Saturday, October 24, 2009

What Have the Church Fathers Taught About the Church, the State, and Good Governance?

What has the church since its beginnings taught about the State, its proper relationship to the Church, and the proper ends of civil government? This sampling of church fathers and reformers will take us from Irenaeus to Tertullian, Clement, Lactantius, Eusebius, John Chrysostom, Augustine, John of Damascus, Pope Gregory VII, John of Salisbury, Thomas Aquinas, William of Ockham, John Wyclif, Sir Thomas More, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, Richard Hooker, and Hugo Grotius have said on these questions. These reflections come from Oliver and Joan Lockwood O'Donovan's From Irenaeus to Grotius: A Sourcebook in Christian Political Thought.

Part I. The Patristic Age

1. An Apologetic Miscellany
The sourcebook begins with “Apologetic Miscellany” that outlines some of the church fathers’ apologetics for the Christian faith. While defending the doctrines of Christianity, these apologetic letters also account for the relation of Christians to the state and to society as a whole. The following passages are considered:
- In his First Apology, Justin Martyr emphasizes that the kingdom that the Christians are seeking is not a human one, but rather, the kingdom of God (p. 11).
- The anonymous Letter to Diognetus portrays the Christian church as a political society disseminated throughout other political societies. The church is depicted as the “soul” of society.
- Bishop Theophilus of Antioch, in his To Autolycus, Book 1, depicts Christians as loyal citizens of the empire who are to honor the emperor “not by worshipping him but by praying for him” (p. 14). In this way, they will be doing the will of God.

2. Irenaeus of Lyons
Irenaeus (ca.130-200) writes that the God-given role of civil rulers is to maintain the division between good and evil through the law. He describes the divine nature of earthly rule, which has been “appointed by God for the benefit of the nations” (p. 17). The devil lied when he said that civil power was delivered to him, for in truth, all power belongs to God, who distributes it according to His will. Three kids of rulers exercise civil authority: (i) mild, educative rulers; (ii) tyrannical, arbitrary rulers; and (iii) harsh, but not unjust rulers.

3. Tertullian
Tertullian (160-230) was a Carthage lawyer and a priest at the turn of the third century whose church was touched by a charismatic movement known as Montanism. In 206, Tertullian joined the Montanist sect’s prophetic movement, which is similar to today’s Pentecostal movement, and separated from the Church in 211 or 213. He later separated from the Montanists, founding a sect that became reconciled with the Catholic Church under St. Augustine. In his Apology, Tertullian fiercely repudiated the church as a political society; he recognized only “the universe” as the state of his citizenship (p. 26). In The Military Chaplet, Tertullian opposed Christians’ accepting military office, unless their faith came after they are already soldiers (p. 27).

4. Clement of Alexandria
Clement’s (ca. 150-ca. 215) Stromateis brings in classical thought to interact with Christian theology. He argues, for example, that Plato was influenced by Moses when he criticized political institution that sought to develop no more than military virtues (p. 35). Clement examines the relation between nomos (law), logos (word) and divine Logos (Word of God), arguing that those who obey the law must have some knowledge of the law giver (p. 36). He distinguishes between three kinds of kingship: (i) the divine that is the rule of God; (ii) the kingly rule of the active part of the soul; and (iii) the rule of conquest.

5. Origen
In his Against Celsus, Origen (ca. 185 - 254), one of the more controversial of the church fathers, makes a cogent case for the place of Christians in civil society. Christians are not antipolitical and do not oppose the emperor; rather, they believe the emperor has been divinely ordained by God and honor and are to pray for him.

6. Lactantius
The Christianity of Lactantius (ca. 240 – ca. 320) contrasts itself to classical thought and a demoralized culture. In his Divine Institutes, Lactantius examines the Greek idea of justice. According to Plato, justice “consists in equality, since all are born in an equal condition” (p. 48). All must therefore possess all things in common. Yet this line of reasoning leads Plato to state that even marriages should be in common. Such a view of justice, according to Lactantius, subverts the virtues of chastity and fidelity. Rather, “justice is not expressed in outward conditions … but operates wholly upon the human mind” (p. 49). Reaching justice means abolishing ambition and self-importance. Community is not a matter of possessions but rather, of minds filled with virtue.

7. Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius (ca. 263 – ca. 339) was the first systematic church historian. We read in his speeches the idealization of Constantine. In his speech for the Thirtieth Anniversary of Constantine’s Accession, he writes that Constantine is “dear to the supreme Sovereign himself” (p. 62). The Christian emphasis on peace plays a role for Eusebius in welcoming Constantine’s achievements, for Constantine’s wars are seen as wars that will end future wars.

8. Ambrose of Milan
Ambrose (ca. between 337 and 340 – 397) was bishop of Milan during the Arian heresy. Although Arianism was settled in the First Council of Nicaea in 325, it continued, though with a decreasing following, well into Ambrose’s years as bishop.
It is perhaps in Ambrose’s Sermon against Auxentius that most clearly portrays the clash between the sphere of the Church and the sphere of the State, as the Church sought to carve out for itself a space within civil society. When the emperor had summoned Ambrose and Auxentius, a bishop who had become dangerously associated with the Homoian heresy, to a hearing, Ambrose did not comply. Instead, he defied the emperor and asserted that matters of faith “must be dealt with in the church before the people” (p. 68). Ambrose writes that “the emperor is within the church, not above it” (p. 75).
In these excerpts, we read about a confrontation between the bishop of Milan and the emperor that marks the church as it began carving out a space for itself in the public square. Indeed, the episode represents more than a clash between the church and the emperor; it is representative of the birth of Western democracy as the church is formed as an independent sphere within civil society, just as guilds, private associations, and corporations would later carve out their own spaces within civil society.

