Nine Distinct Differences Between Church and State Which Render Them Mutually Exclusive

 


If you miss one part of the puzzle that is being put together in these studies, you will never see and understand the whole picture.


A publication of Churches Under Christ Ministry


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Jerald Finney
Copyright © February 19, 2018


The contrast between how God treats earthly and heavenly concerns is shown in many ways. I noticed and wrote on some distinct differences between church and state that render them mutually exclusive before I began to write God Betrayed. I included those differences in Section III, Chapter 4. Later, as I was reading some of Isaac Backus’ writings, it was gratifying to come across this statement:

“Christians must be careful not to apply God’s principles for the Jewish religion and the nation Israel to church and state. The principles for the two are so distinct that they are mutually exclusive. The government of the Church of Christ is as distinct from all worldly governments, as heaven is from earth!”[1]

Rather than doing analysis of those nine differences, this lesson will list them. The interested student can got t0 his Bible and also to pages 153-169 of God Betrayed for more details. The important thing to understand is that the two are distinct. God ordained them both, but with different purposes, makeup, guidelines, goals, calling, position, relationships, privileges, destiny, and duties.

Here are some of the differences:

  • first, the contrasts between the manner of redemption of the nation of Israel and the manner of redemption of the individual;
  • second, the contrasts between the new law of Christ in the renewed heart and the external law of Moses;
  • third, the contrasts between the weapons and means of nations to attain their ends and the weapons and means of a believer and a church to attain their ends; see Fn[2] for some of Roger William’s insights on this.
  • fourth, the contrasts between the different punishments ordered by God for the church and for the state (see Fn [3] for Roger Williams comment);
  • fifth, the contrasts between Old and New Testament prayer;
  • sixth, the contrasts between the hope of nations as seen in the Old Testament and the hope of the church as seen in the New Testament;
  • seventh, the contrasts between the promises to the nation Israel for obedience and the promises to the Christian for obedience;
  • eighth, the contrasts between the position and fate of the nation Israel and the position and fate of the church; and
  • ninth, the contrasts between the different houses of God for Israel and the church—the Old Testament tabernacle was earthly, the New Testament church is spiritual. A discussion of each of these contrasts follows.

The only conclusion, again, for churches should be a determination to separate from the world and pursue their heavenly calling under God, and God alone.

[1] Isaac Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists, Volume 2 (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871),  p. 561.

[2] Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island, the first government in history to have religious liberty (See Section IV, Chapter 6 of God Betrayed) pointed out:

  • “[T]o take a stronghold, men bring cannon, culverins, saker, bullets, powder, muskets, swords, pikes, &c., and these to this end are weapons effectual and proportionable.
  • “On the other side, to batter down idolatry, false worship, heresy, schism, blindness, hardness, out of the soul and spirit, it is vain, improper, and unsuitable to bring those weapons which are used by persecutors, stocks, whips, prisons, swords, gibbets, stakes, &c., (where these seem to prevail with some cities or kingdoms, a stronger force sets up again, what a weaker pulled down); but against these spiritual strongholds in the souls of men, spiritual artillery and weapons are proper, which are mighty through God to subdue and bring under the very thought to obedience, or else to bind fast the soul with chains of darkness, and lock it up in the prison of unbelief and hardness to eternity” (Roger Williams and Edward Bean Underhill, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussed and Mr. Cotton’s Letter Examined and Answered (London: Printed for the Society, by J. Haddon, Castle Street, Finsbury, 1848), pp. 119-120).

Roger Williams maintained that the civil power has five proper political means to attain its end:

  • “First, the erecting and establishing what form of civil government may seem in wisdom most meet, according the general rules of the word, and state of the people….  The magistrate has power to publish and apply such civil laws in a state, as either are expressed in the word of God in Moses’s judicials—to wit, so far as they are of general and moral equity, and so binding all nations in all ages—to be deducted by way of general consequence and proportion from the word of God.
  • “For in a free state no magistrate hath power over the bodies, goods, lands, liberties of a free people, but by their free consents. And because free men are not free lords of their own estates, but are only stewards unto God, therefore they may not give their free consents to any magistrate to dispose of their bodies, goods, lands, liberties, at large as themselves please, but as God, the sovereign Lord of all, alone. And because the word is a perfect rule, as well of righteousness as of holiness, it will be therefore necessary that neither the people give consent, nor that the magistrate take power to dispose of the bodies, goods, lands, liberties of the people, but according to the laws and rules of the word of God….
  • “Secondly, the making, publishing, and establishing of wholesome civil laws, not only such as concern civil justice, but also the free passage of true religion: for outward civil peace ariseth and is maintained from them both, from the latter as well as from the former.
  • “Civil peace cannot stand entire where religion is corrupted, 2 Chron. xv. 3, 5, 6; Judges viii. And yet such laws, though conversant about religion may still be counted civil laws; as on the contrary, an oath doth still remain religious, though conversant about civil matters.
  • “Thirdly, election and appointment of civil officers to see execution of those laws.
  • “Fourthly, civil punishments and rewards of transgressors and observers of these laws.
  • “Fifthly, taking up arms against the enemies of civil peace” (Ibid., pp. 212-213. See pp. 219-223 concerning the power of the magistrate in making laws.).

