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Religion is the Salt that Preserves the State
The American Conservative ^ | Jun 2018 | Casey Chalk

Posted on 07/18/2018 11:59:46 AM PDT by CondoleezzaProtege

The megalomania of the 1st-century Roman emperors, epitomized in the lunacy of Caligula and the lechery of Nero, evinces “tormenting the cat” on a global scale. It is little wonder so many eagerly converted to the Christian faith, which promised a king who truly loved and provided for his subjects. Jesus tells his disciples that heaven rejoices at the repentance of a single sinner. Subjects of his kingdom are to be concerned with the most marginalized, honored even for giving them a “cup of cold water.” Jesus elsewhere declares “the last will be first, and the first last”: indeed, the members of this kingdom are exhorted to invite to their feasts “the maimed, the lame, the blind.” Yet Jesus also asserts to Pilate during his interrogation that his kingdom is “not of this world.”

As its doctrines developed and coalesced into a coherent whole, Christianity perceived that a strong distinction between religious faith and civil authority was necessary to restrain the totalitarian instincts of the state and preserve man’s freedom. The doctrine of “separation of church and state” is not necessarily an Enlightenment idea, but one with roots in ancient Christianity. St. Augustine in his great work The City of God perceived two important but fundamentally distinct worlds: the city of God, composed of the Church and its adherents, and the city of man, the secular world. The 5th-century Pope Gelasius I in turn pronounced a doctrine of “two swords,” one being the Church, the other the state. These swords perform different functions and must remain separate, though religion must have the autonomy to judge and inform politics.

Imperial Rome’s fears of a rebellious Christian citizenry were ultimately unfounded. Moreover, the Church of these centuries served to restrain the centripetal power of the state.

What replaced this state-church dynamic was....

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: History; Religion
KEYWORDS: 1stamendment; augustine; caligula; cityofgod; nero; rome

1 posted on 07/18/2018 11:59:46 AM PDT by CondoleezzaProtege
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To: CondoleezzaProtege

<>Without that otherworldly, transcendent perspective provided by strong, independent religious institutions, we will indeed look to the state as our god, and it will inevitably betray us, as did Soviet Russia, the Third Reich, and the original imperial Rome. As we remember Peter and Paul, we should be mindful that an autonomous religious faith, particularly of a Judeo-Christian flavor, is no threat to the state’s stability or viability, but indeed the salt that preserves and strengthens it.<>

2 posted on 07/18/2018 2:11:51 PM PDT by Jacquerie (
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