• Maciej Potz University of Lodz, Poland


The article theorizes theocracy – political power based on religious legitimation – in terms of the theory of social exchange, as arising out of unequal access to and control over religious goods. It then identifies the factors of stability of a system as the actions the rulers must take to successfully counter various attempts by the ruled to neutralize unequal conditions of exchange in which the power relation is grounded. Two empirical examples are offered of the use of religious doctrines to protect the stability thus conceived. The idea of covenant was used by the authorities of 17thcentury Massachusetts to justify the persecution of dissenters as a means of maintaining the purity and unity of the community, and thereby the necessary condition of fulfilling the society’s contract with God. The doctrine of continues revelation, on the other hand, gave Mormon leadership throughout 19th century, and especially during the crisis over polygamy, the much needed flexibility to adapt to external pressure without compromising the legitimacy of their God-granted power and the stability of the system.

Keywords: Theocracy, exchange theory, political power, Mormons, Puritans


Al Hindy Ellie, The New Jerusalem: An Oriental Christian Perspective, Politics and Religion, vol. V, no. 2.
Allen Douglas W., Theocracy as a Screening Device, in: The Political Economy of Theocracy, Ferrero Mario and Wintrobe Ronald (eds.), Palgrave Macmillan, New
York, 2009.
Andrews Edward D., The People Called Shakers, Dover Publications, New York, 1963.
Aztek Anonim, Zdobycie Meksyku, Ossolineum, Wrocław, 1959, introduction by Milewski Tadeusz.
Bahnsen Greg L., No other standard. Theonomy and its critics, Institute for Christian Economics, Tyler, Tex, 1991.
Beetham David, The Legitimation of Power, Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills and New York, 1991.
Benson Ezra Taft, Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet in: Speeches of the Year 1980, Brigham Young University Press, Provo, UT, 1981.
Blau Peter, Exchange and Power in Social Life, Wiley, New York, 1964.
The Book of Mormon, 4.01.2013).
Cannon II Kenneth L., After the Manifesto: Mormon Polygamy 1890–1906, in: The New Mormon History. Revisionist Essays on the Past, D. Michael Quinn (ed.), Signature Books, Salt Lake City, 1992.
Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Doctrine and Covenants, (accessed 4.01.2013).
Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation „Dei Verbum”.
Elazar Daniel J., Covenant and Community, Judaism, vol. 49, issue 4, 2000.
Eliade Mircea, A History of Religious Ideas, vol. I, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1978.
Emerson Richard, Power-Dependence Relations, American Sociological Review, vol. 27, 1962.
Gelot Ludwig, Secularization as an International Crisis of Legitimacy, Politics and Religion, vol. VI, no 1, 2012.
Gordon Sarah B., The Mormon Question: Polygamy and Constitutional Conflict in Nineteenth-Century America, Journal of Supreme Court History, vol. 28, issue 1, 2003.
HennetonLauric, Establishing “a due form of government, both civil and ecclesiastical”. A Reassessment of Theocracy, Aristocracy and Democracy in Early New
England, MA thesis, UniversityCréteil-Val de Marne, 2000.
Ivins Stanley S., Notes on Mormon Polygamy, in: The New Mormon History. Revisionist Essays on the Past, D. Michael Quinn (ed.), Signature Books, Salt LakeCity, 1992.
Kern Louis J., An Ordered Love: Sex Roles and Sexuality in Victorian Utopias, The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1981.
The Liberties of the Massachusetts Collonie in New England, 1641, (accessed 4.01.2013).
Lockridge Kenneth A., A New England Town. The First Hundred Years, W.W. Norton & Company, New York and London, 1985
Lukes Steven, Power: A Radical View, Macmillan, London, 1974. Mayflower Compact, 1620
McEvoy Don, Democracy or Theocracy?, iUniverse, New York, 2005.
Miller Perry, The New England Mind. From Colony to Province, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1954.
Morgan Edmund S., The Puritan Dilemma. The Story of John Winthrop, Longman, New York, 1999.
Noonan Jr. John T., The Believer and the Powers That Are, London and New York, 1987.
Nozick Robert, Anarchy, State, and Utopia, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1974.
O’Dea Thomas, The Mormons, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Pansardi Pamela, On abilities and power again: a reply to Peter Morriss, Journal of Political Power, vol. 5, no. 3, Galway, 2012.
Paterwic Stephen J., The A to Z of the Shakers, Scarecrow Press, Lanham, 2008.
Pearl of Great Price, at: (accessed 4.01.2013).
Perl Lila, Theocracy, Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, New York, 2008.
Potz Maciej, Granice wolności religijnej, Fundacja Nauki Polskiej, Wrocław, 2008.
Potz Maciej, Legitimation mechanisms as third-dimension power practices. The case of the Shakers, Journal of Political Power, vol. 5, issue 3, Galway, 2012.
Shipps Jan, Mormonism. The Story of a New Religious Tradition, University of Illinois Press, Urbana and Chicago, 1987.
Stark Rodney, Bainbridge William S., A Theory of Religion, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, N.J:, 1996.
Stawiński Piotr, Demonizm i czary w życiu społecznym Purytanów amerykańskich okresu kolonialnego, WSP, Częstochowa, 1997.
Stein Stephen J., Shaker Experience in America, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1992.
Weber Max, Economy and Society, University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles and London, 1978.
Weber Max, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Dover Publications, Mineola, N.Y., 2003.
Winthrop John, A Modell of Christian Charity, 1630.
Wintrobe Ronald, Padovano Fabio, Theocracy, Natural Spiritual Monopoly and Dictatorship, in: The Political Economy of Theocracy, Ferrero Mario and
Wintrobe Ronald (eds.), Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2009.
Zakai Avihu, Theocracy in New England: The Nature and Meaning of the Holy Experiment in the Wilderness, Journal of Religious History, vol. 14, 1986.