Friday, April 11, 2008

The Myth of Church and State

This notion that the church has tried to force itself on the state throughout history is purely a myth. In fact, the opposite is true. One reason so many Americans, including American churchgoers; see it backwards is because we live in a Democratic Republic. Our vision of history is skewed by our very unique experience.

Before Believers were referred to as the church, we see in the Bible that God’s people were oppressed by the state. Moses was on a spiritual mission but Pharaoh certainly considered him a political threat. Our Lord, even as a Baby, was considered by Herod to be a threat to the throne. The betrayal, the trial and the crucifixion of Christ were thick with the politics of the day. Did Christ present himself as a political figure? No. But he was considered a political threat.
Fast forward to just the last 200 years. The list of Christians who have been tortured and killed because they were considered a political threat is too long for me to do it justice here. But it includes millions of Believers in China, Russia, Africa, et. al. The list includes people like the Ten Boom family and other Christians who helped many Jews escape the Nazis before they were caught and sent to Ravensbruck.

Some of the original European travelers to North America came because they were Christians on the run from a government. The surge of Christian involvement in politics in the late 20th century was in response to the perception that the country was taking a moral and spiritual turn for the worse. It was but the case can be made that one look at history and scripture should have told Christians that trying to save the country at the ballot box would be futile. No one is changed from the outside in. Be that as it may, it still remains a fact that it wasn’t Christians who were trying to hijack the state. It was the state (and in our country, the people are the state, right?) that was trying to marginalize and disenfranchise Christians.

While this has been going on, Christians in other countries have been experiencing what Christians have been experiencing for 2000 years. They do not seek the state. The state seeks them, with a vengeance. Those who think the Christian Right are a threat to co-opt power in this country simply haven’t yet experienced the storm troopers at their door.

No comments: