In my mind, the Old Testament model of theocracy doesn’t clearly correlate with the New Testament or Apostolic Church practices, or even the Patristics for that matter, which suggests that applying Old Testament concepts to Christian statecraft might be anachronistic or misguided. It’s true that the New Testament, written in a context where Christians were a religiously persecuted minority within a largely non-Christian empire, doesn’t clearly articulate a model of Christian governance, let alone advocate for a state church. Not so much as a whisper is heard, except to commend to the newly formed churches, their regional (godless heathen) governing authorities as “sent by God.”
From my readings of history, it appears that the concept of a state church was inherited from the old Roman political system (before the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 A.D. and after 380 A.D.), rather than organically arising from the civil template of the Old Testament. Indeed, the structure of the early Christian Church was heavily influenced by Roman administrative scaffolding, and the concept of a state church only became feasible once Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire.
Jerrold Lewis | “The Establishment Principle” | June 16, 2023
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