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Dominionists and the OT law

Discussion in 'Theological Concepts' started by Vouthon, Jul 11, 2018.

  1. Vouthon

    Vouthon Dominus Deus tuus ignis consumens est
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    Deuteronomy 28:13: "The Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall be above only, and you shall not be below; if you hearken unto the commandments of the LORD your God."​


    This passage is especially beloved of Dominionists, given the ease with which it can be abused and misconstrued to justify feelings of divinely ordained supremacism and election of certain people over other (less favoured or godly) people (i.e. are you a head that leads or a tail that wags?).

    I've longed noticed that fundamentalist Christians, particularly Dominionist Protestants, exhibit an almost pathological obsession with the law of Moses in the Torah. Not that they understand it aright, in its appropriate cultural context, but they do seem to rely upon these scriptural texts as supports for their theology.

    One only has to consider the Dutch Calvinist Afrikaneers of apartheid South Africa, or Christian reconstructionists in the US South.

    This extends, on occassion, to the actual conviction that human legislation should somehow be shaped by these ancient, pre-Christian, near eastern stipulations. Theonomy is the most extreme manifestation of this.

    This begs the question: why?

    For most mainstream Christian denominations - Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox or otherwise - Christianity is a timeless religion of grace and love, rather than one centered around the (to modern eyes) harsh and invasive legalism of an ancient mesopotamian theocracy.

    Shouldn't the Beatitudes of Jesus and his parables be the main reference point for every Christian? Or, if one chooses to focus upon the Old Testament, what about the cynical wisdom of Ecclesiastes, the sharp open-mindedness of Job or the social justice activism of the Nevi'im (prophets)?

    Why are Dominionists (apparently) less interested in advocating for a government founded upon these principles?

    The entire concept of 'Dominionist theology' is derived from a facile misreading of the first verses of Genesis, where God grants mankind "dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth" (Genesis 1:28). This is a poor translation from the Hebrew, since the original text actually implies stewardship rather than mastery or hierarchical dominance.

    But quite apart from that, the dominionists draw entirely the wrong lesson from this verse. Nowhere does it imply domination of one set of human beings by other human beings, even less so the dominance of one belief system over others or in control of the reins of civil government. It's about humanity acting as equal stewards together over the natural world on behalf of God - not in relation to one another.

    Thus, mainstream Christians have traditionally taken the complete opposite understanding from this verse. The scholastic theologian Francisco Suarez in 1613, summarised the consensus of the Fathers and canonists to this effect:


    Selections from Three Works - Online Library of Liberty


    8. From these considerations finally it is concluded that no king or monarch has or has had directly from God or from divine institution a political principality, but by the medium of human will and institution. This is the honored axiom of theology, not for derision, as the king proposed, but in truth, because rightly understood it is most true and especially necessary for understanding the purposes and limits of civil power...

    Besides this truth can be taken from the holy Fathers, first, because they assert that man was created by God free and free-born, and only received directly from God the power of ruling over the brute beasts and inferior things; but the dominion of men over men was introduced by human will through sin or some adversity.
     
    #1 Vouthon, Jul 11, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
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  2. 74x12

    74x12 Well-Known Member

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    I think you're furthering stereotypes of Afrikaneers and southern Christians. I don't believe they are as bad of people as portrayed by the world. The Afrikaneers were just farmers. They want to keep their farms they worked on for generations. Blame the old British government for the messed up South Africa. This comes at a particularly poor time when Afrikaneers are facing possible genocide at the hands of the South African government.
     
  3. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon shunyadragon
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    There are many versions of Dominion Theology. I believe may be expressed in different ways, but Dominion Theology lies at the foundation of all Christianity including the Roman Church, Orthodox Churches, and Protestant churches.
     
