Friday, April 22, 2005

Sphere Sovereignty

Blue Goldfish links to several posts about the concept of Sphere Sovereignty including this definition from Gideon Strauss:

We say that there are diverse spheres in human life, each with a creational design for which specified laws are given by God, and within which there are distinct responsibilities and authority relationships. These spheres need room to flourish in society, but must also not encroach on one another [...]
I think this concept is very useful in understanding the application of biblical principles to politics, provided the sovereignty indicated isn't taken too absolutely. The spheres should not be pictured as air-tight compartments which share no space with one another as in, say soap bubbles. Rather they should be envisioned as slightly overlapping spheres that share territories at the borders as in, say, the "spheres" of sound that are emitted by multiple loud-speakers. Most theorists that I have heard discuss the matter acknowledge this point, at least implicitly, but it is worthwhile to make it explicit to avoid confusion. Also, there should probably be a greater emphasis on hierarchy amongst the various spheres than I have heard most protestants make. Some loud-speakers, after all, have a greater range than others.

I think this concept will become crucial in the monarchy debate I am having with Andrew, and I alluded to it here:
But since I actually distrust paternalism in government, I am not sure I want to go in that direction.
But even apart from that specific debate, I think this concept of mutual restraint and limitation of power is a crucial insight of the reformers and a key to the liberty that God wills for his people.

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