2.20.2006

Random thoughts - part VII

Here are some responses to an old acquaintance, asking about my views as a Christian and a pastor. Some of it might not make sense, as it's just my side of the conversation...


Secular and religious
I, too, know how I would like things to be, but am aware that it's hard to get there without having buy-in from a vast majority. Steve Forbes took a lot of flak when he ran for president for refusing to commit to changing abortion laws (to outlaw more) when he got into office. His defense was that we need to change the culture before changing the laws, and I agree with him. The public square and the religious life are both outward expressions of the convictions of the heart. In an ideal world there wouldn't be any discontinuity between the two, but in a world where many are conciously rejecting morality, it's hard to do that. The only practical option that's working seems to be the Golden Rule, Natural Law route - defending a moral law on the books like stealing on practical grounds, rather than as being wrong inherently. This is insufficient in my book. There was no legislature in the Old Testament government of Israel, because God had given all the laws already. Romans 13:1-7 refers to the government as "God's minister to you for good." Their job is to enforce moral law: "If you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil." Again, this makes sense when it's murder or stealing or perjury/slander. But what about Sabbath, profanity, worshiping only Yahweh, adultery, coveting - the rest of the 10 commandments? And in Jamestown, Virginia recently, touring the settlement of 1607, the guide said that if you skipped church the government flogged you, so we can't say that America is all about the separation of church and state in an absolute way. But each of these does have their spheres of influence. The church shouldn't be telling the government what to do; the government shouldn't be interfering with its citizens' expressions of their faith.

4 comments:

  1. Although defending a law on practical grounds may not be sufficient from a Biblical worldview, it does have value when interacting with a sinful world. Al Mohler has a wonderful blog entry dealing with the abortion "discussion" here http://www.albertmohler.com/commentary_read.php?cdate=2006-02-20

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  2. Here is the link of my previous comment in a more usable format :)

    Al Mohler on abortion

    Also, what was the separation of church and state originally meant to do? I was under the understanding it was meant to say the state was not to regulate the church, not that the church or more appropriately believers would not influence the state? Being a Canadian I am probably incorrect on this, but perhaps you could check what your constitution actually says about it.

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  3. I see we read the same blogs, Jim. I saw that one yesterday too, by Mohler.

    You're basically right on the intent of separation, but the question remains, to what extent is it permissible for a religious majority to influence the state?

    I'm fine with laws in line with the 6th, 8th and 9th commandments, but the others are tricky.

    It's helpful to compare a Christian minority in an officially Muslim country, to the Muslim minority in America. I don't have a lot of experience with either, but that might shed light on the subject

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  4. Since in Canada Christians are a minority, secularism being the majority religion, the difficulties are different. Not to mention our constitution is relatively new. I can see your point, and probably agree with you. When I was doing my classis exams one of the pastors stood up and asked what I thought about Belgic Confession article 36. Growing up CRC the version I am familiar with was the one they use which was modified by their Synod in 1958 in keeping with previous decisions in 1910 and 1938. I tend toward the CRC modified version rather than the original.

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