Passive obedience

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Passive obedience is a religious and political doctrine advocating the absolute supremacy of the Crown and the treatment of any dissent (or more precisely, disobedience) as sinful and unlawful. It was usually associated with the seventeenth-century Church of England and the Scottish Episcopal Church of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and was central to the ideology of the Tory Party and the Jacobites. It is most generally seen in reference to Tory opposition to the Glorious Revolution, which saw Parliamentary determination of the succession of the English crown against primogeniture and the wishes of James II. The most notable publication was Bishop George Berkeley's A Discourse on Passive Obedience on Christian Doctrine of not resisting the Supreme Power.

The Scottish theologian John Cameron's support for passive obedience at the start of the 17th century meant that he was principal of the University of Glasgow for less than a year.

In Calvinism, salvation depends on Christ's active obedience, obeying the laws and commands of God the Father, and passive obedience, enduring the punishment of the crucifixion suffering all the just penalties due to men for their sins. The two are seen as distinct but inseparable; passive obedience on its own only takes men back to the state of Adam before the Fall.[1][2]

Passive obedience appears twice in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, first as a scene heading "The Heroism of Passive Obedience" when the bishop entertains Valjean, and later in the text on the impact of armies when describing French intervention in Spain in 1823.

It is not to be confused with passive resistance, a doctrine advocating the refusal to follow a law combined with the willing acceptance of punishment for that refusal.


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