John Eliot, a missionary in colonial Massachusetts, is best known for his work in translating the Bible into Algonquian. In his tract The Christian Commonwealth, Eliot created a blueprint for a government run according to the legal principles of the Old Testament. This model emphasized the ultimate power of God over all civil authorities. In his role as a missionary, Eliot applied this biblical system of governance to the small Christian Indian village of Natick. Given the political situation in Britain at the time, the Massachusetts court feared that Eliot’s ideas could be misinterpreted by King Charles II, who might take offence at the statement that even royal authorities were subordinate to a higher power.
My two cents
How good it would be to live in a society where the Bible was applied like this. If people are scared of such a system, then they are evildoers according to the Bible—and one responsibility of a godly ruler is to put terror into the heart of evildoers (Romans 13:1-4).
And how insecure of King Charles II to think there was no authority above him. That kind of reminds me of today’s governments as well. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Now I need to find an e-book of The Christian Commonwealth; if it was written in the 17th century, I figure it would be in the public domain.
Anon. (2009). Dangerous Ideas: Controversial Works from the William L. Clements Library – The Christian Commonwealth. Available: http://www.clements.umich.edu/exhibits/online/bannedbooks/entry6.html. Last accessed 10th Aug 2013.