped away for a day to talk to God, they started going crazy.

Even if we accepted your argument specifically against kings and monarchy, it still doesn't support an anarchist perspective.

3. As I already pointed out, the book that precedes Samuel, which is Judges, ends with the observation that Israel did whatever it wanted when it didn't have a king. That's literally the last line in the book. Right before that, a woman is raped to death by sodomites in a scene that harks back to the destruction of Sodom, which leads to a giant civil war where tens of thousands of people are killed and an entire tribe is almost wiped out.

That -- and most of the Old Testament -- flies completely in the face of the basis of your argument, that people just live in peace like hippies with nature if there's no king or cities or technology.

4. The "context" which follows after that is many, many years of kingship in the OT, including kings who were considered righteous. It also includes, as I already touched on, the many affirmations of authority in the NT.

5. The "context" also includes God as the king of creation and the monarchia of the Father within the Trinity.

6. The "context" also includes thousands of years of Christian monarchy from the death of Christ, along with hundreds of royal saints, from Anglo-Saxon England to medieval Georgia.

Again, you talk about context, and yet you ignore BOAT LOADS of context to push your own position, a position that is practically unheard of in Christian history.

In the process, you completely undermine all of Christian civilization -- not just Christian government, but the Church and all of its tradition as well -- as you disparage saints as corrupt and power-hungry because they don't accept your interpretation of Scripture.

The only "game" being played here is the one you want to introduce, which is the Protestant one of "let's argue our personal interpretation of this or that passage completely removed from everything else". But that's not a game I'm interested in playing.

Your rhetorical questions, like "are you willing to accept this" or "which makes more sense", have no basis within a traditional understanding of Scripture. I accept what the Church teaches and has taught, it doesn't matter if all of it makes perfect sense to me. My intellect is clouded by the passions and spiritual ignorance, and even if it wasn't, I'm not capable of comprehending every part of God or creation.
 

ilostabet

Pelican
Orthodox Inquirer
I have defended monarchy in the past against democracy, and I never said or implied Christ is not in OT. He is Lord of all history.

Yes. I reject civilization, but I am not an anarchist or any ist. I don't reject righteous authority, I just don't think it is automatically to be found in political rulers. The opposite is more likely.

I will stick to Christ's reaction against satan, which I quoted initially in this thread, as to the nature of politics.
 

Beaker

Robin
What gives men power today (and always) is not any kind of politics, it's technological progress. Remove this, let men live according to the natural world created by God, subject to its laws instead of human laws and human constructs, and the problem ceases to be. And while some may destroy themselves, since that is unavoidable, they will not do so bringing the people around them to destruction as well. This is the reason why the countryside is always on the side of God, and the city always on the side of the enemies of God. And the city is where political power, invention and culture, but also immorality, degeneracy and sin thrive. One thing cannot be separated from the other. So one must choose.

Choose wisely.
Degeneracy is everywhere, the countryside is not at all exempt. There are many events in the past century that paint a nasty picture of rural life, perhaps the worst being the Sylvia Likens case.

There has to be order, freedom to people who've never historically had it is disastrous.
 
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The "context" that I'm operating on is 2,000 years of Church tradition and Christian civilization, along with the voluminous writings of the saints, which overwhelmingly affirm monarchy.

St. Gregory Nazienzen, 4th century:

“The three most ancient opinions about God are atheism (or anarchy), polytheism (or polyarchy), and monotheism (or monarchy). The children of Greece played with the first two; let us leave them to their games. For anarchy is disorder: and polyarchy implies factious division, and therefore anarchy and disorder. Both these lead in the same direction – to disorder; and disorder leads to disintegration; for disorder is the prelude to disintegration. What we honour is monarchy.”

St. Theodore the Studite, 9th century:

“There is one Lord and Giver of the Law, as it is written: one authority and one Divine principle over all. This single principle is the source of all wisdom, goodness and good order.…Hence the establishment among men of every dominion and every authority, especially in the Churches of God: one patriarch in a patriarchate, one metropolitan in a metropolia, one bishop in a bishopric, one abbot in a monastery, and in secular life, if you want to listen, one king, one regimental commander, one captain on a ship. And if one will did not rule in all this, there would be no law and order in anything, and it would not be for the best, for a multiplicity of wills destroys everything.”

