2005 New College Lectures: Church & State

One of the perennial challenges facing a Christian is balancing these two biblical commands:

  1. Submitting to God through submitting to and praying for the authorities (e.g. Romans 13:1-7; 1 Timothy 2:1-2)
  2. Submitting to God despite the authorities (e.g. Daniel 3:8-23; Acts 5:17-32)

It can be particularly interesting in a democracy when, at least theoretically, we are the authorities.

Thus it’s useful that the New College Lectures for 2005 is on the topic of the relationship between church and state.

Of particular interest is John Anderson’s contribution. Rather than asking whether the church should involve itself in politics, he asked whether the state (in its liberal democratic form) can survive without the church.

In a developmental sense, the Western liberal democratic State is indivisibly reliant upon a Biblical view of humanity, the individual, community and responsibility. Historically, Christians (e.g. the Clapham Sect) have contributed significantly to the State.

For the future, this must continue. The Church must have a distinct world view that allows it to contribute thoughtfully and theologically to public life. It is a world view that must understand the State temporally, contribute widely and have relationship as central. For Christians to fail in this area would neglect the State to which we have a responsibility.

There was even a media release.

Do read the transcripts of the four lectures in full.

EDIT 4 October 2006: Fixed links with new New College web site.

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