The Roles of Church and State

The Roles of Church and State

What are the roles of government and Church. Government is to have the role of promoting and providing Justice tempered with mercy. The Church is to have the role of promoting mercy tempered with justice. While we believe in the separation of Church and State we believe that our government and country has misunderstood this conception. When the framers of our United States constitution wanted to separate the powers of Church and Government, they actual meant the independence of Church and State. They were opposed to the situation in Europe where most of them had come from. Europe was for a long time totally Roman Catholic and had extreme political power as well as religious power. This uniting of Church and State started sometime prior to Augustine. While the Roman Catholic claim to be the one true Church and considered every other religious group heretics, after the fall of the official Roman Government, the Roman Catholic Church essentially took over the power of the State.

However, there were many religious Christian groups that did not recognize the Roman Catholic Church as the only one true Church. Almost all of these groups were persecuted and many times hunted down and killed. Anyone who did not belong to the Roman Catholic Church and obey it commands and laws were considered heretics. The Bible does talk about the one true Church but it is not the Roman Catholic Church. The one true Church is the body of Christ which is a universal Church which at present never meets. Every person who is a “born-again believer”(regenerate) is a member of this universal Church.

You may want to read my article on the Visible Professing Church which is my view of the biblical local church.  A local church has authority only as it is a pillar and ground of the Truth. The local church must hold to sound doctrine to be a true local church.

The universal Church will only and finally meet in Heaven when Jesus Christ returns at his second advent. But the local church is different. Most of the mentions of the word “church” in the Bible are references to local churches. In the early church there were customarily one local church per town or city. Most of the Epistles (letters) in the New Testament were written to specific local churches in each city. The book of Romans is an exception. Apparently, the believers in Roman were little local groups that met together but did not have one church for the city of Roman.

The city of Roman was the center of the civilized world at that time and so the Apostle Paul was anxious to visit them. Since they apparently had not have an official visit from an Apostle, Paul was desirous to get them established on a firm Biblical foundation. This is one of Paul’s purposes of writing the book of Romans. The book of Romans is the book “par excellence” in doctrinal theology of the Bible. It is the Systemic Theology of the New Testament and Christianity.

In the United States a real local church is automatically tax exempt because our constitution recognizes the separation (independence is a better word). A church does not even have to ask for tax exempt status according to IRS tax rules. The design of our Constitution was that neither the Church nor the State has power over the other. The concept of separation (independence) of Church and State is very much a Baptist concept. All of most of the other denominations had State churches at one time. In the early years of our country every State in the United States had a State church. But if you didn’t like the church in your state you could move to a State that had a church in which you believed. The concept of independence of Church and State was a Federal concept. The founders of our country did not want a Church for our total country like that which existed in Europe – The Roman Catholic Church.

Since approximately 1948 the Supreme Court has been making rulings on their misunderstanding of the United States Constitution.

Even though I am a Baptist by theology, I agree with the Reform view (Presbyterian) of Sphere Law.

The concept of Sphere Law is the idea that God rules over all aspects of life and has given authority to different areas of life. There is three or more specific areas of Sphere Law. There is the Sphere of State or Government. Roman 13 speaks about how a Christian should act in relation to government. But the State does not have absolute authority. There are some things that we do not have to obey even if the government commands us. As Christians we do not have to break the laws of God. If the government commands to break the Laws of God we must refuse and be willing to take the consequences. The three Hebrew children in the book of Daniel are a perfect example. Nebuchadnezzar commanded everyone in his Kingdom to bow down and worship the great image he had erected, but these three Jewish persons refused because they would not worship and Idol.

If the government requested that you deny Jesus Christ as LORD, you must refuse just as the early Christians did.

There is also the Sphere of the Church or religion. However, when the United States Constitution was written, they did not believe in just any religion. When they spoke in terms of religion they believed that the one true religion was Christianity, not Islam, Buddhism, any other non-Christian religion. Our country basically had a Judaeo-Christian World-view. Even the people who were not Christians held to the basic concepts of a Judaeo-Christian World-view. The Bible and religion was taught in all of the early schools. There was even a law passed in Massachusetts called “the Old Deluders Law” which required every person to be schooled in the correct principles of Religion and Government.

All of these schools would be considered essentially Protestant. That is why the Roman Catholics set up private schools so that they could teach their own religion.
Many of our good laws were extracts from biblical concepts.

There are at least two other Spheres of authority: 1) the Family, and 2) the school. Remember the concept of Sphere Law teaches that all legitimate authority comes from God. Therefore all areas of life and those who rule them will someday give account to God for how they have ruled.

Why do you believe that the Judges in England and the United States wear the robes that they do. Those robes were typical of the Clergy’s robes. The answer is that the Judges are considered servants of God that rule in terms of State Justice. Some day they will give account to God for their rulings.

My favorite biblical verses and concept in this matter is:

The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Psalm 24:1 (KJV

The Family was God’s first Sphere of authority. Parents are responsible for the education and teaching of their children. The public school was only a parent substitute. In fact there is a word that applies to school teachers which parents need to know and understand.

“The Latin phrase “In loco parentis” “Latin for “in the place of a parent”[1] refers to the legal responsibility of a person or organization to take on some of the functions and responsibilities of a parent” ”

The Bible speaks regarding all areas of authority so read your Bible and memorize Psalms 24:1 .

Rev. Thomas L. Clark – Phil. 3:14



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