Church Governance
Thy Brethren
Philo Judaeus
The Idol Demos
Bill of Rights


Is the Bible pro-democracy or anti-democracy? Some people claim that our form of government was invented by the Enlightenment and is hostile to Christianity. What form of government does God recommend for mankind? Given that so much of the Bible revolves around the Messianic King, in anticipation in the Old Testament and upon His arrival in the New, one might expect the answer to that question is 'monarchy.' So it is with a note of surprise that the reader becomes aware that Israel adopted this form of government over God's strong objections. He went so far as to tell Samuel that, in demanding a king, they were rejecting Him: "And the Lord said to Samuel, 'Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.'" (1 Samuel 8:7).

The original form of government of the twelve Israelite tribes was an amphictyony, a tribal federation. When the people clamored for a king, Samuel solemnly warned them of what they were in for:

  • “So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who asked him for a king. And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers.
  • “And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the LORD will not hear you in that day.

  • “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, 'No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.'”

  • (1 Samuel 8:10-20).

Realizing that Samuel is telling them they'll fall into servitude if they adopt monarchy, this cannot be taken as a blanket endorsement of that particular system of government, "And you will be his servants [ebed]." None of which prevents God from promising Israel a future king, the Messiah, who will set all to rights. Perhaps the old saw about monarchy is true, that it's a great system when you have a good king, the worst system when you have a bad one. In the nature of things, the Messiah is an outlier.

The Bible's take can best be summarized as, if your King is God, full steam ahead with monarchy. But if your king is a mere man, watch out. Monarchy is not, in general, a great system, nor does the Bible paint it in a false light. Of the kings of Israel and Judah, the majority were clinkers. The people who think the Bible is pro-monarchy are mostly, I would expect, people who've never read the Bible.

Realizing that the people acknowledged they had sinned in asking for a king: "And all the people said to Samuel, 'Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves.'" (1 Samuel 12:19), the idea that the Bible is unreservedly pro-monarchy seems somewhat exaggerated.


Church Governance

What form of government does God adopt for His own little kingdom? Some modern churches are organized hierarchically, with authority flowing from the top down. The church did not start out that way, though. No specific system of secular governance is mandated in the Bible, even for Israel. But a church that wants to do it right really ought to be organized according to a congregational polity, i.e., democratically:

  • “And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. And when they had ordained [χειροτονησαντες] them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.”
  • (Acts 14:21-23).

The word the King James Version here translates as 'ordained' is χειροτονεω, 'cheirotoneo,' a word with a long history in classical Greek, meaning to vote by a show of hands:

χειροτονεω. . .to stretch out the hand, for the purpose of voting, Plut., Luc. II. . .to vote for, elect, properly by show of hands, Ar., Dem.:—Pass. to be elected, Ar., etc.; (Liddell and Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon, p. 885).

In a similar vein, χειροτονητος means elected by show of hands, χειροτονια means a voting or electing by show of hands, etc. The Greek word 'χειρ,' 'cheir,' means 'hand,' and the Greeks, like us, were in the habit of voting by raising their hands. That's how you do it: that's how you elect the leadership of the churches.

God's word nowhere says, though, that the way it's done in the church must also be the system of governance adopted by the world. However, it does seem that democracy's detractors should tone down their clamor of animadversion, which does not accurately reflect the contents of the Bible.


Bible Testimony Paul and Timothy
Quench Not Elections
Cyprian Synagogue
Ecclesia The Theory
Bad Government French Revolution

Roman Senate

Thy Brethren

Deuteronomy 17:14 says that:

"When you come to the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, 'I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,' you shall surely set a king over you who the Lord your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not our brother." (Deuteronomy 17:14-15).

