Friday, October 22, 2010

Church and State: How They Should Relate

The fundamental point here is that the Church and State each have a Divinely-appointed role to play in this fallen world between the first and second comings of Christ. The Church's main role is to fulfill the Great Commission and disciple people into a life of growing sanctification and increasing obedience to all that Christ commands. This has tremendously important public and political implications because Christian citizens in a Christian majority country - as voters, as elected office holders and as police officers, judges, and other agents of the government - will have a lot to say about what government does and does not do.

Christians function, as Jesus taught, as salt and light in the world. They uphold public morality, respect the natural law, promote community and care for neighbors and generally preserve standards of decency. They constitute a force for good in the world and it is through these Christian people that the Church exerts her influence on the State.

When the clergy lead a political movement to take over the power of the State and seek to become the power behind the throne, they discredit the Gospel and embarrass themselves by diverting their focus from their higher calling of preaching the Gospel and shepherding the flock of God. Note, however, that it separation of Church and State, not separation of Christians and State. Nor is it separation of objective, moral truth and State or separation of God and State.

Christendom is a group of countries in which Christians have become the strong majority and the influence of the Church through its member is strong and widespread in society. The government is such countries will therefore adhere to the natural law and recognize the priority of the family and the Church. Separation of Church and State is as much about the protection of the Church from the interfering State as it is about the protection of the State from being dominated by the Church. The right of the Church to teach morality and Divine law to its members and for those members to act on this teaching in the public square is fundamental to a free society.

When the State refuses to recognize the natural law and becomes lawless and tyrannical in its usurpation of absolute power unto itself, it needs correction and the Church has a crucial role to play. A Church which does not teach its members to oppose such a tyrannical State and attempt by democratic means to bring correction by electing a government committed to modesty and humility before God and the moral order of the universe is not doing its job.

We cannot allow the shrill, extreme and angry voices of the New Atheism or the Secularists or the Socialists to silence either Christians or their Churches if we wish to be salt and light in the world. We cannot allow modern Sophists to drive those committed to the Truth out of the public square. We should not be intimidated by those who equate any witness to the obvious truth of the objective moral order in the world to theocracy or other such ridiculous charges. Such extremism has gone unchallenged for far too long and the enemies of humanity have been emboldened by Christian reticence. It is time to say enough destruction of the ideals of limited government, the division of powers, individual liberty, free speech, free enterprise, freedom of religion, natural law, equality of opportunity and human dignity. It is time to stand for freedom to do the good in opposition to a watered-down, emaciated, modern idea of freedom as the ability to indulge the fleeting desires of the moment without constraint.

While the State bears the sword and is the supreme authority in the land, it has the responsibility to respect and bow to the law of God. The responsibility of the Church is to make sure that the law of God is never allowed to recede from view or be twisted into the will to power.

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