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The Relationship between Church and State
Our Heritage and our Supreme Court(s)... historically
by Wayne C Sedlak
February 21, 2011



1. Our Heritage and our Supreme Court(s)... historically


Church of the Holy Trinity v.  United States, The United States Supreme Court, 1892


"No purpose of action against religion can be imputed to any legislation, state or national, because this is  a religious people ... This is a Christian nation."

"This is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation. The commission to Christopher Columbus [recited] that "...it is that by God's assistance some of the continents and islands in the ocean will be discovered..." The first grant made to Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584 ...provided that "they be not against the true Christian faith..." ...The celebrated compact made by the Pilgrims in the Mayflower, 1620, recites: "Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith..."

The fundamental orders of Connecticut, under which a provisional government was instituted in 1638-1639, commence with this declaration: "to maintain and preserve the liberty  and purity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess...of the said gospel which is now practiced amongst us."
 
 

Updegraph v. The Commonwealth, 1824 Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

"The assertion is once more made, that Christianity never was revived as part of the common law of this Christian land; and it is added, that if it was, it was virtually repealed by the Constitution of  the United States, and of this state... If the argument be worth anything, all the laws which have Christianity for their object - all would be carried away at one fell swoop - the act against cursing and swearing  , and breach of  the Lord's Day; the act forbidding incestuous marriages, perjury by taking a false oath upon the book, fornication and adultery...- for all these are founded  on Christianity - all these are restraints upon civil liberty..."
 
 

Other decisions upholding the Christian faith as the faith of the country include:

-The People v. Ruggles, 1811, The Supreme Court of New York
-Commonwealth v. Abner Kneeland, 1838, Supreme Court of Massachusetts
- City of Charleston v. S. A. Benjamin, 1846, Supreme Court of South Carolina
-Murphy v. Ramsey & Others, 1885, The United  States Supreme Court
 Vidal v. Girard's Executors, 1844, The United States Supreme Court
 

"The plan of education proposed is anti-christian, and therefore repugnant to the law."

"Christianity ...is not to be maliciously and openly reviled and blasphemed against, to the annoyance of believers or the injury of  the public... It is unnecessary for us, however, to consider the establishment of a school nor college, for the propagation of...Deism, or any other form of infidelity. Such a case is not to be presumed to exist in a Christian country."
 
 
Davis v. Deason, 1889, The United States Supreme Court (a case on polygamous marriage)

"Bigamy and polygamy are crimes by the laws of all civilized and Christian countries... To call their advocacy a tenet of religion is to offend the common sense of mankind."
 
"Probably never before in the history of this country has it been seriously contended that the whole punitive power of the government for acts, recognized by the general consent of the Christian world... must be suspended in order that the tenets of a religious  sect... may be carried out without hindrance."
 
 
Our High Courts, for over a century and a half, cited opinions that this was a Christian nation. There were no dissenting opinion on the subject from the High Courts until the 20th century. There was no question that "separation of Church and State" meant the separation of the governments of Church and state, both of which were under the authority of the Christian faith and its Bible.


2. "Theocracy"
 


The Bible is very clear about relationships. The relationship between husbands and wives. The relationship between parents and children. Relationships between brethren in the Church of Christ. Relationships between Church and State is very well developed throughout the Bible.

It is often asserted that the Bible teaches all government should be "theocratic". It is often pointed out that the New England Puritans practices a "theocracy" and that "dissenters" such as Roger Williams, Thomas Hooker, and Anne Hutchinson challenged such thinking.

Theocracy simply references the rule by God. The Triune God of Scripture claims that all things are His, even "...the cattle on a thousand hills":

For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. - Psa. 50:10For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. - Psa. 50:10

Even more so, the Lord Jesus spoke of the lowly sparrow as coming into God's immediate purview. Every hair on our head is numbered. Thus, even what we eat and drink must be attentive to His glory:

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. - I Cor. 10:31

Theocracy is taught in the Bible, but Not as so many misunderstand, the Puritans of New England notwithstanding. God's Word does not allow civil magistrates to do as they please since they are called to be His servants as an inherited right the Father gave the Son:

I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.  Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.  Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. - Psa. 2: 7-12

All nations are to give God - the Triune of Scripture - their obedience. That obedience is reflected in a civil order given by Scripture. Civil magistrates are called to men of good character and known for their wisdom:

The people are to choose their own Wise rulers, men of character:
Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you. And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do.
There was to be appellate jurisdiction - courts of appeals from lesser courts

So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes. 
 
The judges were to apply upright rulings, and not respect the persons of men.

And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him.  Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.  -  Deuteronomy 1: 13ff.

All rulers are to obey the Lord...being called "Ministers" of His choosing (Romans 13:  ). But,  they are to implement justice as ministers "unto thee for 'Good'." Such "good" has only one definition in the Bible: Good is defined by the precepts of God (Romans 7: 12).

For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? - Micah 6:8
 

 

3. But ...what about Church and State?


And his name spread far abroad; for he was marvellously helped, till he was strong... But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense.  And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the LORD, that were valiant men:  And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It pertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honor from the LORD God.  - II Chron. 26: 16-18

God reproved an otherwise godly King of Israel whom the Lord had helped, because his arrogance grew with pride and he entered the Temple to offer sacrifice. Thus, he assumed to himself the functions of the clergy... and he was reproved by the  courageous  High Priest and his fellow Levites. Though he began to turn on them, God struck him for his usurpation.
 
God did separate the offices of civil magistrate and clergy. Church and state  were separated by the Laws of God...but both Governments (yes, the church is a government, as is the family, incidentally) are derived in authority under God's direction and administration.

Remember, the key to understanding Church and state, is to understand them as:

1. Derived in authority from God, according to His Word...
2. Both the Church and state are governments each... and separated in their jurisdiction (the cases and issues they can handle)...
3. God's Word is the authoritative standard for both.
4. Both are serve Christ as  a function of His inheritance from the Father (Psa. 2).
 
Wayne C. Sedlak, VisionViewpoint, The Institute for Christian Heritage Research (I.C.H.R.) ...and the Reformation Hope Church of Hartford,  Wisconsin