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Summary: America was founded upon the Christian understanding of life.

Sermon ~ “Rightly Dividing Church & State”

Matthew 22:15-21 (quickview) 

There are those things that are more or less political, and those that our eternal. Our Lord says it like this within Matthew’s gospel: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s”

They came to Jesus, the Pharisees, to get Him in trouble. Should they pay taxes to an emperor who had conquered and taken over God’s people?

If our Lord said a simple “no,” He would have been labeled an insurrectionist, and would be in trouble with Roman authorities. If Jesus had said, “yes,” he would have alienated many Jewish Zealots who despised Roman occupation.

Today, asserting that the Christian influence should be allowed into the public square, and particularly, the public classroom, gets one into the same kind of dilemma that our Lord faced.

If Mary says that Christian ideas should have the same access to the public schoolroom as do secular ideas, she is accused of going against the Supreme Court

and Thomas Jefferson’s often quoted “wall of separation.” If Tom says that Christianity has no place in a public classroom, he is in favor of the moral corruption of our youth.

Now our Lord’s answer was clearly intended to avoid the trap. He never answered the question put to Him by those who had laid the trap. He in effect forces them to decide for themselves.

Still, Jesus does imply, without any hedge, that there are things that belong to God, and things that belong to the political order.

What kinds of things might belong to the political order? In the United States we could list a number of things:

>>What kind of tax form should be used to report one’s earnings would belong to Caesar.

>>Where the state capitol should be located is also a political thing, not important to ultimate concerns.

>>How to divide voting districts is Caesar’s decision.

>>What roads in the state will be graveled, and what roads will be blacktopped might be important to some of us, but I don’t think it is a big item on God’s list.

I could go on and on with things that really are more or less secular in nature, and God gladly gives over to the administration of Caesar and his politicians.

Today I want to look at a deeper issue. In fact, I want to look at the foundation issue. Did our Founding Fathers, who gave us the foundation, consider religion to be distinct from American government and public learning? To say it another way, did the Founding Fathers consider public matters to be a purely secular thing, building a great wall to keep Christianity out of government and the public school?

Does it matter to God how these questions are answered? Would God prefer to keep the Bible out of the public square and classroom? Are there consequences to a right or wrong answer to these questions?

...His country was in disorder. It was struggling to find a beginning, a foundation for public life, after its hard fought war for independence. James Madison, along with Thomas Jefferson and others, began to form documents that would lead to a constitution for this new nation.


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