Notice that God did not say, 'when you come into the land, you are to set a king over you;' nor did He say, 'the amphictyony is to endure forever.' It's at their option, apparently, whether they want monarchy or not. It is neither forbidden nor mandated. The reason why they did eventually want it is stated objectively: they wanted to be like other nations. Their king, however, if that is the route they choose to go, cannot be a foreigner. Incidentally, both in the histories and here, the monarchy never seems to lose its character as a elective rather than a hereditary monarchy. The king is twice chosen, once by God through anointing by a recognized prophet, and once again by the tribes through election.

At any rate, God leaves them the option of adopting monarchy or not. What becomes of the divine right of kings if God leaves it up to them? If they, like the Athenians or the Romans, decide they would rather govern themselves, then it's a republic, not a monarchy. God has no objection.


Philo Judaeus

The Roman empire of the first century A.D. was, at the top level, an autocracy, nothing resembling a democracy. Rome itself had never been a pure democracy, rather an amalgam of different elements, some bits and pieces of oligarchy mixed in with a limited amount of popular rule. But the Republic had fallen, and under the empire, Caesar ruled supreme. Still people remembered it had not always been that way, and a surviving remnant of democratic self-rule persisted at the local level.

How could there have been any democracy in the ancient world, when that world was so backwards in so many ways and the economy so inefficient, based on slavery? Marx, alas, has conditioned us to thinking that politics follows downstream from the means of production. If they had been able to cast off the yoke of slavery, that would have been the best thing they could have done to promote economic progress. Was democracy even possible without widespread literacy? Literacy rates in that world were higher than most people today think. While antiquity is not like our period in that universal literacy was nowhere near to being achieved, those people who did know how to read and write mostly learned at school. There were sizeable schools; here is one which made it to the pages of history only because of a terrible accident, where the roof caved in, killing 119 children:

“Likewise, about the same time, and very shortly before the sea-fight, the roof of a school-house had fallen in upon a number of their boys, who were at lessons; and out of a hundred and twenty children there was but one left alive.” (Herodotus, Histories, Book VI, 27.2).

The enrollment in this school had been 120 children before the disaster. Plainly the roof should have been inspected by some knowledgeable person, but that did not happen. What you will hear from certain quarters is that home schooling was all but universal before the nineteenth century, at which time the Marxists invented the idea of public education. That's entirely fanciful.  Children in antiquity, like children today, marched off to school to learn how to read and write:

Aristotle advocated for free public education in the fourth century BC:

"Again, for the exercise of any faculty or art a previous training and habituation are required; clearly therefore for the practice of virtue. And since the whole city has one end, it is manifest that education should be one and the same for all, and that it should be public, and not private — not as at present, when every one looks after his own children separately, and gives them separate instruction of the sort which he thinks best; the training in things which are of common interest should be the same for all." (Aristotle, Politics, Book VII, Chapter 1).

Nor was Aristotle any voice crying in the wilderness; he was the tutor of Alexander the Great, who conquered a wide swath of the globe. While it's true that nothing like universal literacy would be achieved until thousands of years later, when big yellow school buses plied the roads of the countryside, nor even majority literacy, the ideal had been clearly enunciated in antiquity. Governmental subsidies for education were part and parcel of the Hellenistic world. So it is really lunatic-fringe material to trace the invention of public schooling to nineteenth century communism.

Ancient democracy was not like our own representative democracy in several important respects. The size of a participatory democracy is limited by the necessity for the members of the ecclesia to travel to the center for their deliberations. Moreover, the voting population of, say, ancient Athens, never rose to the level of universal male suffrage; there were those left out, like the slaves and the metics: "If we set those figures against our very crude estimates for slaves and metics, then it looks as if probably no more than two in five (and sometimes fewer) adult males living in Attica under the developed democracy were citizens who enjoyed the rights to vote and hold office." (David Stockton, The Classical Athenian Democracy, p. 17).