St. John of Kronstadt, early 20th century:

“Hell is a democracy but heaven is a kingdom.”

Even today, Mt. Athos represents itself with the Byzantine double-headed eagle, which symbolizes the unity of Church and state under the Christian imperium.

In order to go against that context and push your radical 20th century Christian anarchist perspective, which you curbed from Jacques Ellul, you have to make ridiculous arguments, like saying that all power comes from technology or that Christ doesn't affirm authority. But He does, all throughout the Gospel.

Not only does He affirm Pontius Pilate's authority, He specifically said that power was "given you from above" (John 19:11).

And as I pointed out, Christ is inseparable from the Father. Your implication that Jesus is only present in the Gospels and that His divine will is contrary to or separate from the Fathers is based upon a whole grab bag of heretical presuppositions.

As for Samuel:

1. This argument is based on a strawman that Christian monarchists think monarchy is the ideal form of the government. But that's just not true. It is simply the most suitable form of government for fallen man in a fallen world that allows us to maintain some semblance of order on earth and continuation with heaven.

2. The "context" here is that the Israelites had already spent centuries upon centuries living under some form of leader, whether it was a pagan pharaoh, Moses, Joshua, or one of the eleven judges. And every time they did not have a leader, or that leader even stepped away for a day to talk to God, they started going crazy.

Even if we accepted your argument specifically against kings and monarchy, it still doesn't support an anarchist perspective.

3. As I already pointed out, the book that precedes Samuel, which is Judges, ends with the observation that Israel did whatever it wanted when it didn't have a king. That's literally the last line in the book. Right before that, a woman is raped to death by sodomites in a scene that harks back to the destruction of Sodom, which leads to a giant civil war where tens of thousands of people are killed and an entire tribe is almost wiped out.

That -- and most of the Old Testament -- flies completely in the face of the basis of your argument, that people just live in peace like hippies with nature if there's no king or cities or technology.

I think the argument that is often leveled against this. Especially in the context of the passage where people wanted a King.

If the people weren't wrong about wanting a King. How then in doing so they rejected God as King?

I think it is argued by some I know. That God has been King of Israel all this time. And somehow his direct rule is inadequate?

He was the one who was responsible for the order the tribes were to fight in when they bothered to consult him. Both at the beginning of the Book of Judges (Judges 1) and near the end of the book of Judges (Judges 20)

Righteous Kings certainly existed from time to time. But in the end they fell into idolatry to such an extent that Israel was thrust into exile when God finally ran out of patience.

God destroyed several Royal Houses in Anger by ordering all their male descendants be killed because they led Israel to Idolatry.

And only preserved the Messianic line of David because of prophecy and his pledge to him. And the coming Messiah who will succeed where past Kings have failed.
 

Enigma

Hummingbird
Orthodox Inquirer
Gold Member
I think the argument that is often leveled against this. Especially in the context of the passage where people wanted a King.

If the people weren't wrong about wanting a King. How then in doing so they rejected God as King?

I think it is argued by some I know. That God has been King of Israel all this time. And somehow his direct rule is inadequate?

Did God want man to crucify His Son? Was that His ideal scenario when he created man?

Of course not. And yet Christ's death and resurrection are the entire basis of our faith and restored humanity.

Should we not honor that because it wasn't the ideal?

Again, no one is arguing that monarchy is the ideal, perfect form of government. But everything after the Fall is non-ideal.
And God allows things that are non-ideal to happen, and is still able to work through those things.

For instance, when Christ forbids divorce in the Gospels, He specifically says that it was against God's creation -- but He allowed it because of the state of Israelites.

4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.

5 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. 6 But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Righteous Kings certainly existed from time to time. But in the end they fell into idolatry to such an extent that Israel was thrust into exile when God finally ran out of patience.

Man also fell into sin in the Garden. Man also fell into sin when God was personally, visibly leading them through the desert and feeding them manna from heaven. Man also fell into sin while Moses was on the mountain receiving the commandments. Man also fell into sin while Christ was personally with them and teaching them.

