Christians base both their economic and world views on the Bible, not Capitalism or Communism. The relationship between Church and State has not always been happy or harmonious. This is partly due to a lack of understanding and sometimes agreement, on both sides.
The Scriptures teach that God reaches down into every nation with two great arms of authority. The spiritual arm is represented by Elders of the Church and the civil arm by Alderman, a derivative of ‘elders’ who sit ‘in the gate’ (2 Sam 19:8) of the city. This ‘gate’ is the place of power and authority in the civil body politic. Christians are usually more familiar with God’s spiritual arm moving and working in the earth, through the Church.
However, God also moves and works with His civil arm through the State. We are told to ‘be subject to governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God’ (Rom 13:1) whether we agree with them or not. We believe an ‘appointed’ civil servant is a good minister of God to us because the Bible says, he is ‘God’s minister to you for good’ (Rom 13:4).
The civil arm has its own body of Scripture which is directly addressed to the State. If those involved do not personally know the Lord themselves, or are ignorant of the directives in God’s Word, they are without excuse in His sight. They are responsible to find out what God says, and will be held accountable directly to God – not the Church.
The Bible says of ‘kings and rulers’ that ‘He shall speak to them’ (Psa 2:2,5) directly. The directives and decrees of God are absolute and inexorable. No wonder the Psalmist says, ‘How strange that men should try to outwit God! For a summit conference of the nations has been called to plot against the Lord and His Christ, the King’ (Psa 2:2 LB).
We often say, Why doesn’t God do something about the world situation? But the Lord says ‘I have’!
‘I have set my King on my holy hill’ (Psa 2:6). He could not possibly have done anything more relevant or effective, than to put ‘His Christ’ in charge of the nations!
‘Now therefore, be wise O Kings. Be instructed, you Judges of the earth’ (Psa 2:10). So there is much needed wisdom and instruction to be had, simply for the asking. This simple command makes it clear that civil authority is again divided in two. The ‘kings’ and ‘judges’ are addressed directly and separately, so the judicial system is segregated and stands free from the political system.
God does not intend the spiritual arm or Church, to take over these divisions of power in the State. The Divine intent is for the Church to influence civil authorities. Historically, during the early days of New England States, Christian pulpits virtually shaped and gave character to civil authority – just as the prophets did in ancient Israel.
According to our five senses, the civil arm appears to be bigger and much more muscular than the spiritual arm. With this advantage, the civil arm is still unable to deal with the claw that keeps plucking away our freedoms. This is because they ignore or reject the moral authority of the Scriptures. The Church however, is vitally connected to the Head which is Christ, so she draws from the power of the Holy Spirit. This secret Source of spiritual power and provision ensures she will survive and thrive.
The Bible says, ‘Judgment must begin at the house of God’ (1 Pet 4:17) so we should criticize the spiritual arm first. God will indeed ‘shake all nations’ (Hag 2:7) but He will not do so, until He has cleansed His own Temple first.