Why are there Bible-believing Christians on opposite sides when it comes to the issue of church and state? Some believers want Christianity legislated by the government, others do not. Both affirm that God is sovereign over all things and both agree that ultimate obedience comes not from government legislation but from a subdued heart. Both affirm the sinfulness of man and the resulting need for law in civil society. So why do they not agree when it comes to what law should govern civil society?

Oddly enough, the crucial issue comes down to ecclesiology, that is, their respective views of the church. In sum,

He who thinks of the Church as a community of experiential believers is bound to oppose him who thinks of it as a fellowship embracing all in a given territory; he who operates with the concept of the Church as a society embracing all in a given geographic area must of necessity look askance at him who restricts the Church to the believing ones. The two views cannot be combined; one cancels out the other. In the one view the Church is Corpus Christi, the body of Christ, which consists of believing folk and of them solely; in the other view the Church is Corpus Christianum, the body of a “christened” society.

This difference is the heart of the issue.

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