Common Grace, 3.30

Common Grace, 3.30 February 7, 2023

This post is part of a series walking through the third volume of Abraham Kuyper’s Common Grace

As we saw in the last post we ought not look to Old Testament Israel for church/state guidance. But what about the New Testament? Are there rules from Jesus and the Apostles for church/state interactions there?

There isn’t one specific prescription on “the duty of government toward the church.” (248) There are, however, rules for Christians with respect to the state. This may be a model for the institutional church and its leadership, but there are no specific rules or examples. This is why Christians have tried to fill the silence from the Old Testament, rather than doing what we ought to do and looking to principles from the whole of Scripture.

Even “render unto Caesar” ≠ the conclusion that God’s things and the church’s are synonymous. Again, this is for subjects of the state. We just don’t see the institutional church interacting with the state in the New Testament. What he have instead is the job of the church and the job of the state and the ability to reason out the principles of how these two relate.

This does not leave us in mystery! We have logic and lots of thinkers now and across time to help us out. These resources give us the accountability that should keep us from flying off in heretical or unwise directions.

To recap all of this:

  1. Government is from common grace; the church is from particular grace;
  2. government uses force; the church uses conviction;
  3. government is national; the church is international;
  4. government is responsible for now; the church is responsible for eternity.

So government must not control the church–no Caesaropapism, and no boxing the church out of the public arena. But what should government do when the church appears? The answer is: let the church operate, with no compulsion, even for the church.

The problem here is that this is not reality. Common grace does not grant this knowledge. Governments may oppose Christianity, even while appreciating the good morals that Christian life ought to bring. Sometime the government is entangled with false religions. All of this is ignoring the complexities of government–there are thousands of magistrates to consider! This is all very complex, and requires careful thought.

Dr. Coyle Neal is co-host of the City of Man Podcast an Amazon Associate (which is linked in this blog), and an Associate Professor of Political Science at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO

"The Law. Exploring educational books about the law for kids is a crucial step in ..."

The Law
"Juggling work and studies can be overwhelming, which is why I sought help with my ..."

Common Grace, 3.70
"It's a great message! Christians need encouragement far more than a skinning because we aren't ..."

Possible Christianity

Denominations still matter

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!