9. John Chrysostom
The writings of John Chrysostom imply some level of objection to private property, but his true objection is not to the mere possession of material things, but rather, to their unjust acquisition. For instance, he points to Abraham and to Job as righteous men who, though they were wealthy, should not be condemned. This is because Job was “enriched by God” (p. 102) and the bulk of Abraham’s wealth was not held in material things, but rather, in livestock that was “born in his house” (p. 102). The property of Abraham, like that of Job, was thus justly acquired. As for the gold Abraham sent Rebekah, it was obtained through “gifts brought back from Egypt, acquired without violence or wrong” (p. 102).
At the same time, Chrysostom, in agreement with the Scriptures’ admonition to “those who desire to be rich [and thereby] fall into temptation” (1Ti 6:9), recognizes the snare to which the accumulation of wealth can lead. He views the distribution of wealth as a reversal to the evil that wealth accumulation can cause. He accordingly attributes the grace that was on the Apostles in Acts 4:33 to their charitable giving to the church, such that “there was not a needy person among them” (p. 100).
Some of Chrysostom’s language at first glance can be easily interpreted as condemnations of private property per se. Yet a closer reading suggests that the true object of his scorn is the accumulation of wealth for the sake of wealth. For example, he criticizes those who refer to material possessions as “goods,” for those who greedily accumulate such things cannot be said to be “good” (p. 101).
However, in other accounts, Chrysostom’s condemnation of wealth borders on the extreme. He says that it is “simply not possible” for “anyone who has wealth [to] be good” (p. 103). This has some resonation with Christ’s words to the rich ruler who asked how to inherit eternal life: “sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven” (Luk 18:22). Yet at the same time, Christ acknowledges that it may be possible for the rich to enter heaven, though it would be “harder for a camel to enter through the eye of a needle” (Mar 10:25).

10. Augustine
Augustine deals a great deal with justice and moral order by comparing the divine law to the human law and examining how the latter should reflect the former. In the dialogue in On Free Choice of the Will, Evodius, with Augustine’s agreement, distinguishes between the human law and the divine law—a “very secret law” authored by divine providence (p. 114). The human law punishes only those acts necessary to “keep peace among ignorant men” (p. 114). Accordingly, not every vice is to be punished by the human law. Yet this does not mean that the divine law will not avenge the one who commits it.
He goes on to examine whether the observance of Old Testament laws continues to be mandated in the New Covenant (p. 115-116). He rejects the Manicheans’ argument that the Old Testament laws were abolished by Christ. Although the Old Testament laws were not abolished, they are not universally applicable to the church. Removing from the discussion the cultural and ritualistic features of Old Testament law, Augustine argues that of the remaining laws, Christians are not to observe those which were fulfilled in Christ. The rest of the laws, such as the honoring of one’s parents or the prohibition of graven images, remain in place.
Augustine then focuses on the moral function of the old and the new laws. While the old laws set minimal restraints, the new laws bring to light the underlying purpose of the old laws: love. Both the old and new laws thus serve the same moral end in different ways. For example, both the Old Testament law, “an eye for an eye,” as well as Christ’s commandment to “turn the other cheek” (Mat 5:39) are aimed at checking the vehemence of hatred. The former does so by prohibiting unjust avengement and the latter does so by prohibiting any avengement at all. The latter fulfills the former by commanding believers to in all things act in love.

Part II. Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity refers to the period over which barbarian invasion gradually weakened the Roman Empire.

1. Pope Gelasius I
After the Council of Chalcedonia in 451, the Church experienced its first schism. The non-Chalcedonian churches split off from the orthodox catholic Church. The emperor Zeno attempted to mend the rift with a union formula that had some success with the Eastern Churches, but was ultimately caused a rift with the Western Church and a break in communion in 484 between Pope Felix III and the Acacius, the patriarch of Constantinople. With Zeno’s union formula in place in the East, the succeeding emperor, Anastasius, leaned towards the non-Chalcedonian churches’ monophysite heresy.
Pope Gelasius I (d. 496), who was emperor Anastasius’s contemporary, inherited this difficult situation. He viewed as part of his role as the universal pope to confront Anastasius, the universal emperor, on the latter’s doctrinal errors.
Within this context, we find the writings of Gelasius, which define the relationship between the authority of the episcopate and the power of the empire. For the first time in this anthology, we find in Gelasius’ writings papal claims to universal primacy over the church and over emperors. Gelasius states in part: “if the faithful ought in general to submit to the priesthood as a whole when it handles divine mysteries rightly, how much more should deference be shown to the occupant of the highest see, chosen by divine sovereignty to be first among priests and held in religious honor by the whole church ever since” (p. 179).

2. Agapetos
We know nothing more about Agapetos than the fact that he was a deacon of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. In this pithy work of seventy two apothegms, Agapetos instructs the emperor Justinian on matters of benevolence, law, justice, and ethics. In his writings, the notion of rex lex—the king is under the law—comes forward. Agapetos instructs Justinian to keep the very laws that Justinian has compiled. He writes that the emperor will in this way “demonstrate the majesty of the law, by being … the first to respect it; and so, too, it will be clear to [the] subjects that breaking the law has its perils” (p. 184).

