Monday, July 01, 2013

Fortenberry on the Bible's Political Theory

Frequent American Creation commenter Bill Fortenberry sent me a link to an article he just wrote on the Bible's political theory. The article argues "the notion of popular sovereignty can be traced to the government of ancient Israel as recorded in the pages of the Bible."

I, for one, don't "see" principles of republican self government or political liberty in the pages of the Bible. But I understand that many ideas didn't just pop up out of nowhere during the Enlightenment but brewed for a long time previously in Christendom.

Republicanism traces to the Ancient noble pagan Greco-Roman tradition. Yet, Christianity was birthed there. (Well Christianity emerged in Rome after they transmogrified from a noble republic to an ignoble empire.)

But Mr. Fortenberry is not the first person to "see" republicanism in the pages of the Old Testament. The Whig propagandists -- indeed even Thomas Paine -- made similar arguments. Now, Paine, that Deist he who rejected every word of the Bible as special revelation, knew he was propagandizing.

But, perhaps caught up in the Whig-republican-revolutionary zeitgeist, seemingly sincere ministers preached something similar in their political sermons.

As Dr. Gregg Frazer reacts to them:
The sermons seem to depict God's role as something similar to Rousseau's legislator; He disinterestedly established the foundational law for the benefit of society, but did not live under it. In their version and consistent with democratic theory, God established it all [quoting Langdon's sermon] "for their happiness" rather than to achieve the fulfillment of a sovereignly determined plan. By their account, God submitted the laws to the people for their approval and acceptance (as per Rousseau's legislator). 
-- Frazer, PhD thesis, pp. 393-94.

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