The metics were free men, they were not slaves, but they did not enjoy political rights. They are sometimes identified as 'resident aliens,' but given that Athens did not have birth-right citizenship, the reader should not assume they were recent immigrants; they might well have been born there. The slaves, of course, had no rights at all. There are those excluded under the American system as well, like resident aliens and convicted felons, but certainly most of the people who live here are eligible to vote, even though no more than half are likely to do so. Post-Pericles, to be a citizen of Athens, both your mother and your father had to have been citizens.

Were the Jews of the early church days pro-democracy or anti-democracy? Philo Judaeus, a first century Jew, spoke highly of democracy on more than one occasion:

  • “But there are two species of cities, the one better, the other worse.  That is the better which enjoys a democratic government, a constitution which honors equality, the rulers of which are law and justice; and such a constitution as this is a hymn to God.”
  • (Philo Judaeus, On the Confusion of Tongues, XXIII, 108).

  • “For the divine Word brings round its operations in a circle, which the common multitude of men call fortune. And then, as it continually flows on among cities, and nations, and countries, it overturns existing arrangements and gives to one person what has previously belonged to another, changing the affairs of individuals only in point of time, in order that the whole world may become, as it were, one city, and enjoy the most excellent of constitutions, a democracy.” (Philo Judaeus, On the Unchangeableness of God, Chapter XXXVI).

  • "...being desirous of the establishment of democracy in the soul, the most excellent of constitutions, instead of tyrannies and absolute sovereignties, and wishing also to introduce law and justice instead of lawlessness and injustice, which had prevailed up to that time."
  • (Philo Judaeus, On Abraham, Chapter LXI).

  • "But in the day time the courts of justice and the council chambers are open, and the city is full of persons who will help to arrest the criminal; some of whom have been formally appointed guardians of the laws; and others, without any such appointment, by their natural disposition which hates iniquity, take up the cause of those who are injured; and before these men the thief must be brought; for thus the man who seeks revenge will escape the charge of arrogance or rashness, and appear to be acting in the spirit of the democracy."
  • (Philo Judaeus, The Special Laws, On Theft).

  • "But is it not well worth praying for, that the flock which is akin to each individual of us, and of so much value, may not be left without any superintendent or governor, so that we may not, through being filled with a love of the worst of all constitutions, an ochlocracy, which is a base copy of the best form, democracy, pass our lives for ever and amid tumults, and disorders, and intestine seditions?
  • (Philo Judaeus, Tilling the Earth by Noah, Chapter XI).

 Funeral Oration 

If the Bible is against democracy, Philo seems entirely unaware of that fact. He seems to use 'democracy' more or less as a synonym for 'good government.' The empire he lived in was not a democracy at the top level, it was one-man rule; but there were remnants of democracy remaining in a meaningful degree of self-government at the local level. He knew what democracy looked like and had seen it in action. He did not think it was a bad system at all. The assumption some people make today that the Bible is anti-democratic was not known to the Jewish authors of the period, like Philo Judaeus. Democracy was not invented by the Enlightenment; that is one of the most fatuous things you'll ever hear anyone say about politics. You arrive at such a view by piling ignorance atop ignorance; you must know nothing of the classical world, and believe that the medieval world was a carbon copy of God's ideal for society, in spite of all the problems associated with that era, because it had knights, and banners. You must basically be willing to swallow anything.

But is democracy possible without a literate public? How widespread was Jewish literacy in this period? How were their children schooled?


Greek Learning Eyes Front
Eunice and Timothy The Talmud
Bethar Moses
Youth of Succoth Hezekiah
Scroll of the Law Philo Judaeus
Military Man Lamentation
Signed and Sealed Court Clerks
Masada Reader's Digest
Rabha Outliers
James Son of Zebedee


The Idol Demos

According to Douglas Wilson, democracy involves the worship of a new god, the god 'demos.' 'Demos' means 'the people':

  • “God was to be toppled, and a new god, the god demos, was to be honored in His place.”

