Recently, a good friend asked me the following question:
"How should the Church relate to Civil Government and what is her role in Justice, Governance, and Care of Citizens?"
My written answer to this great man is below:
In its current imperfect state, my worldview sees four roles for the Church’s jurisdiction. Interestingly, they are the same roles as the head of a household:
1. Priest (Grace)
2. Prophet (Truth)
3. Provider (Care)
4. Protector (Justice)
In other words, the church ministers from a Kingdom perspective in every area. Everything we do is done through the lens of the Law and Gospel and with a sense of our role jurisdictionally.
1. The church has a priestly role: preaching the grace of God in Christ and providing comfort and care to individuals, homes, and the Nation.
2. The church has a prophetic role: declaring truth to the same as above. This is an area of extreme failure IMHO.
3. The church has a stewardship responsibility to save/gather/raise resources to be used to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and provide relief during times of casualty and catastrophe as best it can.
4. The church has a calling to fight for justice according to biblical principles (God's moral Law)…for everyone. If an area of civil government is wrong, the church must stand against it and call it out. But if she doesn’t understand the other jurisdictions, some of her “call outs” will be wrong.
I don’t believe the church carries the sword for punishment (civil responsibility), runs a man’s house (family government), or is to be in charge of civil government. So…how should poor people be cared for biblically? (Which is normally the question asked by of us by the culture.)
An argument can be made that Government has a responsibility to respond to natural disasters (Joseph), and it certainly does for military threats, etc…but none (biblically) to provide an ongoing supply of resources to its citizens. This area is the role of family and the church…the role of loving charity by individuals and ministries. The church in the NT had literal “roles” of widows it provided for as an example. This is why, biblically, taxes are low (10-13%)...so more can be given and used for an inheritance for the family. The government has taken over the role assigned to the church and the family.
One of the main problems in America is this “jurisdictional crisis” where the government educates and provides (home and church responsibility), the home abdicates (fatherhood, discipleship, worldview), and the church equivocates (loss of truth and prophetic voice, fights for stuff from government that government shouldn’t be doing in the first place).
The biblical flow of government should look like this…biggest area of influence on society to smallest:
We’ve got it precisely backwards.