Date of Award

2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

School

Theological Seminary

Program

Religion, MA: Theology

First Advisor

Darius Jankiewicz

Abstract

When a political question comes to the forefront about which Christians would have an opinion, the religio-political discussion of the issue often turns to the debatable issues within the political question at hand. However, the thesis posits that instead of addressing the particulars of a political question as a rationale for action, Christians should instead be asking questions about the best way to represent our beliefs in secular society, and whether the use of the coercive tool of secular legislation is the ethically proper way to go in light of our beliefs as Christians. This thesis attempts to address this question both historically and biblically by citing the lineage of Luther’s and Calvin’s thoughts on church-state relations as a window into modern thought on the issue. It seems that Calvin is the ideological progenitor of those who would argue that churches should be heavily involved in establishing their particular form of morality in secular society. Luther, on the other hand, seems to be the progenitor of those who would argue that the use of coercive power is not for the church. This thesis examines Luther’s and Calvin’s theories, as well as those in the modern age who would likely align themselves with each of their theories. Going further, the thesis then examines relevant biblical evidence in order to determine which course of action is more ethically proper. Based on the relevant verses on the freedom of conscience, the negative consequences of church-state integration, and the non-imposition of morality, this thesis takes the stance that churches should not be involved in using legislation in order to create a more Christian society.

Subject Area

Church and state.

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