A Publication of Separation of Church and State Law Ministry.
Copyright © February 20, 2018
Some Bible verses are taken out of context to support the argument that individual believers and churches are to totally submit to the civil government in all things except (perhaps) the preaching of salvation. Those verses include:
- Render unto Caesar…? (Lk. 20.25, Mt. 22.21, and Mk. 12.17)
- Let every soul be subject to the higher powers? (Ro. 13.1 and Ro. 13 in general).
- Doth not your master pay tribute? (Mt. 17.24-27).
- Submit to every ordinance of man? (1 Pe. 2.13).
- Pray for all rulers? (1 Ti. 2.1-6).
Certainly, those who believe in this total submission have not studied the Bible doctrines of church, government (to include civil government and state), and separation of church and state as is being done in these short lessons and accompanying more advanced lessons.
To believe that the above and other verses teach blind obedience by individuals and by churches to civil government would make those verses inconsistent with the rest of biblical teaching concerning God’s total authority over the individual believer’s spiritual life, God’s total authority over the church, and God’s total authority over the state. For example, the Bible teaches that the authors of Romans 13 (Paul) and 1 Peter 2.13 (Peter) consistently violated these verses as wrongly interpreted by the lost and most “Christians” in America. Second, these verses would be inconsistent within their immediate context and the overall context of Scripture. The Word of God is never inconsistent.
The United States of America became the second civil government in history, after the colony of Rhode Island, to reject unity of religion and state and implemented the biblical principle of soul liberty which is also called religious liberty or separation of church and state. America came closer than any nation to following God’s principles for church and state, and she included many of the principles of the Word of God in her founding documents.
America is no longer a nation under God and is experiencing the consequences of failing to operate under God and abide by His principles. This inevitable turnabout was caused, to a large degree, by the union of church and state. Although the First Amendment guaranteed freedom from civil government, many churches chose to become state churches through incorporation shortly after the ratification of the Constitution. The First Amendment originally applied only to the federal government. States were free to and did offer to incorporate churches; and many churches, against the warnings of leaders like Isaac Backus, ran to incorporate.
Because of the First Amendment which recognizes and implements the biblical principle of separation of church and state, churches can still choose to be spiritual entities and no church is required by any civil law to become a legal entity. Nonetheless, many “Christians” incorrectly assume or believe that church and state should be united in America; that civil law requires such a union; and/or that churches should become legal entities because Romans 13 and other Bible verses are taken out of context and perverted to mean what they do not mean.
This book analyzes Luke 20.25 (also recorded in Matthew 22.21; and Mark 12.17), Romans 13, 1 Peter 2.13, Matthew 17.24-27 and I Timothy 2.1-6. What those scriptures teach concerning submission by individual Christians and churches to civil government is the subject of this section of lessons.
Note. The historical section of lessons will give a religious history of the First Amendment which makes clear, as historical and legal scholars have written, that the Amendment meant to separate church and state. For the student who wishes to go ahead and look at more advanced studies before the historical section is finished, see:
- The history of the First Amendment in a Nutshell,
- An Abridged History of the First Amendment,
- The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus,or
- online version of The History of the First Amendment.
 See God Betrayed, Section IV, for a history of separation of church and state and the First Amendment religion clause in America. These short lessons will also teach on that history in due time. Check the online “Written Lesson” section occasionally to see if the lessons have been added.
 See Ibid., Section V for an analysis of how the United States Supreme Court has systematically removed/ God from practically all civil government affairs.
 See God Betrayed, Section VI, Chapter 3.
 The United States Supreme Court extended First Amendment protection to all levels of civil government in the twentieth century. See Ibid., Section V.
 See Ibid., Section VI, Chapter 3 and for more details incorporation of churches in the colonies and in the states of the new nation.
 Jerald Finney, Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities (Austin TX: Kerygma Publishing Co.; also published by Xulon Press, 2009) explains the distinctions between legal and spiritual entities, and the various ways churches can become legal entities. See also, God Betrayed.
 To totally understand the issue of God’s teachings concerning submission to civil government, one must understand other sub-issues or principles. God Betrayed offers a more comprehensive look at all the issues involved.