Speaking personally, this excerpt has truly started to make me think more deeply on how the church relates to government and the systems that have been in use before the political activism seen among professing Christians today. Whereas before, I would say that there should be some amount of Christian morality put forth from within government. I now see that it does not have the power to change a nation and its people. Stead points out that the framers of the Constitution had a unique perspective on church and state because they had come out of a society where the church was run by the state. The King was the chief priest as well as the chief political ruler—something prohibited by God (2 Chron. 26). Therefore, the framers were those who supported a separation of duties: to paraphrase, they said “The government is there to protect the nation. The Church can do whatever it wants, as long as it is inside the bounds of the constitutional conditions.” (49)
But to explore the thoughts regarding the boundaries of the church any further, we must clarify exactly what the church is. When Paul gives his closing salutations to the Romans, he says “…greet the church that is in their house.” (Romans 16:5) He was referring to the people, the believers, within the house. Additionally, Paul says in his exposition on Christ “And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills a...
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...-21) And even further on, Paul asserts our position relative to government as well when he says that we should submit to authority because the authority is there by God’s power and design (Romans 13:1-7).
If that is the realm that the government controls, then what authority should the church practice over people? The answer is none over unbelievers (for that is God’s position to judge), but we are to hold those within the church accountable to God’s Word (1 Cor. 5:9-12). After all, will we not one day experience the perfect unity of religion and government in Christ’s perfect Kingdom? Stead aptly sums up what can bring about a true change in a society and a nation as he says “Believers need to be reminded that there can be no healthy or lasting change of social structures without a redemptive change in people, which is why Christ came two thousand years ago.” (52)
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