Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau: Who’s Theory of Government Is Most Compatible With Biblical Principles?”
Government is a group of people either elected or imposed who exercise rule on behalf of citizens. The government should maintain law and order, ensure equality and provide public goods. In the social contract theory, before government existed, life was short, brutal and nasty. Insecurity was very rampant due to the fact that there was no system that enabled there to be order in the society so it was survival for the fittest mode of life. Hence man sought for a way to improve the situation which was by giving up some of his powers to a higher authority called the leviathan, to control his selfish nature.
Hobbes began Leviathan by describing the “state of nature” where all individuals were naturally equal. Every person was free to do what he or she needed to do to survive. As a result, everyone suffered from “continued fear and danger of violent death; and the life of man [was] solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” In the state of nature, there were no laws or anyone to enforce them. The only way out of this situation, Hobbes said, was for individuals to create some supreme power to impose peace on everyone. Hobbes borrowed a concept from English contract law: an implied agreement. Hobbes asserted that the people agreed among themselves to “lay down” their natural rights of equality and freedom and give absolute power to a sovereign. The sovereign, created by the people, might be a person or a group. The sovereign would make and enforce the laws to secure a peaceful society, making life, liberty, and property possible. Hobbes called this agreement the “social contract.” Hobbes believed that a government headed by a king was the best form that the sovereign could take. Placing all power in the hands of a king would mean more resolute and consistent exercise of political authority, Hobbes argued. Hobbes also maintained that the social contract was an agreement only among the people and not between them and their king. Once the people had given absolute power to the king, they had no right to revolt against him. Hobbes warned against the church meddling with the king’s government. He feared religion could become a source of civil war. Thus, he advised that the church become a department of the king’s government, which would closely control all religious affairs. In any conflict between divine and royal law, Hobbes wrote, the individual should obey the king or choose death.
Upon examining all three philosophers, Christians are naturally drawn to the philosophyof John Locke as his system of thinking is drawn directly from the Bible. Locke was a man of deepconviction and firmly believed in the divine inspiration and authority of God’s Word and emphasized this when in writing to the Bishop of Worcester. It is easy to see then that Locke believed in the inerrancy and infallibility of God’s Holy Word and used it as the Authority for all of his philosophy. It has been greatly debated whether or not Hobbeswas a Christian or not and it is quite clear that Rousseau was not, or at least was not devout eventhough parts of their philosophy do agree with Biblical principle and in some cases are antithetical to Biblical tradition as will be discussed later on. Of the three philosophers, Rousseau seems to be the most foreign to modern precepts of “who” man is and “why” he is. Rousseau takes the view that man is merely an animal and as suchhe “roams the forest in search of nourishment” when speaking of the nature of man (Bloom, 1987, p. 563). While Rousseau surmises that man, in his pure form is more of a savage than anything else, Hobbes states that man is driven by anxiety and fear as a path to “securing the way to theirfuture desires” (Berns, 1987, p. 399).
Overall, the democracy is not the only theory of government. In autocracy is a form of government where one person holds unlimited power over the rest of the country. This is something seen in places such as Saudi Arabia where the single King has complete rule or something seen in other places where a single leader has complete control. A monarchy is a form of autocracy one that also applies to places where a royal family rules the government. Overall there are many forms of government each of which are best for different peoples and countries.
Berns, L. (1987). Thomas Hobbes: 1588-1679. In L. Strauss & J. Cropsey (Eds.), History ofPolitical Philosophy (3rd ed.pp. 396-420). Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
Bloom, A. (1987). Jean-Jacques Rousseau: 1712-1778. In L. Strauss & J. Cropsey (Eds.), History of Political Philosophy (3rd ed.pp. 559-579). Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
Cahn, S. M. (2002). Classics of Political and Moral Philosophy. New York, NY: OxfordUniversity Press.