The Intersection of Church and Secular Politics Part 2By Pastor Boffey on Thursday, April 1, 2021.
III. The church of Jesus Christ seeks friendly diplomatic relations with the secular government where it can. A. Its primary business is the gospel and the promotion of all applicable law from God. MAR 16:20; MAT 4:4; 2TI 3:16; PSA 119:128; COL 2:20-22. 1. It emphasizes the New Testament of the Spirit of Christ which promotes life and liberty. 2CO 3:6, 17; 1CO 7:21-23. 2. This spiritual life and liberty affirms self-discipline and self-restraint in deference to a higher purpose. GAL 5:1, 13; 1PE 2:16. 3. Such principles reduce the need for other masters and laws in everyday life. 4. “If your cause is just, if your principles are pure, and if your conduct is prudent, you need not fear the multitude of opposing hosts. He is the best friend to American liberty, who is most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down profanity and immorality of every kind. Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not to call him an enemy of his country...” (John Witherspoon, preacher, president of Princeton, signer of the Declaration of Independence, abolitionist)
B. It recognizes the need for civil authority, for public order, but rejects anarchy and sedition. TIT 3:1; 1PE 2:13-17; 2PE 2:10; GAL 5:20. 1. It is not automatically hostile to civil power but rather its best friend and conscience. ACT 26:27-32. 2. Its interests in man’s relating to others are commonly in agreement with civil power. 1TI 1:8-11; 1PE 4:15-16. 3. It understands there are financial costs to human government and also that is tyranny to be forced to make the state’s bricks, especially without straw and especially when true religion is the issue. ROM 13:7; LUK 20:25; EXO 6:6-9. C. It will strive for conciliation where it can. DAN 1:12-14. D. But it cannot silence its message at the demand of any secular policy. ACT 4:20. E. It will protect innocent life when secular policy is against it. EXO 1:16-17; ACT 9:23-25. F. It will resist perversions of biblical family structure and government. MAT 19:4-6; PSA 127:3. G. It reserves the right under God of free and qualified association. ACT 2:38-41; 1CO 5:13. H. It cannot corrupt worship at the behest of the state. DAN 3:18; REV 20:4.
I. It cannot abandon its duty of assembling at the behest of the state. HEB 10:25. 1. The church assembly exists for the corporate praise of its King and for His tribute. EPH 3:21; ROM 12:1; 1PE 2:15. 2. Our Lord Jesus would not comply with secular power’s demands to stifle His worship. LUK 19:38-40.
J. The church is the creature of God, not of the state. DAN 2:44; 1CO 3:9. 1. Christ’s kingdom (the gospel church) is in this world but not of this world nor subject to this world’s ordinances, regardless of whether such ordinances are oppressive or apparently beneficent. 2. Individual believers are subject to many of this world’s ordinances but not the body politic which is the church. 3. “If any number of real saints are incorporated by human law, they cannot be a church of Christ, by virtue of that formation, but a creature of the state...” (Elder John Leland) 4. The church which incorporates under human law has loved another husband for the perceived advantages that the state offers by incorporation. It answers to two masters, a real problem. MAT 6:24. 5. Any creature is subject to its creator. ROM 9:20. 6. The true church knows all too well what can happen when ecclesiastical power fornicates with civil power. REV 17:1-6. 7. The church needs not the benefits of the state which incorporation offers and is better off without that. a. It needs not the legal protections that incorporation provides since it is not a legal entity that can be sued at law. Individual believers may be sued but not the church. b. It needs not the tax benefits that incorporation provides since kickback giving is a poor example of sacrifice not entirely unlike Corban (MAR 7:9-11) and the tax benefit can end up being a muzzle of the church’s voice in public policy. c. Remember that the state can give nothing but what the cost of it is borne by someone else. Remember Paul’s principle in 2CO 8:13. (1) “Government cannot create a special privilege for one American without simultaneously creating a special disadvantage for another American.” (Dr. Walter Williams, 1936-2020) (2) IMHO, there is some validity to the infamous Johnson Amendment of the Tax Code. Should other taxpayers who would not want to support a religion be forced to do so by the increased burden of tax they bear as a result of a reduced tax burden borne by members of that religion? (3) Tax deductions for charitable giving to churches would seem to narrowly avoid the proscription in the First Amendment forbidding State-establishment of religion inasmuch as such a benefit is not unique to any particular religion. (4) But then the question arises as to whether it is just for anyone, believer or unbeliever, to be forced to financially subsidize a religion with which he disagrees. Similar questions might be asked concerning taxation to support Planned Parenthood, antichrist public education, or of the tax deductions made available to donors to United Way (which supports abortion), etc. 8. The church’s mission is best served simply by public policy that does not inhibit its message or duties. a. This is far more valuable than a tax deduction or a legal shelter. b. Our God has promised to supply our need. PHIL 4:19; 2CO 9:8-10. c. This accords with His Spirit of liberty: liberty for believers to do well and liberty for unbelievers to not subsidize religion they oppose and to reject the church’s message free of charge and answer to God for that. 9. “Among the most inestimable of our blessings is that ... of liberty to worship our Creator in the way we think most agreeable in His will; a liberty deemed in other countries incompatible with good government and yet proved by our experience to be its best support.” (Thomas Jefferson to Capt. John Thomas of Newhope Baptist Church, Nov. 18, 1807)
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