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Exploring the Grievances of the Union of Church and State

Authors:
  • Newbold College of Higher Education

Abstract

This study shows that church and state, when they unite in legislation of beliefs and worship, violate the God-given freedom of conscience of the individual. Firstly, the paper presents supportive evidence for the argument that the union of church and state does not stand for social justice. Secondly, it shows a couple of examples of the union's terrible consequences in history. Finally, the research goes to the root of the illegitimacy of the union of church and state by asserting what the Bible says about this issue. In short, this study indicates that the union of church and state is an unwarranted political-religious order.
Asia-Pacific International University
Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Exploring the Grievances of the Union of Church and State
A Project Paper in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the ENGL 112 English Composition
class (Section A) taught by Gabby Galgao
2nd Semester, 2016-2017
I certify that this assignment is my own work and is free from plagiarism. I understand that the
assignment may be checked for plagiarism by electronic or other means. The assignment has not
previously been submitted in any other course or institution. I have read and understood Asia-
Pacific International University’s academic integrity policy.
Student Name: Ville Suutarinen
Applied Theology Major
Abstract
This study shows that church and state, when they unite in legislation of beliefs and worship,
violate the God-given freedom of conscience of the individual. Firstly, the paper presents
supportive evidence for the argument that the union of church and state does not stand for social
justice. Secondly, it shows a couple of examples of the union's terrible consequences in history.
Finally, the research goes to the root of the illegitimacy of the union of church and state by asserting
what the Bible says about this issue. In short, this study indicates that the union of church and state
is an unwarranted political-religious order.
Exploring the Grievances of the Union of Church and State
Introduction
Through the history of Christianity the relationship between church and state has been a
major issue. John Wycliffe, already in the 12th century, spoke against the Papal States, which
claimed to be the visible “Kingdom of Heaven” on earth (Schaff, 1882, para. 8). Martin Luther
proceeded the protest by teaching a separation of church and state (d’Aubigné, 1846, pp. 922-923).
Later, American Protestants were able to put the “dream” of liberty of conscience into effect.
Today, it seems like the progress is going backwards. President Donald Trump vowed to
close the gap between church and state (Nesbit, 2016), and Pope Francis addressed a joint session of
the United States Congress (Cook, 2015). Both Donald Trump and Pope Francis long for revival of
some type of religious morality in societies.
It is true that societies need not only law and order but sense of morality. Churches need
justice, order, and liberty in society, which state should uphold. In turn, the state needs the gospel to
civilize people, and overcome injustice and corruption, as the President of the Theological School
of Geneva, Merle d’Aubigné (1846) wrote.
Even though the church and the state need each other, they cannot work together in
legislation of religious laws, which force certain beliefs or worship-practices on people, because it
violates the individual's God-given liberty of conscience, and, thus, becomes illegitimate in the eyes
of the Creator. This is how the union of church and state can become a persecuting power, as the
Bible and the classical “American” understanding of this union proclaim. This paper is adducing
the illegitimacy of the union of church and state in three points, which argue that (1) it is
unsustainable to social justice; (2) it is unsupported by history; and (3) it is unbiblical.
Discussion
Unsustainable to Social Justice
Webster's Third New International Dictionary (1981) defines Social justice as “a state or
doctrine of egalitarianism”, which stands for a belief that all human beings have a similar right to
freedoms and privileges. This means that everybody's equal right for religious liberty is a part of
social justice (or should be). Usually social justice is based on so-called natural law, but there are
different understandings of this law. These different views need to be inspected, because they affect
on the origin and core of social justice, which reflects on the reasons and means of upholding justice
in the world. One could start from the Catholic Church, which is, perhaps, the most famous
advocate for social justice today.
