David Robertson is not happy with one of the letters — the secularist one — to one of his many columns about Christianity in Scotland. According to the correspondent, “Scotland was a theocracy for 1,000 years, which left nothing but bloodshed and heartache in its wake.” To which Robertson responds:
In a post-modern age this Alice-in-Wonderland view of history, where history is just what you want it to be, may ring true for the more fundamentalist secularists whose faith tells them that any public expression of religion is bad, but anyone who actually reads history would know that this is a grotesque and laughable caricature.
The Romans did not bring their law beyond Hadrian’s Wall, although Christians writers did adapt some aspects of Roman law (Christianity does, after all, teach about God’s common grace reaching to all human beings who are made in the image of God).
Theocracy is the rule of the state by the Church, and that clearly did not happen in the supposed “1,000-year reign”, although, as my letter pointed out, there have been those who have used Christianity for political ends and vice versa).
Robertson is certainly correct to react against secular fundamentalism, though he might do a better job of explaining the modern era’s debt to the medieval world — constitutionalism, universities, cities. But shouldn’t he also say something about a complicated relationship between church and state in Scotland that concedes that the head of the church — the British monarch — is also head of the state. Might not he also understand the complaints that secularists do have legitimately about the sometimes less than progressive mixing of religion and politics in the United Kingdom? It may not be theocracy, but the king’s headship within the church is some variety of Caesaropapism. Not to mention that the king’s and queen’s sovereignty within the church sent Presbyterians into a rightful tizzy to protect the crown rights of Christ as head of the church.