What's the common theme here? Man falls into sin. Man is sinful. He falls into sin when the Father leads him, when Christ leads him, when Moses leads him, and when judges lead him. Obviously he's also going to fall into sin when kings lead him.

And obviously kings themselves are going to fall into sin, just like the judges, just like priests, just like various patriarchs, and just like Moses, who wasn't allowed to enter the Promised Land because he disobeyed God.
 
Did God want man to crucify His Son? Was that His ideal scenario when he created man?

Of course not. And yet Christ's death and resurrection are the entire basis of our faith and restored humanity.

Should we not honor that because it wasn't the ideal?

Again, no one is arguing that monarchy is the ideal, perfect form of government. But everything after the Fall is non-ideal.
And God allows things that are non-ideal to happen, and is still able to work through those things.

For instance, when Christ forbids divorce in the Gospels, He specifically says that it was against God's creation -- but He allowed it because of the state of Israelites.

4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.

5 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. 6 But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”



Man also fell into sin in the Garden. Man also fell into sin when God was personally, visibly leading them through the desert and feeding them manna from heaven. Man also fell into sin while Moses was on the mountain receiving the commandments. Man also fell into sin while Christ was personally with them and teaching them.

What's the common theme here? Man falls into sin. Man is sinful. He falls into sin when the Father leads him, when Christ leads him, when Moses leads him, and when judges lead him. Obviously he's also going to fall into sin when kings lead him.

And obviously kings themselves are going to fall into sin, just like the judges, just like priests, just like various patriarchs, and just like Moses, who wasn't allowed to enter the Promised Land because he disobeyed God.

I don't disagree with you. But why was the Theocracy under God prior to their clamoring to have King like other Nations inadequate?

I believe the answer may lie in the fact that during that time God haven't taken on flesh. His Holy Theophany was so deadly that the people cannot approach him on Mount Sinai without being killed.

His Divine Glory had to be veiled like in the Pillar of Fire and Cloud and was enthroned between the Cherubim and separated by many layers of separation.

Unveiled Divine Majesty cannot but destroy sinful flesh. This Gulf between God and Man in the Old Covenant was due to the fact that God hasn't incarnated yet.

Hence while God can decree what is wrong or right and lay down perfect moral laws. He cannot truly go in their midst and set things straight like how he did in the 1st advent.

God in the flesh didn't have to kill sinful humanity but was able to work with sinful humanity more easily.

I think Divine Rule truly cannot work in the midst of sinful Man without the advent as Jesus Christ. A prerequisite to the New Covenant and the Perfect Government of the Millennial Reign.

The torn veil as a result of the work of Christ is what makes the coming Direct Reign of Jesus possible. Since God will be far more approachable during that time.

Sinful Man cannot behold the unveiled glory of God without being destroyed.
 

ilostabet

Pelican
Orthodox Inquirer
Discussion and knowledge which leads to no action is masturbatory. So, if one is to defend monarchy, it's good to not do it in the abstract or in the historical.

It's great to look back and decide this or that were good kings, and that and the other were not. But how about now? Who should be king? Where is that righteous leader that will be a true Christian political figure?

Putin, Trump, Orban? Or should we work (I don't know how) to restore the old royals? Or, since man is always sinful, it does not matter if the king is just or unjust, and we should simply accept (which I agree) and consider good (which I disagree) whoever happens to be in power?

But this question is itself merely academic, because in a modern technological society there is absolutely no chance of having a monarchy at all - except in its cosmetic qualities. The truth is our societies are too complex, and whoever the person nominally in charge, they aren't really who decides where society goes or which laws are in place, which are obeyed and which are ignored. Above him there's an enormous number of oligarchs with vested interests and enough real power over the things that really drive society (money, technology, science) to sway things in whatever direction they want; and below him there's a vast bureaucracy which has a sort of life of its own within the confines of the system's requirements, but they always tend towards plunder, vulgarity and the lowest common denominator.

