Monday, July 10, 2006

Christianity and Government

I've written on Religion and Government, and now I want to cover Christianity and government. First of all, Christians are under obligation to obey the government when it doesn't stop them from practcing Christianity, e.g. worshipping and studying the Bible. Paul says in Romans 13 that "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities." Jesus himself said "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." (Matthew 22:21) Now when Paul wrote Romans, there was not a pro-Christian government in place, but rather a hostile government that persecuted Christians, and so clearly Christian obedience of the government is not contingent upon there being a pro-Christian government in place. Even in times of persecution Christians must submit when possible.

Now granted Paul did say "For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. So it is debatable if and when a government ceases to be legitimate and thus when one can disobey and even overthrow the government. However, I do not think that applies because a government is persecuting Christians, but rather when it is a terror to all citizens, both believers and nonbelievers, such as the German government under Hitler.

It's only when a government is democratic and the citizens have both the right and even duty to participate in government by voting, running for office, etc. that Christians can seek to use Christianity as a guiding light in politics, under the protection of freedom of speech, etc. Under such a democratic government, using politics is just another way to practice love and charity.

But one must keep in mind that the church and state are different. Those who belong to the church, or as St. Augustine would put it, the Heavenly City, may also be citizens of a state, or the Earthly city. But certainly not everyone in the state is a member of the church. If one tries to make the state and church one then they will end up with many people claiming to be Christians but not actually saved. Thus, a combined church and state is bad for Christianity and politics. So we must be careful how we go about using Christianity as a guide in politics.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Rocket Surgeon, Phd said...

Christians in the U.S. find themselves in the unique position of being under a govt that allows for dissension and protest.

We are well within our Biblical perameters to argue, and emphatically, against abortion and other institutions we find odious.

I agree with you in form. But I think it would be ideal to have every elected official in the country be a believer and to have our government's laws and policies reflect that.

I guess many of them do. A holdover from a time when many officials were moral or lived within a more moral framework.

Jefferson's and Washington's salvation is more debatable than Bush's, I believe.

Tue Jul 11, 01:34:00 PM EDT  

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