Separation of Church and State

The Lord has appointed two kingdoms to govern the affairs of men.

What Are the Two Kingdoms? What Do They Do?

The church administers the sacraments and the Word of God to direct our Father’s children in godliness, while the state bears the sword against injustice and makes laws for the good of all people, regenerate and unregenerate alike (Rom. 13:1-7). Each authority must do its delegated tasks and not try to usurp the authority of the other. The church does not bear the sword, and the state does not administer church discipline.

How Should the Church Interact With and Think of the State?

Nevertheless, on account of the covenant of creation, it is right for the church to expect the state to honor life and bear the sword justly, and it is the responsibility of the church to be a prophetic witness against the state when it fails in these duties.

In this day and age, there is a great temptation for the church in the United States to think that its mission is coextensive with the platform of one or more of the political parties in this country. Yet while we must never be guilty of this error, it does not follow that the church is to be silent on current policies that violate God’s natural law. The state must ever be reminded that it is under the authority of God and the laws He has established in nature.

Question for Reflection

  1. How do you think of and apply the separation of church and state?

Resources

Table Talk MagazineCreation Ordinances, February 28, 2011 (headings mine)

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7 thoughts on “Separation of Church and State

  1. They are two parts of the same brain. They exist together – make decisions together, yet they are separate parts of the same whole. It’s no different from mind, spirit, and soul, they operate together for the benefit and health of the body.

    1. Not too sure I understand the comparison you are trying to draw. I don’t see them as two parts of the same brain, but separate. However, I do believe they exist together, but not necessarily make decisions together. One supports the other, but the world’s desire should not influence or hinder our worship of the Lord. The world should make it possible for us to worship God in freedom. It should allow us to exercise our religion freely, not impeding it, like it is starting to do in our country now.

  2. Casey, A body has many functioning parts, correct? If you move in a direction that not good for the body it let’s you know, correct? If you have a thought doesn’t your spirit confirm it, if it’s correct or not? They may be separate but not truly. If you follow your head and not listen to your heart something is wrong, correct. This means that they are linked, inseparably. Separation of Church and State is only possible in a secular society that doesn’t truly want to follow God. The founding fathers understood this. In fact if you know your history this statement came up as a result of a letter between himself and the Danbury Baptist Association.

    To summarize the letter in these terms meant that the state or government should not govern as to which religious sect a person should follow [it must be understood that the policies of English government disallowed any other religion that wasn’t under the government sanctioned church) – The Church of England. The wall Jefferson was talking about was to allow the freedom to choose which Judaeo-Christian religion a person wanted to follow without persecution (this is why the pilgrims left England).

    Those discussions—recorded in the Congressional Records from June 7 through September 25 of 1789—make clear their intent for the First Amendment. By it, the Founders were saying: “We do not want in America what we had in Great Britain: we don’t want one denomination running the nation. We will not all be Catholics, or Anglicans, or any other single denomination. We do want God’s principles, but we don’t want one denomination running the nation.”

    The result of court decisions made from the beginning were based on these same principles until the 1950’s. The courts continued on this track so steadily that, in 1958, in a case called Baer v. Kolmorgen, one of the judges was tired of hearing the phrase and wrote a dissent warning that if the court did not stop talking about the “separation of church and state,” people were going to start thinking it was part of the Constitution. That warning was in 1958!

    Today the government is ruled by secular humanism, thus America is no longer a Judaeo-Christian nation but a nation of Secular Humanism. Obama was and is correct when he said, America is no longer a Christian nation.

    So back to my original statement – A Judaeo-Christian nation is governed by a inseparable Church/State belief. One body, One mind, One Spirit this is how a Christian nation is to be lead.
    Anything else will lead to destruction.

    Sources:

    http://www.usconstitution.net/jeffwall.html

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/987191/posts

    1. So back to my original statement – A Judaeo-Christian nation is governed by a inseparable Church/State belief. One body, One mind, One Spirit this is how a Christian nation is to be lead.
      Anything else will lead to destruction.

      If you are strictly referring to a Judaeo-Christian nation, then the separation of Church and State doesn’t make sense. I, however, only know of one nation – the nation of Israel – that lives under a Theocracy – God’s rule, by God’s Law. We no longer live under a Theocracy. Yes, God governs the affairs of man, He directs world history how He sees fit, He is ultimately the ruler of this world, but we don’t currently live in a Theocracy. This is why we don’t stone people for adultery, instead we walk them through the steps of church discipline, ultimately putting them out of the church, if they don’t repent.

      I know that many have thought of the United States as a Christian nation that was ruled by God. While it was founded on biblical principles, it has never been a theocracy like the nation of Israel. In that way, there must be a separation between church and state. Even Jesus recognizes this in his day. He says, “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, unto God’s what is God’s.” There is a separation. While a state ruled completely by God’s Law would be ideal, it hasn’t happened since Israel, nor will it occur again until Jesus’ return.

      After Jesus’ death, the gospel went out to the Gentiles, who all lived in different nations under that nation’s rule. So long as the government was not hindering or calling them to outright reject their faith, they were to live peaceable in the nation. When the government begin to interfere with the Christians ability to worship God and apply Christian principles to their lives, we are to rise up, rejecting the states commands, and denouncing their actions, calling them back to Christian principles (Think about Bonhoeffer in Germany). That is what the quote I posted is ultimately driving towards. Here is what I see as the main point from the quote:

      Nevertheless, on account of the covenant of creation, it is right for the church to expect the state to honor life and bear the sword justly, and it is the responsibility of the church to be a prophetic witness against the state when it fails in these duties.

      In this day and age, there is a great temptation for the church in the United States to think that its mission is coextensive with the platform of one or more of the political parties in this country. Yet while we must never be guilty of this error, it does not follow that the church is to be silent on current policies that violate God’s natural law. The state must ever be reminded that it is under the authority of God and the laws He has established in nature.

      1. Casey, I think we have gotten our wires crossed. When you talk about the separation of Church and State are you referring to what the constitutional issues of Church and State? What I’m reading here is something different. I say this because I agree with your points here.

  3. Pingback: An Answer to – A Separation of Church and State | Reflecting on Anselm

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