Theocracy
or
Separation of Church and State

 

Samuel E. Waldron

 


 

The Nature of the Theocratic Kingdom (excerpts from pages 10-13)


Any treatment of the Theocratic kingdom confronts itself, first of all with the task of defining the term. Theocracy: Its meaning etymologically is not in doubt. Etymologically, it is "God rule". One dictionary recognizing its native civil context properly defines it as "the rule of a state by God or a god"... Theologically, however defining this word is much more difficult. Let me attempt to do so briefly by means of four assertions.

1. Yahweh is in a unique sense king of Israel...
2. The direct promulgation by special revelation of a specific and detailed civil order is then characteristic of the Theocratic order...It is interesting in light of the formal assumption of kingship over Israel by Yahweh at Sinai that the giving of this civil law order occupies a prominent place in the Sinaitic covenant...
3. ...the union of church and state in the Theocratic kingdom...
4. ...the Davidic fulfillment and mediation of the Theocratic kingdom...


The Disruption of the Theocratic Kingdom (excerpts from pages 15-17)


...the disruption of the Theocratic kingdom is a phenomena which of course cries out for an explanation. That explanation is written large across the face of the Old Testament. The blessings of the Sinaitic and Davidic covenants are removed because the conditions of those covenants have been violated...
What must be clearly emphasized in all of this is that the disruption of the Theocratic kingdom was the preceptive will of God. It was no longer God's revealed will for the people of God to give their political allegiance to a Theocratic , civil order. One of the most striking illustrations of this epochal alteration in the preceptive will of God for the civil conduct of His people is found in Jeremiah's unprecedented call to fall away or apostatize to the king of Babylon (Jeremiah.21:8-10; 37:13-15; 38:1-28). This call to fall away is followed up with the advice of Jeremiah. 29:1-7 where the Jews are told to pray for and seek the welfare of the city where they are exiled.
The very theme of the book of Daniel is to emphasize the perspectives which must guide the people of God in this new political situation...
The authority of Gentile kingdoms lasts longer than the initial 70 year period of exile. the restoration after this exile is largely symbolic and does not restore the independence of Judah. The authority given originally to Nebuchadnezzar is passed on to the Gentle kingdom which rule over the Israel of God till the second advent of Christ...
In the meantime the Apostle Paul states what is the preceptive will of God for His people. In Romans 13:1 he says, "let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God." The rich redemptive historical backdrop of this statement is not often appreciated. For it was of the roman Empire, the fourth and iron kingdom of Daniel 2, of which Paul was originally speaking. The four Gentile Kingdoms of Daniel 2 include ultimately all non Theocratic civil authority ruling over the people of God till the end of the age and the dawning of the Theocratic kingdom. To that authority Paul requires that Christians give submission.


The Restoration of the Theocratic Kingdom (excerpts from pages 18-20 & 52)


...applying this framework to the interpretation of Daniel and the restoration of the Theocratic kingdom, one obtains the result that a tension exists between the "already" and "not yet" aspects of the restoration of the Theocratic kingdom...
...thus it is that we may speak of the heavenly and spiritual inauguration of the Theocratic kingdom. Yet we must never forget that there is an external, earthly manifestation of this kingdom which is crucial to it and is yet to come...
...the conclusion must be that in its political and civil dimensions the Theocratic kingdom is not yet on earth. The Church finds itself in a continuation of the "times of the Gentiles" and for this reason the Christian's duty to the Gentile kingdoms is similar to that of post Exilic Israel.

We begin again here by reminding ourselves of the redemptive history of the Theocratic Kingdom. With the expiration of the partially restored Theocratic order in A.D. 70, all civil authority ceased to be Theocratic in the sense in which we have defined that word in these lectures. God is no longer the unique king of any civil entity. No nation is now mandated to adhere to a divinely revealed civil order. While the moral principles enshrined in the laws of the Old Covenant remain authoritative, no nation is bound to the detailed, civil order of Old Testament Israel. Add to all of this the destruction of the temple as the earthly throne of Yahweh and one must also conclude that no longer are church and state a united entity. The redeemed community no longer has a civil structure. Thus, the divine establishment of the Gentile civil authorities means that the separation of the civil and ecclesiastical institutions in human society is now God's preceptive will. The alteration of this order will be signaled only by the return of Christ Jesus. Thus, the separation of church and state is assumed and commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ when directed that we should "render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's (Matthew 22:21).

 


All comments are taken from: "Theonomy" A Reformed Baptist Assessment by Samuel E. Waldron (May 2, 1988 Draft 1.02) Truth For Eternity Ministries an outreach of Reformed Baptist Church. 3181 Bradford NE Grand Rapids, Michigan 49506.