  • (Douglas Wilson, The Case for Classical Christian Education, p. 31)

This isn't an original thought that popped into Doug Wilson's mind, it's what Rousas Rushdoony taught about the nature and origin of democracy:

Turn the Other Cheek God of Love
Universal Law General Equity
What Happens in Vegas Democracy
Woman Taken in Adultery Stare Decisis
Autodidact Wall of Separation
Father's Wife Noncompliance

Doug Wilson gets this hostile attitude from Rousas Rushdoony, whose family fled to America from persecution in their native Armenia. Yet Rousas Rushdoony despised the political settlement of the nation which had given them shelter. It never occurred to him that our institutions are the reason why we are free to worship God. He enjoyed the liberty we have, while working tirelessly to undermine it, teaching that democracy is rebellion against God:

"As a result, the authority of God has been progressively displaced in America by the authority of the new god, the people." (Rushdoony, R. J., The Institutes of Biblical Law, Vol. 1 (The Institutes of Biblical Law Series) (p. 308). Chalcedon Foundation. Kindle Edition.)

Is this claim, that 'demos' is a new god, an idolatrous one, a fair criticism? The pagans deified all manner of things, the sun, the moon, the sky, the sea. There were pagan gods specially associated with ancient democracy, it's true; the goddess 'Peitho,' Persuasion,' is uniquely helpful to making the system work. She's been gone a long time; might she come back! And democracy did have its share of friends in the heavenlies; the Oracle at Delphi, reportedly, was a supporter. But the Oracle at Delphi was also susceptible to bribes, if you believe what you hear.

But you should see the gods clustered around autocracy, including often enough the current incumbent of the office.  Caligula was a god beside whom 'demos' shines as Shirley Temple doing a tap-dance. He ended his life at the hands of an assassin, and no doubt the people rejoiced. There are worse gods than demos. This tendency to deify elements incidental to the system is by no means unique to democracy and cannot form the basis for rejection of the system. First do away with god-kings, and then come back and complain to us about 'demos.'

As far as the pagan god 'demos,' I wonder if they don't have it mixed up with 'Deimos,' a legitimate god, meaning 'fear.' If there is a god 'demos,' it's certainly not one of the more popular ones. And who decided we should worship that one? Well, the folks that decided on that were not exactly what you'd call pagan:

"But from this grant I infer, as before hath been touched, that the sovereign, original, and foundation of civil power, lies in the people—whom they must needs mean by the civil power distinct from the government set up: and if so, that a people may erect and establish what form of government seems to them most meet for their civil condition. It is evident that such governments as are by them erected and established, have no more power, nor for no longer time, than the civil power, or people consenting and agreeing, shall betrust them with. This is clear not only in reason, but in the experience of all commonweals, where the people are not deprived of their natural freedom by the power of tyrants." (Roger Williams, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussed and Mr. Cotton's Letter Examined and Answered p. 215).

What you'll hear from the anti-democracy crowd, over and over, is that we get our democracy from the French Revolution, which happened later. No, we don't.


Bill of Rights

One thing the American democracy got right is the protection of individual liberty, which requires to be defended, not only against the autocrat, but also against the mob:


It's a mystery to me why the folks in Moscow, Idaho want to scrap the American system of religious liberty in favor of governmental direction and supervision of religion. Europe has that, and look what it's brought them. These are now post-Christian countries.

When church and state are perceived as one interlocking system, every time the government does something unpopular, the church takes a hit in terms of credibility. For example, World War I began with banners flying and fine slogans filling the air. The regime churches acted as cheerleaders for the war effort, which is what they're expected to do; they don't get paid for nothing. After the war, which turned out to be a ghastly meat-grinder with little perceived benefit coming out of it, in any way commensurate with the immense sacrifice of human life, a disillusioned public turned away from, not only the governments responsible, but also from the faith believed complicit in the disaster. The church should keep her eye on eternal things and not get tangled up in the things of this world, which is what climbing into bed with the high and mighty will do for you. That way, any remonstrances coming from the church concerning abortion or other issues of concern will be known to be coming from an institution which has preserved its independence and integrity.

