Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Rousseau on Christian Military

Book IV, Chapter 8, “Christian troops, we are told are excellent. I deny this. Is someone going to show me some? For my part, I do not know of any Christian troops. Someone will mention the crusades. without disputing the valor of the crusaders, I will point out that quite far from being Christians, they were soldiers of the priest; they were citizens of the church; they were fighting for its spiritual country which the church, God knows how, had made temporal. Properly understood, this is a throwback to paganism. Since the Gospel does not establish a national religion, no holy war is possible among Christians.” Jean Jacques Rousseau, On the Social Contract, or Principles of Political Right, Book 4, Chp 8, reprinted from The Basic Political Writings, translated by Donald A. Cress (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1987).

It is my opinion that Rousseau is right in one sense that armies can only fight for earthly kingdoms and therefore no army can be considered Christian for they inevitably fight for earthly domain whether geographical or ideological. On the other hand, Rousseau takes a dangerous turn to articulate the difference between God's kingdom and earthly kingdoms as a dichotomy between spiritual and earthly territory. The Divine kingdom of God is celestial in terms of its principles, methods, and loci of authority. It would be a terrible mistake, however, to exclude this kingdom from earthly affairs, geography, or administration. In short, the kingdom of God is heavenly due to its methods and principles, not in its ontological manifestation (i.e. its presence on this earth).


Blogger Thom Stark said...


I agree with you.


March 3, 2007 at 12:32 PM  

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