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Theocracy
No, it doesn't mean "government by priests"
and Anarcho-Theocracy


Introduction to Theocracy


Many sources offering "authoritative" definitions of "theocracy" are often confusing.
Here are some:

Infopedia Online
theocracy \the-'ae-kre-se\ n, pl -cies [Gk theokratia, fr. the- + -kratia -cracy]
(1622)
1 : government of a state by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided
2 : a state governed by a theocracy

"Immediate" divine guidance is not required. When a problem occurs, judges can read the Word of God recorded, and need not wait for a bolt from the clouds. The Bible promises "immediate" divine guidance in the sense that the Holy Spirit enlightens our understanding of the inScriptured Word of God.

THEOCRACY ( Gr. theokratia, "government by a god"),
constitution, or polity, of a country in which God is regarded as the sole sovereign and the laws of the realm are seen as divine commands. By extension a theocracy is a country in which control is in the hands of the clergy.
The typical example of a theocracy is that established by the Hebrew lawgiver Moses. Later attempts to found theocratic societies were made by the French theologian John Calvin and the English soldier-statesman Oliver Cromwell. The caliphate, in Muslim communities, was a theocracy.
The rule of the ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Iran is an example of
a theocratic government in modern times.

In the theocracy advocated by Vine & Fig Tree, it is not the case that the laws of the land (e.g., Roe v. Wade, or any other decree of the Ayatollah) are seen as divine. Rather, God's Law is seen as the blueprint for human legislation.

Webster's, 1828 ed.
Theocracy, n. [Fr. theocracie; It. teocrazia; Sp. teocracia; Gr. theos, God, and kratos, power; krateo, to hold.]
Government of a state by the immediate direction of God; or the state thus governed. Of this species the Israelites furnish an illustrious example.
The theocracy lasted till the time of Saul.

Now this is interesting. Why did "theocracy" end at the beginning of the monarchy?
Because the desire for a king was said by God to be a rejection of God. (1 Samuel 8)

Black's Law Dictionary, rev. 4th ed., 1968
Theocracy, Government of a state by the immediate direction of God,
(or by the assumed direction of a supposititious divinity,) or the state
thus governed.

 

"Webster's" Unabridged, 2d ed.
Theocracy [Gr. theokratia; theos, god,and kratein, to rule, from kratos, strength.]
1. literally, the rule of a state by God or a god
2. government by priests claiming to rule with divine authority.
3. a country governed this way
4. a group of clerics with political power.

A government by priests is more accurately termed an "ecclesiocracy."
(The word "hierarchy" would be even more accurate, as the word comes from the Greek word for "priest" [which in turn is derived from the word for "holy".] But that word has now come to mean any system of government  in which an upper echelon has power over a lower one.
The word originally referred to the differing ranks of angels or church government; Bacon spoke of the "hierarchy of England," that is, the Anglican church [see Webster's, 1828 ed.]).

Any state which acknowledges that it is "under God" acknowledges that "God rules," and thus proclaims itself a "theocracy."


INFOPLEASE Dictionary

the•oc•ra•cy

(thE•ok'ru•sE),
n.,
pl. -cies.

1. a form of government in which God or a deity is recognized as the supreme civil ruler, the God's or deity's laws being interpreted by the ecclesiastical authorities.
2. a system of government by priests claiming a divine commission.
3. a commonwealth or state under such a form or system of government.


Hypertext Webster Gateway: "theocracy"

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) (web1913)

Theocracy \The*oc"ra*cy\, n. [Gr. ?; ? God + ? to be strong, to rule, fr. ? strength: cf. F. th['e]ocratie. See {Theism}, and cf. {Democracy}.] 1. Government of a state by the immediate direction or administration of God; hence, the exercise of political authority by priests as representing the Deity.

2. The state thus governed, as the Hebrew commonwealth before it became a kingdom.

From WordNet (r) 1.6 (wn)

theocracy n 1: a political unit governed by a deity (or by officials thought to be divinely guided) 2: the belief in government by divine guidance

From Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary (easton)

Theocracy a word first used by Josephus to denote that the Jews were under the direct government of God himself. The nation was in all things subject to the will of their invisible King. All the people were the servants of Jehovah, who ruled over their public and private affairs, communicating to them his will through the medium of the prophets. They were the subjects of a heavenly, not of an earthly, king. They were Jehovah's own subjects, ruled directly by him (comp. 1 Sam. 8:6-9).


theocracy

3 definitions found.


theocracy \The*oc"ra*cy\, n. [Gr. ?; ? God + ? to be strong, to rule, fr. ? strength: cf. F. th['e]ocratie. See Theism, and cf. Democracy.] 1. Government of a state by the immediate direction or administration of God; hence, the exercise of political authority by priests as representing the Deity.

2. The state thus governed, as the Hebrew commonwealth before it became a kingdom.

Find similar words in Roget's Thesaurus Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

theocracy n 1: a political unit governed by a deity (or by officials thought to be divinely guided) 2: the belief in government by divine guidance

Find similar words in Roget's Thesaurus Source: WordNet 1.6

theocracy a word first used by Josephus to denote that the Jews were under the direct government of God himself. The nation was in all things subject to the will of their invisible King. All the people were the servants of Jehovah, who ruled over their public and private affairs, communicating to them his will through the medium of the prophets. They were the subjects of a heavenly, not of an earthly, king. They were Jehovah's own subjects, ruled directly by him (comp. 1 Sam. 8:6-9).

Find similar words in Roget's Thesaurus Source: Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary

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Here is a helpful discussion of Theocracy in Geneva under Calvin.

In the sixteenth century the intimate association of Church and state was assumed to be natural and desirable by all but a small minority. The distinction was really not that of Church and state as we understand these today, but between the ecclesiastical and the secular government of the same community. The word "theocracy" is often applied to the Geneva of Calvin's time, but the word is now ambiguous to most minds. Many confuse "theocracy," the rule of God, with "hierocracy," the rule of the clergy. With reference to Geneva James Mackinnon, indeed, suggests the word "clerocracy." "Bibliocracy" and "christocracy" have been proposed by other writers. Certainly the system was a theocracy in the sense that it assumed responsibility to God on the part of secular and ecclesiastical authority alike, and proposed as its end the effectual operation of the will of God in the life of the people. In principle, at least, it was not hierocratic. Calvin wished the magistrates, as agents of God, to have their own due sphere of action. but so intense was his consciousness of vocation, and so far did his mental energy outstrip that of his political associates, that he ultimately gained ascendancy to the point of mastery.

To say that he ruled as a dictator is, in our generation, to raise to the imagination a figure in the similitude of Hitler, Mussolini, or Stalin, living as chief actor in a drama of lawless power. with secret police, armed guards, vainglorious titles and insignia, massed demonstrations, and vociferous public acclaim. Calvin used lawful means, went unarmed and unguarded, lived modestly and without display, sough advice from many, claimed no authority save as a commissioned minister of the Word, assumed no title of distinction or political office. It was not until Christmas Day, 1559, after he had been instrumental in the admission of hundreds of refugees to citizenship, that he himself, on invitation of the magistrates, became a citizen. He had avoided seeking this privilege lest a charge of political ambition be raised to add to his difficulties.

John T. McNeill, The History and Character of Calvinism, Oxford Univ. Press, 1954, pp. 183ff.


Next: Was America Ever a Theocracy?

And Can America Become a Theocracy Once Again?



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