Monarchists in the modern world, no matter how sincere, are simply delusional. And so we are thrown back into the question of how is a modern Christian to approach politics - and there was never a time, except in Jesus's own time, when it was clearer than now that the state and politics is utterly evil, and ultimately in service of the devil. Entertaining fantasies about righteous kings in modern times is fruitless. And the best I can say about it is that it's much better to entertain fantasies, no matter how fruitless, than to give explicit support for any politician thereby compromising the health of your soul.

So, to go back to the beginning, what is the action that follows from this knowledge? What is a Christian to do? In my view, detachment from politics altogether, and removal from society and its structures as much as possible.
 

Beaker

Robin
Discussion and knowledge which leads to no action is masturbatory. So, if one is to defend monarchy, it's good to not do it in the abstract or in the historical.

It's great to look back and decide this or that were good kings, and that and the other were not. But how about now? Who should be king? Where is that righteous leader that will be a true Christian political figure?

Putin, Trump, Orban? Or should we work (I don't know how) to restore the old royals? Or, since man is always sinful, it does not matter if the king is just or unjust, and we should simply accept (which I agree) and consider good (which I disagree) whoever happens to be in power?

But this question is itself merely academic, because in a modern technological society there is absolutely no chance of having a monarchy at all - except in its cosmetic qualities. The truth is our societies are too complex, and whoever the person nominally in charge, they aren't really who decides where society goes or which laws are in place, which are obeyed and which are ignored. Above him there's an enormous number of oligarchs with vested interests and enough real power over the things that really drive society (money, technology, science) to sway things in whatever direction they want; and below him there's a vast bureaucracy which has a sort of life of its own within the confines of the system's requirements, but they always tend towards plunder, vulgarity and the lowest common denominator.

Monarchists in the modern world, no matter how sincere, are simply delusional. And so we are thrown back into the question of how is a modern Christian to approach politics - and there was never a time, except in Jesus's own time, when it was clearer than now that the state and politics is utterly evil, and ultimately in service of the devil. Entertaining fantasies about righteous kings in modern times is fruitless. And the best I can say about it is that it's much better to entertain fantasies, no matter how fruitless, than to give explicit support for any politician thereby compromising the health of your soul.

So, to go back to the beginning, what is the action that follows from this knowledge? What is a Christian to do? In my view, detachment from politics altogether, and removal from society and its structures as much as possible.
There will not always be oligarchs, they just have power now because of what happened after ww1 and ww2. There will soon enough be another conflict and the victors will have a chance to start anew: the same mistakes will not be made. This international oligarchy of boomer merchants will not last, it's already disintegrating.
 

Aboulia

Woodpecker
Orthodox
I have defended monarchy in the past against democracy, and I never said or implied Christ is not in OT. He is Lord of all history.

Yes. I reject civilization, but I am not an anarchist or any ist. I don't reject righteous authority, I just don't think it is automatically to be found in political rulers. The opposite is more likely.

Civilization is not to be rejected, Christ would have not instituted communion under bread and wine (2 fruits of civilization) if it were otherwise. Would you care to make your position more clear?

If one is to defend monarchy, it's good to not do it in the abstract or in the historical.

It's great to look back and decide this or that were good kings, and that and the other were not. But how about now? Who should be king? Where is that righteous leader that will be a true Christian political figure?

Putin, Trump, Orban? Or should we work (I don't know how) to restore the old royals? Or, since man is always sinful, it does not matter if the king is just or unjust, and we should simply accept (which I agree) and consider good (which I disagree) whoever happens to be in power?

But this question is itself merely academic, because in a modern technological society there is absolutely no chance of having a monarchy at all - except in its cosmetic qualities. The truth is our societies are too complex, and whoever the person nominally in charge, they aren't really who decides where society goes or which laws are in place, which are obeyed and which are ignored. Above him there's an enormous number of oligarchs with vested interests and enough real power over the things that really drive society (money, technology, science) to sway things in whatever direction they want; and below him there's a vast bureaucracy which has a sort of life of its own within the confines of the system's requirements, but they always tend towards plunder, vulgarity and the lowest common denominator.