  4. Terese

    Terese Mangalam Pundarikakshah
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    This is good. While humans are intellectually superior to all known species on earth, this does not mean we should treat "lesser" animals as brainless and worthless. What we do to cows is a crime. I enjoy the idea of us having stewardship, taking care of our earth and its species, and not a domineering mastery of it. At least, that's how i translate stewardship :D

    We're not doing a good job of being stewards unfortunately. :/
     
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  5. Ellen Brown

    Ellen Brown Well-Known Member
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    Finally someone whose theology is appealing enough to cause me to want to learn more. Mashallah.

    My own theory is that if someone is generally kind and merciful, their version of God will be the same. If someone is vengeful and vindictive, their God is the same. My own son is a Dominionist Christian, or I think so, and we mostly do not talk. Due to my own issues, at first my God was ever condemning of me, but over the years, as I have studied, my God has gotten much nicer.

    The Mormons believe that their Prophet and Seer was appointed by God. And there are other bodies that follow a similar path. My own theology is that there is no one, save Jesus Christ between God and I. It is fairly difficult to be a good Muslim while thinking that but I'm trying to work it out.
     
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  6. Ellen Brown

    Ellen Brown Well-Known Member
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    My main issue with it is the generally harsh treatment of those who have failed.
     
  7. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    Is Dominionism what's behind the thinking of some folks that they can do whatever they wish to do the planet, regardless of consequences?

    Second, does anyone know if Francis Schaefer based his "Dominionist Theology" on Deut 28:13?
     
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  8. Tumah

    Tumah Veteran Member

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    One can't help but get the feeling that you believe that 3,300 year old Laws are ancient for the purposes of determining legislation, but 2,000 year old laws are not.
     
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  9. sayak83

    sayak83 Veteran Member
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    Your posts are complete in and of themselves. So there nothing much to do other than nod in agreement and give a winner rating. :p
     
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  10. Vouthon

    Vouthon Dominus Deus tuus ignis consumens est
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    Unfortunately my friend, yes.

    That single, tiny mistranslation of one Hebrew word as dominion rather than stewardship has had catastrophic consequences IMHO for the environment and conservation of the animal world.

    It pretty much looks to some like a divine mandate to do as one pleases with our common treasury, the earth and other life-forms.

    But, even more heinous in many ways, is the mistaken understanding of that mistranslation. For even the denominations that have rendered it (wrongly) as dominion rather than stewardship have never usually stretched the verse to encompass social relations among humans.

    As such, the verse has traditionally been employed by mainstream Christians to emphasise that in God's original plan for creation before the Fall, humankind dwelt as equal stewards of creation without hierarchies amongst themselves - social dominance of one person over another emerging from the first sin.

    But in the narrow exegesis of the Dominionist, this becomes a licence to exercise mastery over the rest of the universe, natural order, resources, animals and other human beings (ungodly 'tails'?)

    Therefore, their theology is seriously skewed from the get-go. And frightening in its implications, if I may say so.

    Well, he refers to it often enough in his works i.e.

    https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=xBQVBHtFZzkC&pg=PA141&dq=head+not+the+tail+francis+schaeffer+deuteronomy.&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwimysHcqZncAhULK8AKHXOzAVAQ6AEIKjAB#v=onepage&q=head not the tail francis schaeffer deuteronomy.&f=false

    Scholars generally consider the phrase, "we are the head and not the tail" to be the leitmotif or battle-cry of the movement. It's a freaky phrase when pulled out of context, isn't it? Sounds like something out of a totalitarian regime.
     
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  11. Vouthon

    Vouthon Dominus Deus tuus ignis consumens est
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    I must disagree with you here.

    Dominionism, certainly in its theonomic guise, is anathema to mainstream Protestantism, Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy; none of which have traditionally set up "God's law" delivered through Moses as a model for secular society after the coming of Christ.

    Firstly, Christianity did not originate as the creed of a state entity (like ancient Israel or the Arab caliphate), rather it began life as a minority persecuted faith in the backwater region of a pagan empire.

    As such, it originally had no pretensions of political power and so we find explicit instructions in the New Testament to the effect that Christians must "be subject to the governing authorities" (Romans 12:1-7) of the Roman Empire, rather than seek to impose their worldview because "what business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?" (1 Corinthians 5:12) and accordingly the reign of Christ was deemed to be staunchly apolitical: "Jesus said, "My kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to prevent my arrest by the Judean leaders. But my kingdom is from another world"" (John 18:36).

