Saturday, October 31, 2020

Church and Government

Many Christians do not under the nature of government, so they incorrectly assume that the church and the government are similar types of organisation.

The church is a voluntary organisation. It cannot make people do things that they do not want to do. A pastor can put the guilts on people, and social pressure can pressure people into conforming, but if they don’t like it, they can ignore it. If the pressure becomes to great, they can simply leave.

In the Middle Ages, the church uses the power of excommunication to force people to do things. The people believed that if they were shut out of the church, they would lose their salvation, so they had to obey the commands of the church out of fear of damnation. That does not work anymore. If a church makes threats, a person can leave and go to another, or they can continue to be a Christian outside of the church. The church is a voluntary organisation that can exert moral pressure, but it cannot force people to do things against their will.

In contrast, the government an organisation with the power of coercion. It is not a voluntary organisation in which people join together for the good.

The government in any society has a monopoly on the use of force. This means that it can do things against their will. A government decide how much tax different people owe and the force them to pay it. If people refuse to pay, they can be fined or imprisoned. A government can punish people refusing to obey its laws and regulation. A government can make a citizen go and fight and die in a war, even if they do not support it.

Many Christians try to persuade their government to force other people to do things that they think they should do., but this a two-edged sword. It is a dangerous game to play because sometimes the government will use its power to force Christians to do thing they do not want to do.

In a free society, a church and the gospel is a much safer instrument for bringing social change, because it does not have the power of coercion. It can only bring about social change by persuading free people to change, but that is the best kind of change.

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