Visitor: I want to prevent organized religious institutions from invading and taking over the state mechanism. No Catholic church telling the kings what to do. No Saudi mullahs telling the people what is and is not moral-legal. No theocratic state a la Iran or the Taliban. I dislike the capture of the state mechanism by a competing organization based on appeals to religious authority. Separate authorities for separate spheres. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. Religion should be kept out of the public square. Only those with secular ideas should establish policy.
Response: I couldn't agree with you more that no ONE religious group should take over the state mechanism. The depth of our depravity as human beings should preclude the possibility of giving this much power to any one man or group. However, I noticed a glaring absence from your list. It appears that you have overlooked the inclusion of your own religious/philosophical view: postmodern secularism. Convince me that you do not intend to suppress other people's views by also including secularism on this list. By not including it, you exempt yourself from the limitations of the separation of church and state and thereby give yourself and proponents of your view free reign to exert power, while everyone else remains limited. Awfully convenient for you to claim this exemption, don't you think? A truly liberal society, I would argue, is one that allows all views to participate. You see, by excluding yourself from this list, you appear, from my perspective, to have become the very thing that you wish to avoid. Please explain to me how you're your viewpoint is any less susceptible to setting up a tyranny than any other religion.
Don't you see the irony here? I am all for limiting the power of any group, including my own, since I am well aware not only of my own depravity but also the same propensity in others. "Secular" and "Secularism" are different animals. One is a fact, the other a philosophy. The country of France now is in the midst of instituting just such an anti-God policy. They have merely replaced "religion" with secularism. What is the difference? How is the divine right of kings in ancient Europe any different than states that have established secular monopolies? Worldwide Communism and National Socialism were both founded on secularist principles. In other words, totalitarianism looks the same whether it is in the name of religion or irreligion. When America set out to establish a secular country this did not mean they envisioned that only secularists should be allowed to make public policy. By imagining that your views are neutral, you advance a form of tyranny by default. For you yourself are appealing to your own interpretive community when appealing to values, morals and the like. From the point of view of the civil magistrate your view should be no more authoritative than a God-believing "religious" view. Really, our laws should be deduced from which ideas are most persuasive and intelligible. Let us decide through open debate rather than censor any group as you propose.
But lets be clear: True Theocracy will only take place when Jesus Christ Himself returns as King of kings and judges the world. It is really not our short term goal to establish a theocracy so no need to fret too much about it. We do not obsess over issue this as secularists sometimes like to imagine. We believe gaining political power never saved anyone. In fact the greatest modern-day revival of Christianity has taken place in China, a place not known for being particularly friendly to Christians. While we want to proclaim God's word widely and make it universally known, Christianity does not grow by instituting civil laws and promoting behavior modification. It means very little to Christians if the society is only outwardly moral but knows not the Savior. God alone causes the growth of His kingdom in men's hearts through persuasion. While promoting God's law is indeed a goal of ours ... yet it must voluntarily adopted for it to be ultimately meaningful. Not by force. The idea of a rule of law and separation of powers was a wise one because it understood the limitations of human nature - that the power of individuals and groups must be limited, due to corruption. This limiting role of human power is essentially a Christian idea which comes out of Presbyterian polity. So tyranny is not innate to Christianity - and while we acknowledge that there has been tyranny in the name of Christianity historically, this is not because people took the Bible too seriously, but because they did not take it serious enough. Secular progressives do not believe that human nature is flawed so it is unlikely such an idea would have naturally become central to our political process without a that element of Christian influence. S
Remember, Christianity is primarily a religion grace, not law. Bad behavior is really only a symptom of a much greater concern. That mankind's condition under sin's wages means death is certain. A mere outward change of societies behavior will simply not do. Consider this analogy:
"A man has been found guilty, shall we say, of a heinous crime and has been sentenced to death. He is now in prison, awaiting the day of his execution. A friend comes to visit him. This friend calls out: "I have good news for you!" Eagerly the condemned man asks: "What is it?" The answer comes: "Be good." In that message there is not so much as a shred of good news. It is most cruel mockery..."
It is not about niceness or morality... it is about our condition. If everyone became moral tomorrow it would have no consequence on our enslavement. What we need is the new birth, a resurrection of our soul, a restoration to God's original intent for humankind. What we need is the gospel.
Do Christians Want a Theocratic or a Secularist State? Or Neither? by John Hendryx
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