On the other hand, according to Mr. Williams,

  • “the means whereby a church may and should attain her ends, are only ecclesiastical, which are chiefly five. First, setting up that form of church government only of which Christ hath given them a pattern in his word.
  • “Secondly, acknowledging and admitting of no lawgiver in the church but Christ, and the publishing of his laws.
  • “Thirdly, electing and ordaining of such officers only as Christ hath appointed in his word.
  • “Fourthly, to receive into their fellowship them that are approved, and inflicting spiritual censures against them that offend.
  • “Fifthly, prayer and patience in suffering any evil from them that be without, who disturb their peace.
  • “So that magistrates, as magistrates, have no power of setting up the form of church government, electing church officers, punishing with church censures; but to see the church doth her duty herein. And on the other side, the churches, as churches, have no power, though as members of the commonweal they may have power, of erecting or altering forms of civil government, electing of civil officers, inflicting civil punishments—no, not on persons excommunicated—as by deposing magistrates from their civil authority, or withdrawing the hearts of the people against them, to their laws, no more than to discharge wives, or children, or servants, from due obedience to their husbands, parents, or masters: or by taking up arms against their magistrates, though they persecute them for conscience; for though members of churches, who are public officers, also of the civil state, may suppress by force the violence of usurpers, as Jehoiada did Athaliah, yet this they do not as members of the church, but as officers of the civil state” (Ibid., pp. 213-214).

[3] “But as the civil magistrate hath his charge of the bodies and goods of the subject: so have the spiritual officers, governors, and overseers of Christ’s city or kingdom, the charge of their souls, and soul safety. Hence that charge of Paul to Timothy, 1 Tim. v. 20, Them that sin rebuke before all, that others may learn to fear. This is, in the church of Christ, a spiritual means for the healing of a soul that hath sinned, or taken infection, and for the preventing of the infecting of others, that others may learn to fear, &c” (Ibid., p. 99).

  • “[F]or an erroneous and blind conscience, (even in fundamental and weighty points) it is not lawful to persecute any, til after admonition once or twice” (Williams and Underhill, p. 20).
  • “First then Titus, unto whom this epistle and these directions were written, and in him to all that succeed him in the like work of the gospel to the world’s end, was no minister of the civil state, armed with the majesty and terror of a material sword, who might for offenses against the civil state inflict punishments upon the bodies of men by imprisonments, whippings, fines, banishment, death.  Titus was a minister of the gospel, or glad tidings, armed only with the spiritual sword of the word of God, and [with] such spiritual weapons as (yet) through God were mighty to the casting down of strongholds, yea, every high thought of the highest head and heart in the world, 2. Cor. x. 4.
  • “Therefore, these first and second admonitions were not civil or corporal punishments on men’s persons or purses, which courts of men may lawfully inflict upon malefactors; but they were the reprehensions, convictions, exhortations, and persuasions of the word of the eternal God, charged home to the conscience in the name and presence of the Lord Jesus, in the midst of the church. Which being despised and not hearkened to, in the last place follows rejection; which is not a cutting off by heading, hanging, burning, &c., or an expelling of the country and coasts; neither [of] which (no, nor any lesser civil punishment) Titus, nor the church at Crete, had any power to exercise. But it was that dreadful cutting off from that visible head and body, Christ Jesus and his church; that purging out of the old leaven from the lump of the saints; the putting away of the evil and wicked person from the holy land and commonwealth of God’s Israel, 1 Cor. v. [6, 7.]  Where it is observable, that the same word used by Moses for putting a malefactor to death, in typical Israel, by sword, stoning, &c.,, Deut. xiii. 5, is here used by Paul for the spiritual killing, or cutting off by excommunication, 1 Cor. v. 13,Put away that evil person, &c.
  • “Now, I desire the answerer, and any, in the holy awe and fear of God, to consider that—
    “From whom the first and second admonition was to proceed, from them also was the rejecting or casting out to proceed, as before. But not from the civil magistrate, to whom Paul writes not this epistle, and who also is not bound once and twice the admonish, but may speedily punish, as he sees cause, the persons or purses of delinquents against his civil state; but from Titus, the minister or angel of the church, and from the church with him, were these first and second admonitions to proceed.
  • “And therefore, at last also, this rejecting: which can be no other but a casting out, or excommunicating of him from their church society.
  • “Indeed, this rejecting is no other than that avoiding which Paul writes of to the church of Christ at Rome, Rom. xvi. 17; which avoiding, however woefully perverted by some to prove persecution, belonged to the governors of Christ’s church and kingdom in Rome, and not to the Roman emperor, for him to rid and avoid the world of them by bloody and cruel persecution” (, pp. 61-63).

 

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