June 19, 2007

More on the Separation of Church and State

I received a copy of Dr. William Hull's little book, The Meaning of the Baptist Experience in which, among other things, he comes to grips with the question of religiously inspired terror. The historic and modern illustrations of what occurs when religious fervor is given ready access to the power of the state is an unhappy, even tragic, scene littered with broken lives and broken faith.

Dr. Hull speaks to a growing mood among some Christians to bring about a new theocracy.

"One of the dangers...is that we become like our enemies. Already the lure of theocracy is all about us as various religious groups seek governmental favors in exchange for political support. But what if efforts are made in the name of a militant patriotism to co-opt Christianity as an American or a Western religion so that it no longer functions as a global religion without allegiance to any one country or culture?...Baptists know from experience that when the interests of the church are no broader than the interests of the state, the church loses its leverage to reconcile those divisions that condemn the world to perpetual strife. The distinctive Baptist understanding of religious liberty is not some denominational oddity, a mere hiccup on the side of history. Rather it offers an essential contribution to the development of a post-9/11 geopolitic by enshrining the insight that the awesome spiritual power of religion may not be linked to the equally awesome temporal power of the state if any semblance of freedom is to survive." (Emphasis added, The Meaning of the Baptist Experience, p. 21)

This idea of the state maintaining civil relationships between the citizenry and not dictating what the citizenry will or will not believe about their Creator is a good idea that should be preserved at all costs.


Lucy Arin said...

Wow, John, another issue that we stand closer together than I would have ever thought possible! :)

John said...

Ahh Lucy,

As I continue to say, I think you are close to the kingdom just mad at the King. :) And, just for the sake of reminding, you don't have to think like I do to be in the kingdom - you've simply got to trust the King.

Always good to hear from you!