Social Justice by the Catholic Church. The common humane values, the common good,
and the social justice, which the Roman Catholic Church promotes globally, are based on Papacy's
natural law's and human reason's mandate. The Church believes that human reason, not the Bible,
is the ultimate authority in differentiating between good and evil (“Man,” n.d.). Papacy teaches that
the church leadership has the authentic ability to interpret the Bible and the moral natural law,
which declares the will of God (Cook, 2007; Paul VI, 1969, “Sacred Scripture”, para. 20), and the
authority to correct the ethical root of humanity's problems by perfecting the society (Cook, 2007;
Ellingsen, 1993, p. 113; Robbins, 1999; Sullivan, 1952). The Catechism of the Catholic Church
does say that every one has the right to make personal moral decisions in religious matters, but it
teaches that conscience should be educated, and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church,
which guarantees freedom and safety from one's own judgment (“Moral Conscience,” n.d., para.
7-10). This is clearly seen in Pope Francis' appeals, which suggest that religious groups can have
religious freedom insofar as they change their individual doctrines to pluralistic beliefs (Perriello,
2015; Pullella, 2013).
It is true that the Catholic Church has been “advancing democracy in the last three decades
of the twentieth century” (Ingram, p. 381, para. 3). Nevertheless, its view on democracy has not
changed through the years (Miller, 2003). Pope Francis I pleaded for “international
institutions” (2015, Para. 175), referring to Pope Benedict XVI, who urged for “global economy”,
and a “true world political authority” (Benedict XVI, 2009). Robbins (1999), Dr. in Political
Philosophy from the John Hopkins University, exposed that the Papacy's motive, which it has
shown by its means in politics, has been to govern “all aspects of society and economy” (pp. 85-86).
How does this differ from the Protestant view?
Martin Luther in the Heart of Protestantism. Cook (2007), Doctor in church-state
studies from Baylor University, states, “[E]arly modern exponents of natural law theory among
Protestants shifted the focal point of natural law theory from man’s moral perfection to that of social
peace” (p. 70). Even though the emphasis changed, the 16th century Protestantism did not reject
the existence of a natural law, because it was based on Romans 2:14-15 (“The Defense,” n.d., para.
3). Most importantly, Luther taught that the Bible is the sole authority in judging conscience
(d’Aubigné, 1846, p. 924; Ragosta, 2013, para. 3), which is one of the most important teachings of
the original Protestantism. As Nicholas Miller, Professor of Church History in Andrews University,
writes, Luther's idea was a prominent step towards the triumph of religious freedom in history (as
cited in Ragosta, 2013). Even though Protestants saw that social justice was important, they did not
believe in the Papacy's universal-communal-sacramental-order, as Robbins (1999) described it (p.
188). Nevertheless, today's mainstream Protestantism has changed.
Social Justice by Modern Protestantism and Evangelicalism. Henry (1974), Doctor, and
Associative Professor of Political Science at Calvin College, argued that politics is a continuation
for Redemption (p. 66), saw Romans 2 as a possibility for ecumenism (p. 81), and told that ”full
gospel” includes political dimensions (p. 102), which leads to ”a new divine order” (p. 103) on
earth. Jan-Wermer Müller, Professor of the Department of Politics in Princeton University, lifted up
Jacques Maritain, a 20th century Catholic thinker, as almost an “embodiment” of Christian
democratic thought (Müller, 2013). Timothy La Haye, a noted Evangelical author, claimed that “the
only way to have a genuine spiritual revival is to have legislative reform” (as cited in Younker,
2012, p. 22). Recently, President Donald Trump appointed his faith advisory board, where all the
members had ties or affiliations to Evangelicalism (Shellnutt & Zylstra, 2016).
As these examples suggested, “Protestantism” and so called Evangelicalism have largely
adopted the Catholic Church's understanding of social justice. They have tried to build “God's
Kingdom” on earth (Ellingsen, 1993, pp. 111-117; González, 2010, pp. 489-490; Henry, 1974, pp.
43-45; Ingram, 2014, p. 20; Noll, 1992, p.393). Even many Atheists have kept the separation of
church and state better than many Christians.
Social Justice by Liberalism and Atheism. John Locke, an Enlightenment thinker from
the eight century, and one of Liberalism's most prominent advocates, proclaimed that, according to
a natural law, everyone is equal before civil law (Sherman & Selby-Bigge, 1984). Even Naturalists
believe that all should have the same possibilities to fulfill their need for rights, such as the right to
live (Shafer-Landau, 2012). However, “Nature has, at best, only a limited role to play in moral
theory,” (Shafer-Landau, 2012, p. 88). Nevertheless, the Universal Declaration of Human rights,
which takes also Atheists in consideration (Cook, 2015), is common to everyone, despite of one's
religion.
