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Church and State.

1. Relations bet. ch. and state, individual Christians and govts., organized chs. and civil forms have varied through the centuries.

2. When Christianity first appeared in the Medit. world of the Roman Empire it was confused with Judaism. But soon the distinctions were noted, and Christianity was classified as an unlawful religion (religio illicita). Though the early Christians were respectful in submission to the pagan state, their refusal to acknowledge the divinity of the emp. could be construed as disloyalty. Trajan's instructions to Pliny est. a pattern of dealing with Christians, discountenancing Christianity, but not allowing measures against it to become exaggerated. Yet at times violent persecutions broke out. See also Alexander Severus, Marcus Aurelius; Persecution of Christians.

3. The Edict of Milan* (313) by Constantine* I gave official toleration to the Christians, but not preference over other religious bodies. Theodosius* I outlawed pagan worship and declared the Christian religion the religion of the empire (380). Domination of ch. over state, of state over ch., or coexistence of the two seemed to be possible lines of development. See also Ambrose; Papocaesarism.

4. In the E Byzantine Empire caesaropapism was adopted; the absolute monarchy obtained supreme control over the ch. and exercised its dominion even in matters normally reserved for ecclesiastical authorities; the ch. in effect became a dept. of the state.

5. In the W, Valentinian III and Theodosius II recognized the pope as head of the W Ch. 445. The decentralized govts. after the “fall” of the Roman Empire (see Papacy, 3) permitted the RC Ch. to gain preeminence. In 494 Gelasius I formulated his view on the relationship bet. ch. and state: two powers governed Christendom, the secular and the spiritual, each with its own sphere of action in which the other was not to interfere, the spiritual comparatively the higher of the two. But by 800, with the revival of imperial dignity by Charlemagne,* the W Ch. was threatened at least with a mild form of caesaropapism. About this time the RC Ch. began to augment its territorial holdings, a factor in the relationship bet. the RC Ch. and various states from the 9th to the 20th c.

6. Disintegration of the Carolingian Empire and invasions of the N tribes and Saracens brought on moral and pol. decay, from which the emergence of feudalism rescued Eur. The Cluniac* reform movement and the Hildebrandian papacy (see Popes, 7) set aside dominance over the papacy by the Roman aristocracy or the revived imperium; Henry IV stood before Gregory VII at Canossa 1077 as a penitent for pol. faults. Acknowledgment of papal suzerainty by R. Guiscard* (1059) and John of Eng. (1213) illustrate the extent of the power of the ch. in the feudal Middle Ages. Resistance of secular rulers may be illustrated by the Constitutions of Clarendon* (1164), enacted by Henry II of Eng., and the efforts of Frederick* I (Barbarossa) to control the papacy. See also England, A 3.

7. The 13th c. saw the zenith of papal pol. power in the struggle bet. the imperium and the sacerdotium. Innocent III defined the plenitudo potestatis of the papacy. See Popes, 10.) The formulations of Aegidius* Romanus and Augustinus* Triumphus bolstered the “two* swords” theory of papal supremacy. In Unam sanctam (1302) Boniface VIII (see Popes, 12) claimed that all power, spiritual and temporal, was given to the ch., which controlled temporal power also when exercised by princes. Dante* in De monarchia looked for control of all temporal power by a universal monarchy alongside the papacy with its supreme spiritual power. Marsilius* of Padua, together with John* of Jandun, wrote Defensor pacis 1324, the classic treatise on supremacy of state over ch.

8. Growth of nationalism and the rise of strong monarchies in W Eur. in the later Middle Ages gave rise to measures against papal claims, including the Pragmatic* Sanction of Bourges 1438.

9. During the Reformation the right of princes to determine the religion of their territories was firmly acknowledged in the Peace of Augsburg* 1555 and reaffirmed in the Peace of Westphalia* 1648. In Eng. Henry VIII's control of the ch. was confirmed 1534 in the Act of Supremacy (reenacted 1559 in revised form under Elizabeth I). Also in RC countries the monarchs obtained a large measure of control over the ch.