Monarchists in the modern world, no matter how sincere, are simply delusional. And so we are thrown back into the question of how is a modern Christian to approach politics - and there was never a time, except in Jesus's own time, when it was clearer than now that the state and politics is utterly evil, and ultimately in service of the devil. Entertaining fantasies about righteous kings in modern times is fruitless. And the best I can say about it is that it's much better to entertain fantasies, no matter how fruitless, than to give explicit support for any politician thereby compromising the health of your soul.

So, to go back to the beginning, what is the action that follows from this knowledge? What is a Christian to do? In my view, detachment from politics altogether, and removal from society and its structures as much as possible.

Our societies are too complex, and therefore monarchy won't work. But a Christian must remove himself from this technological monstrosity as much as possible, reducing the complexity of interactions. On the surface the rejection of monarchy seems like a non-sequitur. As far as I can see, you're right to ignore the modern form of politics (power mongering), since it's aimed at nothing but vulgar self-preservation. When people aren't held accountable for their actions, then no society can function, unless fixed, it rots and decays to the point where it falls apart.

This mask nonsense is evidence of this. Many people know it's wrong, yet they continue to do this, because they to float down the river of the easy. comfortable path with our only problems being our own little cares. We know that dead bodies float downstream, but that doesn't stop the vast majority of people from taking that path (myself included). The only place where I've submitted to the nonsense is when I work in other buildings. I don't do it at work, nor when I shop, for in Canada, the constitution is set up that it allows the freedom of religion/conscience, and the right not to be deprived of life, liberty, and the security of the person (for the time being). If there was a king, I don't think this nonsense would ever have gotten off the ground, for it flies in the face of all scientific evidence, but when we don't have a person, we have a bureaucracy to deal with, you can't directly address problems.
If the people weren't wrong about wanting a King. How then in doing so they rejected God as King?

It's to do with the natural hierarchy that God instituted. Israel clamored for a king, but it was because at that point, they were completely under the ascetic life of serving and trusting in God. So it would be a step down, to have a worldly king over the heavenly one, it was a further step down, to reject the worldly king that was asked for, and to obscure who was ruling through democracy, because in a democracy, power remains completely in the shadows, nobody is entirely sure who to appeal to, whereas in the case of a king, you have a person to appeal to in times of problems. You have the same hierarchy in Christian teaching on marriage in Matthew 19, it shows that virginity, and becoming a eunuch for the kingdom of heaven is the highest level, with a step down being a marriage between a man and a woman. The next step was divorce, for it was instituted so man wouldn't just kill his wife to be rid of her so he could remarry, or vise versa.

Discussion and knowledge which leads to no action is masturbatory.

Welcome to RooshVForum, I hope you enjoy your stay.
 

ilostabet

Pelican
Orthodox Inquirer
Civilization is not to be rejected, Christ would have not instituted communion under bread and wine (2 fruits of civilization) if it were otherwise. Would you care to make your position more clear?



Our societies are too complex, and therefore monarchy won't work. But a Christian must remove himself from this technological monstrosity as much as possible, reducing the complexity of interactions. On the surface the rejection of monarchy seems like a non-sequitur. As far as I can see, you're right to ignore the modern form of politics (power mongering), since it's aimed at nothing but vulgar self-preservation. When people aren't held accountable for their actions, then no society can function, unless fixed, it rots and decays to the point where it falls apart.

This mask nonsense is evidence of this. Many people know it's wrong, yet they continue to do this, because they to float down the river of the easy. comfortable path with our only problems being our own little cares. We know that dead bodies float downstream, but that doesn't stop the vast majority of people from taking that path (myself included). The only place where I've submitted to the nonsense is when I work in other buildings. I don't do it at work, nor when I shop, for in Canada, the constitution is set up that it allows the freedom of religion/conscience, and the right not to be deprived of life, liberty, and the security of the person (for the time being). If there was a king, I don't think this nonsense would ever have gotten off the ground, for it flies in the face of all scientific evidence, but when we don't have a person, we have a bureaucracy to deal with, you can't directly address problems.


