Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's

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Matthew: 22

20. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

21. They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.

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Is the Christian's obedience which is properly due to Caesar - that is, to a responsible single human being capable of virtue and repentance - automatically transferable to republican government?

And to abstract entities such as 'the democratic process'?

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A monarch may, in principle, be legitimate; but a process (such as a bureaucratic mechanism of vote-counting) never can be legitimate, since it cannot be responsible and is incapable of virtue and repentance.

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7 comments:

Jim Kalb said...

Could the senate and people of Rome be a legitimate governing authority when made able to function as such through constitutional understandings?

bgc said...

@JK - personally I doubt it. Maybe the Senate, if it was small and devout; but not the people.

Kristor said...

There must always be some process or other by which the person vested with legitimate political authority is discovered - war, intrigue, ritual combat (as with lions), voting, acclamation, something. Ceteris paribus, a procedure that does not involve injuring people would seem to be preferable, and bureaucratically administered elections do (usually) enjoy that advantage. No matter what sort of process is used, the responsibility for the outcome rests, not with the process, but with its executors. So the efficacy - the virtue - of any such process at discovering men best fit to lead would seem to depend completely on the virtue and prudence of the participants therein. I conclude that catechesis is the sine qua non of a successful republic.

Jim Kalb said...

@bgc - Wouldn't it depend on the constitution? For example, the senate might be a responsible governing elite bound by various traditions that has to run some major issues past the people for approval. It seems to me a mixed constitution can promote deliberation and some degree of high-mindedness, which seems to be the issue.

bgc said...

@JK - Due to the inertia of human affairs, many arrangements can work for a while - a generation or two - but are essentially transitional (on the way from one thing to another).

My ideas about monarchy are summarized here:

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/
2010/12/sacred-monarchy-by-fr-michael-azkoul.html

Agnello said...

Our Lord's Kingdom is not of this world-there were good pagans and evil Christians among the emperors.
The reason we ought desire that that rulers be of the Faith,is our fervent desire for the salvation of souls, not as a means to good governments - in others words we desire that our rulers be Christians, not that we would be ruled by Christians.As a practical matter these two condition may very well be mutually encompassing,but it is, I believe,an important distinction to maintain.
The sine qua non of good government is,rather, that authority and power - what the neo-reactionary Mencious Moldbug has called Imperium - must always be concordant with responsibility;As soon as men begin to receive one with out the other,their government - and,consequently,their morals and culture - must begin to deteriorate.
An unlimited Democracy would,therefore, be the worst of all possible governments.A stable republic,which did not degenerate into democracy, would probably be acceptable,if such a thing were possible,but the combination of absolute responsibility with absolute power and authority combined in the person of a King who fears both God and Hell - but not men - this is not to be surpassed,no matter how long our Lord should tarry.

bgc said...

@Agnello - good points, thanks.

Did you know that in the Byzantine empire (th emost lasting polity of the past couple of millennia) the monarchy was not hereditary but 'emerged' by divine will; after being validated by acclamation (by the major powers - e.g. the military, civil service, populace and Church). Obviously, this can only be considered in a devout society which regards salvation as primary.