Evaluation of Definitions. As was stated, everybody's equal rights for religious liberty is a
part of social justice, which is based on natural law. Concept of this “higher law” is very similar in
different world views. Nevertheless, Robbins (1999) reveals that the Roman Catholic political
theory lies on totalitarian theocracy and the absolute power of the pope over all temporal and
spiritual affairs. The Catholic Church's equality and freedom are defined and distributed by a
religious-political leadership, which makes the Papacy's equality unequal, its freedom a bondage,
and its morality immoral. Vatican's common good leads to a totalitarian mentality, when people
start spying each other (Robbins, 1999, p. 189). True morality comes from the freedom of
conscience, as Martin Luther taught, and leads to other freedoms in society. “Without freedom in
religious concernments, men are robbed of the capacity to enjoy any freedom, and all liberty is
robbed of its significance” (Snow, 1913, p. 10).
Unfortunately, many “Protestants” and Evangelicals promote the union of church and state
and the ecumenical social justice (Ellingsen, 1993). They want the “Kingdom of Heaven” on earth
by political means in this age, which is unbiblical, as will be seen lower in this paper.
The Bible is the only document where natural law has a loving, just, omnipotent and logical
source. Atheistic natural law and human rights start from human being, and are man-centered.
Instead, the Word of God starts from the Creator's rights. God has the right to be worshiped and
obeyed (as cited by Miller, 2008). However, social justice should include legislating morality
without violating individual rights of worship, or the right not to worship. The voices that proclaim
Biblical liberty of conscience are getting more and more rare. One should learn from history. What
does it teach?
Unsupported by History
The Dark Ages. The Dark ages was an apt name, when the Papacy's unlimited power,
which it got from the Emperor Justinian's code (Christensen & Göransson, 1975, p. 707), launched
the Inquisition, which tortured and killed those who did not believe as the Catholic Church
believed. Historical sources estimate the number of people killed by the Papacy in the Middle Ages
to be 50 million (Plaisted, 2006, chapter 3). Rosa (1988), a graduate of Gregorian University in
Rome, and Dean of Theology at Corpus Christi College in London, wrote:
Of eighty popes in a line from the thirteenth century on, not one of them
disapproved of the theology and apparatus of Inquisition. On the contrary, one
after another added his own cruel touches to the workings of this deadly
machine. (pp. 174-175)
This means that the more a totalitarian and conscience-suppressing system gets power, the deeper it
goes in executing that power. Rosa (1988) continued by saying that the reason for Inquisition was
the unity of church and state (p. 175).
Violently upheld collectivism was the trend of the Middle Ages. This way of thinking,
which was prominent to Catholicism, was not left behind easily, as was seen in some forms of
Protestantism, as well.
Jean Calvin's Theocracy. Even though Protestantism freed people from papal suppression,
it sometimes brought its own persecution instead. This was the case in Calvinistic Geneva, where
citizens were executed and tortured for heresy and witchcraft (Gulley, p. 40). Castellio
commented, “What a tragedy that those who had so lately freed themselves from the terrible
Inquisition should so soon imitate its tyranny, should so soon force men back into Cimmerian
darkness after so promising a dawn!” (as cited in Gulley, p. 42). However, “the sun” was soon to
arise from the west.
Considering the Liberty of Conscience in America. Finally, after the long dark period in
world history, liberty of conscience started to make an effect on people in the “new land” called
America. During the 156 years before the Declaration of Independence in the United States, very
little was achieved in society. However, right after the Declaration, and its notion on equality to all
citizens before the law, the “floodgates of knowledge and progress were opened”, and the U.S.A.
and the world started to develop in an incredible speed (Snow, 1914, p. 11).
Miller (2008) presents interestingly that the longing for soul freedom was ignited
simultaneously in the hearts of American Christian men from different congregational backgrounds.