The latest excitement energizing the anti-democracy forces comes from a would-be politician from Mississippi, who couldn't get elected, who came to Iowa to topple a Baphomet statue made of pool noodles. They explain that the Bible mandates the destruction of idols, wherever they are found and whoever they belong to. Is that really what the Bible says?

The Verse Idol-Smashing
Covenant of One Baphomet
Malum in Se What Went Wrong?
Extreme Provocation

The Athenian democracy had not seen its way even to universal male suffrage, much less did women have the right to vote, as is the case today. Followers of Twitter/X know that the TheoBros are fixing to change that. Many of these same folks want to rescind the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the one which secures to women the right to vote. On what principles is their debasement of women founded? Does the Bible say that women cannot vote?:

The Patriarchalist and the defender of popular sovereignty conducted a big, public literary debate on the question of whether popular sovereignty was Biblical or not. The people's champion liberally used ridicule and sarcasm to make the Patriarchalist's case seem ill-founded, even to the point of absurdity. When was Adam ever a world-ruling despot, as imagined by the Patriarchalist? In fact he is absent from the text where you might expect to find him, reconciling differences between his sons, for example. Perhaps they lived too far away. The Bible teaches Israel to repeat, "Then you shall declare before the Lord your God: 'My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous.'" (Deuteronomy 26:5 NIV). There was indeed a time when Israel were wandering pastoralists whose social organization did not extend very far above the clan level. The leader of the group dispensed rough justice, sometimes very rough indeed: "If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold." (Genesis 4:24). But this system was in its turn displaced by the law system which came in with Moses, which, as the Patriarchalist pointed out, still allowed parents to execute a wayward son, but otherwise makes offenses the business of the whole community rather than a private family matter.

A similar development occurred in many other places. The Greek tragedian Aeschylus' Oresteia tells the story of King Agamemnon's murder, upon returning home from the Trojan war, by his wife Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus. Agamemnon's son Orestes is then expected to avenge his father by killing his mother, who murdered him. But uh-oh, kill your mother and a future of mental illness and social ostracism awaits you! He follows through anyway, but, not to worry, the resulting difficulties are cleared up by the pagan goddess Athena, who establishes the Athenian supreme court, the Areogpagus, to deal with difficult cases of this nature. The system of private vengeance worked,— it was better than nothing,— when settlements were few and far between, but it was displaced by a system of justice founded upon written law, just as occurred in Israel. The Bible does not teach that clan justice was superior to the law system, but the contrary; the Bible itself incorporates a written law code.

What is missing from the Bible is any suggestion that the earlier system was considered by God to be ideal, or was meant to be exemplary, universal in its application to all times, places, and patterns of habitation. What is also missing is any connecting link between the earlier system and existing European monarchies, which in some cases were ostensibly ruled by a child, who not only was not the father of the millions who acclaimed him as king, but was not the father of any living creature, not yet having attained puberty. If monarchy really does derive its legitimacy from fatherhood, the two being at some deep level the very same thing, how did this transaction work?

This debate did not happen last week, but more than two hundred years ago. In the popular mind, John Locke won it, trouncing the the Patriarchalist Robert Filmer. John Locke wrote his First Treatise on Government specifically to refute Filmer's Patriarchy, going on in the Second to develop his own thoughts on the subject. It wasn't an in-person, face-to-face debate; but given the sketchiness of Filmer's case, it is doubtful the verdict could have been any different if it had been. Why do we have to do this all over again? Popular sovereignty was weighed in the Bible balance, and won, brilliantly. That's part of the reason why we are a democracy:

Robert Filmer Church Governance
Under the Law Early Church Fathers
Arian Heresy Intermission
Douglas Wilson Capital Jurisdiction

The Patriarchalists are prone to dismissing everything the Bible does actually say about women and men with a wave of the hand and replacing it with their own notions. For example, is singleness a gift, for those who have that gift, or is it a curse, since women have no function but to bear children? What is there to argue about:

  • “For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.  I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I.”
  • (1 Corinthians7:7-8).

