More on Kakistocracy

Kakistocracy is “government by the worst men in the state: opposed to aristocracy” (Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, 995).  I believe in an earlier blog I made mention of this and how I perceived it to be true of all governments democracies and republics included.  My view came from Daniel 4:17, “The Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, And bestows it on whom He wishes. And sets over it the lowliest of men.”  Far from being the best and brightest, it’s the worst and dullest who rule whether they get there by bloodlines or lines at polls.  If the cream is rising to the stop, it’s sour cream. Since then, I’ve come upon a Christ-centered view to which I’m drawn.


Dr. Andrew E. Steinmann in his commentary on Daniel (Concordia Commentary series, 2008) has a fuller, richer view.  He writes on page 207.  “In fact, the angelic decree of the ‘watchers’ from heaven [4:17 quoted above from the NASB] portends the great reversal in Jesus:…Jesus truly became ‘the lowliest of humans’ on the cross as he bore the sin of the world and was abandoned by His Father, but then he was raised, exalted, and seated in power at the right hand of the ‘Most High,’ appointed with authority over the entirety of the ‘human kingdom’ (see Mt 28:18).”


Jesus, “the least in the kingdom of heaven,” (Luke 7:28) surely was the “lowliest of men.”  He who was “made to be sin” (2 Cor. 5: 21) surely was the worst man in any State.  And God most certainly did give all authority to Him in heaven and on earth (Mt. 28:18).


My only caveat is this.  Earthly rulers who don’t see they are set on earthly thrones because they are the least end up acting as the worst.  The govern from pride not humility.  Of all the emperors of Rome there were precious few who did not see the purple as indicative of being better than others.  One notable exception is Julian.  Notable because he is known as Julian the Apostate.  He tried to bring Rome back to paganism after it had been converted to Christianity, yet he was more humble then his Christian predecessors.  News reached Julian that a citizen of Ancyra had the audacity to make for himself a purple garment and wear it in public. Under the reign of Julian’s Christian predecessor, this would have been a capital offense. Julian however, sent him a pair of purple slippers to complete his Imperial ensemble (Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 354).


Now to complete this foray into humility.  Isn’t it notable that given the history of purple and its connection to royalty, rule, and being above the hoi polloi, the Church chose this color to mark its seasons of repentance Advent and Lent?  In the Church purple is the color of repentance, lowliness, unworthiness.  There is no purple that I know in any seals or symbols connected with the American presidency.  I suspect this was to avoid the implications of the purple of Rome.  However, it seems we also missed the implications of the purple of Church.


About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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