The Old Testament (OT) tells us that in ancient Israel, God’s people and the state were one – a theocracy or sacerdotal (“priestly or ecclesiastical”) system of governance.
God was recognized as the ruler – the highest governing source – and representatives were chosen by Him to rule by His divine inspiration according to His divine purposes.
All that changed with the teachings of Jesus Christ.
According to the New Testament (NT), God does not intend for today’s nations to be theocracies.
When Jesus said in Matthew 22:21, “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s,” He was proclaiming a distinction from what was practiced in OT Israel, something quite different for the Church Age that was to come, the age we live in today.
The Bible clearly teaches that in the Church Age, there is to be an institutional separation of church and state, but that the church should influence the state in matters of policy and governance by manufacturing righteous individuals to serve in government.
This is a distinction that is not understood by many critics of historical, fundamental, evangelical Christianity which is embraced by Capitol Ministries and taught by our leaders to governing authorities throughout the world.
Secular journalists have recently concocted the term “Christian Nationalist” and are labeling many well-meaning Christians who are serving in public office with the title with the intent of marginalizing their influence in the public square.
They are falsely charging that by enacting public policy in keeping with their Christian beliefs and values, Christian public servants are violating the separation of church and state principle addressed by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association that feared they would suffer persecution because they were a religious minority in Connecticut.
While the term may be new, it is an old idea previously understood as beliefs held by the “Christian Dominionist,” “Reconstructionist,” or “Theonomist.”
What do these terms mean and why are their belief systems rejected by Capitol Ministries?
A Christian Dominionist believes that followers of Jesus Christ need to take “dominion” over civil government.
A Christian Reconstructionist believes that all United States Founding Fathers were Christians and that they founded our nation as a “Christian Nation.” They believe that over time, the secularists revised American history and stole away that historical truth and that it is their obligation to restore that truth.
A Christian Theonomist believes that in taking dominion and restricting America as a Christian nation, all laws should be based on OT biblical law.
These positions are not supported by Scripture, and therefore, are rejected by Capitol Ministries.
The Bible does make it clear, however that God’s Church is to influence the state, and it is this biblical directive that Capitol Ministries embraces and works to fulfill.
Capitol Ministries has made clear in numerous Bible studies that we do not condone, or support beliefs held by “Christian Dominionist,” “Reconstructionist,” “Theonomist,” or the new trendy moniker Christian Nationalist.
The Bible makes it clear that God never intended nations – the United States included – to be theocracies. Among the Bible studies published on the Capitol Ministries website that make clear the ministry’s position include:
“Unlike the preceding biblical epoch of OT Israel where God’s people and the state were one — a theocracy or sacerdotal (“priestly or ecclesiastical”) system of governance — in the age to come, Jesus expects the two institutions to be differentiated in structure, purpose and leadership.”
“Notice from the definition in the introduction of a “fool” that I am not saying one should hire only Christians and fire non-Christians. Such a belief is to travel down the road toward a city name Theocracy, which the New Testament does not support. There are believers who, in their spiritual immaturity, portray more of the twelve elements of “foolishness” than do some nonbelievers. This however is not normative for true followers of Christ, because the Holy Spirit will begin His sanctifying work in the heart of the truly repentant who have put their trust in the cross.”
“Christian Nationalists have a less-than-clear understanding of the fact that God has bifurcated the institution of the state from the institution of the church during the time in which we live — and that He desires to keep it that way! America as such is a composite nation, but keep in mind, institutional separation does not imply influential separation.”
“The Bible clearly teaches that today, there is to be an institutional separation of church and state. To think otherwise is to believe in a theocratic or sacerdotal form of Government. What the Bible does not teach — and what the secularist would like to say the U.S. Constitution supports— is an influential separation of church and state. Clearly, however, such thinking is not supported in the Constitution or the Scriptures.”
“Probably the most important (in terms of present applicability) aspect of these passages regarding the purpose of the institution of the state relates to God’s explicit intentions for it: the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. To say it with gentleness, it is therefore wise for governing officials to avoid over-involvement with other institutions — public servants should allow latitude (versus interfering with) the other institutions that God has ordained and allow them to do what they are designed by God to achieve. Each institution is more efficient than any other institution in achieving what God designed it to do.”
“While Wilberforce is a wonderful model, it is evident that the Religious Right completely misses the point regarding what we can learn from the example of Wilberforce, especially when it comes to the role of the Church in politics. Let me explain.
“William Wilberforce would be a forgotten figure in history had it not been for a churchman like John Newton. Newton remained singularly focused on his calling, which was making disciples of Jesus Christ by the Word of God. He was perhaps just as responsible for ending the slave trade in Britain as Wilberforce yet he never engaged directly in politics.”
“The church today needs more men like John Newton. Men who will make disciples of Jesus Christ among those in political leadership so as to enable them by the clear teaching of the Word of God to lead the state with visceral biblical convictions.”
“One other point here is worth mention. Christian isolationists often harbor ideological superiority: as if the authority of the church is over the authority of the state. The church is not over the state; conversely the church too needs to submit to the state!…Should the church raise up young men and women to run for office with the same passion and enthusiasm that it places on raising up godly pastors, wives, husbands, children and businessmen? Absolutely, yes!”
“The Bible is clear regarding God’s desire in the new covenant for there to be an institutional separation of church from state but institutional separation does not imply influential separation.”
We invite you to read these studies and learn more about what the Bible says about the separation of church and state which informs Capitol Ministries position on the issue.