Pirates, Emperors, and Kingdoms Without Justice

(This is a partial repost, partly edited, from the sci-fi blog.)

TRUE justice has no existence save in that republic whose founder and ruler is Christ . . . Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms? The band itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority of a prince, it is knit together by the pact of the confederacy; the booty is divided by the law agreed on. If, by the admittance of abandoned men, this evil increases to such a degree that it holds places, fixes abodes, takes possession of cities, and subdues peoples, it assumes the more plainly the name of a kingdom, because the reality is now manifestly conferred on it, not by the removal of covetousness, but by the addition of impunity. Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, “What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled emperor.”

—Augustine of Hippo
from The Politics of God and the Politics of Man
Stephen Perks

“… not by the removal of covetousness, but by the addition of impunity.”

The Definition of Justice

According to Christopher Dawson “The drastic realism of this [Augustinian] definition has proved shocking to several modern writers on Augustine. Indeed, so distinguished a student of political thought as Dr. A. J. Carlyle is unwilling to admit that St. Augustine really meant what he said . . . In reality there is nothing inconsistent or morally discreditable about St. Augustine’s views. They follow necessarily from his doctrine of original sin; indeed, they are implicit in the whole Christian social tradition and they frequently find expression in later Christian literature” (Enquiries into Religion and Culture, p. 243f.). Unfortunately, this historically orthodox Christian understanding of the nature and authority of governments has largely been rejected by the Churches of the modern Western world. As a result the Church has become a mere ghetto and the Christian faith has been reduced to little more than a mystery cult. This book seeks to correct this error by setting forth a Christian political theology for the twenty-first century.

Book Blurb, The Politics of God and the Politics of Man

Mighty Men — now, and in the days of Rome — who recognize no law above their will, are a bad thing.

Christians — now, and in the days of Rome — are going to need something more than a submissive priesthood, a bunch of self-serving mystery cults focused on magic rituals, and vain dreams of escaping reality.

We are going to need the Law of God, a Covenantal relationship with God, to place Christ above Caesar, and to (re)build Christian civilization.

A world built on Justice for All under God.
Not the Unfettered Power of a Few over the Many.

Also: a lot of faith, perseverance, strength, wisdom, self-sacrifice… and, yes, love, compassion, and personal generosity as well.

Not easy work.

Not quick work.

But work worthy of men who have an eye for the future, near and far.

Empire and Kingdom

In the days of Rome, Great Fame is best seen as a prestige good. The shine and jewels that brings sparkle to your house and your name, after the crystaliron strength of Great Power and the overflowing treasuries of Great Wealth have been won.

This is the way of Men, but not the way of God.

Righteousness and Justice, mixed with Service and Humility, FIRST.
And THEN Responsibility and Leadership, tied to Prosperity and Wisdom.

“Great Power? Great Wealth? Great Fame?
Don’t sell your soul or destroy your family, chasing such temporary baubles and trinkets.”

Mighty Men really, really dislike detest that bit about Service and Humility.
Power and Pride is far more their style.

Righteousness and Justice are viewed skeptically,
when not simply waved off with a laugh and a smirk.

Then again, all empires fall… while the Kingdom of God stands forever.

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