I received an email from a “library specialist” who responded to the following statement made by me: “Theocracy is an inescapable concept. The rejection of one theocratic government leads to the choice of another theocratic government.” She offered the following objection:

The above statement is not true. There are other forms of dictatorship or autocracy that have nothing to do with God or with being God. The Supreme Court justices did not call themselves god and thus were not acting as a theocracy. You may feel they forced their views on you but that does not make a theocracy. Unless the people you name as theocratic (Maureen Dowd, Bill Moyers etc.) are creating a government based on the rule of God (Christian, Muslim, Judaic) then it is not a theocracy. Get your terminology correct. You don’t know your political terms and are misusing the word theocracy. Of course a lot of Christians take no logic courses and will believe you at your word, but you, sir, are wrong.

I responded by pointing out that she was restricting the definition of “theocracy” to its theological use:

You miss the point. The rejection of one god leads inescapably to the choice of another god. If any person, group, court, etc. establishes himself/themselves as the final arbiter of right and wrong, then he/they have assumed the attributes of a god. Thus, he/they are theocratic. You have limited the word to a belief in a personal god. Democracy can become theocratic if absolute power is given to the people. You’ve heard the phrase: vox populi, vox dei, “the voice of the people is the voice of God.” Those who promote a particular worldview and want to see it implemented socially, educationally, politically, and judicially have elevated the majority to the status of gods. Their political advocates have theocratic tendencies. Only their choice of god has changed. “Messianic” is used in a similar way. While the term is generally attributed to a religious figure, it is often used to describe people or institutions that have salvation in mind. For example, education (“The Messianic Character of American Education”), politics (“The Messianic State”), and science are often viewed as messianic. Consider this: “It is science that is to be man’s savior. Science’s messianic function will bring in a utopian ‘golden age.’ Such a ‘salvation’ requires an ethical system, of course, and this will be developed on naturalistic grounds, to replace theistically oriented ethics. It also requires the modifications of existing religions to make them ‘compatible’ with science. Conservative Christianity is duly put on notice that it is to be impeded wherever possible.”[1] Theocracy is no different. I know my terms quite well and have made an extensive study of the nature and use of the word “theocracy” and how liberal pundits are theocratic in their views, practices, and politics.[2] They want to give to the State the power of life, death, and control of property, domains that properly belong to God alone. It’s because we Christians take courses in logic, history, rhetoric, and civil government that we understand these things better than you suppose.

Not satisfied with my response, she offered the following in rebuttal:

One does not become a god just because they don’t believe in God or God’s rule on earth. A human cannot become god no matter how dictatorial their view is. We will continue to differ. As I see it, if the government does not worship a transcendent omniscient source (i.e. the unseeable god of the bible) then they are not theocratic. We disagree.

We will probably always disagree. It is the same problem I have when people like you claim that Secular Humanism is a religion, which it is not.

Here is my final response with some additions:

In the 1961 Supreme Court case Torcaso v. Watkins decision, Justice Hugo Black commented in a footnote, “Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism, and others.” Those of us who describe Secular Humanism as a religion are only following the lead of the Supreme Court. One assumes the mantle of deity when he sets himself up as the ultimate authority. It’s the attributes of deity that makes someone god-like. In the eighteenth century, the French revolutionaries declared “reason” to be the goddess of their new state religion. Nineteenth century France was spoken of as ‘goddess France’ by patriotic figures like Victor Hugo and Charles Maurras. Hegel, the philosophical patron saint of communism, wrote that “the State is the Divine Idea as it exists on earth… We must therefore worship the State as the manifestation of the Divine on earth, and consider that, if it is difficult to comprehend Nature, it is harder to grasp the Essence of the State… The State is the march of God through the world.”[3] Marx and Engels drank deeply from Hegel’s well. Long before Hegel and communist leaders who followed his ideology, Roman emperors elevated themselves to the status of gods. Gaius (A.D. 37–41) spoke openly about being a god. “By the time of Domitian (A.D. 81–96), it had become common to address him as dominus et deus, ‘my Lord and God.’”[4] Domitian was not referring to an unseen deity; he was referring to himself. The same is true of how the people perceived Herod: “On an appointed day Herod, having put on his royal apparel, took his seat on the rostrum and began delivering an address to them. The people kept crying out, ‘The voice of a god and not of a man!’” (Acts 12:23). I’m surprised that you don’t know of these things since you are a “library specialist.”

[2]** Gary DeMar, “Theocracy and Democracy” in America’s Christian History (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, [1995] 2005), 207–220.**
[3]** The quotations from Hegel were compiled by Karl R. Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies, 4th ed., 2 vols. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1963), 2:31. Quoted in Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction: Christian Faith and Its Confrontation with American Society (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, [1983] 1993), 178.[4] Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, 185.