Separation of Church and State Law

Jerald Finney
Copyright © July 18, 2012
Revised on May 27, 2014

Click here to go to “Self-exam Questions: Pray for All Rulers? 1 Timothy 2.1-6”
[To be added when time permits]

Links to all chapters of “Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related verses” is at the bottom of this article.

The Bible instructs Christians to pray for their leaders, but within the framework laid out within His Word:

1Ti.2.1“1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Ti. 2.1-6).

The above admonition of Paul to Timothy, which tells Christians to pray for all men including their leaders, also instructs Christians that such prayers should be that leaders be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth so that they will organize society under God—that is, according to God’s principles so that Christians can “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”

11Thus, when one prays for his leaders according to the teaching of 1 Ti. 2.1-6, he is praying that leaders will be saved and will lead toward achieving the purposes of civil government as instructed by God in the Bible.

Three God-given purposes of Gentile civil government are stated or can be inferred from Scripture. Perhaps the most important purpose of civil government is to teach. Just as “[t]he law is a ‘schoolmaster’ to bring us unto Christ” (Ga. 3.24), a nation, by its laws, teaches. The laws of a nation have a didactic effect—they teach. Lawrence McGarvie observed:

“American law tended to operate as if it had a life of its own, shaping society to conform to legal values by directing the actions of individuals. Recognizing law’s relative autonomy, [some] scholars … contend that law acted to infuse the new society—including the judges—with a system of rules and principles derived from liberal ideology. Many authors have noted the incremental pace of legal change. Law’s structural dependence on the Constitution, common-law precedent, and the procedural dictates of pleading recognizable legal arguments mitigated any societal tendencies toward rapid transformation. Instrumentalism, as a theory of understanding law, fails to fully appreciate its institutional inertia, the multiplicity of forces involved in its creation, and its hegemonic role as a relatively autonomous body of values, beliefs, and doctrine that provides the means of ‘discourse’ in a nation of law” (Mark Douglas McGarvie, One Nation Under Law: America’s Early National Struggles to Separate Church and State (DeKalb, Illinois: Northern Illinois University Press, 2005), p. 12).

God also ordained civil government to control evil (Ro. 13.3-4; see also, 1 Pe. 2.13-14, 1 Ti. 1.9-11, and God Betrayed, Section I which is reproduced in The Biblical Doctrine of Government on this website for a thorough discussion of civil government and its God-given purposes.).

Click the image above to go to the article

Click the image above to go to the article “Is Separation of Church and State Found in the Constitution?”

The third God-ordained purpose of Gentile civil government is to operate under Him; and He gives each nation a choice of whether or not that nation will do so. Keep in mind that a nation which operates under God and according to His principles for civil government will, for one thing, provide for religious liberty (also called freedom of conscience or soul liberty and includes freedom of speech, association, and press and a right to petition government for a redress of grievances).

1Ti.2.5,6

An application of God’s principles in civil law would be laws regulating hunting. God told mankind in the Noahic covenant: “Every living thing that liveth shall be food for you” (Ge. 9.3a). Thus, God gave man the authority to hunt animals, but not the “right to engage in mass and wanton slaughter of the animal kingdom.” Likewise, God placed man in the Garden of Eden to “dress it and keep it” (Ge. 2.15), not to destroy it. “So God requires man to exercise wise stewardship in his use of the animal kingdom and of natural resources in general” (John Eidsmoe, God and Caesar: Biblical Faith and Political Action (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stack Publishers, 1997), p. 8).

God wants every Gentile nation to choose to operate under Him—that is, under His principles as given in His Word. If a nation will do that, Christians and non-Christians will live a quiet and peaceable life; and everyone will be free to choose God, no god, or false gods or gods since, as is shown in God Betrayed, separation of church and state is a biblical principle for Gentile nations. This will achieved only if the leaders are saved and apply the principles of Scripture.

Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses:

  1. Introduction to “Render unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses” (Chapter 1 of Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses. This material was also covered in less detail in God Betrayed, Section III, Chapters 5, 6.)
  2. Doth not your Master pay tribute? Matthew 17.24-27 (Chapter 2 of Render Unto God the Things that Are His)
  3. Render unto Caesar…? Luke 20.25, Matthey 22.21, Mark 22.17 (Chapter 3 of Render Unto God the Things that Are His)
  4. Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers? Romans 13 (Chapter 4 of Render Unto God the Things that Are His)
  5. Submit to every ordinance of man? 1 Peter 2.13 (Chapter 5 of Render Unto God the Things that Are His)
  6. Pray for all rulers? 1 Timothy 2.1-6 (Chapter 6 of Render Unto God the Things that Are His)
  7. Conclusion to “Render unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses” (Chapter 7 of Render Unto God the Things that Are His)

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