Was the "Christianisation" of the later Roman Empire a victory for the church?

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dnlcnwy

Puritan Board Freshman
The separation of church and state is a myth. They meet in me. Civil government is not a necessary evil simply allowed by God due to sin. Earth and this physical, temporal existence is not evil either. It is tainted by sin, but all ordained by God. God gave Adam dominion before the Fall.
Your own words were the "separation of church and state is a myth. They meet in me.", not "I believe in the Reformed concept of separation of church and state". I have no problem with churchmen serving in civil service roles. I submit that your original language would have justified a co-mingling of roles precluded even by the reformed concept of separation of church and state. I am no anabaptist. I simply do not believe in a role of government in the church beyond that explicitly prescribed by the word.
 

Eyedoc84

Puritan Board Freshman
Your own words were the "separation of church and state is a myth. They meet in me.", not "I believe in the Reformed concept of separation of church and state". I have no problem with churchmen serving in civil service roles. I submit that your original language would have justified a co-mingling of roles precluded even by the reformed concept of separation of church and state. I am no anabaptist. I simply do not believe in a role of government in the church beyond that explicitly prescribed by the word.
I meant absolute separation of church and state, the way most Americans mean it.
 

Schoolman

Puritan Board Freshman
The Bible explicitly prescribes rule of the godly prince, including prohibition of false worship and the protection and fostering of true worship.
 

dnlcnwy

Puritan Board Freshman
I have read the psalms. I too rejoice when we have Godly leadership in power in this country or in any other. But please, consider the danger. Even in the period of the Israeli theocracy God was careful to put a strict partition between the role of the (hopefully Godly) secular prince and the Ecclesiastic authorities. Consider the example posted earlier in the thread of the presumption of king Uzziah. God wants the lines of divine authority to run straight to him through Christ and a nation that places responsibility for maintaining true worship in the hands of the secular authorities is running it's spiritual water through lead plumbing. When Daniel saw the rock that was not cut out by human hands smash the figure representing the previous worldly powers and growing into a mountain that filled the whole earth we all are in agreement that he was seeing a metaphor for the kingdom of Christ's church, not any particular nation that contained citizens of that church. I submit that it is the Churches responsibility to preach and foster true worship within the societal scaffolding of an orderly and tolerant State. If the leadership of that State belongs to Christ's kingdom that is a glorious and beneficial thing, but they are to leave ecclesiastic responsibilities to the Church.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
Isn't it possible for one man to vote for a quick death, another for a slow death, both having in mind "the good of the church?" The votes are not necessarily unto actual extinction. Both men could be "voting their conscience." The one voting for "slow death" (in this scenario) doesn't even think he's voting for death in the least, thereby justifying his participation; he thinks the other man IS voting for quick death, and faults him.

The one voting for a quick death (in this scenario) believes he is choosing martyrdom no matter what choice he makes, and he's been offered a choice between painful but quick, or slow and agonizing. He thinks the other man is naive, and faults him.

Maybe neither should fault the other, take his own position, and respect the other man's conscience.

Pr. Buchanan,

First, thank you for this post, as well as #31, which I did read attentively.

I admit I'm not quite clear the central intention of the post quoted. Since I'm the only one who mentioned voting and "the good of the church" I suppose it's related to mine, and perhaps you are perceiving a criticism in my writing of one's choice to vote a certain way, rather than another?

If it helps, though people know mine and the RPCNA stance on voting, it's rather the kind of thing I'm trying to keep away from. So, no intention from me to tell people how they should vote, or how they should not. I certainly don't intend to tell anyone in this thread that one choice of voting is more detrimental than another, or unto extinction. I don't really intend to debate Establishment doctrine either in this thread. Then again, writing clarity is an ongoing process for me.

The term "good of the church" isn't actually my phrase. It's a term used by a non-establishment brother of mine (not on PB) who says this is the ultimate criteria for voting.

My own central point, is that hardly any Christian (if any) in the US makes even the most basic political decision without concerns to its impact on the church, whatever else is said about separation of the two institutions. Election season tends to show even among those with a professed indifference to church/state relations, or even resistance to it, private Christians and pastors will quickly and openly associate their names with certain political figures and stances. For some of them (but not all), it is unthinkable that other Christians would not do the same. When that happens, it's pretty hard to see how one can be so bold and open about their political preferences, even citing the church's necessity, and yet say we are to act as though we as Christians should be leery of relations with the government. But again, not all in the non-establishment camp act this way, and I tend to think those persons are consistent.