    You really can't get a more overt denial of dominionism as a political theology than that. So the New Testament, with its otherworldly lawlessness and command that one must wait for the Second Coming, isn't a particularly fertile ground for a programme of state takeover by theocrats.

    As a consequence of this most inauspicious of starts, Christianity was a thoroughly non-legalistic faith. St. Paul - or whomever wrote this epistle - put it bluntly when stating that:


    "having canceled the written legal code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he [Jesus] took it away, nailing it to the cross" (Colossians 2:14)​


    The New Law is the inner grace of the Holy Spirit, accessible only to the individual's conscience (i.e. "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17).) As Pope Benedict XVI once explained:


    https://books.google.co.uk/books?id...idical order derived from revelation.&f=false


    "Unlike other great religions, Christianity has never proposed a revealed law to the State and to society, that is to say a juridical order derived from revelation. Instead, it has pointed to nature and reason as the true sources of law"


    See this article written in 1962 by Stanislaus Lyonnet, a Jesuit priest and biblical scholar:

    http://www.womenpriests.org/scriptur/lyonnet.asp


    The law of the Spirit is radically different by its very nature. It is not just a code, not even one "given by the Holy Spirit", but a law "produced in us by the Holy Spirit"; not a simple norm of actions outside us, but somethings, that no legal code as such can possibly be: a new, inner, source of spiritual energy.

    If St. Paul applies the term "law" to this spiritual energy, rather than the term "grace" that he uses elsewhere (see Rom.6:14) he most probably does it because of Jeremiah's prophecy (also mentioned in this context by St. Thomas) announcing a new covenant, the "New Testament" . For the prophet, too, speaks of law: "This is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel . .. . I will place my law within their hearts" (31:33).

    Every time the Angelic Doctor [Thomas Aquinas] refers to this "New Testament", he does so in the same terms: "It is God's way to act in the interior of the soul, and it was thus that the New Testament was given, since it consists in the inpouring of the Holy Spirit". Again: "It is the Holy Spirit Himself who is the New Testament, inasmuch as He works in us the love that is the fulness of the Law (23).

    For the Church and for her liturgy too, the promulgation of the New Law does not date from the Sermon on the Mount, but from the day of Pentecost when the "finger of the Father's right hand",digitus paternae dexterae, wrote His law in the hearts of men; the code of the Old Law, given on Sinai, finds its counterpart, not in a new code, but in the giving of the Holy Spirit."

    From this fundamental doctrine everything else flows, notably, the fact that Christian morality is of necessity founded on love, as St. Paul following his Master, teaches:"The whole Law is fulfilled in one word: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Gal 5:14) "He who loves his neighbour has fulfilled the Law If there is any other command it is summed up in this saying: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself .... therefore is the fulfilment of the Law" (Rom 13:8-10)

    The reason is that love is not first of all a norm of conduct, by a dynamic force. As St. Thomas notes, it is precisely because the Law, as a law, was not love that it could not justify man: "Consequently it was necessary to give us a law of the Spirit, who by producing love within could give us life." (27) .

    Under these conditions, it is easy to see that a Christian, that is one led by the Holy Spirit, (28) can at the same time be freed from every external law - "not be under the law" - and yet lead a perfect moral and virtuous life. St Paul makes it abundantly clear in the epistle to the Galatians, shortly after he has reduced te whole law to love: "Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh (Gal. 5: 16) Nothing could be more obvious, he explains, since these are two antagonistic principles: If you follow me, you cannot but oppose the other." If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law." In fact, what need would you have of law? A Spiritual man knows perfectly well what is carnal, and, if he is spiritual, he will fly from it as by instinct

    It is about people being moral agents, responsibly forming and examining their own consciences over time - "working out their own salvation" - through the grace of God and the help of Holy Mother Church with her teachings, scriptures and sacraments, which exist to enlighten or "form" individual conscience properly but not to replace it.