3. Justinian
The Byzantine emperor Justinian (483-565) attempted to restore the Roman Empire, which fell at the end of the fourth century, but instead disrupted the Romanization of the Germanic tribes and their conversion to Christianity. He is instead remembered for his hallmark achievement, the systematization and codification of the Roman law.
The codification reveals a vision of Christian society and the perspective of a Christian emperor of his task as governor. For example, we see from these excerpts that it was not only the West that blended the distinction between the Church and State, but rather, as early as Justinian in the East, the distinction was blurred. The laws also reveal a polity where religious liberty was substantially checked. For example, if someone seeking public office should simulate acceptance of orthodox doctrine, is later found to have a wife or children who clings to the heresy, and does not lead them to the truth, he is to be ejected from his public office (p. 191). Furthermore, whatever he bequeathed to a heretical person was to be forfeited to the public treasury (p. 192).
Justinian, like Gelasius, highlights the dual functions of the priesthood (which is in service of the things of God) and empire (which provides government and care for the concerns of men). However, he does not view the priesthood or the pope as in any way superior in function or in importance to the empire. Rather, the emperor is charged with “the integrity of priests” (p. 194).

4. Gregory I
Pope Gregory I (540 – 604) was one of the towering Christian thinkers of his day. He reigned in a Rome depleted by Justinian’s unsuccessful wars. Gregory’s model was to make the episcopate the model of rule within Christian society; temporal rulers would imitate and reverence their spiritual counterpart. He provided a general account of government, “temporal and ecclesiastical, equally applicable to kings and emperors, abbots and bishops” (p. 195).

5. John of Damascus
John of Damascus (ca. 670 – ca.750) was an Arab Christian monk who lived in the peak of the iconoclast controversy when Emperor Leo III ordered the destruction of sacred image sand icons in 726. A council at Hieria in 754 supported his view, yet the Second Council of Nicaea in 787 repudiated the former, claiming that it was not a true ecumenical council, because only a portion of the church’s bishops were present and they were unduly swayed by the emperor.
In his Second Speech against Those Who Reject Images, John contrasts the Old Testament practice where a dead body was reckoned a “defilement” to anyone who touched it (p. 213) with the New Covenant practice of celebrating Christ, his mother the Virgin Mary, and of the saints, who have defeated and disgraced the devil and his angels. Depicting these figures in icons is to celebrate Christ’s victory over death. Yet John goes a step further, condemning one who refuses to reverence and honor the sacred images as “an enemy of Christ and the holy Theotokos and the saints” (p. 213).
John goes on to discuss the relationship between the spheres of the king and of the church. The church is to hold independence in its affairs: “Kings have no right to make laws for the church,” which is to be governed by apostles, prophets, pastors, and teachers (p. 213). “Kings have responsibility for political welfare, pastors and teachers for the state of the church” (p. 214).
John’s view of the church’s relationship to the king can be contrasted with that of Gelasius. While Gelasius claims that the emperors ought to show deference to the Pope of the Church, John states that the church defers to the king “in the affairs of life, in tax and revenue and privileges, and in all of our affairs that are your responsibility” (p. 214). This can be contrasted with Gelasius’s language stating that Peter was “chosen by divine sovereignty to be the first among priests” and that the Pope of Rome was by “Christ’s own words set over all [and] the venerable church has always acknowledged and devoutly accepted [him] as Primate” (p. 179).
John closes with a discussion of tradition and of its importance in determining certain doctrines or truths that remain unwritten, such as the wherabouts of the crucifixon of Christ on Calvary. He quotes Paul’s 2 Letter to the Thessalonians to support his view: “therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle” (2Th 2:15).

6. The Donation of Constantine
The Donation of Constantine (Constitutum Constantini), which bears Constantine’s name, is considered to be a document forged by a Roman cleric. It has nonetheless been used by later reforming popes and to justify the universality and supremacy of the Roman papacy over lay rulers and over the church of the East. In it, Constantine purportedly states that he was blessed and healed by the hands of Pope Sylvester, who is “seen to have been set up as the vicar of God’s Son on earth” and who is to have “rule as well over the four principal sees, Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, and Jerusalem, as also over all the churches of God in all the world” (p. 229).

Part III. The Early Middles Ages
The editors point out that starting from the eighth century, the “care” of the church entrusted by Christ to St. Peter in Matthew 16:18-19 and in John 21:15-17 was constructed as a “sovereign jurisdiction from which authority descended to the subordinate jurisdictions” (p. 232). This construction came to depend on an extension of the “power of the keys” beyond the realms o purgatory and penance, to the external government of the church. In earlier times, this power of the keys “had designated the general clerical authority of convicting sinners and declaring absolution, or at most the apostolic authority of the whole episcopate, [but was] now to be reserved for the sovereign rule of St. Peter’s vicar over the Christian world” (p. 233). Within this context, the concept of plenitude potestatis, which refers to the pope’s plenitude of power in moral, legislative, and judicial spheres, came into being.

