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22
ffi
s we saw in the last
chapter, it doesn't take very
much to lead people down the
primrose path of ecclesiastical
error. And while false religion
can certainly make life miser–
able for some, there is a limit to
the mischief it can do if only a
few isolated individuals recog–
nize its authority and power.
But things take on much more
ominous overtones when reli–
gious rigmarole becomes ac–
cepted on an organized,
established basis - especially
when it becomes the recognized
religion of a state, nation, or
empire.
The problem had its begin–
nings with the earliest civ–
ilizations. It seems that when
men first began to organize into
local city-states the obvious
question of "Who's in charge
here?" naturally arose. The an–
swer usually came in a very
straightforward way - by the
use of brute force.
In most instances it was the
local hunter-turned-hero (for
example, Nimrod- see Genesis
10:8) who had the most going
for him in this regard; namely,
The White Horse: False Religion
a monopoly on most of the local
weaponry. And back then, supe–
rior weaponry a kingdom did
make. According to Lewis
Mumford: "'This unscrupulous
use of the weapons of the hunt
to control the political and eco–
nomic activities of whole com–
munities was one of the
effective inventions of kingship"
(The Myth of the Machine,
p.
169).
The Power of a Persuasive
Priesthood
But something more was re–
quired in addition to a simple
show of strength. The ordinary
citizen had to be convinced that
the hunting-hero-turned-king
was God's chosen representa–
tive and thus worthy of high
devotion. That's why an orga–
nized, state-approved religion
was a must. As Mumford put it:
"The agency that effected this
change ... was the product of a
coalition between the tribute–
exacting hunting chieftain and
the keepers of an important re–
ligious shrine. Without that
combination ... the claims that
the new rulers made to uncon–
ditional obedience to their
king's superior will could not
have been established: it took
extra, supernatural authority,
derived from a god or group of
gods, to make kingship prevail
throughout a large society"