Divine Right of Kings

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Related to Divine right monarchy: Cardinal Richelieu

Divine Right of Kings

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Although a much-maligned concept today, especially in democratic societies, the divine right of kings is actually a biblical idea. The apostle Paul explicitly states in Romans 13:1-5:

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment against themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

A literal reading of the Bible seems to indicate that once a ruler is in place, people must believe that that ruler is God's choice. He has a divine right to rule.

True, the apostle goes on to warn the king that his is a great responsibility. But the fact remains, according to the Bible, that the king is God's implement of service on Earth.

There have been times in human history when this doctrine accomplished good things. It gave peasants comfort and provided kings the lever they needed to resist even papal commands in the days when church and state were not at all separate. But the dogma also caused great harm when rulers employed it to justify less than noble pursuits.

Taken to its logical conclusion, what does the doctrine mean to those who impose a literal interpretation of the Bible today? Does Paul forbid voting a president out of office? No one seems to take the verses that literally, but no one really explains why this passage can be neglected or labeled a cultural aberration while other verses must be followed exactly.

References in periodicals archive ?
There is irony, of course, in Cromwellian appropriations of images deriving from a Europe of the Counter-Reformation Church Triumphant, of the Roi Soleil, and belief in divine right monarchy.
The American Founding's Lockean republican political theory provides an answer to the defects of Christian divine right monarchy, the answer that Lincoln inherited.
For he would have recognized instantly those differences from his Politics that prudential wisdom required, in the world of Christian monotheism, with all its peculiar dangers of tyranny, especially from the union of divine right monarchy and established church.