The Bible clearly teaches that today there is to be an institutional separation of church and state. To think otherwise is to believe in a theocratic or sacerdotal form of government.
What the Bible does not teach — and what the secularist would like to say the U.S. Constitution supports — is an influential separation of church and state. Clearly, however, such thinking is not supported in the Constitution or the Scriptures.
“Render unto Caesar” is one of the biblical passages that support the idea of institutional separation. Let us examine this more closely from a historical perspective.
As primitive Christianity began as recorded in the book of Acts, the separation of the church from the state of Rome clearly existed. Not until the fourth century A.D., when Constantine co-opted Christianity as the state religion in an attempt to unify the vast and diverse Roman Empire, did the previously existing, clear separation between the two institutions disappear.
Tragically, this lack of separation occurred even during the post-Reformation period! Luther, Zwingli and Calvin promoted a sacerdotal societal structure rather than a composite one per the clear teaching of the New Testament (cf. Matthew 20:20-22, Romans 13:1-8, 1 Peter 2:13-14). As much of the reformers’ emphasis on doctrinal correction of heresy related to soteriology (the doctrine of salvation), no surgical exercise was performed relative to the aberrant earlier wedding of church and state.
Important to this study is the fact that in the New Testament era — save the first three centuries of it — a theocratic, sacerdotal system has existed in most countries of the world. Not until the American experiment in government did our Founding Fathers react to sacerdotal England (where the Church of England and the state of England still remain one and the same) and seek a pragmatic solution to separate themselves from a forced religious belief system incumbent on those born in England.
If, biblically speaking, the church and state are to be separate institutions, does that suggest, as the secularist would postulate, a total disenfranchisement of the church from the state, i.e., an influential separation as well? Is that the extrapolation Christ would desire from Matthew 22:21? No!
As we will see, the institution of the state is quite dependent on the existence of a strong and healthy institution of the church (which it does not control) to build men and women in righteousness for service in government. Without a strong church that makes disciples, the state soon goes astray due to the sinfulness of its leaders.
Since this is such a vital concern of the state itself, as well as the state’s leadership, what does the book of Proverbs say about the absolute need for righteous governmental leaders? Let us turn our attention to that question.
Read more on the separation of church and state, as taught in our Bible study to elected officials in D.C.
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