Douglas Wilson is one big factor marshalling the anti-democratic forces. He has already been quoted as identifying democracy with rebellion against God: "God was to be toppled, and a new god, the god demos, was to be honored in His place." (Douglas Wilson, The Case for Classical Christian Education, p. 31). According to Douglas Wilson, the political ideal found in scripture is the divine right of kings, and thus democracy represents human rebellion against God: "'. . .the government schools were a rebellious idea from the start.' The nature of this rebellion was democracy— the rule of demos, the people." (Douglas Wilson, The Case for Classical Christian Education, p. 34). Proponents of democracy are idolaters, in short, and he looks forward to the day when "that fundamental faith [in democracy] is rattled and abandoned in repentance." (Douglas Wilson, The Case for Classical Christian Education, p. 36). As noted, while I think it goes way beyond the available evidence to say the Bible mandates democracy as God's preferred form of secular government, it is certainly false to say that this form of government is forbidden or disfavored either.

What other gems of wisdom does this popular teacher have to offer?:


It is an odd fact of history that much of the information we have in our hands, surviving from the period of classical antiquity, touching on the Athenian democracy, was written by hostile witnesses. Plato, for instance, was no friend to the people, the 'many.' After Athens' defeat by Sparta in the Peloponnesian War, the oligarchic Spartans compelled Athens to abandon its democracy, instituting in its place the rule of the 'Thirty,' who then commenced a reign of bloody terror. If you read the Dialogues, you already know some of their names:

"Charmides was an uncle of the philosopher Plato, and Critias a cousin of Plato's mother: both of them were prominent members of the circle which gathered around Socrates." (David Stockton, The Classical Athenian Democracy, p. 160).

You're hearing from one side and not the other. Fortunately, democracy in Athens proved resilient enough that it bounced back, at least far enough to receive the hammer-blow from Philip of Macedon when that came.



If you follow Twitter/X, you'll discover that democracy has more than its fair share of malcontents nowadays. There's Stephen Wolfe, whose magnum opus was published by Canon Press, Doug Wilson's family-owned vanity press, who longs to see a "Christian Prince" bestriding the land. Then you'll run into people on Twitter who will tell you they want to see "aristocracy." This mystifies me, because these people do not seem remarkable for family distinction, nor do they seem to have a lot of money, nor does any notable degree of talent strike the reader's eyes, least of all from their struggles, and ultimate defeat, at the hands of the English language. What makes these people think, that if America threw off our inherited democracy in favor of aristocracy, they'd be aristocrats rather than peons?

They say the past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. Sometimes when you try to insert yourself into ancient times, the result is panicked incomprehension. How can people have sat there in the coliseum and watched one poor fool slaughter another poor fool? You have to stand with Telemachus, who said no more. But then sometimes what shines most brightly is that human nature is the same after all, through all the twists and turns. The same cause operates to produce the same result. Democracy produces a more egalitarian society than does its rivals. It did in Athens what it does today. Here is Plato, whose circle despised democracy but could not make it go away even after Sparta puts its military might behind them, lamenting the freedom that comes with democracy:

"And democracy has her own good, of which the insatiable desire brings her to dissolution?

"What good?

"Freedom, I replied; which, as they tell you in a democracy, is the glory of the State—and that therefore in a democracy alone will the freeman of nature deign to dwell.

"Yes; the saying is in everybody's mouth.

I was going to observe, that the insatiable desire of this and the neglect of other things introduces the change in democracy, which occasions a demand for tyranny.

"How so?"

"When a democracy which is thirsting for freedom has evil cup-bearers presiding over the feast, and has drunk too deeply of the strong wine of freedom, then, unless her rulers are very amenable and give a plentiful draught, she calls them to account and punishes them, and says that they are cursed oligarchs.

