||2018-02-12 17:03:39, 조회 : 419, 추천 : 111
What is the Relationship between Church and State?
Last week we completed our discussion about what is the church. Through this book, we learned about the various roles of the church and concluded our understanding by learning about what marks a true church. We learned that the Reformers gave the three criteria of a church:
1) A church that preaches the gospel faithfully.
2) A church that administers the sacraments correctly.
3) A church that practices authentic discipline of the people.
Through this study, we looked closely at modern day churches and compared the disparity between the criteria that modern day churches follow versus what the Reformers intended. Today, we will continue to learn about the church, but in relation with the state.
Sproul was invited to be a keynote speaker in the inaugural breakfast for the governor of Florida. Sproul observed that "the event was similar to an ordination service in a church. At an ordination service, a man is consecrated to the sacred ministry of the gospel and is set apart for that vocation in the church." Thus, in his address, Sproul especially stressed upon this "vocation" that the governor will carry. Here are a few excerpts from his address. "Your office is ordained by God, just like mine as a pastor. It is because of God's authority that there is such a thing as government. For this reason, you are called by God to be a minister, not as a preacher in a local church, but as an official of this state." Notice how Sproul was able to speak frankly about God's role in the governors position. The terms that Sproul uses is quite different than the terms that are often used in these occasions. Unfortunately, we live in a world where it has become "radically secularized" and a place where the government does not answer to God and "has a right to be godless."
A popular stance in the United States is the "separation of church and state." However, the idea of "separation of church and state" is a far cry from what the country used to value. For example, if you refer to the founding documents like the Declaration of Independence, Constitution or Bill of Rights; it does not stand by the principle that we follow today. When we look at the history of Christianity, we learn that this matter troubled many thinkers. When we refer to the Old Testament, Israel followed a "theocracy" in which "God ruled through anointed kings." Yet when we refer to the New Testament, the church then became a "missionary church" and sought to reach people even though they were under secular governments. There, the church had to grapple and figure of how Christianity and the society co-exist.
What then is a government intended to do? What is its role in our society? Sproul says that the fundamental principle of government is "force." It is a "force that is supported by an official legal structure." Thus, the government has the legal right to force their citizens to do things and not to do things. Interestingly, many people do not believe this is the way the government should act. In fact, Sproul quotes a previous United States Senator when he said, "I don't believe that any government has the right to force its citizens to do what they don't want to do." Yet, the government has the right to govern. If the government is not going to govern then all it is doing is making mere suggestions. Sproul probes further by asking, "Isn't it true that when governments enact laws, the government functions as that which is designed to enforce whatever laws are enacted?"
God Himself gave human beings the form of government. He said, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth" (Genesis 1:28). Therefore, Adam and Eve were to act as "His vice-regents" over all the creation. In addition, God also have Adam and Eve "prohibition." In Genesis 2:17, God warns them of what would happen if they eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, "For in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." This shows that Adam and Eve were given sanctions (i.e penalties) if they were to go against what God states. Thus, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they endured spiritual death on them. Afterwards, God placed an angel by the entrance of Eden with a flaming sword. This sword prevented Adam and Eve from entering again.
Many people believe that without the government, life would be much easier. Yet, Saint Augustine vehemently believed that government was a necessary organization for the evil. With the world filled with "fallen human creatures" it is necessary for government to regulate this society. While it is impossible to have a perfect morally sound government, it is still a essential tool for the fallen humanity. Therefore, the government has three tasks that it must fulfill:
1) Protect people from evil and to preserve and maintain human life.
2) Protect human property.
3) Regulating agreements, upholding contracts, and ensuring just weights and balances.
God created government in order to protect humanity and to overall protect the world. Without the government, mankind would run lose without any regulation; abusing powers and living in evil. It is important to note, that there is no land that lives in complete freedom. Every law is there to restrict someone's freedom. While some restrictions are good, some can also be bad. Therefore, the role of the government cannot be used without care; but careful decisions as the freedom of many depend on it. As Christians, we must learn how to accept the gift of the government and how we can co-exist with it. Sproul says that we must ask ourselves, "How are we as Christians to relate to that government." We will continue to explore this question in the remaining chapters.
1) Why was Sproul's inaugural address astounding? (Compare to modern day inaugural addresses)
2) Do you think agree with the separation of church and state? Why or why not?
3) Do you agree with the US Senator that stated "I don't believe that any government has the right to force its citizens to do what they don't want to do." Why or why not?
4) What are the three tasks of the government? Do you think these tasks are important?