1. Gregory VII
The monk Hildebrand (ca. 1030-85) in 1073 became Pope Gregory VII, the initiator of the Papal Revolution that liberated the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church from control by emperors, kings, and feudal lords and sought to subject these temporal rulers to the Church. The Papal Revolution, which spanned from 1075-1122, was initiated by Gregory VII, who sought to “defeat both lay and episcopal recalcitrance through unrelenting assertion of Rome’s unrivaled authority” (p. 241) and believed that the “subjection of the lower ranks of the church, both clerical and lay, to papal authority was … required by the justice (iustitia) and the law (ius) of Christ” (p. 232).
Many of these views imbue the list of papal prerogatives known as the Dictatus Papae (1075), which proclaims that it is lawful for the pope alone to “enact new laws according to the needs of the time” (no. 7) and that “the Roman Church has never erred, nor ever, by the witness of Scripture, shall err to all eternity” (no. 22) (p. 242). Gregory bases his view on Christ’s words to the Apostle Peter in Matthew 16:18-19: “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

2. Norman Anonymous
“Norman Anonymous” (ca. 1080/90 – ca. 1156) is the name of the author of a series of antipapal royalist tracts that argue that both king and priest at their consecration receive the sacramental image of Christ. Earthly kings are to rule over the laity and clergy, assure unity, order, and welfare (p. 251), institute bishops, administer divine justice, punish violations of God’s law, call councils (p. 251). Unlike Gregory VII, who interprets Matthew 16:19 to mean that the Pope is given the keys to heaven through apostolic succession (p. 243), Norman Anonymous reads it to mean that the keys belong not to the priest, but to the king (p. 257-58).

3. Bernard of Clairvaux
Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) was one of the members of the monastic reform movement. He believed that the greatest subversion of the church came from “papal collusion with the worldly greed and ambition of Christians, especially prelates, through the ecclesiastical appeals system” (p. 268-9). In his On Considerations, he writes that the pope was not elected to rule; he has been called to ministry, not to dominion (p. 271), and has been bestowed with stewardship, not possession of the world (p. 273). In this way distinguishing between worldly and spiritual rule, he describes the pope’s weapon against defectors and corrupters of the faith “invincible arguments that they either correct their error, if that is possible, or, if it is not, that they lose their authority and the means of corrupting others” (p. 274).

4. John of Salisbury
John of Salisbury (1115/20 – 1180) was an English ecclesiastical bureaucrat who became bishop of Chartres and who was on intimate terms with Henry II, Pope Adrian IV, and Thomas Becket, a member of archiepiscopal household. Distinguishing the ancient philosophers who defined human life as consisting of “a rational soul and a corruptible flesh” (p. 279), he argues that the flesh takes its life from the soul. He also draws a distinction between the eternal justice of God, whose law is equity, and the justice of the rulers, whose laws are their own statutes. By this period in time, the notion of a “higher law” that transcends the positive law is clearly recognized.

5. Bonaventure
In his A Defence of the Mendicants, Bonaventure (1217-74) provides a “theological and legal clarification of the practice of absolute poverty” (p. 310). It is within the way of evangelical perfection by fulfilling the spiritual counsels of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount of practicing poverty (Mat 19:21), obedience (Mat 16:24), and chastity (Mat 19:12). Bonaventure thus calls men to become “naked” like Christ by using only the barest necessities and giving away all superfluous goods, of working manually without remuneration, of depending chiefly on alms for daily sustenance, and of renouncing legal ownership of goods.
Bonaventure points to the book of Acts, which describes the company of believers who “had all things in common” (Act 4:32) and sold their lands and houses and laid the proceeds “at the apostles’ feet” (Act 4:35). Yet this should not be taken to mean that the apostles had property; rather, the common ownership belonged to the mass of believers (p. 315). Thus, in modeling the apostles, the Christian is to live by means of the simple use of material goods, not through their ownership, possession, or usufruct (p. 318).

6. Thomas Aquinas
Aquinas (ca. 1225-74) towers as a giant of the Western Church in a way that is rivaled by only Augustine. Both Aquinas and Augustine engaged in a synthetic conversation with classical thought, which resulted in an Aristotelian inspiration in Aquinas and a Platonic bent in Augustine.
In his Summa Theologica (Summary Treatise on Theology), Aquinas deals with the human law and its relationship to the natural law. He holds that positive law, to the extent that it is just or rational, “derives from the natural law” (p. 325). For example, in the sphere of property, he equates ownership as the “legal positiving of the natural right of dominion that serves its primary purpose, the use of the earth’s resources for the benefit of all, when its moral limits are observed” (p. 326). The purpose of this positive law is the “benefit of the commonwealth” (p. 347), and it achieves this end by depending on natural law. When ownership begins to stray from this end, the legal positivizing becomes a perversion, not a true law.
On another level is what Aquinas calls the “eternal law,” which is the eternal and unchanging Will of God. Although we cannot see it, we can see its effects through the rational orderliness of the universe. All things are “regulated and measured” in it and “somehow share in it, in that their tendencies to their own proper acts and ends are from its impression” (p. 342).
Aquinas then introduces into his legal system what he calls the “divine law.” It is necessary because the human law is inherently limited: men can only make laws on outward and observable behavior; they are not competent to judge on inward hidden thoughts and motions. True right and justice thus require a fourth kind of law—¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬the “divine law” (p. 343). This law can only be known through special revelation from God through the Scriptures, which is the promulgation of the Eternal Law. The divine law also does what the human law inherently is unable to do: to “[miss] nothing and [leave] no evil unforbidden or unpunished” (p. 343).
Within this framework, Aquinas contrasts custom, which cannot acquire “the force of law against divine or natural law” (p. 350-51). He thus quotes Isidore, who states, “Let usage bow to authority, and reason and law prevail over vicious habits” (p. 351).
Aquinas moves on to discuss money, and in many ways reiterates what was stated by earlier church fathers: the exchange of commodity for money is “open to criticism because it “feeds the acquisitive urge which knows no limit but tends to increase to infinity” (p. 360). Thus, while he does not condemn commerce qua commerce as anything vicious or lacking in virtue, he recognizes the dangerous path that commerce can take when taken out of its proper end.

