Can the church use coercive power–either its own or that of the state–to achieve its spiritual goals? Most Protestants, but not all, have historically said “no.” But Roman Catholics have historically said “yes.”
In a discussion of President Trump’s messianic praise as “the second coming of God” and “the king of Israel,” Rev. Ben Johnson says that some Christians really think in those terms, looking “to a secular ruler for deliverance” and pursuing “salvation by politics.” Instead, Rev. Johnson, an editor with the free-market Acton Institute, recommends that Christians promote religious liberty and influence the culture by proclaiming and living out the Gospel, rather than through coercive power.
In the course of his article, Rev. Johnson cites something I did not realize, that the official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church does have a role for the exercise of power that coerces people to adhere to the teachings of the church.