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The Unholy Alliance of Church and State
23
(ibid.,
p. 170). In return, the
king made sure his compliant
priests were amply rewarded for
their undivided and loyal sup–
port. They received stipends
from the government treasury,
lived in the best houses, and
had a major voice in local polit–
ical affairs.
Once established in power,
the local chieftain and his eccle–
siastical cronies could never
stand still. They often found it
necessary to lock horns with
competing powers from neigh–
boring city-states. A continual
game of "king of the spiritual
mountain" ensued as rival reli–
gions struggled for the sole do–
minion of subject populations.
The ancient church-state es–
tablishment also had other rea–
sons for warring with nearby
kingdoms. Often there was a
critical manpower shortage in
the local temple, and it could
only be fulfilled by tapping for–
eign sources. Sacrificial victims
were also needed to placate the
angry deities. While these often
came from the local population
(see Jeremiah 7:31; II Kings
16:3; 17:31), prisoners of war
were also looked on as welcome
additions.
This type of church-state
combination undoubtedly
reached one of its high points
during the period of the mighty
Babylonian Empire. The Baby-
Ionian temple, according to
Isaac Mendelsohn, "was the
largest landowner, the greatest
industrialist, the richest
banker, and the biggest slave–
holder in every city of the coun–
try. Its landholdings ...
included in addition to the
temple precinct, large tracts of
land outside of it ..."
(Slavery
in the Ancient Near East,
p. 100). Forced state worship
"The functions of the
Church were now to
promote the security of
the state
....
The car–
penter of Galilee had re–
placed Romulus and Mars
as the guardian of the
Empire, and the revolu–
tionary implications
of his teaching had been
rendered innocuous."
was often the order of the day
- as Shadrach, Meshach,
Abednego and Daniel discov–
ered the hard way (Daniel 3).
Church and State in Transition
The same basic system re–
fined by the Babylonians con–
tinued under the sway of
Persian, Greek and Roman
rulers (see Daniel 7:1-7, 17;
8:20-22). But as the Roman
(Continued on page 27)