Miscellaneous – including Ann Widdecombe and more on ‘divine right of kings’.

With a couple of longish essays still being worked on, just a brief post of ‘bits and pieces’.

First, I’d intended quite a long examination of Ann Widdecombe’s TV presentation ‘Are you having a laugh?’ in which essentially she complained about comedians making fun of Christianity.  But in the end I thought the Bible says it better

…it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom but we preach Christ crucified (a crucified Messiah), a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and Christ the wisdom of God.  For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

In other words, we are preaching a somewhat counter-intuitive message which at first sight people will find either scandalous or funny; if we want respect for such a message we need to earn it, not just take it for granted or expect it as of right, nor complain when some people joke about us.  Be humble among our non-Christian neighbours….

On the ‘crumbling cathedral’ issue I’m wondering was I a bit polite – I mean, a supposedly ‘Christian country’ runs a national lottery almost all of which is anti-Christian in implication (appeal to greed, trust in chance…) and the supposed national Christian Church is seeking to profit from the gambling!!  Do we really have to politely pretend there is nothing wrong with this picture??

Looking through the ‘Stats’ bit of ‘Blog Admin’ I came across some anomalous ‘search terms’; and I’ve been wondering whether someone was really searching for those things or if they were trying to comment on the blog but being unused to blogs had put the question in the wrong window or something like that.  Two of these seemed to deserve a response anyway…

First, “What has Rameses to do with Church and State?”  Answer, not a lot – but my blog is ‘mostly’ about church-and-state issues, not ‘exclusively’ on that topic, and other things that interest me like the Exodus date will crop up from time to time.

Second, “What happens to the ‘divine right of kings’ when you kill into it?”  I assume that means when somebody usurps the previous king and kills him, or when a king is defeated in battle.

Basically, most kings and similar rulers have wanted their subjects to believe they either are divine (see Emperors of Rome and Japan) or that they otherwise have divine backing so that the subjects mustn’t dare object and especially don’t plot to kill them!  Such divine right has of course its own limitations – ‘divine emperors’ are usually only demigods rather than full gods, while others by claiming divine right risk that the priesthood of their religion will interfere with the ruler in the name of the gods in question.  When one country defeats and takes over another, the assumption will be that ‘the gods’ favoured the winner who thus has the divine right.  Usurpation is tricky; a really strong usurper won’t be challenged anyway on grounds of sheer brute force, a weaker usurper will probably have to do a lot of propaganda to satisfy their subjects that the usurped king had either forfeited his divine right or never had it in the first place….  That kind of thing could be seen throughout the ‘Wars of the Roses’ particularly when Richard III usurped the throne of his young nephew, and then when Henry Tudor in turn usurped Richard.

In the kind of case I was putting in the original blog on ‘divine right of kings’ I was really cutting through all that as irrelevant to Christians.  We don’t accept the ‘divine right’ claimed by non-Christian kings because we don’t believe in the god(s) in question.  We also reject the idea found among many kings of ‘Christendom’ that they are ‘anointed’ kings like David and Solomon, because the position of God’s anointed king over his people is already eternally filled by the resurrected and very much alive Jesus himself.  For Christians the ‘divine right’ doesn’t actually exist in the first place, except for Jesus himself, so you can’t ‘kill into it’ as the question implied.

But what about Romans 13    “There is no authority except from God, and those in charge are divinely constituted, so that the rebel against the authority is resisting God’s appointment”.  Isn’t that the ‘divine right of kings’?  Well, sort of – for a detailed explanation of the text see a forthcoming post on Romans 13; actually a two-parter because I believe in context, so a post about Romans 12 will come first….


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