*The Summer Reading Series is designed to equip our growing community with curated book recommendations that can shape faith and sharpen cultural insight.
Rulers: Gospel and Government | Summer Reading Series
Excerpt from Chapter 6: An Introduction to Christian Social Ethics by Dr. David Clyde Jones
The institutional separation of church and state, or more precisely, the separation of the government of faith communities from the government of civil society, is a separation devoutly to be wished. But that is not at all the same thing as the separation of religion and politics.
The separation of church and state is highly desirable; the separation of religion and politics is simply impossible. Why is that? Because politics is the domain of public policy, and public policy proposals are inevitably the expression of some world-and-life view, some conception of the common good to be aimed at for human beings living in community. Public policy proposals are worldview dependent, and worldviews, theistic and non-theistic, are religious in nature as ultimate faith commitments.
This is especially important for the principle of sphere sovereignty sketched above. Not only are the governing authorities of church and state distinct, but also participation in the cultural spheres is religious activity on the part of believers just as much as their corporate worship and diaconal ministries in the visible church institute.
That all of life is religious in this sense is important for understanding the full meaning of religious liberty. The idea of freedom of religious faith and practice was a long time in coming in political philosophy and remains a matter of controversy down to the present day.
Why [then] should we have such a work as Ministry to State? The rationale for special ministry to those in civil government is their special role in the government of civil society, a role that directly affects everyone and presents particular temptations for “selling out” one’s convictions in the pursuit of power and yielding to the temptation to the abuse of power once it is obtained.
I think no one has captured this better than Martin Franzmann, [in his prayer] “For Charity Toward Men in Office” —
O God, remember in Your mercy
the men who bear the burden of this majesty,
men like us, easily bent by the pressure of temptation,
by the impact of expediency.
Remember them and strengthen them when they are moved
to shade the truth to their own ends,
to withhold what should be told,
to distort what must be told,
to disclose what does not serve our common weal.
Keep intact their honor and their credibility.
Summer Reading Series
Rulers: Gospel and Government
Charles M. Garriott
Riott Publishing, 2014
Steve Bostrom, a reader of The Park Forum, wrote the essay, “God, Give me the Humility of Jesus” that appears in Chapter 5 of this book.
Find devotionals and more reading suggestions on TheParkForum.org.