The Separation of Church and State

What many people don't realise is that the Separation of Church and State was actually a Christian idea! These days this phrase is used by people who want to minimise the influence of religion in the political realm, but originally it was a phrase invented by Christians who wanted to limit the influence that the State had on the Church!

In Europe prior to the Great Reformation, and even to a significant extent after the Reformation, the State continued to exert a controlling influence over people in relation to their religious liberties and convictions. If you were of baptist conviction, for example, you would be hounded and persecuted by the State-controlled churches who saw infant baptism as the means by which European "Christendom" would be perpetuated.

It is unclear whether infant baptism orginally grew out of a sincere theological conviction or an attempt by the ruling powers to thoroughly Christianise Europe, but it is clear that ana-baptists were cruelly treated by Catholics and Reformers alike, and the only place where such people could find religious liberty was The New World - America.

It was in America that the Separation of Church and State enshrined religious freedom in the Constitution - and it was Christians who did it. Perhaps surprisingly, if you trace the spiritual lineage of Evangelical/Pentecostal faith today (that which represents the majority of Church growth world-wide) most can be traced to that faithfull remnant that fled Europe for America... NOT the 'reformed' churches of Europe. But perhaps this should not surprise us. It has always been God's way throughout history to work through a faithful remnant to establish his purposes on Earth.

Monday, November 20, 2006   login to post comments | printer friendly version | 8990 reads