For example, before the American revolution, in addition to Roger Williams, who was perhaps the
most prominent pioneer of religious liberty, three influential persons, religious leaders, and founders
of colonies, William Penn (a Quaker), Isaac Backus (a Baptist), and Elisha Williams (a Puritan), had
rather theological reasons than practical and enlightenment influenced reasons, when they were
persecuted and longed for a separation of church and state.
Additionally, all of them borrowed from John Locke, or had similar ideas with Locke
(Miller, 2008). However, the main flame behind the awakening of religious freedom was the Bible.
Influenced by biblical reasoning, Penn asserted, “'If no Man can believe before he understands, and
no Man can understand before he is inspir’d of God', then it is unreasonable and inhuman to punish
someone for not believing something” (as cited by Miller, 2008, p. 144). Miller (2008) argued that
the most important uniting Biblical doctrine between Penn, Backus and Williams was the priesthood
of all believers (1 Pet. 2:9), which made everyone equal in interpreting the Bible, and in
encountering with God, as Obenhaus (1957) wrote also (p. 154). This leads into the final argument
in this paper's defenses for the ”wall of separation between church and state,” as Jefferson (1802)
described the separation in his letter to Danbury Baptists (para. 3).
Unbiblical
Freedom of Conscience in the Bible. As was argued by the American fathers, the doctrine
of priesthood of all believers declares that there is no clergy with a higher authority in judging of
religious matters, as the Catholic Church teaches, but that all human beings are equal in choosing
what to believe. Moreover, the Epistle to the Hebrews tells that there is only one High priest, the
Mediator between God and human beings, Jesus Christ (4:14-16). In addition to the priesthood of
all believers, there are other important biblical doctrines which defend the separation of church and
state.
The first human beings, already, were created and judged separately (Gen. 2:15, 22;
3:16-19). They had the freedom of choice before the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen.
2:16-17). This means that the Creator does not force anyone to believe in himself (Josh. 24:15),
which presumes an individual conscience (1 Cor. 10:29). Christian's faith is individual (Gal. 3:11),
which suggests that everyone, in order to be saved, should have a personal relationship with Jesus.
True freedom does not bring immorality; instead, it is the only “channel” which God uses to affect
morality that comes from the choice of one's heart and love (Eph. 3:16-17). This is how God's
eternal and objective law becomes also subjective and personal (Jer. 31:33; Rom. 3:31). Without
the freedom of choice, there is no love.
God called Abraham, the Father of faith, personally (Gen. 12:1). Abraham ”was looking
forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God,” (Heb. 11:10 NIV)
because, as Muoro said, God's Kingdom is eternal kingdom, not temporal kingdom (as cited in
Martin, 1973; 2 Pet. 1:11: Dan. 7:14, 22; Heb. 1:8; Isa. 9:7; Luke 1:33; Rev. 11:15, 18). Earthly
governments cannot take the place of God's government in choosing the inhabitants to the City of
God, where the saved will live. This is supported by John, when he saw the new Jerusalem
ascending down from Heaven, not built by human hands on earth (Rev. 21:2). Finally, Revelation
13 tells about a beast, a kingdom, a government, that persecutes and executes the saints on religious
grounds. This earthly authority has taken God's place in directing people's consciences, and it shall
be destroyed by God (Rev. 19:20). Most importantly, the book of Revelation is ”[t]he Revelation
of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1). Jesus, especially, had something to say about the Kingdom of God's
separation from the earthly powers.
Lessons from Jesus. In addition to that Jesus, ”the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6),
spoke through all the prophets and apostles (1 Cor. 10:4; John 15:26), he gave also his own
testimony on earth regarding the grievances of the union of church and state.
Firstly, Jesus asserted that his Kingdom and followers are not of this world (John 17:14;
18:36). The word world comes from the Greek word kosmos, which means also ”orderly
arrangement” (”Strong's Lexicon,” n.d.). This suggests that this world's order is not ultimately from
God. This is supported by the fact, that Moses' laws, even the Ten commandments, are not in force
theocratically anymore (John 8:1-1; Luke 22:49-51).