    From St. Thomas Aquinas:


    http://www.newadvent.org/summa/2108.htm


    Article 1. Whether the New Law ought to prescribe or prohibit any external acts?

    The New Law consists chiefly in the grace of the Holy Ghost, which is shown forth by faith that worketh through love. Now menbecome receivers of this grace through God's Son made man, Whose humanity grace filled first, and thence flowed forth to us...

    On the other hand, there are works which are notnecessarilyopposed to, or in keeping with faith that worketh through love. Such works are not prescribed or forbidden in theNew Law, by virtue of its primitive institution; but have been left by the Lawgiver, i.e.Christ, to the discretion of each individual. And so to each one it is free to decide what he should do or avoid; and to each superior, to direct his subjects in such matters as regards what they must do or avoid. Wherefore also in this respect theGospel is called the "law of liberty" [Cf. Reply to Objection 2]: since the Old Law decided many points and left few to man to decide as he chose.

    Accordingly the New Law is called the law of liberty in two respects. First, because it does not bind us to do or avoid certain things, except such as are of themselves necessary or opposed tosalvation, and come under the prescription or prohibition of thelaw. Secondly, because it also makes us comply freely with these precepts and prohibitions, inasmuch as we do so through the promptings ofgrace. It is for these two reasons that the New Law is called "the law of perfect liberty" (James 1:25).

    In medieval Christendom, even during the most oppressive periods of inquisition, the two kingdoms doctrine was observed: by means of which religious and civil power were understood as separate in their own autonomous spheres.

    This is the orthodox position held by practically all mainline Christian denominations, Protestant or Catholic, as one can explain with reference to the political philosophy of St. Augustine of Hippo (the most influential patristic authority in the Latin West):


    https://books.google.co.uk/books?id...ncAhUELVAKHeGeCzQQ6AEISzAE#v=onepage&q&f=true


    Augustine firmly resisted the theocratic notion of a Christian empire. Insofar as he did not try to baptize the saeculum [temporal order], he was secular...Augustine rejected the idea that the saeculum could be made into a sacred theocracy in which civil authorities would enforce the law of God...At best, he hoped the state would become theologically neutral and leave the church alone...It would, in any case, be a mistake to preempt heaven by trying to establish a paradise on earth, a sacred city here and now...


    (continued...)
     
  12. Vouthon

    Vouthon Dominus Deus tuus ignis consumens est
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    Justus sibi lex est (“the just man is a law unto himself”), an aphorism inspired by Romans 2:14, was one of the most widespread catchphrases of the early church and it's not exactly conducive to a Dominionist theology. It implies, in the words of the church father St. Ambrose of Milan that: "the wise man is always free...the just man is a law unto himself, and he does not need to summon the law from afar, for he carries it enclosed in his heart" (Letters 54) and St. Clement of Alexandria: "virtue can come only through voluntary choice. The law assumes this from the outset" (Stromata 2:2).

    Mainstream Christianity, enshrining this principle that 'virtue can come only through voluntary choice', has never aspired to turn this world into a theocratic kingdom of God on earth i.e.


    https://libertarianchristians.com/2013/01/06/catholic-theologians-say-prostitution-should-be-legal/


    Far from being theocrats, as so many vulgar critics of the medievals claim, the medievals like Aquinas were actually in favor of greatly limited civil government, which had little use or purpose beyond the maintenance of peace...[to Aquinas]

    While civil law does forbid certain vicious acts such as murder and theft, and requires certain acts of virtue such as caring for one’s children and paying one’s debts, it cannot "forbid all vicious acts" nor can it prescribe "all acts of virtue." Aside from the fact that it would supplant the need for eternal law, why cannot civil law be enacted to prohibit all vicious activities?

    The goal of human law is the temporal tranquility of the state and not eternal salvation. Given this goal of temporal peace and order, Aquinas notes that the mandate of human law is to prohibit "whatever destroys social intercourse" and not to "prohibit everything contrary to virtue." The main reason for civil law’s inability to prohibit all vice is that it cannot effect a full internal reform of an individual.

