Antiestablismentarianism and the Establishment Principle's Relationship to Two-Kingdom Theology

Not open for further replies.


Puritan Board Senior
I think J. G. Vos is helpful here:

"How is the church to be countenanced and maintained by the civil magistrate? (a) When the catechism was written, 350 years ago, the prevailing idea on this question was that there was to be an official or established church, which would not only be recognized by the civil government as the true visible church of Jesus Christ, but also be supported financially from the national treasury. We no longer accept this view of the relation between church and state. (b) Neither do we accept the extreme view sometimes called Voluntaryism, to the effect that the state has nothing to do with religion and need not recognize or countenance the church in any way. 'Church and State are two distinct and separate institutions. The Christian religion should be the religion of both. . . . Each has its own sphere, and its own functions to perform. Neither should invade the territory of the other. Where their duties coincide, as for example in the suppression of profanity, they should cooperate; yet always in such a way as not to mar their integrity as separate institutions . . .' (Reformed Presbyterian Testimony, 29.7). Thus our standards teach an absolute separateness of jurisdiction of church and state, but the duty of friendly cooperation in matters in which their duties coincide. (c) The church should be countenanced and maintained by the civil magistrate, by being protected in the security and enjoyment of its rights and freedom; also it is proper for the state to 'countenance and maintain' the church by remission of taxes on church property, etc. (d) Our standards do not teach that both true and false churches are to be countenanced and maintained by the state. At this point the teaching of the Westminster Standards differs from the prevalent American view of the relation between the state and religious associations and institutions. Under the Constitution and laws of the United States a Buddhist temple, a Unitarian church, a Jewish synagogue, and a Mohammedan mosque enjoy identical and equal rights and privileges with the most evangelical and orthodox Protestant Christian churches. There is not only no discrimination between Christian denominations; there is not even any discrimination between Christianity and other religions, so far as the state is concerned. This state of affairs is obviously not what the Westminster divines had in mind in saying that the church should be 'countenanced and maintained' by the civil magistrate. It is obvious that they meant that the true church should be countenanced and maintained by the civil magistrate. This of course raises difficult and serious problems, which we cannot discuss further here. We may accept as sound, however, the principle that a truly Christian nation would at least guarantee the freedom and security of the true church of Jesus Christ in all its denominational branches."​
—Johannes G. Vos, The Westminster Larger Catechism: A Commentary, ed. G. I. Williamson (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 2002), 555-6; bold and italics original.​


Puritan Board Junior
White really nails the crux of the matter as applicable, or not so much, to Calvin vs. America. He emphasizes the term ‘sacralism‘ in response to Timothy Keller. A term I had never heard before.

Listen from the 1:21:00 mark on.....
Not open for further replies.