Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sacred & Secular Belief (Or, Why I Am Not a Democrat) Part 3

For reference: part 1, part 2.

Because I understand the Church to be the body of Christ on earth, I understand the State to not be the body of Christ on earth. In other words, the Church has a specific, God-ordained mission to accomplish in the world. Likewise the State, but the two are not the same. The Church is called to preach Christ crucified and resurrected; care for the sick, poor, and oppressed; reconcile disparate factions and establish unity; and many other things besides, all in the name of Jesus. The State is called to govern justly and protect its people.

The trouble with political liberalism is that these lines become blurred, or more accurately, the State takes on the work of the Church. And the trouble with the State is that it will never fully cooperate with the Church, and like all institutions, will never relinquish power once held. Unlike John the Baptist, the State will never declare, "I must decrease so that [Christ] may increase."

What scares me about many politically liberal evangelicals is that they don't seem to understand the exclusively one-way relationship between the Church and State. As the State collects power to do and to act according to its will, the Church is emasculated. It is fenced-in. It is cordoned off into a quaint corner of culture, more to be admired as a curiosity than to be submitted to as Christ's very life on earth. (Wow, am I sounding Catholic yet?)

What I fear for my politically liberal Christian friends is that they are cutting off their legs without knowing it. They are jumping into bed with a partner that does not know how to love, only rape. The Church can never hand over its duty and its glory to the State. In the long run there can be no Church-State partnership because the State will never submit to the Church.

When we join with the State, when we look to the State to enact "Christian" policies and adopt "Christian" legislation, we surrender our right to the prophetic. (Wow, am I sounding Anabaptist yet?) We cannot sell our prophetic voice for political policy, because political policy is a vapor that breaks and dissipates on the rock that is Jesus Christ. The Church must be separate from the State because the State is temporal and the Church is eternal. For the same reason the Church must be greater than the State.

There is no salvation in government. There is no hope in public policy. It is not theirs to enact, it is ours. Jesus is King and God over all. One day every politician's knee will bow before Him. Our hope is not in politics. Rather, Christ in us, the hope of glory.

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