    Therefore the coercive and educating power of human law is inefficacious in this realm. Aquinas asserts, then, that human law cannot "exact perfect virtue from man, for such virtue belongs to few and cannot be found in so great a number of people as human law has to direct

    In fact, the early Protestant movement - courtesy of its doctrine of faith alone and priesthood of believers - had a tendency towards the opposite extreme of libertarian antinomianism, more so than it did theocratic legalism.

    So, despite the growing popularity of this subversive theology today (in places like the USA and Russia), it has never enjoyed any precedence or recognition among Christians historically, with a few exceptions (i.e. Calvin's Geneva?).
     
  13. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon shunyadragon
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    I will respond more, but there is a misconception here, because Christian Dominion Theology is not based on the OT or Mosaic Law. It is based on New Testament Christian Dominion Theology.
     
  14. Vouthon

    Vouthon Dominus Deus tuus ignis consumens est
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    Dominion theology is highly indebted to theonomy, the idea that the divine law revealed to Moses, is a model for society - or at the very least an ideal, since it was (they think) the one occasion where God laid out such a system for a given state (i.e. He doesn't do so in the NT).

    As even mainstream Evangelicals explain:


    https://www.gotquestions.org/dominion-theology.html


    Question: "What is dominion theology / theonomy / Christian reconstructionism?"

    Answer: Dominion theology refers to a line of theological interpretation and thought with regard to the role of the church in contemporary society. Dominion theology is also known as Christian reconstructionism and theonomy. Dominion theology states that biblical Christianity will rule all areas of society, personal and corporate...

    Those who hold these views believe that it is the duty of Christians to create a worldwide kingdom patterned after the Mosaic Law. They believe that Christ will not return to earth until such a kingdom has been established. The principal goal, then, of dominion theology and Christian reconstructionism is political and religious domination of the world through the implementation of the moral laws, and subsequent punishments, of the Old Testament (the sacrificial and ceremonial laws having been fulfilled in the New Testament). This is not a government system ruled by the church, but rather a government conformed to the Law of God.


    Nonetheless, my post covers both aspects because I explain in depth how the New Testament doesn't offer a revealed law for society, such that any attempt to deduce such from it is wrongheaded.

    I would ask that you have a quick read over my argument again and counter this later contention if you have evidence to the contrary.

    Are you aware of inheritance, dietary, criminal or general judicial blueprints in the NT or any other early Christian work where a revealed law is put forward for society?
     
    #14 Vouthon, Jul 12, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
  15. Vouthon

    Vouthon Dominus Deus tuus ignis consumens est
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    With respect, that is most definitely not what I am implying. :)

    The New Testament and the Christian Revelation doesn't have any laws to put forward for the "purpose of determining legislation", which I think is the reason why it isn't the favoured source for those advocating such a theocratic model. Throughout the medieval period, the secular law codes were based variously on Saxon, Roman and other legal norms because the religion itself lacked a divinely revealed legal system. Canon law can be changed by any pope. It's mutable, not an immutable divine code.

    Sure, laws could be adapted to be more in keeping with Christian ethics but there wasn't an actual Christian "law" akin to Sharia that anyone could point to and say, "yeah, God wants us to divide inheritance up as follows" or dish out "xyz" punishment for such-and-such a crime.

    I'll give you an example. In 866, the pagan Khan Boris of the Bulgars wanted to convert to Christianity and sent a letter to Pope Nicholas asking him to explain the "law of the Christians" so that he could live by it.

