Grace For Your Day August 28

In last week’s sermon, we learned that there are three primary views on the separation of church and state that are as follows:

1). Dominionism – the church and the state are one.
2). Strict Separationism – the church and the state are separate and have nothing to do with each other.
3). Biblical Separationism – the church and state are separate but have a relationship with one another.

We then proceeded to learn that the third view was the prevailing position of the church starting in the Book of Acts. The early Christians believed that they were supposed to submit to the government (Romans 13:1), pray for the government (1 Timothy 2:1-2), and honor them (1 Peter 2:17). However, at the same time, they were to “obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29)” and remember that Jesus is Lord of all (Acts 2:36) so that their ultimate allegiance belonged to Him and no one else.

In other words, the ancient church believed it was their job to be separate from the government while at the same time interacting with it. They believed that the church had its job to do and the government had its job but the two were not the same. So the question arises: Where did the idea of dominion theology come from?

The answer is that it arose during the Fourth Century when the Roman Emperor Constantine legalized the religion of Christianity and started taking over the management of church affairs. From that point on, the union of church and state would be embraced by almost every Christian group starting in the Middle Ages and continuing on for almost 1,000 years.

Which raises another question: What changed all of that? The answer is that several important events did but the most important one is arguably the American Revolution because it created a nation in the western world which made a sharp distinction between the church and state. Does this mean that America is a Christian nation? No. Does it imply that the founding fathers were returning to what the Bible teaches in everything? No. Does it prove that men like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were Christians? Not necessarily. It just means that this event had a major impact on the way we see this issue of the government today living in North America. Whether you are from Canada or the United States, your view of the church’s relationship to the state is largely influenced by what happened during this extraordinary time in history.

The reason this is so important is because we are currently in a series entitled “The Chrisitan & Civil Disobedience.” However, it is difficult to talk about the issue of disobedience to the government until we first understand what we mean when we use the word “government.” For many of us, we think of Canada or the United States. We make these countries the litmus test by which every other nation on earth is supposed to be measured.

Many Christians also look at the American Revolution as the way that Christians should respond to tyranny today. They see how men like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson rebelled from England and believe that their behavior should make them serve as Christian role models for us to follow. However, it is not that simple because they had their faults as well. They were not perfect men so we need to show discernment when we consider what they did which is what we are going to talk about on Sunday morning.

For those of you who are interested, we will be studying three more stages in the history of the church’s relationship with the state this weekend:

1). The Puritans & The Pilgrims (17th Century)
2). The Founding of the United States (18th Century)
3). The Establishment of Canada as a Nation & The Modern Age (19th Century – Present Day)

Please be in prayer that the Lord will use this time to bless His church and help us understand how to respond to our governing officials during this difficult time in the life of our country. The service will begin at 9:30 on Sunday morning at 46024 Riverside Drive in Chilliwack. It will also be recorded and posted on our You Tube Channel afterwards for those who were not able to make it in person.

 – Jeremy Cagle