Separation of Church and State
We have been working down our acrostic of the biblical distinctives of Baptists. We have seen the importance of each one of these biblical distinctives:
B A P T I S T S
We now come to S for Separation of Church and State. How do I feel about this issue? Well let me put it this way; I wear my feelings on my shirt.
Separation of church and state is perhaps one of the most readily accepted distinctives of biblical Baptists both within and without Christendom. We enjoy our religious freedom in the United States of America. We have been blessed in this nation with religious liberty because some have felt that it was and is important enough to live and die for, work and fight for. Indeed it is! The U.S. armed forces defend our freedom and for this reason our present troop’s and the veterans of every era deserve our respect and honor. They are the defenders of our liberty NOT the ACLU! Don't get me going... but do check out this fine post on the ACLU.
We should not forget, however, that this idea did not just come up one afternoon in some congressional think tank. It was not a mere proposal drafted by a political party and voted on because no one had anything better to do one day. This is the doing of almighty God! All freedom loving nations owe their allegiance to Him. Just how did God accomplish this providential feat?
My temptation here is to give details about men of God, such as Roger Williams: The “Windmill in the Low Countries”, John Clarke: “A Lively Experiment… With Full Liberty in Religious Concernments”, Isaac Backus: “A Door Opened for Equal Christian Liberty”, and John Leland: “The Liberty I Contend for Is More than Toleration”* All of whom were (at least for some time) Baptists. Since others have done that work I will restrain myself and express the biblical distinctives of Baptists on the separation of church and state. This will be a biblical approach not a political approach. Here's an outline to get you thinking...
I. What Is Separation of Church and State?
II. What Does the Bible Say about Separation of Church and State?
III. What about the First Amendment and Separation of Church and State?
IV. How Can Government Control the Churches?
V. What is the Christian's Responsibility to Government?
VI. What is the Government's Responsibility to the Church?
My hope is that this will be an edifying and thought provoking topic for all, not just Baptists.
*I recommend the book “Baptists and the American Tradition” by Robert C. Newman.