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Can Christian Civil Government Be Theocratic?

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Summary – Can Christian Civil Government Be Theocratic?

A discussion of whether a Reformed Christian view of civil governance is compatible with theocracy. We explain how the term “theocratic” has been used, and two key elements of a theocratic view (namely, the monopoly state and civil establishment of religion) that must be rejected in a genuinely Christian view of civil governance. We also touch on how some who support a theocratic view go wrong in their eschatology. [Direct mp3 download]

Main Points of Discussion

00:00 Introduction
00:32 Episode description
01:27 About the history of the term “theocracy
02:22 All of life, and so all politics, is ultimately guided by central religious commitments
04:45 The objectionable sense of “theocratic” is not entailed by the universality of central religious commitments and their ultimate guidance of all of life
05:28 Two key elements of theocracy are “a monopoly state” and “civil establishment of religion”;
Monopoly explained
07:41 Just and unjust uses of coercion;
The obligation of non-aggression;
The illegitimacy of all states
12:13 A simple analogy
15:12 Establishmentarianism explained
16:46 The unique, symbolic, and temporary (now obsolete) old Mosaic covenant theocracy involved suspension of the common grace order;
It was a temporary symbolic-intrusion of final judgment and the kingdom of God, now inaugurated in the new covenant institutional church, and yet to be consummated in the New Heavens and Earth
19:59 While the old covenant was in effect, it was not a violation of non-aggression
(See Episode 2);
Now, in the new covenant era, the normal operation of the common grace order has resumed;
This entails prohibition of establishmentarianism and monopoly, enacting either is antichrist
22:03 Genuinely limited governance, required by God’s ultimate sovereignty, according to a consistent Christian view, entails non-monopoly and non-establishment
24:17 Recap
25:10 The under-realization of inaugurated eschatology in the new covenant by postmillennialism and so-called optimism that often accompanies a theocratic view

Additional Resources


The Reformed Libertarians Podcast is a project of the Libertarian Christian Institute  and a member of the Christians for Liberty Network

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