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By David Fergusson

The wealthy culture of Christian political theology calls for renewed realization, quite at a time whilst secular liberalism is in predicament and whilst the civic contribution of faith is being re-assessed. This ebook explores the connection of the church either to the nation and civil associations, drawing particularly at the proposal of civil society. It deals a severe review of the impression of the 1st modification within the usa and, in a concluding bankruptcy, defends the argument for carrying on with disestablishment in England and Scotland.

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35 Commanded to love his or her neighbour, the Christian is bound to respect the secular authorities since the sword is indispensable to the peace of the whole world. Respect for the state is commanded by Scripture. So, following Romans 13, Luther could argue against radical rebellion or a disengaging from civil life. In this context, the function of the state is primarily negative – it is to restrain, where necessary by the use of force. Thus a kind of peace is maintained. This is required in a world that comprises saints and unredeemed sinners.

Therefore, a separation of the two is an eschatological sign that acknowledges the fallibility of human beings and the need for the division of power. Today we might describe this as a system of checks and balances. On the other hand, the weaknesses of the Augustinian account are at least twofold. The limiting of legitimate secular force to a restraining function is too restrictive; its capacity for promoting social good and thus in its own way anticipating the divine rule tends to be downplayed by the account of sin and eschatology offered.

Nevertheless, there usually remains affection for one’s native land, its customs and its institutions. 15 In the tribute of Eusebius to Constantine on the thirtieth anniversary of his accession to the throne we are presented with a vision in which, to use Bainton’s expression, the church has mastered the world. One might equally well say that the world has mastered the church. The reign of God is now universally acknowledged. The whole of society is ordered according to the wisdom of the faith.

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