Christianity’s Contributions: Justice served (Part 4)

As we close this series on the benefits of Christianity in the realm of law and justice, let’s address the issue of “church and state.”  In Matthew 22:21, Jesus says to “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”  It was from this (nad other verses) that Martin Luther derived his concept of the Two Kingdoms.  Simply put, the Church preaches God’s Word; the State keeps order.

These two kingdoms can also be differentiated this way:  the Church has an eternal focus as opposed to the temporal focus of the State.; the Church uses heavenly power compared to the worldly power of the State;  the Church relies on the Bible’s authority as opposed to man’s authority in the State; and the Church offers optional involvement compared to  mandatory involvement of the State. (In other words, you can choose to serve in a congregation, but you can’t refuse to serve a prison sentence!)

When the  words “separation of church and state” are said, many people are amazed to know the following.  The words are not in the founding documents of our Constitution or Declaration of Independence.  The words are actually from a letter by Thomas Jefferson to Danbury (CT) Baptists in 1802 to insure that the government wouldn’t make religious decisions for the congregation.  The letter is not about outlawing government’s support of religion.  No one really paid much attention to the letter until a 1947 case (Everson v. Board of Education) that included the first separation of Christian principles from government.  Ever since then, the phrase “separation of church and state” has been repeated as if the Founders wanted no religion in the public square.  That is simply not the case.

The Founders knew that religion was essential to a moral people with so much freedom.  President John Adams even said the Constitution was made for a moral and religious people.  In other words, no government is large enough to force you do the right thing.  You must be self-controlled and do what is right yourself.  That’s why the Founders didn’t make one religion for the nation for all of us to believe, but encouraged Christian principles and education in morals to produce a godly people who could maintain themselves without the authorities keeping an eye on each one of them.

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April 26, 2016

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