    The pope replied as follows:


    http://www.pravoslavieto.com/history/09/866_responce_pope_Nicholas_I.htm


    Now then, at the very beginning of your questions, you properly and laudably state that your king seeks the Christian law...One should know that the law of the Christians consists in faith and good works. For faith is the first of all virtues in the lives of believers. Whence, even on the first day there is said to be light, since God is portrayed as having said: Let there be light,[Gen.1:3] that is, "let the illumination of belief appear." Indeed, it is also because of this illumination that Christ came down to earth. Good work is no less demanded from a Christian; for just as it is written in our law: Without faith it is impossible to please God,[Heb. 11:6] so it is also written: Just as a body without a spirit is dead, so, too, faith without works is dead.[James 2:20] This is the Christian law, and whoever keeps this law properly, shall be saved.

    He proceeds to explain in subsequent that Christians have no laws covering dress, diet or in terms of legal punishments. Indeed he invites the Khan to have a read of Justinian's Institutes of Roman Law as a model. A particularly amusing interchange came in answer to question LVIIII by the Khan:


    We consider what you asked about pants (femoralia) to be irrelevant; for we do not wish the exterior style of your clothing to be changed, but rather the behavior of the inner man within you, nor do we desire to know what you are wearing except Christ — for however many of you have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ [Gal. 3:27] — but rather how you are progressing in faith and good works

    Likewise, when Jesus was asked by someone to act as arbiter in a family property dispute, he completely disowned even a modicum of interest in telling people how to run their own lives in that way:


    Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?”

    And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” 16 Then he told them a parable... (Luke 12:13-14)

    In other words, whereas Numbers 27:7-11 (which says a man's sons inherit first, daughters if no sons, brothers if he has no children, and so on) in the Torah and Sura 4 of the Qur'an have extensive details about inheritance law, Jesus prioritizes personal ethical living over the legal details and sees the development of law as a human responsibility, not a religious one. That's just a difference in mindset about the role of divine law but its an important one for Christians.

    Baha'u'llah, for example, would presumably have issued a legal directive in response to this question, as did Moses and Muhammad - since he proposes a divine law for the Baha'i Faith as well. Indeed, if we look at the Baha'i Kitab-i-Aqdas we find that it mandates revealed inheritance laws if one dies intestate:


    http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/b/KA/ka-6.html


    Unto everyone hath been enjoined the writing of a will. The testator should head this document with the adornment of the Most Great Name, bear witness therein unto the oneness of God in the Dayspring of His Revelation, and make mention, as he may wish, of that which is praiseworthy, so that it may be a testimony for him in the kingdoms of Revelation and Creation and a treasure with his Lord, the Supreme Protector, the Faithful.

    http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/b/KA/ka-55.html


    The major features of the Bahá’í laws of inheritance in the case of intestacy are: 1. If the deceased is a father and his estate includes a personal residence, such residence passes to the eldest son (Q and A 34). 2. If the deceased has no male descendants, two thirds of the residence pass to his female descendants and the remaining third passes to the House of Justice (Q and A 41, 72). See note 42 concerning the levels of the institution of the House of Justice to which this law applies. (See also note 44.) 3. The remainder of the estate is divided among the seven categories of heirs. For details of the number of shares to be received by each group, see Questions and Answers, number 5, and Synopsis and Codification, section IV.C.3.a. 4. In case there is more than one heir in any category the share allotted to that class should be divided between them equally, be they male or female. 5. In cases where there is no issue, the share of the children reverts to the House of Justice (Q and A 7, 41). 6. Should one leave offspring, but either part or all of the other categories of heirs be non-existent, two thirds of their shares revert to the offspring and one third to the House of Justice (Q and A 7). 7. Should none of the specified categories exist, two 184 thirds of the estate revert to the nephews and nieces of the deceased. If these do not exist, the same shares revert to the aunts and uncles; lacking these, to their sons and daughters. In any case the remaining third reverts to the House of Justice. 8. Should one leave none of the aforementioned heirs, the entire estate reverts to the House of Justice. 9. Bahá’u’lláh states that non-Bahá’ís have no right to inherit from their Bahá’í parents or relatives (Q and A 34)

    Christianity just isn't interested in such this-worldly legal concerns. It isn't that kind of religion, which is why Dominionist theology is such a perversion of the fundamentals of the faith IMHO.
     
    #15 Vouthon, Jul 12, 2018
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