church/state seperation

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by nonconformist, May 21, 2005.

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  1. nonconformist

    nonconformist Puritan Board Freshman

    I hope this is in the right section.Where in scripture can I find seperation of church and state?
     
  2. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Off hand, this passage comes to mind:

    2 Chron. 26.18 And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the LORD God.
     
  3. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Westminster Confession of Faith (1646):

     
  4. nonconformist

    nonconformist Puritan Board Freshman

    Great thanks andrew
     
  5. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    You're welcome! :)
     
  6. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    Alot of the idea of Church/State releationship has two do, not with one particular verse, but with many overarching principles in scripture.

    1) The keys of the kingdom are given to the church, not the state.

    Mat 16:19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

    2) The sword is given to the governing authority, and not to the church.

    Rom 13:4 for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer.

    3) We must realize that the desire to have people who "lord" things over us is looked upon in scripture as a BAD thing.

    1Sa 8:19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, "No! But there shall be a king over us,
    1Sa 8:20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles."

    4) The principle of a good leader in scripture is one of leadership by serving.

    Mat 20:25 But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.
    Mat 20:26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,
    Mat 20:27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,
    Mat 20:28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

    There are many others as well, but the subject of biblical politics is very fun. I would recommend Essays on Ethics and Politics by Gordon Clark for a good treatment.
     
  7. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Ditto, we must always opt for decentralized local government.
     
  8. nonconformist

    nonconformist Puritan Board Freshman

    Is this not the same wicked principle we use today? Jesus is not our Lord,its George bush.George is our savior,George is our health care provider,George is our retirement plan.Do we not look at the world through totalitarian socialism and consider it normal?:(
     
  9. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    True, the U.S. has taken upon itself many roles that are intended for the church. It is not the civil magistrate that is to provide for the poor, but it is the church's responsibility. On the other hand, I don't believe the church has taken upon itself it's proper roles. If the church was doing its job, the government wouldn't have to.
     
  10. nonconformist

    nonconformist Puritan Board Freshman

    That is what Rushdoony says we either tithe 10 % to christianity or 50 or 60% to the state.
     
  11. nonconformist

    nonconformist Puritan Board Freshman

    when I tell peaple we do not live in a free country they look at me like I am a freak.The public shool worldview.We are free even though we work for the state until july every year:chained:
     
  12. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I am wondering and fleshing this thought out.
    Does the spiritual barometer of the Church reflect the sociological, economic, and moral status of the state. I.e, when the Church is apostate the state becomes tyrannical? Just wondering.
     
  13. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    My initial thoughts are that the obedience of the church to its roles has a tremendous effect on the moral status of the state. However, I wouldn't attribute ALL of the sins of the state to the lack of diligence of the church. Only when both parties adhere to their biblical role, does harmony exist.
     
  14. nonconformist

    nonconformist Puritan Board Freshman

    But I thought unregenerate magistrates natually supress the truth in unrighteousness? Unless you are talking about christian magistrates.
     
  15. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    That is true, but an unregenerate magistrate might actually stick to his biblically defined roles for ulterior motives. Thus Luther's adage about being ruled by a wise Turk. To be sure, this almost never happens, but it could, I guess.

    Thanks Jeff.
     
  16. nonconformist

    nonconformist Puritan Board Freshman

    What alterior motives? position,money? Psa 110:2 Jehovah shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion to rule in the midst of Your enemies. How is this scripture to be interpreted?
     
  17. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I don't know at the moment. I am speaking hypothetically. BTW, I agree with you on what you are trying to get at. I was saying that it could be possible, at least for the short run, for a pagan to actually rule justly and respect the limits of civil government that God has ordained. Of course, pagans aren't consistent so we shouldn't hope on this scenario. However, I don't think I fully get what you are saying. I think I am answering the wrong question.
     
  18. nonconformist

    nonconformist Puritan Board Freshman

    :up:
     
  19. nonconformist

    nonconformist Puritan Board Freshman

    another question I have for Andrew or anybody. 2 Chron. 26.18 this scripture proves that state has no authority in the churches business but what about vice versa? Can somone give me a main scripture for the opposite? A scripture that would help me give psalms 110:2 a little more balance?
     
  20. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    One place in the Scriptures where we see the that the church is given spiritual authority which excludes the use of the sword to advance Christ's kingdom is John 18.36:

    Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

    Note that this does not mean that Christ's kingdom, ie., the church has no connection with the temporal world around us or that Christians may not take up arms, etc. It simply means that -- consistent with Romans 13 -- the church is a minister of God in spiritual matters and the state is a minister of God in civil matters.

    William Cunningham's Discussion of Church Principles is one of the best works on the subject of the right relationship between church and state. It covers Popery (the view that the church has supreme authority over matters civil and ecclesiastical), Erastianism (the view that the church is department of the state, with the chief magistrate as head of the church, ie., Anglicanism) and Presbyterian church-state relations (wherein both church and state are ordinances of God which work in harmony in their separate and distinct spheres to advance the same goals, ie., the glory of God and the good of man).

    Psalm 110 teaches us that Christ rules in the midst of his enemies. It refers to Christ's prophetical, priestly and kingly offices. Matthew Henry's comments are instructive.
     
