C.S. Lewis on theocracy


I know I’m not writing much myself here on my english blog, and mostly quoting and putting up music lately. My excuses for that. It’ll probably change sometime in the future when my inspiration returns.

I found this quote from Lewis very interesting (from ‘a reply to professor Haldane’, in ‘of this and other worlds) He is writing against a professor that is critical of him, and that seems to be more communist in his thinking.

I don’t always agree with Lewis on politics, mainly because he tends to have a medieval hierarchic way of looking at things, but his rejection of a theocracy in favor of democracy here is very interesting.

I am a democrat because I believe that no man or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled powers over others. And the higher the pretensions of such power, the more dangerous I think it both to the rulers and to the subjects. Hence Theocracy is the worst of all governments. If we must have a tyrant a robber baron is far better than an inquisitor. The baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity at some point be sated; and since hè dimly knows hè is doing wrong hè may possibly repent. But the inquisitor who mistakes his own cruelty and lust of power and fear for the voice of Heaven will torment us indefinitely because hè torments us with the approval of his own conscience and his better impulses appear to him as temptations. And since Theocracy is the worst, the nearer any government approaches to Theocracy the worse it will be. A metaphysic, held by the rulers with the force of a religion, is a bad sign. It forbids them, like the inquisitor, to admit any grain of truth or good in their opponents, it abrogates the ordinary rules of morality, and it gives a seemingly high, super-personal sanction to all the very ordinary human passions by which, like other men, the rulers will frequently be actuated. In a word, it forbids wholesome doubt. A political programme can never in reality be more than probably right. We never know all the facts about the present and we can only guess the future. To attach to a party programme – whose highest real claim is to rea-sonable prudence – the sort of assent which we should reserve for demonstrable theorems, is a kind of intoxication.

what do you think?
shalom

Bram

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