Jesus did not force anyone to follow himself (John 12:47). He said that he, not the church or
government, would enforce the executive judgment on the last day on those who have rejected his
gift of salvation (Matt. 13:24-30). Moreover, Jesus stated that the gentiles lord over each other, but
the children of God are free (Matt. 20:25;17:26).
Secondly, Jesus came as a helpless babe, not as a conquering king (Gulley, 2007, p. 57). He
had at least the following opportunities to gain political power: when Satan tempted him (Luke
4:5-8); with all the multitudes; when arriving to Jerusalem; and with the chance to call thousands of
angels to help him when he was arrested (Matt. 26:52). However, he refused to gain secular power.
Jesus, himself, was accused and executed on religious grounds by the a union of a
“church” (Sanhedrin, which was the religious leadership) and a state (Rome). Nevertheless, as he
taught (John 15:20; Matt. 5:39), he did not answer to persecution with persecution.
Conclusion
Regardless of one's religion, beliefs, or philosophy of life, natural law, which includes social
justice and liberty of conscience, is affecting all humanity. Civil laws cannot infiltrate into the
domain of one's “soul-liberty”, because it is based on freedom of conscience (Snow, 1913). Civil
legal authority is for justice according to deeds, not beliefs, as Jefferson (1802) wrote. Religious
freedom is a road to other freedoms and civil development in a society.
Therefore, Catholic, “Protestant” and Evangelical understanding of social justice leads to the
union of church and state, which results in forcing of conscience by government. History tells us
the terrible consequences of this union. When Atheism does not have a logical foundation for moral
theory, Protestantism is the only logical, Bible-based and effective advocate for the liberty of
religious beliefs in today's world.
Jesus, God “made flesh” (John 1:14), revealed God's will on earth, and died for humanity's
sins. Every human being on the planet Earth can choose whether to accept Christ's substitutionary
death for his or her sins, or to decline it. True freedom, which comes from the heart, is not forced
by the state, or anything, or anyone. By choosing the Word of God, one lets the Spirit of God
sanctify the soul and affect in life and society as an edifying morality.
Jesus died for freedom of conscience, as well. Ironically, he died in the hands of a union of
church and state. Moreover, Jesus gave an example to all Christians. Even though God's people
ought to live for the best of the societies in which they influence (Jer. 29:7; Rom. 13:5; 1 Pet. 2:17),
obedience to God goes ahead of it, if the government takes rights, which belong only to God, for
itself (Acts 5:29).
Even though the state needs the church to have a moral voice in public square, the church
can influence positively to society without getting involved in legislation of religious beliefs. It is
true that the church can even get persecuted for its comments by some social or political entity.
However, this paper has shown in its three main points that, the church and the state, by legislating
their own views of the Bible as belief-laws or worship-laws, can, ultimately, become a united
persecutor themselves. In conclusion, the union of church and state stands on unjustifiable ground.
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The intrinsic value of individual freedom is challenged in current global societal thinking. The philosophy of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) and postmodern philosophy are two examples of a kind of continual opposition to freedom, as is argued in this paper. This essay studies whether Hegel and postmodernism have holistic and substantial means for upholding the value of intrinsic individual freedom. The paper aims to bring a starting point for, and a starter for the discussion about, the relationship between individual freedom of choice /private judgment and collective responsibility by taking individual right to private property as an example, and to offer a framework which prevents overuse of communal responsibility as the definer of the bounds of individual freedom, by showing the inner inconsistencies of the two philosophies in holism and highest substance, and by offering Protestant philosophy as a better system.
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I argue that the same factors (strategic and principled) that motivated Catholicism to champion liberal democracy are the same that motivate twenty-first-century Islam to do the same. I defend this claim by linking political liberalism to democratic secularism. Distinguishing institutional, political, and epistemic dimensions of democratic secularism, I show that moderate forms of political and epistemic secularism are most conducive to fostering the kind of public reasoning essential to democratic legitimacy. This demonstration draws upon the ambivalent impact of Indonesia's Islamic parties in advancing universal social justice aims as against more sectarian policies.