  21. nonconformist

    nonconformist Puritan Board Freshman

    Nice,I agree with that,even though I am a recon I am not looking for the sword.I am just looking to know for sure,exactly what scripture teaches about this,since I will eventually be in the ministry :up:THANKS
     
  22. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    You really can't use this verse to argue for a seperation of church and state. This is refering to the OT economy in Israel, in which both the King and Preist were offices within the OT church, and types of Christ. And kings (i.e. David, Solomon, Hezekiah, etc.) often performed prophetic ( writing music for the temple) and even preistly functions at times (i.e. Solomon sacrificing at the opening of the temple, David sacrificing at the threshing floor on behalf of Israel, etc.). You will also notice that Ps. 110 doesn't just teach us about Christ's kingship, but also His preisthood, as Hebrews clearly lays out for us. Both of these offices are limited to the covenant of grace in the Church. If you are going to use that verse to say Christ is the King of all nations, then you will have to argue he is the preist of all nations as well since his kingship and preist hood are bound together and defined by the covenant. Rom. 13 certainly can be used to teach the seperation though, along with directives in the Noahic covenant which empower the magistrate with the sword to kill murderers.
     
  23. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate


    The church's purpose is to battle in the spiritual realm. The church is called the pillar and the ground of truth (1 Tim. 3:15). We are to use the invisible weapons of the Christian life to battle unbelief and the lie. The state's weapons are visible, and battle physical evil (Romans 13). The church's weapons are invisible, and battle evil ideas. The state uses the physical sword (captial punishment, jails etc.) the church uses the sword of the spirit ( the scriptures).

     
  24. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Well put, Jeff.
     
  25. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    2 Chron. 26.18 is the one and only proof text cited by the Westminster Confession (1646 and 1789) for the proposition that "Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the Word and sacraments" (XXIII.3). Clearly the framers of the Confession (and those who have adopted it since) understood it to be an applicable principle today.

    Christ is "king of kings and lord of lords" says the Bible (Rev. 19.16). Christ is king of the church certainly, but his kingship is not limited to the church. He is king over all (Phil. 2.-9-11; Heb. 2.8). He governs all institutions which he ordained, notably the church and the state (the two which the word of Christ designates "ministers" of God). This article treats the subject of Christ's kingship very well.

    Moreover, Proverbs 8 teaches us that:

    15 By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. 16 By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.

    That this passage is speaking of Christ (personified as wisdom) is clear. Thus Matthew Henry:

    Westminster Larger Catechism:

    [Edited on 5-23-2005 by VirginiaHuguenot]
     
  26. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    Another relevant passage from the Confession on this subject is:

     
  27. nonconformist

    nonconformist Puritan Board Freshman

    O.K. guys slow down,you gave me plenty of info to think about and digest.I have to think all this through before I continue.Very very helpfull,I appreciate the quick answers.THANKS:up:
     
  28. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Actually Andrew, that's not correct. The Confession also cites Matt. 18:7, 16:19, 1 Cor. 12:28, Eph. 4:11, 1 Cor. 4:1, Rom. 10:15, and Heb. 5:4. I'm not sure what version you are refering to. I'm looking at the FPP version. So the principle stands just as firm without that Chron. proof text. I think that is left over from the view of some of the Divines that England and Scotland, like Israel, were covenanted nations, which (I think at least) is clearly not the case, at least not in reference to the covenant of grace or even the Mosaic administeration of it.

    I think it's significant that Christ doesn't take that official title "king of kings..." until His second coming, when all His enemies are finally conquered. But I'm still meditating on that one.

    I also think it is interesting that the Phil. passage is never quoted in the WCF or Catechisms in reference to his kingship. And Hebrews 2, though certainly having Christ's kingship in mind clearly has Christ's preisthood in mind as well. They are bound together in the mind of the author of Hebrews. The offices are defined by the covenant of grace and therefore limited by it as well, unless again you wish to extend Christs priesthood to all nations along with all He perfectly accomplished in that office.

    Obviously at this point, I disagree with Henry's first point that His rule is an extension of His kingly office, though I agree with the rest. Certainly they rule by Christ's providential rule, but this is not grounded in their relationship to Him as King in the covenant of grace, but rather in the covenants of works and preservation as Creator and Judge.

    I think this particular Catechism question as well as the Shorter version don't have the civil magistrate at all in mind. Clearly those who rule in Christ's stead here are the "office bearers" and the judgment executed upon His enemies is not the civil sword but "everlasting destruction" as noted in the Scripture reference to 2 Thess 1:8-9. His kingly rule here described applies only to His elect, those called out from the world. Here, Christ is conquering the nations certainly, but not through the civil magistrate, not to establish a physical domain or kingdom, but a spiritual kingdom. He gathers, rules, and defends His people, in spite of any opposition from the earthly domains, who suffer eternal wrath for getting in the way of His saving purposes.
    Still thinking these things through and enjoying the interaction... :2cents:

    [Edited on 5-23-2005 by puritansailor]
     
  29. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    I stand corrected on this point. I was looking at the OPC Confession online, not the 1646 Confession. Thus, I was citing the one and only proof text for your church's version of the Confession, and you cited the multiple proof texts for my church's edition of the Confession. :D

    BTW, I am referring specifically to the clause "Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the Word and sacraments."

    I do believe the Westminster Assembly was correct on this point to cite that verse because it is a classic example of the distinction between the civil magistrate and the ministry. The other verses cited by the Assembly elucidate the point well too.
     
  30. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    :lol: I guess we crossed paths there :)
    I see that the OPC just broke up the same references between the two phrases, instead of keeping them together as the original does, otherwise they are identical.

    Either way I know I must proceed with caution, because I'm disagreeing on this minor Scripture reference, and maybe more as I work through this.

    I'm thinking thus far that the Westminster Divines made great progress considering their background and struggles. But I still think there's more to develope, particular considering the work of the magistrate in light of covenant theology which they were still working out in their day, and in application to our present circumstances. The English and Scottish Churches never really could break out of the default Erastian mode. The magistrate kept intruding and "reforming" until at least 1688-90. The Presbyterians historically are partially to blame for that too in compromising and bringing back Charles 2. Just mulling these things over.
     
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