Divine Right of Kings

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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.

The Religion Book: Places, Prophets, Saints, and Seers © 2004 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
For Martin, man's common nature may be the basis for a theory of government superior to the divine right of kings. The fate of Westeros depends on whether Martin allows Daenerys Targaryen to claim her crown while maintaining her principles.
The poems are important, suggest the translators and editors, "for their quality and originality, and for the vivid image they present of an intellectual universe, historical certainly, but by now almost wholly unfamiliar, which combines the new world of science and medicine with the old world in which the Divine Right of Kings and the authority of the classical past predominated." The original Latin and the English translations are presented on facing pages.
The English revolution of 1688 ended the divine right of kings and established the supremacy of Parliament over the executive.
The modern, "secular" idea of state sovereignty, first articulated as "the divine right of kings," was a response to and a mirror image of these papal claims.
When what it should be is: "Ah, so that means Charles I is on the throne, banging on about the divine right of kings and England is heading for a civil war."
Florby's reading that the double play, rather than being a conservative affirmation of the absolutist state, interrogates James's insistence on the divine right of kings is very persuasive; paradoxically, Byron, as the representative of 'an older feudal regime' (p.
The divine right of kings to rule unfettered has never set particularly well with the English.
This culminates in Pearse's chapter on "Reason and Power: Rationalist Theology and the Divine Right of Kings." Knowing the sad story of how so many were killed in the name of church and state, it is easier to see how Enlightenment thinkers sought to ground ethics and republican politics in the natural philosophies of Galileo and Newton instead of the contentious arena of biblical revelation.
Dominated by regal reds and golds, Tom Gleeson's cleverly simple set (supported by modern costumes that took their inspiration from the 1920s) was centered around a colossal, grainy image of Michael Cumpsty's Richard on the back wall, which combined a notion of the divine right of kings with an Orwellian sense of dictatorial power and the force of celebrity idolatry.
This discussion may seem a bit far a field, since Schmitt was concerned with the "divine right of kings" notion of political theology.
Before the Democratic or Republican parties took shape, and even before Federalists and Anti-Federalists assembled their forces, the politics of the United States was defined by a party of revolution against the royal prerogative, the divine right of kings, and the corruptions of empire associated with unfettered monarchs.
Democratic incantations have replaced the divine right of kings. The statocrat is the new shaman.