Tag Archives: First Amendment

Entitlement and the Church

Tuesday Re-mix:

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.  Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.  1 Peter 3:8-9

entitlementPeter offers these words as a brief summary of his “submit to the authorities in your life” lesson he gave to the persecuted Jews who comprised his audience.  Being submissive to the authorities in our lives is no small challenge for most of us.  The essence, I believe, of his counsel is that we must work hard to preserve our testimony with all the various authorities in our lives so that they may see God’s glory in us and be changed by it.

The question is, what does this mean for the church?  What does the local body of believers take from this counsel?

Maybe it is because of two centuries of the “separation of church and state” in America (the interplay between two critical religious freedom clauses in our First Amendment)…or maybe it is because the American culture has become much more concerned about our “rights” than about our “responsibilities”…or maybe it is because the American church has deluded itself into believing that, somehow, we are a part of the “persecuted church” because our culture doesn’t seem to like us much…or maybe it is because we just don’t really trust God to preserve his church, that maybe He needs us to save the church by political power instead…or maybe it is because we tend to forget how much damage the accumulation of political power has done historically to the church…

Whatever the cause(s), the American church seems to me to have developed a sense of “entitlement” much more than …

Tension Between Two Friends: Church and State

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

As a practicing attorney and a practicing church mediator, I have an interest in issues pertaining to religious liberties.  In fact, it just may be that there is a series of posts coming in the future on this topic.  But with the  old debates in California over Proposition 8 and with the “experiment” by some conservative churches involved in political campaigning in the most recent presidential election, I noticed some pretty loose interpretations of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  So, I thought I would chime in.

First, let me just say that, as a Christian lawyer (no, that is not an oxymoron) “the church” and “the state” are both good friends of mine.  I love them both and am loyal to them both.  So, I get a little miffed when either of them is misrepresented by “voices” in our culture who, frankly, haven’t studied either of them enough to be speaking on them in public forums.  Even  with 26 years of law practice and 30 years of Bible teaching under my belt, I don’t consider myself an expert on these issues.  But I think I can at least dialogue about them intelligently.  I cannot say the same for many of the voices I have seen and heard recently.  For the sake of the kingdom and the testimony of Christians everywhere, please do your homework before you sound off on issues of church and state.

Second, let me say that these issues involving church and state are dynamic issues, constantly morphing and shifting (even in the Supreme Court’s opinions over the last few decades) and are “blurry” to say the least.  So whenever you see or hear someone talking about …