And, Republicans are well in-tune with what the church really wants. Whatever else is said, if the Republicans offer the right positions they are guaranteed the church's vote. Sure the church isn't asking for money and countenancing, and many would think that awful, but there is an unspoken agreement between the church and Republicans what are the terms of their relationship. Which practically speaking isn't too far from a "covenant with Egypt."

I certainly shouldn't judge. Eight years ago I was rather indignant that people wouldn't vote for Romney, and I thought that Pres. Obama's re-election meant the coming of persecution.

As you said, church history is messy (the same as politics); and where people get involved, there's wood, hay, and stubble that will be consumed. So, fully agreed that even the most premier events in church history should not be praised as all or exclusively good; so long as the good is acknowledged. Same as it would it be wrong for someone with Establishment views to look at the political structure of America and not be grateful that despite its real defects (as I believe there to be), we still have something similar to the church in Constantine's time; opportunity to grow and develop in a particular way that many Christians have not been able to.

But if we're going to say that we need to maintain a clear separation of church and state, where one hardly talks to the other, and anything beyond that is an unauthorized covenanting, it needs to at least be acknowledged that those who profess that stance oftentimes make the covenant in other ways.

And even if the Establishment principle turned out to be unscriptural, and that there should be more distance than cooperation between church and state, I'd only advocate that the work of God done in these assemblies not be thrown under the bus, as though they were the work of the enemy.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Pr. Buchanan,

First, thank you for this post, as well as #31, which I did read attentively.

I admit I'm not quite clear the central intention of the post quoted. Since I'm the only one who mentioned voting and "the good of the church" I suppose it's related to mine, and perhaps you are perceiving a criticism in my writing of one's choice to vote a certain way, rather than another?

If it helps, though people know mine and the RPCNA stance on voting, it's rather the kind of thing I'm trying to keep away from. So, no intention from me to tell people how they should vote, or how they should not. I certainly don't intend to tell anyone in this thread that one choice of voting is more detrimental than another, or unto extinction. I don't really intend to debate Establishment doctrine either in this thread. Then again, writing clarity is an ongoing process for me.

The term "good of the church" isn't actually my phrase. It's a term used by a non-establishment brother of mine (not on PB) who says this is the ultimate criteria for voting.

My own central point, is that hardly any Christian (if any) in the US makes even the most basic political decision without concerns to its impact on the church, whatever else is said about separation of the two institutions. Election season tends to show even among those with a professed indifference to church/state relations, or even resistance to it, private Christians and pastors will quickly and openly associate their names with certain political figures and stances. For some of them (but not all), it is unthinkable that other Christians would not do the same. When that happens, it's pretty hard to see how one can be so bold and open about their political preferences, even citing the church's necessity, and yet say we are to act as though we as Christians should be leery of relations with the government. But again, not all in the non-establishment camp act this way, and I tend to think those persons are consistent.

And, Republicans are well in-tune with what the church really wants. Whatever else is said, if the Republicans offer the right positions they are guaranteed the church's vote. Sure the church isn't asking for money and countenancing, and many would think that awful, but there is an unspoken agreement between the church and Republicans what are the terms of their relationship. Which practically speaking isn't too far from a "covenant with Egypt."

I certainly shouldn't judge. Eight years ago I was rather indignant that people wouldn't vote for Romney, and I thought that Pres. Obama's re-election meant the coming of persecution.

As you said, church history is messy (the same as politics); and where people get involved, there's wood, hay, and stubble that will be consumed. So, fully agreed that even the most premier events in church history should not be praised as all or exclusively good; so long as the good is acknowledged. Same as it would it be wrong for someone with Establishment views to look at the political structure of America and not be grateful that despite its real defects (as I believe there to be), we still have something similar to the church in Constantine's time; opportunity to grow and develop in a particular way that many Christians have not been able to.

But if we're going to say that we need to maintain a clear separation of church and state, where one hardly talks to the other, and anything beyond that is an unauthorized covenanting, it needs to at least be acknowledged that those who profess that stance oftentimes make the covenant in other ways.

And even if the Establishment principle turned out to be unscriptural, and that there should be more distance than cooperation between church and state, I'd only advocate that the work of God done in these assemblies not be thrown under the bus, as though they were the work of the enemy.
Butting in to an exchange I wasn't a party to with other thoughts--I just hoped to contribute irenically. I didn't mean to be critical.