"Yes, he replied, a very common occurrence."

Yes, I said; and loyal citizens are insultingly termed by her slaves who hug their chains and men of naught; she would have subjects who are like rulers, and rulers who are like subjects: these are men after her own heart, whom she praises and honors both in private and public. Now, in such a State, can liberty have any limit?

"Certainly not.

"By degrees the anarchy finds a way into private houses, and ends by getting among the animals and infecting them.

"How do you mean?

"I mean that the father grows accustomed to descend to the level of his sons and to fear them, and the son is on a level with his father, he having no respect or reverence for either of his parents; and this is his freedom, and metic is equal with the citizen and the citizen with the metic, and the stranger is quite as good as either.

"Yes, he said, that is the way.

"And these are not the only evils, I said—there are several lesser ones: In such a state of society the master fears and flatters his scholars, and the scholars despise their masters and tutors; young and old are all alike; and the young man is on a level with the old, and is ready to compete with him in word or deed; and old men condescend to the young and are full of pleasantry and gaiety; they are loth to be thought morose and authoritative, and therefore they adopt the manners of the young.

"Quite true, he said.

"The last extreme of popular liberty is when the slave bought with money, whether male or female, is just as free as his or her purchaser; nor must I forget to tell of the liberty and equality of the two sexes in relation to each other.

"Why not, as Aeschylus says, utter the word which rises to our lips?

"That is what I am doing, I replied; and I must add that no one who does not know would believe, how much greater is the liberty which the animals who are under the dominion of man have in a democracy than in any other State: for truly, the she-dogs, as the proverb says, are as good as their she-mistresses, and the horses and asses have a way of marching along with all the rights and dignities of freemen; and they will run at anybody who comes in their way if he does not leave the road clear for them: and all things are just ready to burst with liberty.

"When I take a country walk, he said, I often experience what you describe. You and I have dreamed the same thing."
(Plato, Republic, Book VIII, 563.)

From our perspective, Athens was far from an egalitarian society. It certainly was no classless society, any more than is contemporary America. We might remonstrate with them for failing to outlaw slavery, and for not crafting a path to naturalized citizenship for the metics. And certainly their slaves were never telling their masters what to do; Plato exaggerates. But the daily oppression they lived under did not result in an oppression of the mind, where they internalized the disdain of their exploiters and agreed that yes, we are worthless, at least as compared with your glorious selves. This is what the anti-democrats cannot stand, because they believe in a hierarchy of natural worth, and insist on finding it even where it cannot be, as for instance in the co-equal Trinity. When atheist critics of Christianity, such as Nietzsche, blame Christianity for egalitarianism and democracy, the accusation can seem a touch hysterical, because after all Christianity does not prescribe any one form of secular government; the British are blissfully unaware it is incompatible with monarchy, if indeed it is. But it is in this revaluation of the mind that Christianity leads the way, because the last shall be first.

Friedrich Nietzsche loved aristocracy and perceived Christianity as the main villain in the world, which had devalued aristocracy and human excellence in favor of the weak and the sick. Moscow, Idaho perceives Christianity as encouraging aristocracy and against democracy. Is it really possible the Bible is so ambiguous it can be read as for or against anything you like? Not really. Somebody is just improvising. While the Bible does not mandate democracy, or any other form of secular government, for civil society, it cannot reasonably be held to be opposed.

Did the European despotisms have it right the whole time, while it was the American experiment in religious liberty that went wrong? Surprising as it may seem, there are people who think so:


First Amendment Wall of Separation
Ancient Times Pilgrim's Progress
Fundamental Error Theonomy
No Place Like Home Natural Affection
Gynocracy The Lares
Intermarriage Respect of Persons
Temptation in the Desert Heaven
Exiles Tower of Babel
Scatter the Proud