Part IV. The Late Middle Ages
Our prior readings took us through a history in which the papacy of the Roman church quickly grew in power as Gelasius and other popes asserted their rule over the entire church and over the civic sphere. This resulted in a collision between King Philip IV of France and Pope Boniface VIII, who would ultimately claim divinely granted jurisdictional supremacy over the king and the right to “judge universally in temporal matters” (p. 397). King Philip IV reacted by curtailing curial finances as well as the independence of the Catholic Church in France.

1. John of Paris
Within the context of this dispute, the French theologian and monk John of Paris (Jean Quidort) (ca. 1250-1306) wrote his treatise On Royal and Papal Power, which appeared just before the pope’s bull in 1302, which would lead to the pope’s arrest by the French government before a general council, in which John pledged to cooperate. By drawing on the ideas of conciliar or communal representation and election, John’s treatise is one of the most eloquent articulations supporting the royal cause. John also counters the notion of papal plenitude potestatis by arguing that Christ had endowned the apostles with an exclusively sacramental power.
In his treatise, John seeks to strike a balance between the view of those who contend that the church is to have no power in temporal affairs and those who contend that Christ’s kingdom was of the human kind. He thus argues that “it is not wrong for prelates to have lordship and jurisdiction in temporalities” (p. 400). Yet he counters the view that the secular power is somehow “contained within the spiritual power and is established by it” (p. 401). He views the pope’s power as being limited; he is but a steward of the community of ecclesiastical property, and thus may not command whatever he wills. Rather, his power is for building up, and it may not be used arbitrarily. The pope could even be deposed if he takes the property of churches “for reasons other than the common good” (p. 403). As applied to lay property, the pope is even less the lord of it, for any power that Christ had over lay property was not granted to Peter and the apostles.
John goes on to vindicate the right of church people to judge issues concerning the pope when he palpably commits some wrong. Everyone is bound to both give and receive fraternal correction, even those who stand above us in honor. Even “Paul withstood [Peter] to his face because [Peter] was blameworthy” (p. 411). Yet before any one corrects or looks to hold the pope accountable, he should first give every effort to interpret the pope’s pronouncements according to their most reasonable colors, rather than interpret them as constituting some novelty or as contradicting Scripture.

2. Dante Alighieri
Dante (1265-1321) was an Italian poet best known for his Divine Comedy. Dante grew up in an era of feuding Italian states dominated by tumult and struggles for power. Perhaps it was this experience that led him to cast his faith in the Roman Empire, which with its strong central government alone enabled man to live in all-encompassing peace. In his Monarchia, Dante presents a naturalistic apology for the Roman Empire, arguing that the Roman people “acquired universal empire by divine and natural right” as a just reward for their virtue (p. 413), which is expressed in their “pious and public-spirited action to establish the universal common good” (p. 414).
Like John of Paris, Dante questions the pope’s claim of plenitude potestatis by arguing that the head of the empire is to be independent of the head of the church. He concludes his apology by stating that “monarchy is necessary for the perfect order of mankind in this world” and to the “well-being of the world” (p. 422).

3. Marsilius of Padua
Marsilius of Padua (1275/80-1342/43) was an Italian reformer and scholar who authored the revolutionary Defensor pacis (Defender of the Peace), where he argued for the independence of the Roman Empire from the papacy. Marsilius was a strong advocate of the notion of popular consent for both secular government and for the governance of the church. While at the University of Paris, he argued that the Church should be subordinate to the State. His ideas came to pass in some nations during the Reformation, where the State would govern the Church.

4. William of Ockham
William of Ockham (1285?-1347) was an English scholastic philosopher perhaps best known for propounding the idea of nominalism, the doctrine that reality is grounded in particular and that universals have no real existence. As a result of nominalism, everything that transcends experience is denied and the reality which is perceived by the intellect is banished, leaving only what is perceived by the senses as having any true validity. One may argue that modern empiricism was the natural consequence of Ockham’s work.
Ockham’s writings deal with a wide range of topics. In his Dialogue on Papal and Royal Dignity, he argues that the legitimate correction of erring believers requires a clear demonstration of their errors. He further argues that the pronouncements of a general council are not infallible and are not “necessarily the work of extraordinary divine inspiration or revelation (like the writing of Scripture)” (p. 455). Other topics he explores include supreme poverty and divine and human right.

5. John Wyclif
John Wyclif (1330-84) was an English lay theologian, translator, and church reformer who leaned towards and was influenced by Augustinian thought. His writings reflect a growing anti-papalist sentiment and an opposition to the papal occupants occasioned by the Catholic schism. He argues that God must have two representatives in his church: “the king in temporal matters and the priest in spiritual” (P. 509).
Wyclif distinguishes between natural (evangelical) lordship, which is instituted by God and rests on justice, and civil lordship, which is occasioned by sin and rests on human institution. The relationship between the two can be paralleled to the difference between gospel law (divine law) and the human law: just as the gospel law is the “perfect and sufficient regime of Christian community and needs no supplement from human laws, so the [human law] either interprets and applies the commandments of Christ or opposes them with contrary and irrelevant demands” (p. 486).

