Increasingly, I find myself in conversations in which consternation is expressed about the implications of our upcoming presidential election. I think it is good to remind ourselves that there is One who remains in office for all of time. This One, who is the King of kings and Lord of lords, presides with unimpeachable sovereignty, despite worldly affairs and public opinion. Further, all elected officials carry out their terms underneath his authority.
Venerable Bede, the eighth-century, English, theologian-monk, offers a helpful statement along this line. His famous work, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People (A.D. 731) was more than a recitation of events; it instructed kings in ways pleasing to God. Here Bede reminds the monarch that, under God, history is a moral drama to which one profitably attends. His words apply to today’s political leaders as it did in the eighth century:
“I gladly acknowledge the unfeigned enthusiasm with which, not content merely to lend an attentive ear to hear the words of Holy Scripture, you devote yourself to learn the sayings and doings of the men of old, and more especially the famous men of our own race. Should history tell of good men and their good estate, the thoughtful listener is spurred on to imitate the good; should it record the evil ends of wicked men, no less effectually the devout and earnest listener or reader is kindled to eschew what is harmful and perverse, and himself with greater care pursue those things which he has learned to be good and pleasing in the sight of God.”1
1 St. Bede, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969), 3.