I agree with you that our first concern, be the subject family, business, recreation, education, politics, war--you name it--should be the good of the church. Seek ye first the kingdom of God. And I'm guessing you might find me in the "more consistent" camp, given I don't like seeing the church take political stances, overtly or covertly. I agree with a lot of what you write there, including the "conservative church" regarded as a safe voting bloc for smooth-talking seducers who only care about taking your virgin vote for party interests. It is a worthless covenanting, if by another name.

If we must state a moral conviction publicly, then it should be made in such a way that the moral position is something a politician of any stripe could profess his agreement or disagreement with; we are not setting up any agreement or disagreement with a person, party, or lobby. The church ought not choose to "back a side," comparable to the way Jesus refused to cozy up to the political machinery of his time, or a faction, nor sought he to form his own backing for the purpose of taking power.

As you bring up the historic Covenanter position, I would just point out that this purpose so acted upon in good conscience makes its own, often misunderstood but real, contribution to the "good of the church" as related to the (current) secular state surrounding. If someone responds with, "But what he does does no good!" he is actually saying

1) he knows what all Christians ought to be doing (e.g. participating, minimally by voting thus validating the system; then voting in the way that seems most advantageous to the recruiter); and
2) he can't conceive of any way--even long term, after all if he can't see it it must not be there--the Covenanter position does the complainer any good.

What's good for the complainer (n his own eyes) is good for the church, why doesn't everyone agree with that? In fact, since the Covenanter isn't helping the church, why not question his faith also? The questioning of folk's faith is also applied to other Christians who dissent from whatever party-line position has been forged through the conjuring of "unity" and the power of shame to guide opinion.

I'm personally doubtful of the desireability of an Establishment church or churches. I default to thinking it is a snare. That said, like yourself I'm thankful for certain results that came about at one time or another in contexts where the church was given favors. Thanks for the conversation.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
Butting in to an exchange I wasn't a party to with other thoughts--I just hoped to contribute irenically. I didn't mean to be critical.

I agree with you that our first concern, be the subject family, business, recreation, education, politics, war--you name it--should be the good of the church. Seek ye first the kingdom of God. And I'm guessing you might find me in the "more consistent" camp, given I don't like seeing the church take political stances, overtly or covertly. I agree with a lot of what you write there, including the "conservative church" regarded as a safe voting bloc for smooth-talking seducers who only care about taking your virgin vote for party interests. It is a worthless covenanting, if by another name.

If we must state a moral conviction publicly, then it should be made in such a way that the moral position is something a politician of any stripe could profess his agreement or disagreement with; we are not setting up any agreement or disagreement with a person, party, or lobby. The church ought not choose to "back a side," comparable to the way Jesus refused to cozy up to the political machinery of his time, or a faction, nor sought he to form his own backing for the purpose of taking power.

As you bring up the historic Covenanter position, I would just point out that this purpose so acted upon in good conscience makes its own, often misunderstood but real, contribution to the "good of the church" as related to the (current) secular state surrounding. If someone responds with, "But what he does does no good!" he is actually saying

1) he knows what all Christians ought to be doing (e.g. participating, minimally by voting thus validating the system; then voting in the way that seems most advantageous to the recruiter); and
2) he can't conceive of any way--even long term, after all if he can't see it it must not be there--the Covenanter position does the complainer any good.

What's good for the complainer (n his own eyes) is good for the church, why doesn't everyone agree with that? In fact, since the Covenanter isn't helping the church, why not question his faith also? The questioning of folk's faith is also applied to other Christians who dissent from whatever party-line position has been forged through the conjuring of "unity" and the power of shame to guide opinion.

I'm personally doubtful of the desireability of an Establishment church or churches. I default to thinking it is a snare. That said, like yourself I'm thankful for certain results that came about at one time or another in contexts where the church was given favors. Thanks for the conversation.

I see that I misunderstood your intent, apologies. Thanks for clarifying. The ambiguities of online interaction.

I'm very much in agreement with the things you say here; and yes, if you tend to be a minimalist in concerns to church political involvement, then I find the low-key approach to be consistent. In any case, the church being the pillar and buttress of truth has its authority from Christ to at least tell governments and politicians what they should be ("terror to evil" and "rewarder of good"). Perhaps for the meantime in the US there'll be disagreement in just how the church participates and to what extent, but it'll be cause for rejoicing once she, at a minimum, declares the will of God to the powers that be, whether she receives the needed goods or not. And to show the powers that be that she's rather serious.

Thank you too for the conversation and contributions, here and elsewhere.
 
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