6. Jean Gerson
Gerson (1363-1429) was a French scholar, theologian, and lead conciliarist churchman who embarked on diplomatic missions to negotiate with the rival popes to end the papal schism. In On Church Power and the Origin of Law and Right, Gerson defines the church’s hierarchy and clerical nature and makes clear that the church’s power is the “power which was supernaturally and specially granted by Christ to his apostles and disciples” (p. 520), not to the body of individual believers.
As to the pope’s claim that the representative authority of general councils depends on the pope’s authority, Gerson argues that although the pope does hold the plentitude of church power “considered in its height” (as exceeding other authorities), this plenitude of church power, “considered in its breadth, is not as such in the pope alone” (p. 525). Rather, this authority is held up in the power of the General Councils, which “necessarily include the papal authority” (p. 526), who must convoke it. However, if a pope destructively refuses to convoke a council, then the Council should ask as if there were no pope and must assemble and organize itself. Under such circumstances, the General Council acts with its full authority.

7. John Fortescue
John Fortescue (ca. 1395-ca. 1477) was a practitioner of English common law whose legal career came to an abrupt end after King Henry VI was deposed. At that time, Fortescue set off to write his treatise On the Nature of the Law of Nature, which drew on the law of nature to support the right of royal succession in kingdoms. Drawing on an English natural law tradition, Fortescue argued that the kingly power “took its origin under and from the law of nature, and by it always was and is regulated” (p. 533).

8. Nicholas of Kues
Nicholas of Kues (1401-1464) was a cardinal of the Catholic Church from Germany (Holy Roman Empire). He argues that an essential requirement for a universal council is that it be “constituted of the five patriarchal sees” (p. 542) and goes on to make a sweeping argument that the canons reached at the universal church councils were based on the natural law (p. 544).

Part V. The Renaissance and Reformation

1. Thomas More
Sir Thomas More (1478 – 1535) was an English statesman who opposed Henry VIII's divorce from Catherine of Aragon and refused to take an oath of royal supremacy recognizing Henry’s supremacy over the English church. As a result of this refusal, More was subsequently imprisoned and beheaded.
More’s two books of Utopia were completed in 1516. In them, More describes an ideal, righteous society and criticizes the obtuse complicated formulations of the civil law by contrasting it with the “few laws” that instruct and institute in Utopia (p. 567). These give “less circumstance of words, and the truth shall sooner come to light,” while the judge weighs the words of “him whom no lawyer hath instruct with deceit” (p. 568). In his work, More assaults private property “as an institutionalization of human pride” (p. 559) and argues that the practice of entangling international alliances is more harmful than beneficial (p. 568-9).

2. Desiderius Erasmus
Erasmus (1466-1536) was a Dutch theologian who was celebrated as the prodigy of sixteenth-century humanism and as the champion of the Renaissance in northern Europe. He was zealously dedicated to the New Testament and to synthesizing Christian doctrine with earlier movements, such as Roman Stoic moralism. He would later be accused by Martin Luther of exalting human reason at the expense of personal faith.
In his The Complaint of Peace, Erasmus argues that war should be hateful to the virtuous, conscientious prince: “If the chief desire of a good prince should be that his subjects are as good as they can be, he ought to loathe war as the cesspool of every iniquity” (p. 580). However, Erasmus does not repudiate just war theory; he simply views war as a last resort that may be required by the obligations of governing (p. 571).

3. Martin Luther
a. To What Extent Temporal Authority Should Be Obeyed
Luther establishes the biblical basis for civil law and the “sword” by anchoring his arguments in Romans 13:1-2, 1 Peter 2:13-14, and Genesis 9:6. However, the power of the sword would not be applicable to a world composed of true believers, where government, the sword, and law would have no place. It is the unrighteous who need the law to command, instruct, and compel, but good trees require no instruction to produce good fruit. Of course, this should not be taken to mean that Christians should not submit to the governing authorities, which are necessary because Christian live among unbelievers. So important is the state that Christians should esteem it “as highly as the estate of marriage, or husbandry, or any other calling which God has instituted” (p. 589).
b. The Sermon on the Mount
Luther argues that the meaning of Matthew 5:38-39—“You have heard that it was said, 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also”—is not that we are to literally turn the other cheek to our enemies. Rather, it is that every Christian should “willingly and patiently suffer whatever is his lot, without seeking revenge or hitting back” (p. 597). However, Luther states that Christians may not go to court or defend themselves (p. 598). However, a Christian could serve in the secular office of an administrator, prince, or judge (p. 598-99). For the Christian to refuse to defend himself on account of this text would be like a Christian woman who would refuse to defend her children “from a dog or a wolf” because she believed that a Christian must not defend himself (p. 599). His views can be harmonized with the Biblical mandate to seek justice, but have mercy, for it is “permissible to use orderly procedure in demanding and obtaining your right,” but “not to have a vindictive heart” (p. 600).
Luther does not read literally Christ’s mandate to “give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away” (Mat 5:42). In these words, “Christ is not telling me to give what I have to any scoundrel that comes along and to deprive my family of it” (p. 602); rather, Christ is commanding that we help the poor and badly off with genuine need.
c. Trade and Usury
Luther’s opposition is not against trade per se, but rather, to the abuses and sins of trade. He criticizes the merchant raises the price of a good not because of its inherent value or because of the effort that he expends in securing it, but because the purchaser has a great need for it. To fix this problem, Luther proposes price fixing through temporal authorities that “compute the costs of all sorts of wares and accordingly set prices” (p. 603). Luther also casts his trust in “kings and princes” to forbid the purchase of goods from merchants in distress at unconscionable prices (p. 608).
He goes on to point out the irreparable harms caused by the common practice of one person’s becoming surety for another, which causes the surety to trust excessively in himself (p. 605), and he criticizes the practice of lending as it was exercised in his days. Quoting Luke 6:35 (“Lend, expecting nothing in return”), Luther argues that one should lend freely, and if the item lent is not returned, to let it go as a gift.