It's to do with the natural hierarchy that God instituted. Israel clamored for a king, but it was because at that point, they were completely under the ascetic life of serving and trusting in God. So it would be a step down, to have a worldly king over the heavenly one, it was a further step down, to reject the worldly king that was asked for, and to obscure who was ruling through democracy, because in a democracy, power remains completely in the shadows, nobody is entirely sure who to appeal to, whereas in the case of a king, you have a person to appeal to in times of problems. You have the same hierarchy in Christian teaching on marriage in Matthew 19, it shows that virginity, and becoming a eunuch for the kingdom of heaven is the highest level, with a step down being a marriage between a man and a woman. The next step was divorce, for it was instituted so man wouldn't just kill his wife to be rid of her so he could remarry, or vise versa.



Welcome to RooshVForum, I hope you enjoy your stay.

First of all, the last sentence made me chuckle. Well played.

To the civilization question, I would dispute that bread and wine can only be made within a civilization. They are quite easy things to make, with very minimal technical knowledge and requirements (stone age technology that can be achieved within a purely local setting, without needing large scale networks of trade). They are so easy to make that I have made both from scratch (though, unfortunately, civilization itself has destroyed the original wheat made by God, the only remaining strains being genetically modified - which is very sad). But it all depends on the definition of civilization, and of course, there are plenty of them. If we define it by the ability to produce bread and wine, then my inlaws village of ten people and their stone mills are civilization. And if that is it, then I am for it.

But usually, it means something more involved. One of the most agreed definitions is: An advanced state of intellectual, cultural, and material development in human society, marked by progress in the arts and sciences, the extensive use of record-keeping, including writing, and the appearance of complex political and social institutions.

According to this one, I consider that, from a materialistic perspective, it is inherently unsustainable and violent (depending on conquest and subjugation of neighboring, non-urban peoples). If nothing else for the simple fact that to achieve it, an ever smaller percentage of the population has to produce food through destructive agriculture (i.e. tilling, in ancient times, and chemical agribusiness in modern times) for the remaining, and ever increasing, number of people to devote themselves to other, civilized, pursuits. Someone has to feed the engineer, the soldier and the gender studies major.

From a theological point of view, civilization is always centered in the city. And I have written a post before about the city in Scripture (essentially always born from a desire for separation from God). It all makes the more sense when this theological perspective is put side by side with the material requirements for it. Civilization literally implies that people escape the curse put on Adam to eat by the sweat of their brow.

Ultimately, there is no civilization without violence. And as a Christian, I reject violence. I am not saying that violence is always avoidable. But saying that is not the same as supporting a system which requires it for its existence.
 

Sitting Bull

Woodpecker
@ilostabet Overall I agree with half of what you wrote. I don't have time to elaborate much on this, let me just comment one point among many :
And as a Christian, I reject violence.

As a Christian, I believe that Christianity is a universal religion, has a thing for everyone, and therefore does not fail to canalize violence and give it a meaning and even an important place in its system. I agree with Chesterton that the feudal system where (in theory and in principle at least) basically the non-combatant is not to be harmed and just has to switch "masters" every time a battle makes a new winner, and that the warrior/nobleman is the owner of his lands only as long and his clan/tribe is stronger than those of the other warriors wishing to seize/conquer it, is a thousand time better than today's system where we are allegedly all peaceful and feminized, but the reality is that the violence has simply changed forms (think of psychological warfare and social engineering for example ...) We are not less violent than our ancestors, we are simply much more hypocritical about it.


Matt 11:12 : "the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force."

Luke 22:36 : "he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one."

Matt 10:35 : "For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law."
 

ilostabet

Pelican
Orthodox Inquirer
Indeed the current system is one of, if not the most violent ever devised, all things considered.

However I would argue that none of the passages you quoted argue for violence, they either lack context or are toward something else other than violence. Of course, it is always down to definition, so to be more precise I would say Christians are against the initiation of violence, leaving space for self defence and dispensing of justice in punishment.
 

Aboulia

Woodpecker
Orthodox
First of all, the last sentence made me chuckle. Well played.

