Monday 30 March 2015

There should be no division between religion and the state - 'theocracy' is a good thing

There cannot and should-not be any division or distinction between religion and the state.

Unless the state is to be evil; it must-be and ought-to-be permeated by religion; at every level and in both its largest principles and its smallest particulars.

There is no pre-specified political (or religious) mechanism by which this desirable state of affairs should-be established - indeed no mechanism could, even in principle, achieve this.

But any approach towards the goal of complete harmony in all aspects of life, under the guidance of true religion, should never be allowed to be blocked by such nonsensical and anti-Christian principles as the supposed desirability of separation of church and state, or a belief in the intrinsic wickedness of 'theocracy'.



David said...

In your opinion, is there a political party in the UK, however far an outlier and unlikely a choice under prevailing modern conditions, that is worthy of a vote this coming election (not withstanding the inherent flaws of our 'democratic' system of western government...a system of 'you can have any colour you like as long as it's black?!)? If not, perhaps you should form one and I will vote for you. I sometimes wish I could just vote for Jesus Christ on the ballot paper this year to save me the current non-choices of potential leaders, or what feels like is worse, to opt not to vote at all and remain entirely alienated from a political process which feels profoundly important but offers no viable choice I can see that represents a repentant, humble but strong and noble Christian path to follow that unites Christians in a common cause/revival (about which you have often blogged as a hopeful outcome). I have come to believe the LDS church represents this stalwart defender of Christian values, however, I understand that the church is explicitly apolitical. I assume this is for good reasons and tend to speculate this may be because nothing good is likely to come from getting involved in the dirty business of politics in the fulness of time, but I don't know, perhaps it is also an opportunity for a phoenix from the flames to temporarily reverse the tide in the alienated, disengaged political landscape and provide a genuine nucleus of positive hope and direction. Many millions of people are seeking this, but currently this reactionary stance seems to be mostly serving groups with v different ideologies/intentions. Just a thought.

Bruce Charlton said...

@David - I do not know of any political party worthy of support. I do not vote in elections or in any other circumstances, because voting is an intrinsically bad method of making any decision. Consequently voting for governments is also intrinsically bad. Therefore, I cannot see any significant advantage in forming any kind of Christian 'Party' - not least because it would be pitifully weak in the UK.

There was, of course, for a few decades a remarkable and admirable Mormon Theocracy under the wise and just leadership of Brigham Young. It was destroyed by unrelenting persecution and aggression from the federal US government (on the excuse of Christian opposition to Mormon polygamy); and the CJCLDS accepted that this heralded a new era and new mode of functioning politically (and anyway the era of polygamy came to an end, by decree of General Authorities - as having done its ordained work, at about the same time).

In the more than a century since, the Mormons have indeed moved forward, and achieved great things under a system of mutual tolerance and freedom from persecution in a 'democratic' system - but that era is now ended and is breaking down (again by unilateral actions from the federal government, with this time an almost opposite set of excuses!).

We await what the new era will bring...

Nathan said...

@Bruce - Last night I was trying to explain this idea to my wife with regard to the Catholic Church. My feeling is that this is certainly where it wrong. In retrospect, it's obvious - until recently the institution always acted as a real political power within the empire and state. The thought struck me entirely intuitively though. My meaning is that you can actually feel this loss, as an outsider looking, trying to attend mass and live somewhat as a Catholic.

The real power the Church once possessed is gone, and with it all the hierarchy and structures have lost something very substantial in the social sphere too. At one time the church's calendar was the calendar of countries, and surely that must have been incredibly meaningful - bringing it to life as the whole social life of a Christian nation celebrated. Instead, the feasts are reduced (mostly) to simple "days of obligation" - that is, just another rule to follow. The process of growing up Catholic is no longer an initiation into society and adulthood at large, but has become (mostly) a bureaucratic process whose importance is given lip-service, but in action is denied by the very hierarchy whose power is - for the layman - derived from and reflected in those rituals.

This faltering became consummate in Vatican II and the active, positive embrace of the modern situation, and world, and the active denial and suppression of tradition (the grand gesture of which was the elimination of Latin Mass). Only now is Latin Mass once again permitted that the church, from the top down, has thoroughly integrated the zeitgeist of modernity.

Recently this was once again - correctly, and honestly - reflected in the new Pope denying all the pomp and splendor of tradition. The sad reality is that all the pomp and splendor has become hallow. Where once a real power and King-like central power existed, now there exists a figurehead asking us politely to be moral.

I'm not denying that there isn't good and truth left for individual Christians, but expressing that in contrast to what-once-was - it is extremely unfortunate!


Anyway, this all came in response to attending a Mormon service yesterday. Because they've always been outsiders, they've fully integrated into their system what once existed *as part of* the Catholic church *in society at large*. The education, the social life, the work (service/callings), the calendar.

At first I didn't like the Mormon Sunday service at all, as compared to Traditional Latin Mass, but now I realize it's more like a big (loving) family getting together. Perhaps comparable to the "normal" Catholic service, but more honest about its purpose and goals. Where the TLM is to some degree "outside" the normal operations of the modern Catholic Church, the Mormons have always reserved their sense of otherworldly and sacredness (I believe) for the Temple. That is, where the Catholic hierarchy has chosen to downgrade their profoundly sacred, formal, everyday service to a despised (too strong word choice?) option, the Mormons have always reserved their profoundly sacred service for an elect who has to earn the right to attend.

I hope this doesn't come off a vitriol. I genuinely love the Catholic tradition, and I'm very sad about the present situation.

ajb said...

States tend to do a pretty bad job of owning-running churches. Compare Christianity in the U.K. with the U.S.

It's pretty straightforward market dynamics. Of course the state can force a level of compliance - tithes, forced attendance at certain events, and so on.

If a nation is to be permeated by religion, though, it ought to be the same way that a nation is permeated by a new book, say. A bunch of individuals recognizing something of value, sharing it with their friends, talking about it at relevant opportunities, meditating upon it, and so on.

At the state level, simply allowing these things to happen is what is most desirable.

Bruce Charlton said...

@ajb - I think the main point is that there is no *mechanism* for Christianity - so system which *works* in making people and countries into Christians; or, that the mechanism should be secondary and subordinate. This is because Christianity is a freely chosen faith. When any political mechanism comes first, the Christian faith is eroded; and no mechanism is safe against subversion by anti-Christianity.

Thordaddy said...

Furthermore, no State can be deracinated (deracination is pathological) thus mandating a racial-religious order.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Th - There are counter-examples of religious societies in which more than one uprooted people has come together in broadly good and wholesome ways - Brigham Young's nation of Deseret for example; Byzantium was another. The modern insolubility of racial and ethnic conflict is an artefact of apostasy and irreligion and conflict of religion. Unity of religion can unite (and empirically *has* united) diverse races; but unity of race does not lead to cohesion when religion is conflicted. Religion trumps race.