What were Locke's ideas concerning the divine rights of kings?

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mrkirschner | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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Hence it is evident, that absolute monarchy, which by some men is counted the only government in the world, is indeed inconsistent with civil society, and so can be no form of civil-government at all…

Second Treatise, 90

The English political philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) flatly rejected the notion of the divine right of monarchy. Under the divine right theory, the king gains his sovereignty from God. In this way, the king does not need to respect the governed, because his power was commissioned by a higher power. Locke believed that the divine right theory ultimately leads to tyranny.

Locke felt that the higher power was more concerned about the rights of individuals. Locke discusses three natural rights that all people are afforded: life, liberty, and property. If a ruler, whether elected or otherwise, failed to protect these natural rights, they could and should be removed from their positions of power. In this way, a leader's consent is granted by the governed and not some higher power.

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scisser | (Level 3) Honors

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The idea in the Divine Rights of Kings was that God chose the people to rule on earth in his will. Therefore, if you challenged anything that the ruler did, you were essentially questioning god's motives. However, Locke did not believe in that and wrote his theory to challenge it.