To the civilization question, I would dispute that bread and wine can only be made within a civilization. They are quite easy things to make, with very minimal technical knowledge and requirements (stone age technology that can be achieved within a purely local setting, without needing large scale networks of trade). They are so easy to make that I have made both from scratch (though, unfortunately, civilization itself has destroyed the original wheat made by God, the only remaining strains being genetically modified - which is very sad). But it all depends on the definition of civilization, and of course, there are plenty of them. If we define it by the ability to produce bread and wine, then my inlaws village of ten people and their stone mills are civilization. And if that is it, then I am for it.

But usually, it means something more involved. One of the most agreed definitions is: An advanced state of intellectual, cultural, and material development in human society, marked by progress in the arts and sciences, the extensive use of record-keeping, including writing, and the appearance of complex political and social institutions.

According to this one, I consider that, from a materialistic perspective, it is inherently unsustainable and violent (depending on conquest and subjugation of neighboring, non-urban peoples). If nothing else for the simple fact that to achieve it, an ever smaller percentage of the population has to produce food through destructive agriculture (i.e. tilling, in ancient times, and chemical agribusiness in modern times) for the remaining, and ever increasing, number of people to devote themselves to other, civilized, pursuits. Someone has to feed the engineer, the soldier and the gender studies major.

From a theological point of view, civilization is always centered in the city. And I have written a post before about the city in Scripture (essentially always born from a desire for separation from God). It all makes the more sense when this theological perspective is put side by side with the material requirements for it. Civilization literally implies that people escape the curse put on Adam to eat by the sweat of their brow.

Ultimately, there is no civilization without violence. And as a Christian, I reject violence. I am not saying that violence is always avoidable. But saying that is not the same as supporting a system which requires it for its existence.

As far as I'm aware, basic civilization has to deal with the settled life. Cain is the father of civilization, a farmer, whereas Abel was a nomadic shepherd bound, not bound in one place, relying solely on God. Civilization as you define it, I see as advanced civilization, I'm not against civilization as I see it's height in the Christian middle ages, but I do see it as a concession from God due to our own weakness (a concession he sanctified with the coming of his Son), as divorce was to the Israelites of old.

Violence isn't quite the right word, it may be due to a language difference, but I think a more accurate word would be "coercion", a Christian cannot be against violence, for "the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force", before someone takes that out of context, that violence is directed inwardly, not outwardly, as it says "the kingdom of heaven is within you". You also have the issue of the Old Testament Israelites slaughtering many peoples. It's dispassionate, violence in the service of God without a shred of self interest that is acceptable, which doesn't exist in the modern day outside of maybe a small percentage of monasteries, since the entire modern world is driven by their passions.

I don't read too many secular books, but one my favourites is "The Essential Agrarian Reader: The Future of Culture, Community, and the Land", and one consistent theme is that the "progress" is viewed as efficiency of a task, in lieu of all other considerations, such as the impact on the soil/watershed, the ecosystem in general, and it's the general narrowmindedness, the desire to simplify problems, while ignoring entire aspects of life that cause problems. You might find it interesting and in agreement with your position. Here's some exerpts.

Victor Davis Hanson believes this to be the fate of small-scale agriculture by which the small farmer is doomed: "The sad history of complex societies, ancient and modern, argues that bureaucracies grow, never shrink, and so suggest that these futurists--not agrarian romantics-- have seen the real forecast over the horizon. Unproductive citizens multiply, rarely wane. Taxation, urbanization, and specialization are the harvests of elite legitimizing and nuancing classes--government, insurance, advertising, law, finance--who feed and clone from ritual, regulation, and regimentation." The agrarian world is being crushed by the remorseless development of civilization and by the lack of courage to return to a common culture of peers, life away from the vortex of pelf and publicity, a firmness with the poor as well as the wealthy, an embrace of rural shame, a rejection of convenient urban guilt. Hanson offers no hope for the future family farm: "We are now in the third stage of a future that has no future, an agrarian Armageddon at the millennium where the family farm itself. . . will be obliterated".

