We’ve been having a Discussion on Crossring recently about Dominionism. I don’t want to get into what Dominionism is, but one of the things someone posted today caught my attention. It’s a quote from C.S. Lewis on theocracy:
the higher the pretensions of such (uncontrolled) power, the more dangerous I think it both to the rulers and to the subjects. Hence Theocracy is the worst of all governments. If we must have a tyrant a robber baron is far better than an inquisitor. The baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity at some point be sated; and since he dimly knows he is going wrong he may possibly repent. But the inquisitor who mistakes his own cruelty and lust of power and fear for the voice of Heaven will torment us infinitely because he torments us with the approval of his own conscience and his better impulses appear to him as temptations. And since Theocracy is the worst, the nearer any government approaches to Theocracy the worse it will be. A metaphysic, held by the rulers with the force of a religion, is a bad sign. It forbids them, like the inquisitor, to admit any grain of truth or good in their opponents, it abrogates the ordinary rules of morality, and it gives a seemingly high, super-personal sanction to all the very ordinary human passions by which, like other men, the rulers will frequently be actuated.
On reflection, I see this bearing out to be true. Can governments force ‘Christian’ behaviour on their subjects? And, I suppose a more interesting question, can you enforce Christian behaviour whilst at the same time upholding Christian standards of behaviour? Is it possible to truly love our neighbours whilst forcing them to uphold our take on what it means to be “Christian”? What about free will – does it fit in with all this?
All this makes me quite worried about what’s going on in America at the moment. I’m really not sure about trying to enforce a certain view of Christianity on a country is (a) going to help the Christian cause at all; (b) ethical. I can see what C.S. Lewis was talking about, in that a government which sees itself as acting in a ‘Christian’ way will probably be more blind to its flaws… witness the way GWB has run the “war on terror.”
Worrying stuff indeed. I think it’s at times like this it’s good to have a hope that is steadfast and certain!