Church and State
Reformation Lutheran Church
Anno Domini 2001
Church and State: the role of the church; the role of God’s law (justice). (Theocracy and democracy)
The role of the Churches with respect to the state is prophetic. The Church of God, as the “pillar of Truth” (1 Tim. 3:15), must address the state with the Truth, and it must advocate justice. The various local churches ought to form leagues of churches in their various municipalities for the purpose of formulating and issuing to the civil authority joint statements concerning the moral issues at hand.
The role of a state, the ideal state, which the Churches of God pray for, is as a servant of the Messiah, its ruler (Psalm 2:10-12; Romans 13). The just state will not recognize false churches. (No non-Trinitarian “church” ought to be granted tax-exempt status.) Rather, the proper posture of a just state is to submit itself to the Messiah and honor His Laws. The state ought to recognize itself as God’s servant (Romans 13:4). And as the state follows this ideal, Christian citizens can appropriately follow the ideal of obedience to it (v. 5).
Our federal system of government is a contract between sovereign state governments in which the powers of the whole are distinguished from those of the individual states. The Tenth Amendment provides that those powers not specifically given to the general government “are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” At the time the federal Constitution was ratified all the States had explicitly Christian Constitutions, some, such as Connecticut with its 1650 Fundamental Orders grounding, their laws explicitly in various books of the Pentateuch referenced by name, chapter, and verse.
The Churches of God never ruled any of the respective States, but the civil rulers in those states all recognized their obligation under God as His very servants who were beholden to Him to rule with His justice as all oaths ─ “so help me God” (the God of the Bible, understood) ─ reiterated. And to insure that the people were not ruled by infidels or atheists, church membership or belief in the Trinity or belief in “God” on the part of office holders was required by various New England states. Maryland was “progressive” in the mid seventeenth century with its Act of Toleration by which it provided tolerance for Roman Catholics (as Trinitarians). It provided that no person “professing to believe in Jesus Christ shall from henceforth be in any way troubled, molested or discountenanced, for or in respect of his or her Religion, nor in the free exercise thereof within this Province. . .”
Whether or not justice, (the increase of His government a la Isaiah 9:7) is in recess or advancement in a given time and place; whether or not the Law of God is in vogue, it is always the duty of the Churches of the Messiah to proclaim justice and advocate the advancement of it.