What do we mean by "Separation of Church & State?"

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Monergist, Aug 21, 2003.

  1. Monergist

    Monergist
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    I see three institutions which God has set up: the family, the church, and the state (or civil government). And I see that all three are distinct and separate. But I also see all three under His Lordship and obligated to submit to the authority of His Word.

    I believe in the separation of church and state. I believe that the church should not be under the authority of the state, and I believe that the state should not be under the authority of the church. But I do believe that BOTH are under the authority of our Creator God and both are to function under His sovereign rule.

    The civil goverment has a duty to make laws according to God's Word, and administer judgment by the same standard. Why some of us see that as a violation of separation of church and state is beyond me.

    I'm curious to see others thoughts on this.

    Tim
     
  2. Monergist

    Monergist
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  3. HankD

    HankD
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    While the Church is not under the State it is subjected to the State when it (or its members) breaks the Law of that State.

    HankD
     
  4. Bartimaeus

    Bartimaeus
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    Hank,
    What happens when the state breaks one or many of God's laws?
    Thanks ------Bart
     
  5. HankD

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    The just (not the State) shall live by faith.

    HankD
     
  6. Ransom

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    TimothyW said:

    I'm curious to see others thoughts on this.

    You've basically hit on it: in Baptist polity, church and state have their respective spheres of influence. They do not interfere with each other's jurisdiction, although both are ultimately accountable to God and bound to operate according to his will. Additionally, the state is responsible to protect the free practice of religion (though not to play favourites among competing faiths), and the church is responsible to obey the civil laws insofar as they are compatible with divine commandment.

    Contrast this with the Puritans' view, in which the lines between church and state are blurred: it is the duty of the civil government to protect the doctrinal purity of the church, and conversely to be subject to it. Anglicanism goes further, with the king being the head of the church as he is head of the state, and the appointment of bishops etc. being subject to Parliamentary approval.

    I did a scan of the historic Baptist confessions to see what they had to say on the subject. The second London Baptist Confession of 1689 was least clear, probably because it is based on the Westminster Confession, which was written by Puritans and reflects a more Presbyterian point of view.

    Most clear was the Baptist Faith and Message of 1963, which reads:

    The first London Confession of 1644 is also very explicit, probably because it's a product of its time. It states that:

    </font>
    • only the Church may select its officers (s. XXVI)</font>
    • officers' compensation is to be taken from voluntary offerings, not compelled from people by law (s. XXVII)</font>
    • though subject to the king and all just laws, Christians' consciences are not bound by ecclesiastical laws (s. XLIX)</font>
    • if the civil authorities should see fit to stop persecuting Nonconformists, that is a blessing from God; but if not, it is still proper to obey God rather than men (ss. L-LI)</font>
     
  7. Artimaeus

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    I have tried stating this a couple of times before and it never seems to come out right. I believe the church and the state are, and should be, two seperate entities. The 1st Amendment says this:

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;..."

    These are commonly called the "establishment clause" and the "free exercise clause". The establishment clause was intended to make sure that no single group could possibly take over (this was the only way for the different groups to come to an agreement) by making it unconstitutional for a law to be made which would do that. There was never any intent to keep "religion" out of government as it is interpreted today. The intent was to keep a "particular" religion from "taking over". The free exercise clause was intended to make sure that each of the various religions would have the freedom to worship as they saw fit without interference from the government. The Bill of Rights, by which the constitution could not have been ratified without, was written specifically to protect "people" not the state. Why are these particular clauses so interpreted that they have come to mean freedom "FROM" religion rather than freedom "OF" religion?
     
  8. HankD

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    Because freedom from religion is the right of an individual as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others.

    IMO, we are currently in a battle to move the line of defined infringements drawn in the sand between believers vs unbelievers to favor unbelief.

    I believe we will loose but IMO it's to be expected.

    2 Timothy 3
    12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
    13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

    While we can it is our right as citizens to oppose this expression of unbelief.

    What shall we do If we loose?
    Just shake the dust off and go on living by faith proclaiming the Word of God and accepting the consequences thereof.

    HankD
     

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