10. Luther permitted the princes to take over affairs of the ch. as Notbischöfe. This led to Luth. state chs. in Ger. The Scand. Luth. countries, likewise, continued state control of the ch. AC XXVIII set forth distinction bet. the two powers. (See Luther and Civil Authority.)

11. J. Calvin* upheld a theocratic polity, subjecting state to ch. In the words of the 2d Helvetic Conf. 1566, it is the duty of the magistrate to “advance the preaching of the truth and the [pure and] sincere faith.” (See also Reformed Confessions, A 6.) He has authority, “and it is his duty to take order,” according to the Westminster Conf. 1647, “that unity and peace be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire,” and that ecclesiastical discipline be carried out; the ch. was to be determinative in all the matters. (See also Presbyterian Confessions, 3, 4.)

12. Against extreme Calvinism, T. Erastus* in Explicatio gravissimae quaestionis maintained ascendancy of state over ch. in ecclesiastical matters. Erastianism* was defended 1594 by R. Hooker* in Ecclesiastical Polity. In Ger. it was modified by collegialism.* T. Hobbes* in Leviathan set forth a system of pol. absolutism that in its theories of ch.-state relations virtually embraced Erastianism. Under impact of growing secularism and development of toleration extreme Erastianism was modified, as were extreme theocratic views.

13. Views of Anabaptist, Independents, Separatists, and like-minded sectaries also contributed to acceptance of theories that favored separation of temporal and spiritual powers.

14. Such separation was effected in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the US: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The presence of many nationalities and varied forms of religious belief prevented formation of close ties bet. any one ch. and the state. Writings of J. Wise,* labors of I. Backus,* and efforts of T. Jefferson* and others brought about the establishment and recognition of the voluntary principle. The Virginia Statute of Religious Liberty 1785–86 was the first enactment in the states to grant freedom of conscience. The abolition of support to the Cong. Ch. in Massachusetts 1833 marked the end of state support for chs. in the US In the 19th and 20th c. there have been various attempts to subvert the First Amendment. But Supreme Court decisions have maintained separation bet. ch. and state. POAU is among militant groups organized to further separation of ch. and state. Other groups in the US staunchly supporting separation of ch. and state include Baps., Seventh-day Adv., and Jeh. wit. See also Public Aid to Church-Related Elementary and Secondary Schools.

15. In Eur. the struggle for separation of ch. and state was esp. violent in Fr., where the Revolution first set aside RCm and replaced it with the cult of reason. The 1801 Concordat* restored RCm, but throughout the 19th c. anticlericalism opposed ultramontanism.* Separation of ch. and state was accomplished in Fr. 1905. In It. and Sp. RCm is the state religion (1966). Port. allows freedom of worship, though RCm is predominant. In Lat. Am. ch. and state are gen. separate. See also Kulturkampf.

16. Resurgence of world religions (e.g., Buddhism,* Shinto,* Islam*) has been coupled with nationalism. Esp. the aggressiveness of Islam has worked for union of that religion with the states in which it is predominant.

17. Atheistic Marxist-Leninist socialism has been antagonistic to Christianity esp. in Russia and China. Totalitarianism, esp. Nazism, advanced the omnicompetent state and a nat. religion. In the US in the 20th c. a religion of “Americanism” began to develop. CSM

See also United States, Religious History of the, 10.

AC XVI and related literature; G. Hillerdal, Gehorsam gegen Gott und Menschen: Luthers Lehre von der Obrigkeit und die moderne Staatsethik (1954); F. E. Cranz, An Essay on the Development of Luther's Thought on Justice, Law, and Society, extra number of the Harvard Theological Review (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1959); W. Künneth, Politik zwischen Dämon und Gott: Eine christliche Ethik des Politischen (Berlin, 1954); A. P. Stokes, Church and State in the United States, rev. ed. by the author and L. Pfeifer, 3 vols. in 1 (New York, 1964); Church and State Under God, ed. A. G. Huegli (St. Louis, 1964).

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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Content Reproduced with Permission

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