“Great men are almost always bad men.”

 I was sent an email containing a photo of President Obama next to a photo of Adolf Hitler.  The intended implication was obvious.

According to Hannah Arendt, the author of The Origins of Totalitarianism, the source of the mass appeal of totalitarian regimes is their ideology, which provides a comforting, single answer to the mysteries of the past, present, and future. For Nazism, all history is the history of race struggle; and, for Marxism, all history is the history of class struggle. Once that premise is accepted, all actions of the state can be justified by appeal of Nature or the Law of History, justifying their establishment of authoritarian state apparatus (Wikipedia).

There is no human-conceived government that can provide eternal hope.

Neither totalitarianism or authoritarianism are in and of themselves “bad” unless, their intent and source of power is corrupted by human inadequacies. There is no human-conceived government that can provide eternal hope. Human-influenced leaders elevate themselves to gain power and, if there are no boundaries, will justify their continued gain of more and more power to control and influence others for il-conceived and selfish reasons. 

“Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it.” William Pitt the Elder, Earl of Chatham and British Prime Minister from 1766 to 1778

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton – Lord Action (1834-1902).

The authors of the U.S. Constitution purposely included boundaries in the form of “separation of powers” (three independent, distinct centers of power intended to provide for a check and balance system to prevent abuse of power). Conceived, in part, by a Frenchman named Montesquieu, it is not perfect but will hopefully prevent Obama, or any President, from becoming a Hitler.

So…what is the difference between a human-ruled or God-ruled government? Read below:

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and very tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11

Godly boundaries and focus based upon selflessness and servant-leadership, which exceed anything that is humanly conceived or possible… is the difference.

May you today…this week look to God, not man, for Hope; both now and for eternity.

Michael Rueffert

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4 thoughts on ““Great men are almost always bad men.”

  1. Thanks Mike, for your post. We do have eternal hope only in Christ, while at the same time hoping and praying for government that follows God’s rules while we are here. That eternal hope is helped in the here and now by knowing that we have read the book, and we know the final outcome! At the same time, I often thank God that in his infinite wisdom, he answers prayers such as David’s in Psalms 55:9 and 109:8.

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  2. My daily bible reading included James 2:13-18 where the writer differentiates between Godly wisdom and earthly or demonic wisdom. Then Proverbs 28:2 states that by a man (or ruler) with discernment and knowledge or understanding Right will be prolonged. I am praying for the leaders of the United States…for them to be filled with heavenly wisdom as they live into the checks and balances you mention. Thanks for bringing this to mind today.

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    1. “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.”. Isaiah 11:10. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”. Romans 15:13

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