4. The Schleitheim Articles
The Schleitheim Articles were landmarks in the theological basis of Anabaptism. The articles establish the following seven points: (i) baptism should be performed on only adults who have “learned repentance, amendment of life, and faith” (p. 633); (ii) those who have given themselves to the Lord in following his commandments who fall into sin are to be admonished twice, and on the third time, “punished or banned publicly” (p. 633); (iii) those who wish to break bread in memory of Christ must first be baptized; (iv) the regenerate must be separated from evil, unregenerate people and from the unreformed and insufficiently reformed churches; (v) ministers should have completely good reputations to lead all in prayer and breaking bread and should be provided for by the community that ordained them; (vi) use of the civil “sword,” which is intended for use outside of the perfection of Christ, is to be rejected by true believers in the church—only the ban is to be implemented; and (vii) Christians should not take oaths, since Christ “forbids his followers all swearing, either truthfully or falsely” (p. 636).

5. Philipp Melanchthon
Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560) was a leading church reformer, translator, and theologian who systematized Luther’s thought. He is most renowned for his Loci Communes Theologici, a theological exposition by scriptural themes. In it, he divides the divine law of Moses into three parts:
- Lex moralis. This is also called the “eternal law” or the law of God about virtues and against sin. It is principally contained in the Decalogue.
- Lex cerimonialis. These are temporal church laws that are concerned with external works, such has sacrifices, which were established for a certain time.
- Lex judicialis. These are temporal laws dealing with civil government in the areas of justice, inheritance, and peace. Like the lex cerimonialis, the lex judicialis is intended only for Biblical Israel before the coming of Christ.
The purpose of these laws is to: (i) foster external or civil morality; (ii) pronounce the wrath of God on sin and the sinner; and (iii) educate the faithful in God’s will (p. 651).
Melanchthon then deconstructs some of the errors and “lies” proposed by monks that argue that lives of poverty and chastity merit forgiveness of sins, as well as the errors of the Anabaptists who argue that Christians “should not own property, but should have all things in common” (p. 659). By pointing to the seventh commandment, which prohibits stealing, he argues that the existence of private property is presumed in Scripture. The abandonment of one’s goods in the mistaken belief that begging for alms is a holy work is a grave mistake. To beg for bread is to be a thief, and the cloisters “have always been full of thieves” (p. 660).

6. John Calvin
The work of John Calvin (1509-64) transformed Reformation history. Calvin further polarized the two-kingdoms model of the church and state into parallelisms. Calvin argues, for example, that “he who knows to distinguish between the body and the soul, between the present fleeting life and that which is future and eternal, will have no difficulty in understanding that the spiritual kingdom of Christ and civil government are things very widely separated” (p. 669). As for the attitude of Christians towards rulers, who are in Calvin’s view divinely ordained by God, we are to honor the rulers, in accordance with the words of Peter to “honor the king” (1Pe 2:17).
On the question of usury, Calvin asserts that there is no Scripture that totally bans the practice. Although Christ commands us to lend expecting nothing in return (Luk 6:35), he never prohibits the practice of usury. He similarly deconstructs arguments voiced by earlier fathers, such as Chrysostom, against merchants and lenders of money, by showing that through such practices, wealth can be generated. He concludes that “we ought not to judge usury according to a few passages of Scripture, but in accordance with the principle of equity” (p. 683).

7. John Knox
John Knox (1505-72), the founder of the Presbyterian denomination, was a Scottish clergyman and a leader of the Protestant Reformation. While in exile in Calvin’s Geneva, he wrote in the wake of Mary Tudor’s (Bloody Mary’s) measures in re-Catholicizing England. His writings advocate the civil defense of the divine law against unjust policies of monarchs by lower magistrates whose duty is to remove their sovereigns in the last resort.
Knox calls the commonwealth to its duty of resisting Queen Mary, a “wicked woman” and “traitoress” (p. 688). He condemns those who stand in “ungodly silence” as Mary sheds the blood of fellow Protestant Christians (p. 688). Knox goes as far as calling the nobility, judges, and rulers to their duty of resisting Mary and having her “punished to the death” (p. 692). For their failure to resist the queen and thereby their implied consent to her acts, they will be equally punished for their guilt (p. 694).

8. John Ponet
Ponet (ca. 1514-56) was an Edwardian bishop exiled in Strasbourg who formulated tracts exhorting the civil commonwealth to fulfill its duty in terms indebted to Reformed theology and Renaissance classicism. He argues that capital punishment instituted in Genesis 6:9 applies only to the body and its life, not over the soul and conscience. He further argues that under certain circumstances, it is lawful to kill a tyrant.