In some places, however, stable agrarian communities existed for many centuries. When they eventually declined or disappeared, it was not because rural people were weak, lazy, or incompetent. To the contrary, they mostly failed because of larger economic and political forces. Historically, European peasants were bled white by taxation. The English peasantry were forced to the margin by the enclosure of common lands and by the political power first of the landed nobility and then by that of industrialists. The prosperous Russian peasants (kulaks) were coerced into collective farms by Stalin. In our own history, the decline of farms and farm communities is a complicated story of taxes, land prices, government policies, and the treadmill of technological improvement. As a result, throughout the twentieth century many left farming more from necessity than choice. The deck was stacked against the farmer, and particularly the small farmer. And that is not all.

Whatever status farmers once had has withered in the onslaught of the advertising, entertainment, and communication industries. Agrarian virtues of honesty, thrift, practical competence, and neighborliness had no place in the glittering, fast paced, consumer-oriented world of Madison Avenue and Hollywood. A way of life dependent on soil, hard work, ecological competence, and devotion to place became a source of shame. Children of farmers could not help but compare their parents with the slick images of the smart city people living effortless, exciting lives as portrayed in magazines, catalogues, and the movies. But this is not the kind of individual weakness described by Dostoyevsky as much as it is evidence that we are vulnerable to the considerable powers of modern psychology and communications technology deployed to make us dependable customers. Advertising and entertainment industries have become adept at selling a life "style" requiring lots of cash and an agreeable willingness to part with it on a whim--further evidence of the corruption of society organized around the logic of finance capital and exploitation.

(in regards to a description of what agrarianism is, and is not, chapter 3)
I believe religion comes closer to the mark. For agrarianism does have a strong emphasis on personal behavior and its consequences both long- and short-term--and even eternal life. Eternal life, not as a promise or a reward for being "good" or "saved" but as an inescapable contract that you are stuck with from birth on . . . like it or not, a contract that will continue to play itself out long after you are gone.

Agrarians subscribe generally to that first law of ecology: We can never do just one thing. Action, or inaction, has consequences: both benign and terrible, trivial and important, intended and unintended. We are born into a web of life that both precedes and follows us. Some of it is understood and much of it isn't. But we are each simultaneously part of the picture and one of the painters. Neutrality is not an option. Mindlessness is, but neutrality isn't. That sounds fairly eternal to me. I grant that it has little to do with harps or heaven, but a good bit to do with how and where we use our own time and place on earth. I consider that quasi-religious at the least. It has far more of a moral dimension to it than the free trade, globalization movements previously mentioned. But then, what doesn't?

 
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Mithras

Chicken
It's funny how views on democracy evolved over time. The form of government that was considered prior to a modern era almost universally as negative, weak, and decadent has become unquestionable dogma, an idol that is non-stop worshiped in media, education, and culture. Democratic propaganda works, so general consensus today is that non-democratic equals fascist.

The biggest lie is the identification of the election principle with democracy. Election principle has always been part of any successful human organization, it is connected to human nature and democracy just parasitizes on this principle. Election based on justice is when those who are competent elect (or choose, accept) their leader who will rule for the common good. Election based on a lie is when numbers, quantity are decisive.

Democracy is a conceptual impossibility, most people cannot rule their own lives, but they are supposed to rule the state. So democracy is just a utopia, a theoretical idea, same as communism. In reality, there is no single, universal democracy but only democracy with an adjective. In practice, when we say democracy, we mean plutocratic democracy. More or less every democracy is plutocratic, liberal democracy is most plutocratic. Those who want democracy, but not plutocracy are utopians. Democracy is the rule of quantity and quantity is for sale. Officaly everybody pretends that people are decision-makers, we like to play the game "every vote counts", but in private every lucid person sees that real decision-makers are capital holders, especially banks and corporations. There are also jokes such as People's democracies in communist countries, but that's good only as a joke.

Although I consider monarchy (with elements of the aristocracy) as the best type of government, I don't see it as a realistic option in our conditions. The current West is totally secular, morally bankrupt, and without true elites. This won't change anytime soon, so monarchy in our case would quickly downfall to tyranny.

What I see as a realistic alternative to democracy is a more authoritarian (but not totalitarian) regime based on conservative and patriotic values with elements of meritocracy. This is also defensible from a secular, rational perspective. With the coming unavoidable collapse of the EU and the US, democracy will end no matter what, the question is only what it will be replaced by.
 
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