23 JULY 2005, Page 21

Christianity is no theocracy

From the Revd Fr Daniel Hartley

Sir: Your leader (‘No concessions’, 16 July) is interesting but error-strewn. You claim that contemporary Islamic theocracy has its forerunner in mediaeval Christendom, but this is simply not the case. Mediaeval Christendom was not, on the whole, theocratic. There were certainly Christian rulers, but theocracy requires the direct rule of God mediated only through clerics. This was not the case in mediaeval Christendom. The Christian faith does not lend itself to theocracy either in scripture or in tradition. In this it contrasts with Islam. Further to this it should be noted that the ‘secular’ was not an invention of the Reformation or of the Enlightenment. Instead it was a transactional space that emerged between the 11th and 13th centuries in the period of scholastic humanism. Islamic extremism can only be understood by looking at its specific relationship with Islam as a whole, not by looking at its supposed relationship with mediaeval Christendom.

Daniel Hartley

Barnard Castle, County Durham