"The Religious Case for Seperating Church and State"

Matt Lewis
|
Posted: Apr 11, 2008 3:31 PM

Here's Lindsay Boyd's last report from Grove City College ...

"The Religious Case for Seperating Church and State"

 Dr. T. David Gordon
 
Just as we hit the ground running this morning here in Grove City, Pennsylvania, so we will end the day (or at least my time here) in the same fashion. The events of the Center for Vision & Values' "Church & State 2008 Summit will continue into the evening, but regretably I must catch a plane in just a few hours so I conclude with this final report.
 
Remember the good ole' (and generally very wise) advice of steering clear from the topics of religion and politics at the dinner table? I think most would generally recommend this approach to those looking for invitations to dine at that same table in the future. But where's the fun in that?
 
Dr. T. David Gordon, an ordained minister in the Presbyterian (PCA) tradition, decided to "bring the fun". 
 
Given Dr. Gordon's religious background, one would probably expect a staunch defense of religious influence in state matters. However, as Dr. Gordon upheld, it is his faith and loyalty to it that prevents him from advocating the blending of these two institututions.
 
Since the Protestant movement began, Dr. Gordon reminds us, men and women of faith have advocated for the protection of the church from the state. He recalls the doctrines of the Honover Presbyterians of the 18th Century, the Scottish traditions, and the Westminster Confession of Faith- all of which argue against using coercive powers of the state to advance religious agendas.[# More #]
 
Central to their arguments was the belief that this abusive power is inconsistant with commands of Christ. These institutions, Dr. Gordon continued, maintained that the Christian faith possesses its own unearthly weapons against the unbeliever, just as the state possesses weapons against the socially unjust- and the two sets of weapons are ineffective and injurious if applied to the other's jurisdicon.
 
Reciting doctrine from the "Spirituality of the Church", Dr. Gordon submits that these early Protestants put stock in the power of Christian teachings, which if left to their own devices, "will flourish and prevail in its purest form". They put "confidence in the holy spirit to take a disobedient heart and cause it to bow to the reign of the ascended God." Their belief in "taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" was their weapon of choice- one in which, Dr. Gordon asserted, would be severely diminished if paired with federal interference by means of state weaponry.
 
In fact, as Dr. Gordon reminded, these same early Christians understood the essential qualities of providing "reasonable, logical, and fundamental" arguments outside the realm of religion for the moral operations of civil society. Just as the state has the potential to disrupt the growth of pure Christian teachings, so too can faith inhibit the growth of civilizations in categories of science, arts and the like. Exiled thinkers like Madame Curry, Albert Einstein, Alexander Hamilton and others, as Dr. Gordon reitterated, are examples of those who were casted out of their respective homelands based on incapatabilities of faith that made invaluable contributions to the advancement of mankind.
 
In the end, Dr. Gordon's assertions seemed to be rooted in one distinguishing principle: as Christians, we believe it is the voluntary submission to Christ that leads to our eternal salvation. How can that avenue to God be respected and preserved if citizens are otherwise coerced? Moreover, how can Christians promote state infringement upon the Christian movement and remain true to the faith itself?
 
Like I said- Dr. Gordon's strikes may not sit well with the other guests, but he sure left it all on the table!
 
As am I, for it's good-bye from Grove City!