Conservative writer Cal Thomas says, “Government shouldn’t define ‘church.’” Why not? Did Jesus define “church”? No. The New Testament contains no legal code for political governance. The Gospels instead teach all citizens to honor Jesus’ command to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s while revealing that God’s true kingdom is not of this world. Separation, huh?
The Gospels are non-political; perhaps we should say, more accurately, that they are trans-political. Because love rather than law lies at the heart of Christianity, a Christian can fulfill his religious obligations in almost any political regime. Christ does not demand that his followers establish a specific form of government or even that they rule politically, and the New Testament contains no legal code.
By distinguishing divine law from human law, Christianity makes possible the separation of church and state, although it does not necessarily demand separation. Because Christ did not found a political regime or hand down a code of civil law, Christian thinkers turned elsewhere for political guidance.
Our Founding Fathers, however, turned to John Locke, not Plato, Aristotle or St. Thomas Aquinas, for guidance. The Framers chose to give Locke dominance of the Declaration of Independence and the mostly Lockian Constitution, and Locke demanded separation of church and state. This is why government must define “church.” But Republicans like Thomas have tried to gerrymander “the wall between church and state” to nothingness. Rubbish!
Bill J. Paschal