The marriage of the church and state

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Categories: Shuzia Magazine,

By Fabian Omini

The Church of God in present times has been going through a revival phase over the past few years. While preachers and influencers alike are aligning with a return to former patterns (this is true regardless of what you perceive as right or wrong). There is a tendency to overstep in a bid to try to gain political muscle and take control of the State in response to the popular belief of taking over mountains and spheres of influence.

Christians should indeed take up political powers and try to make laws and policies that positively strengthen the Church's position in a State, but let us beware of the many side traps that tend to snare us out of the way into this merger.

Old Testament Times

God was the sovereign ruler over all Israel at the start of her formation. Soon afterwards, the people desired a king. This marked the first kind of separation of God from the affairs of His people. We can draw a few examples of the Church-State relationship from the Old Testament:

David, Zadok, and Abimelech

David was king (a political figure), while Zadok and Abimelech both served as priests. After the failure of Saul, David in union with the priests, worked in partnership to restore the glory of Israel.

Nehemiah and Ezra

Just at the turn of a new civilization (the return from exile), Jerusalem lay in ruins – broken walls, disembodied temple, et al. Nehemiah stood as governor and Ezra as Priest. This shows a perfect blend between politics and religion. They together rebuilt the temple, erected the wall, and restored worship, while at the same time curtailing strange practices.

New Testament Times

The Early Church began after the Messianic period, and she thrived for so long, undaunted by the prevailing persecutions and martyrdoms, until the arrival of the Church and State partnerships in the New Testament Times:

Emperor Constantine

Born in 272 AD, this Roman leader is a pivotal figure in the history of Christianity and the Church-State relationship. Constantine was born in Serbia and rose to power as a military officer in the Roman Empire. In 312 AD, before the Battle of Milvian Bridge, Constantine famously had a vision of a cross in the sky accompanied by the words "In this sign, conquer." This event is often attributed to his conversion to Christianity. Following his victory in the battle, Constantine declared himself a Christian and became the first Roman Emperor to do so.

He started some revival of some sort by the issuance of the Edict of Milan (313 AD), the convening of the First Council of Nicaea, and the movement of the capital of the Roman Empire to Byzantium, renaming it Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), which further solidified the Eastern Roman Empire's ties to Christianity. Perhaps, his most significant impact was the fusion of Church and State, which provided the Church with a level of influence and resources it had not previously experienced.

Emperor Charlemagne

After the heroic feats of Constantine, Charlemagne took over, strengthening and fostering the relationship between Church and State. Because of his strong beliefs in Christianity, he maintained a close relationship with the Pope and was crowned Holy Emperor by Pope Leo III in 800 AD. This event symbolized the merging of religious and political authority, with the Pope conferring legitimacy on the ruler.

Just like the Old Testament examples, the convergence led by Constantine and Charlemagne started on the right foot, ending the persecutions and killing of Christians, and strengthening Christianity in the world at large. But with every convergence, there is a tendency to lose track of one's innate characteristics.

The Church became more political than Spiritual, and this led to the many mishaps the Roman Catholic Church caused in those days.

The fallout between the Church and State began to surface during the late medieval and early modern periods. The Papal schisms and conflicts that resulted in multiple Popes claiming authority between 1378 and 1417; the protestant reformation of the 16th century led by Martin Luther against the Roman Catholic Church, which fatally fractured the union between Church and State; the Trinity Years' War between 1618 and 1648 which highlighted the destructive consequences of the Church-State merger.

The risk of the Church losing her bridal attributes isn't worth a convergence or a merger at all. A convergence always leads to a merger. And a merger is an adulteration (a mixed breed) far from its original purpose.

In present times, as we seek to push the name of Jesus to the farthest nations, the Church must stay holy, receiving instructions only from her Head Jesus Christ. Christians should go into politics, and make good laws for the believing and unbelieving, but should stay their influences away from making church political. Only Christ calls the shots, and his body willfully obeys.

by shuzia .com Published



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