Daniel 3 “Separation of Church and State”

Posted on November 8, 2008. Filed under: A Theology of Patriotism, Political Issues |

Daniel 3 “Separation of Church and State”

Sunday 9-5-04 pm

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Introduction: In the past few years we have seen several court cases and other governmental actions that have brought to our attention the issues related to the Separation of Church and State. Judges have issued injunctions against High School Valedictorians in order to prevent them from mentioning God or from praying at High School Commencements; Judges have ruled that the traditional prayers before High School football games are unconstitutional; teachers have been ordered to remove Bibles from their desks in some instances; the Boy Scouts of America have been banned by some municipalities like San Fran because they require the boys to believe in God and they prohibit homosexuals from serving as leaders; the chief justice of the Alabama Sup. Ct. got removed from office because he refused to remove the monument to the 10 Commandments; even the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag is under fire because of its “under God” line, added in 1954; Christmas carols and now even Christmas itself is being prohibited in many public schools. Sen. John Kerry, Dem. candidate for the Pres. claims that he is personally against abortion as a Catholic and believes life begins at conception, but he votes consistently for pro-abortion legislation and judges because he says he believes in separation of church and state and cannot impose his religion on others. Pres. Bush’s Faith Based Initiatives have run into trouble because of the issue of separation of Church and State. Meanwhile, in the CA. public school system, it was ruled OK by a judge to continue the practice of teaching Islam for the sake of diversity. Some public school districts in heavy muslim parts of the country allow islamic prayer times during the school day. What is going on?

            The issue of the separation of church and state is inescapable today. Politically and socially, this hot potato is getting bigger and hotter. We the body of Christ need to educate ourselves on this issue and we need to allow it to inform our voting habits and we need to be in contact with our politicians about these matters. The Church has been silent far too long in this matter and our freedoms are slowly being taken away under the guise of separation of Church and State. Additionally, the morals of our country as reflected by our laws are getting worse by the day. Morals are based on a religious world view; the only question is whose religion. All laws reflect somebody’s religion. The statement, “You can’t legislate morality”, is an idiotic statement. All laws are based upon somebody’s morals.

            Tonight’s sermon will serve as only the briefest of introductions to this topic which logically follows our previous sermons on the Two Kingdoms and then last week’s sermon on Freedom of Religion/Religious Liberty. Tonight we will discuss Church and State in Israel and why they were joined as well as why that joining cannot ever be copied until Christ comes back. Then we will look at Daniel 3 to see the dangers of joining church and state and we will also look at how the church can rightly influence the state without running the state.

 

I. Israel: Church and State are Joined

            In our studies of Exodus we will eventually reach the point where the slaves are set free and they leave Egypt for Mt Sinai. At Sinai what happens? God enters into a Covenant with his people so that they would be his people and He would be their God. Moses serves as their leader but he is not really a king, he is the Prophet, he speaks for God to the people. He is of the tribe of Levi who become the priests and although his brother Aaron is the designated high priest, it is Moses who performs the most significant priestly function of interceding to God on behalf of the people, when they sin. Moses does perform a kingly role as well, in that he serves as the Law Giver, relaying to the people God’s Law. In this we see Moses as a type of Christ who is our Prophet, Priest, and King.

            These three offices are seen throughout Israel’s history. During the time of Judges there is near anarchy, but with Samuel, a prophet enters in and soon thereafter a King. The Kings of Israel were not to perform the role of the priest. Saul took upon himself the role of priest in offering a sacrifice and Samuel, though not born a Levite, was raised by the Priest Eli as a prophet and priest, Samuel confronted Saul with his sin of presumption and pronounced that the kingdom would be torn from him. David eventually becomes king and while he does lead Israel in worship and funds the Levitical choirs and orchestra and gathers the materials for the Temple, David himself never assumed the role of Priest. David, of course, is another type, or foreshadowing, of Christ as the Warrior King/Poet.

