In application we need to understand the relation and roles of the church and the kingdom. We must understand the relation of Christianity to all of life. We must understand how the church and individual Christians or groups of Christians are to relate to the public square. And, we must further free ourselves and our western culture from the dualistic philosophy that continues to keep us from the wholistic total kingdom world and life view of Christianity. The prophet Micah has written, “He has told you o man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” We understand that Micah did not for that to apply only to the organized church, but all of life, the kingdom, as well.
Another example developed at the recent (2009) General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America. The Assembly was presented with an overture requesting it to address the President of the United States regarding homosexuality relating to the military. The Assembly declined to respond in the affirmative to the overture concluding that it was not an extraordinary issue. According to the church’s constitution, namely WCF 31:4, it could have legitimately responded by doing just what the overture asked. some believed that homosexuality with its many significant implications on the doctrine of God, the doctrine of man as God’s image, as well as the institution of marriage, was indeed extra-ordinary and were disappointed over the Assembly’s action. I mention this not to re-vi sit the arguments raised but to demonstrate the two options before the assembly. Christianity is about the Gospel, but the Gospel is the good news of the kingdom and not simply man’s salvation and his relation to God. Christianity is a world and life view with a kingdom focus, and the church has the assignment of making kingdom disciples to help its people develop a Christian mind capable of dealing with all types of moral and ethical situations plus how to think biblically about them.
We must wake up to the fact that the church’s role is to disciple its people, the body of Christ, to live in the kingdom realm “24/7” and remember that there is no area of life over which Christ has not said “mine.” Our responsibility is to proclaim the Gospel of the kingdom in its fullness. Another way of stating this-the organized church has the Lord’s assignment to disciple the body of Christ, his people, in order that they may live for him in all of life throughout all the world. We have and will continue to pay a great price, if we fail to understand and apply this to all of life.
If we are on target with our understanding of a kingdom disciple, namely one that is transformed by changing the way he thinks (rom.12:2) by intentionally thinking God’s thoughts, (2 Cor. 10:5) then to exclude God from any area of life as does the dualistic model of secular and sacred, church and state separation is dangerous. We will never fully serve our sovereign King and Lord because we will not have the Christian mind that knows how to think and act in a transforming way. And, unless God is our predicate of knowledge and basic reference point, we will have a faulty view of life and reality because as the Psalmist says, “In his light, we see light.”
I have been challenged reading Hunter Baker’s book The End Of Secularism (see book reviews) in which he has clearly opened the notion that secularism’s approach leaves God out of the picture. While showing this historic phenomena such as the struggles between the church and state, the pope and the king, etc., he has applied it to the u.s. today and “the naked public square” as the late John Neuhaus described it. Following the dualistic thinking route, politics and science are neutral topics and should not be impacted by religion or God. Hence Americans have bought into the notion that God and the state do not intermingle. But as Baker concluded in the last paragraph of the book, “removing God from our public deliberations doesn’t help us focus on the things we have in common. The truth is that the great majority of us have God in common. God matters. He matters in how we think about human rights and civil rights. He matters in how we think about bioethics and in helping us to know how far we dare go. He matters in how we treat criminals. He matters in the decisions we make about the economy and in how we go to war. In order to preserve our freedom to talk about him in all that we do, even in politics, we need only respect others by seeking to persuade rather than to coerce. Surely that is preferable to replacing the organic heart of our civilization with a mechanical one.” Pluralism yes; dualism and secularism no! Need more be said?