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Broad in scope yet written from a well-defined perspective, this book provides a superb narrative survey of Christian churches, institutions, and interactions with culture in the United States and Canada from the colonial period to the present.One of the foremost authorities on the history of Christianity in North America, Mark Noll has intentionally made this history a comprehensive, balanced one-volume work: the book covers the great variety of Christian experience throughout all of North American history, sensitively encompassing the story of many contrasting groups and regions--elite and common people, whites and blacks, Catholics and Protestants, men and women, North and South. Adding a personal dimension to the narrative, numerous biographical profiles further enrich Noll's multifaceted exploration of major movements and events.
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CHAPTER 0. Introduction For two or three centuries, many Protestants have given figures concerning the total number of people killed directly or indirectly by the Papacy during the Middle Ages. The numbers given include 50 million, 68 million, 100 million, 120 million, and 150 million. Roman Catholics typically give much smaller numbers. Frequently the figures are stated without any information about where they came from or how they were computed. The purpose of this note is to describe where some of these figures come from and to comment on their reliability. Surely nearly all Roman Catholics as well as Protestants disapprove of past religious persecutions, so this discussion should not reflect negatively on current members of the Roman Catholic Church. However, events in Nazi Germany show how easily persecution can revive, so it is necessary to be on guard against it and maintain an awareness of its history. Of course, many other groups besides the Papacy have persecuted. And all of us, without Christ, have the roots of sin in ourselves. The reason the Papacy stands out is that it has ruled for such a long period of time over such a large area, exercised so much power, and claimed divine prerogatives for its persecutions. The magnitude of the persecutions is important for the following reason: One can excuse a few thousand cases as exceptional, but millions and millions of victims can only be the result of a systematic policy, thereby showing the harmful results of church-state unions. In this study I have attempted, with some success, to penetrate the veil of obscurity that surrounds the Middle Ages in order to determine the true history of this period. In order to consider this subject, it is necessary to recall many unpleasant events. The dreadful totals, computations, and examples that follow, one after another, are not for the faint hearted. These atrocities should convince us not so much of the evils of a particular religious system as of the depravity of the sinful human heart, and lead us to turn to Christ for repentance and salvation that we might have new hearts and be cleansed from sin.
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Political thought grouped under the rubric ‘Christian Democracy’ is often considered as profoundly unoriginal and as the product of politicians and party activists (rather than political philosophers). This note puts forward the argument that there is an important—and in parts original—body of thought responding to the challenge of how to reconcile Christianity and modern democracy in nineteenth and twentieth century Europe. In rather schematic fashion it then traces three strategies for finding a place for Christianity—and Catholicism in particular—in the modern democratic order: the idea of creating or re-creating a Christian demos; the notion of constraining the demos through recognizably Christian institutions; and, lastly, Christian Democratic party politics. Apart from a research agenda, the article then suggests some lessons from this history, especially for thinking about the relationship between Islam and democracy.
Caritas in veritate Retrieved from http
  • Xvi Benedict
Benedict XVI. (2009). Caritas in veritate. Retrieved from http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/ en/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20090629_caritas-in-veritate.html
Kirkkohistoria 1: Evankeliumista paavin jumalanvaltioon
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The parameters of social justice and natural law theory
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Cook, E. (2007). The parameters of social justice and natural law theory. Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, 18(1), 64-80. Retrieved February 28, 2017 from http://www.atsjats.org/ publication/view/326
Courtship between church and state. Liberty Retrieved February 16, 2017 from http://www.libertymagazine.org/article/courtship-between-church-and-state d'Aubigné, M. (1846) The history of the Reformation of the sixteenth century
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Cook, E. (2015). Courtship between church and state. Liberty. Retrieved February 16, 2017 from http://www.libertymagazine.org/article/courtship-between-church-and-state d'Aubigné, M. (1846). The history of the Reformation of the sixteenth century (Vol. 3). Glasgow: William Collins. Retrieved February 28, 2017 from http://pdf.amazingdiscoveries.org/ eBooks/HISTORY_OF_THE_REFORMATION.pdf