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.

References in periodicals archive ?
"One was called Divine Rule and that seemed a little bit heavenly so most of us had it at 25-1.
In his reading of ancient Hebrew politics, God's divine rule is manifest in salvation (liturgically initiated by YHWH's conquest of Jericho, and then through successive victories over the nations), judgment (as both making distinctions between the righteous and unrighteous, and convicting the latter, including, at times, Israel), and possession (first of land as the sign of YHWH's blessing, and then of law through the post-exilic creation of a Deuteronomist history).
Rather than seeing Milton's adoption of such images as compromising or confusing his presentation of divine rule, Professor Fallon urges that we attend to the spiritual implications of this language.
An understanding of these concepts will help to evaluate the adequacy of temporal rule in the light of divine rule. It is from the biblically-based way in which he defines these categories (such as salvation as the rehabilitation of a disgraced people, or judgment as a continuous activity duly carried out in order to bring to light the contrast between justice and injustice) that he develops his argument for the rest of the volume.
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She then concludes that the group that emerged from Jesus' basileia movement was grounded in an effort, like that of Pharisaic small groups, to realize divine rule in ordinary society (unlike the self-isolated Essenes and Therapeutai) and to live in a manner consistent with the apprehension of God's cosmic reign.
Holt identifies, for example, five elements of Kirti Sri's political discourse: Asokan, the Sakran model of divine rule, Mahasammata Buddhist myth, Manu, and the bodhisatta ideal.
99); religion is either a human invention by which we seek to understand ourselves or God's divine rule dropped from Heaven (p.