            In Israel there was to be no religious freedom other than the freedom to worship the true God in a right manner. Israel’s job was to kill off all the Canaanites and to end their pagan worship which included drunken orgies and child sacrifices. We know that Joshua made an alliance out of ignorance and failure to seek the Lord with the Gibeonites in Josh.9 and we also know that some of the tribes never fully conquered their assigned territory, thus allowing the Canaanites to live. This allowed corruption to enter into Israel’s worship, doctrine and ethics, and you get the time of the judges.

            Under Solomon you get all those foreign wives, which, according to scripture he should not have. Those wives brought with them their foreign gods and Solomon allowed them to set up altars for their worship and diversity and multiculturalism entered into Israel. This set the stage for the division of the kingdom and the outright apostasy of the Northern kingdom that followed as the Northern kings set up an altar and temple at Samaria.

            So the uniting of church and state did not remain pure for very long at all and has never been successfully duplicated to any large extent. Obviously many pagan kingdoms with their false religions have a united church and state. We see this most notably today in the Islamic world where there is not religious toleration, no freedom of religion or religious liberty.

            In the ancient Romans world there was some degree of religious freedom as each city had its own deity, but the pagan gods were all of the same order. The Romans allowed the Jews some degree of freedom because of their obstinacy and the Christians were considered a Jewish sect up until the time of Nero and the Christians were singled out for persecution. The Christians were persecuted at various times until the year 313 with the Edict of Milan which recognized Christianity as a legit religion and then in about the yr 325 under Emperor Constantine Christianity became the official state religion.

            From that point on the history gets too detailed to go into here but the State and church were basically joined until the Protestant Reformation in the 1500’s and then the church broke up, the empire broke up and each nation developed its own national church. So again the church and state were united in various ways.

            It was the Anabaptists out of Switzerland, then Holland and Moravia and finally the Baptists of England who really brought the issue up of separating the church from the state. The English puritans removed themselves from England to Holland and thence to America who began to live out religious liberty. But it was the early Baptist Roger Williams who was kicked out of Mass. and established Rhode Island who finally brought the ideal of separation of church and state to fruition. Fellow Baptists who suffered greatly in Va. eventually got Madison to write the Bill of Rights which included the religious liberty clause. Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

America has been the standard for religious liberty ever since, but this is changing.

 

II. Separation of Church and State in Daniel 3

 

III. Separation of Church and State or Religion and State

            1. “You cannot legislate morals!” A good Baptist SS teacher told me that, specifically in regard to abortion rights. Can you legislate morals? Aren’t all laws based upon somebody’s morals? Where do we get morals? Is it not from our worldview, our philosophy and religion?

            Is it a good thing to legislate morals? Where do we draw the line?

            The Rushdoony Restorationists want to restore the OT law as the law of America. Do we really want to stone adulterers?

            Hermeneutics- The example of Israel points us to Christ and to the coming of the kingdom, to heaven. We cannot follow the ideal perfectly in this world. We can and should do better, but do we want to have religious toleration/freedom/liberty?

            I believe that the Constitution recognizes religious freedom for all the Christian sects and denominations. Not necessarily to all world religions. The American form of government is only suitable for a people with a Christian world view.

            The church needs to be more vocal and aggressive in this matter or our freedoms will be taken away one by one. Immigration that is unrestrained will affect our country adversely, but it also gives us unbounded mission opportunities, but are we living up to the opportunities? Not currently.

            How does this affect schools and our kids? I believe we as Baptists need to set up a Baptist school system and forsake the public schools for the godless cesspools that they are. But Christians should still major in education, develop a Christian worldview and go into the education system as missionaries. Be willing to pay the price though.

            The Christian faith is to always remain voluntary. No compulsory worship, freedom of conscience in matters of faith and doctrine. Let the market place reign. Let freedom ring.

 

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This was a Sunday evening sermon so it was not fully developed; these are basically my notes with some obvious gaps.

 

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    This blog exists to study the bi-vocational ministry, explore the Bible & Theology, and look at current events, history and other world religions through scripture, and have fun doing it!

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