Resurrection of the King-God

Nestor Ravilas

“Suportahan natin ang gobyerno dahil niloklok ito ng Diyos” (Let us support this government for God has put it in power) – blustered by one religious supporter of the current Duterte regime.

The beheading of Charles I of England could be monumental event that has proven the doctrine of divine right of the king is mere human construct. None has foreseen it to happen; neither the leader of parliamentary army, Oliver Cromwell, nor Charles I himself. The fusion of temporal and divine power in the throne of England which has spawned an abusive and tyrant line of monarchs has finally come to an end. England is now under the parliament with Cromwell as its head. Soon after the fleeting reign of Cromwell’s parliament, however, the people clamored again for the return of the divine right absolutism. Thus, Charles II, son of the beheaded Charles I, revived the throne under the religious emblem of “divine right to rule”. Blood spilled all over again, first of those jurists who had sent his father to the gallows.

It makes us wonder, therefore, where this desire for absolute sovereign emanating from that keeps us reverting to it over and over again. Do we really have among us privileged few, destined to rise supreme above all, or we rather have this baffling inclination to elevate someone above in order to rule and subdue us beyond questioning? The former makes revolution as antidote, ridicule deserves the latter however.

The Athenians and the Israelites shared repugnance towards absolute monarchy in almost the same period of history. The practice of merging both divine and political power to a throne and bow down to its authority unreservedly, exhausted and debilitated both people. As a result, the Athenians started the grand experiment of democracy. Their political imagination opted that the rule of the many is better than the sovereign rule of a king. Thus, they tried to democratize leadership by allowing the voice of everyone to be heard. It was not a perfect one since it excluded certain voices like of slaves, women, and children, but it opens up the possibility that everyone can be part of governing his society.

The Israelites, on their part, have threaded a different path as reaction to the long history of frustration to human kings. Rather than taking the scepter and rule the country themselves like what the Athenians did, they cringed more to monarchic hope. But this time to their god Yahweh or to his divine agent who was expected to break in human history and rule the land in justice and righteousness. Obviously the political imagination of Israel failed to develop. Most of them withdrew from the center of power and waited for God to intervene himself. The more remote a particular Jewish sect from Jerusalem the more it was dejected of human government and frustratingly turned and waited for divine intervention.

The expected return did not come, but human society continues to exist and evolve and the need to put them in cooperative association becomes the burden of ensuing generations.

Despite of its failure, the democratic experiment remains an inspiration. While the hopeful of biblical faith banished when God did not appear as expected. A counterfeit group rose and flourished on their behalf in the West particularly in Rome. It connived with politics by providing kings with divine right for absolute rule. The crowning of the Holy Roman emperors by the popes and the control of the English monarchs of the Church of England are examples of this collusion between religion and politics that made kings as sovereign rulers. With all the abuses and wars this collusion of religion and politics has brought, the democratic rule becomes a dream to revisit by people who wish for peace and justice.

The beheading of Charles I made a crack in once impenetrable doctrine of divine right of kings. Thomas Hobbes’ introduction of the idea of social contract questions the very doctrine. The possibility and legitimacy of revolution once the king failed to deliver his obligation in this contract was added later by John Locke to what Hobbes has built. Baruch Spinoza, on his part, attacks the ecclesiastical power and theological authority by doubting is transcendental origin in his anonymously written book, Theological-Political Treatise. Immanuel Kant finally supplants religion by reason. Putting all these together to legitimize a secular democratic regime which foundation is a set of laws termed as constitution agreed by all members of a given society.

Putting it in this context, all the efforts of political thinkers and philosophers were unleashed to disrupt this connivance between religion and politics. The monarchs was stripped off of divine legitimacy and made them realize that it was the people who bestowed them power to exercise, not forever, but on limited period of time through the electoral process.

It is true that the democratic imagination remains unrealized and its encroaching universalization is disgusting at times, but the return to divine right absolutism should have to be repelled by democratic ideals of social participation and deliberation. At all costs, society must be spared from the abuses and oppression of absolute leaders hiding under the protection of divine right to rule.

What particularly funny with the modern world, we remain enamored with the notion of absolute monarchs and sovereign kings. Barely three years in office, has the Duterte government proved to be inept and unfit to the office. In him the combination of the mad king Henry VI, of tyrants Kings Charles I and Louis XIV all come together. Yet we refuse to denounce him. We absorb rather all the garbage and dirt he throws to us. We applaud him in all his savagery and lewdness. We are enrapture by his huge dick. We excuse him from badmouthing God himself. Thirty thousand people are dead on his behest, drugs keep on sprouting, economy is down, sovereignty is in jeopardy, territory was surrendered, corruption thrives, and despite all of this, we still adore and admire him. That is because God has put him in Malacañang. “Iniloklok sya ng Diyos!”We revived the doctrine of divine right to rule via Romans 13 and we conferred it to this man. He is beyond questioning and therefore answerable to no one as some argue that to question Digong is to question God himself. That is tantamount saying that to support him in all his evil and shenanigans is to do the will of God.

Ladies and gentlemen, through the courtesy of Jesus’ followers, both Evangelicals and Catholics, allow me to introduce to you the Holy Emperor of the Filipino people!