9. Vindiciae, contra Tyrannos
The Vindiciae, contra Tyrannos (1579) (Lat., Legal Remedy against Tyrants) was a Hugeunot tract written as a response to the Catholic policy of King Henri III of France (1551-89) of persecuting dissidents. It explores the plight of Christians whose king commands obedience to laws that violate the law of God. If such a situation were to arise, the subject would first be bound to the law of God, which has unlimited jurisdiction, over that of a king, whose jurisdiction is limited, because God institutes and ordains the king with temporal authority.
Drawing on Old Testament covenantal themes, natural law, and Roman law, the tract establishes a covenantal basis for civil government. Because it is the people who establish kings with their consent and election, “kings should acknowledge that after God they hold their power and sovereignty from the people” (p. 718). Because the constitution of the monarchy is established through a covenant between the king and the people, the people may resist the king when his acts threaten the commonwealth.

10. Francisco Suárez
Francisco Suárez (1548-1617) was a Jesuit priest who has been generally accepted as the greatest Spanish scholastic thinker. He was nominated by King Philip II to the Prime Chair of Theology in Coimbra, which he accepted in 1597. His most controversial writings addressed a controversy between Dominicans and Jesuits over the relationship between divine grace and human freedom.
Suárez’s Laws and God the Lawgiver is largely constructed as a commentary on Aquinas’s Summa. In it, Suárez defines the law of nations as the positive human law that that is created by custom. Like the natural law, it is solely about inter-human relationships and includes commands, prohibitions, and concessions (permissions). Unlike the natural law, however, the law of nations does not necessarily derive from clear inference from natural principles. It cannot thus be unchanging as the natural law is. Suárez additionally distinguishes between the law of nations, which are based on custom, and the civil law, which is written.
Suárez attacks the proposition that war is evil in and of itself. He instead argues that it is not forbidden to Christians or contrary to Christian charity. He goes as far as stating that offensive war is not a per se evil, but he tempers this by stating that war is generally wrong to undertake, but it is justified when the following three conditions are met: (i) it is waged by a legitimate authority; (ii) there is a just and serious cause; and (iii) it is properly and fairly conducted from its inception, in its prosecution, and in victory (p. 737). This implies that no intrinsic wrong will be done to innocent people.

Part VI. The Seventeenth Century

1. Richard Hooker
Richard Hooker (1554-1600), one of the principal voices of Anglican theological thought, was an Anglican priest who criticized the Presbyterian position as being “scripturally unsound, epistemologically naïve, and politically irresponsible” (p. 743). In his Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Hooker tried to deprive the Puritans of the theoretical justification of their reforms and to offer the Church of England a self-accounting. In chapter 10 of Book 1, Fortescue delineates the human positive law, which is “available by consent” (p. 750), “through its inseparable relationship to the origin and authority of government” (p. 744). The groundwork for international law anchors the law of nations “in natural human desire for universal society and fellowship, by … making the authority of international law over commonwealths tantamount to that of the civil law over private persons” (p. 745).

2. Johannes Althusius
Althusius (1557-1638) was a jurist and Calvinist political philosopher known for his Politica Methodice Digesta (Politics Methodically Digested). His writings blend Calvinist, Catholic, scholastic, and humanist sources in a framework with covenantal, constitutional, and pluralist features. He studied law at the Universities of Köln, Basel, and Geneva and obtained a doctorate in both civil and ecclesiastical law. During his studies, he came under the influence of the French Huguenots (Calvinists). His writing thus has a strong undertone of covenant as the basis for modern political society. In his Politics, he puts forward a federalist worldview where all social and political union is covenantal. He grounds all human covenants in two biblical Israeli covenants: (i) the “ecclesiastical covenant” between God, the king, and the people, where the king and people agree to worship God in truth in response to His promise to bless them; and (ii) the “civil covenant” between the king and the people’s representatives, where the elected magistrate promises to abide by the stipulated conditions of his rule in exchange for the people’s obedience to him (p. 759).

3. William Perkins
William Perkins (1558-1602) was a Cambridge clergyman who led the Puritan movement in the Church of England. In his Treatise of Christian Equitie, Perkins explores the virtue of Christian equity, which men are to use in their affairs with others for the maintenance of justice and peace. Equity informs the law but may be used to substitute the application of the law in the interest of moderation and mercy. Perkins appeals to a higher law when invoking the alteration of a punishment. The application of equity reflects man’s creation in the image of God, and thus points back to God.
Perkins discusses the two forms that equity may take: public equity, which is practiced in public meetings and assemblies, such as in courts, councils, and parliaments, and private equity, which is exercised between men in private affairs. The latter implies four duties: (i) to bear with natural infirmities; (ii) to grant the benefit of the doubt; (iii) to depart from our right at times; and (iv) to forgive private and personal wrongs.

4. The Convocation Book
The Convocation Book (1606) came about during the radicalization of the English constitutionalist tradition while the Roman Church was polemically reasserting older papalist doctrines about the right of popes to depose kings. The Convocation Book associates royal power with the patria potestas that belonged to Adam as a gift of creation. Furthermore, it links the royal power to the priestly power. The book was a controversial one that fed into the English Civil War.

5. Hugo Grotius
Grotius (1583-1645) was a Dutch jurist and diplomat whose writings established the basis of modern international law based on natural law. Two substantive themes underlie his political work: the teleological significance of all existence and the universal competence of divine law. In his On the Right of War and Peace, Grotius explores the notion of just war and what is just conduct in war. Defining “just” as not inconsistent with the nature of a society of rational beings, outlines the circumstances under which a war can be justly executed.

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