In King James’ On the Divine Right of Kings, the topics of a king’s power and sovereignty are discussed. King James argues that because kings are “God’s lieutenants[,]” that they should not be questioned or opposed by their subjects. The text is not dissimilar to when one may hear a parent telling a child “because I said so,” in that James is arguing that he is handpicked by God to be leader, so his decisions cannot logically be questioned. King James was the monarch of Britain during what one could call the calm before the storm of the Enlightenment, which one can only assume had some sort of a forewarning as the monarchs of the world began to feel their omnipotence evaporating.
It is this time period (the text was written in 1609), in which the grip of the church and its fear-tactics began to loosen on the world. Towards the tail-end of the Reformation, one can certainly understand why the King (whose only authority comes from his claims of divine right) would want to flex his God-muscle. Britain itself had been greatly affected by this shift in power, as they had started their own church roughly three and a half scores (note to Mrs. Whitley- going for it) prior to James’ penning of this document. It is a legitimate point that the people of England might not have been feeling too confident in the sovereignty of God after their leader had decided he disliked the religion, as once one begins changing their mind on religion it is hard to tie oneself down again. The uprooting of the church may have led people to take the time to actually think about if all (or any) of what they had been taught from birth was true, and King James was more than happy to remind them that God was real, all-powerful, and his best friend:
“God hath power to create or destrov make or unmake at his pleasure, to give life or send death, to judge all and to be judged nor accountable to none; to raise low things and to make high things low at his pleasure, and to God are both souls and body due. And the like power have kings: they make and unmake their subjects, thev have power of raising and casting down, of life and of death, judges over all their subjects and in all causes and yet accountable to none but God only. . . .”
So with the thought in mind that the King is getting antsy, the people are getting smarter, and information is being freely spread for the first time in history, what is there to learn? The first is that humans are all relatively aware of the fact that no human is “better” or “more-divine” than any other human, and because of this the first-world (and even most other countries) do not have a single person in power. People now understand the faults of a one-wing leadership body. Major corporations have boards that vote on items, governments have congresses/parliaments, school systems have school boards. The idea of a singularity in power is now realized as suboptimal, and King James was coming to that realization in 1609, when decided to try and put a stop to it. In order to win the proverbial space race with information, he tried to publish an easy-to-read bible to accompany his thoughts on the power of the monarch. King James’s arguments are absurd because they are not arguments based in fact. His argument is that God will be angry if the people question his power, which has no response because it is not an argument. One can point to nearly any event and spin it to be God doing whatever it is they want God to be doing. God’s influence is not something that can be argued, because when it is the proprietor of the argument can just say that only God understands his own ways. If King James were to point to his higher IQ, and other objective neurological traits that make him a better leader than anyone else (even though he could/should still be questioned), then perhaps he would have an argument. He would have to back it up with some studies that suggest whatever traits he possessed definitively lead to a better leader, but it is unlikely that he would be able to do that. So I will ask the king myself: Why is it that the supreme leader and knower of all things chose you as the king?
“[Y]ou know I will never give a plausible answer; for it is an undutiful part in subjects to press their king, wherein they know beforehand he will refuse them.”
Oh, okay. My bad.