"Nowhere in the Bible is the word democracy mentioned." So said Mrs Thatcher in the sermon I published yesterday. Although that is certainly true, I wonder if there is not an instance when democracy was practised. I refer, of course, to the election of Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot in Acts chapter 1.
They proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, "Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs." Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
It all depends on what you mean by "they cast lots". Does it mean that they voted? Or does it mean that they tossed a coin?
In the Old Testament, the Israelites sought God's will by consulting Urim and Thummim. Nobody is absolutely sure what Urim and Thummim were, but consensus thought is that they were two small engraved stones that gave an answer yes, no or maybe, depending on which surfaces were on top when they were thrown. Two whites was yes, two blacks no, and a black and a white meant maybe.
Of course, the Mormons have a different account of Urim and Thummim. Joseph Smith, Jr., founder and prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, said that he used interpreters in order to translate the Book of Mormon from the Golden Plates. The interpreters he described as a pair of stones, fastened to a breastplate joined in a form similar to that of a large pair of spectacles. Smith later referred to this object as the Urim and Thummim. Smith said that the angel Moroni, who had told him about the Golden Plates, also told him about the Urim and Thummim, "two stones in silver bows" fastened to a breastplate, and the angel intimated that they had been prepared by God to aid in the translation of the Golden Plates. Smith's mother, Lucy Mack Smith, described these Urim and Thummim as being like "two smooth three-cornered diamonds.
Apparently, since Joseph Smith, the Mormon church has made over 3000 corrections to the Book of Mormon, suggesting that the spectacles weren't very accurate. Should have gone to Specsavers.