In the final major argument against the doctrine of the separation of Church and State, the editor of theContender reasons that the Old Testament nation of Israel is an example to the nations of the world and, “from the beginning the national life and the religious life of the Israelites were bound together.” 

This argument is too lengthy to reproduce in its entirety but we shall mention a few of the salient points. Several passages of Scripture are quoted to show firstly, “that the civil magistrate is a minister or servant of God and that he has been placed in his office of authority and power by the sovereign decree and act of God”; secondly, “that God is the supreme ruler of the nations, that Christ, is the King of kings, and that, for this reason, all nations are under obligation to God and Christ.” From this the conclusion is drawn that the civil magistrate has not only the right but the obligation as well to establish religious policy and to exercise authority in ecclesiastical affairs. 

All of this is concluded from the fact that many examples of kings in Israel (civil rulers) exercising themselves in ecclesiastical affairs can be cited. Writes MacKay, “God; Himself joined Church and State in Israel and ordained that the civil rulers should take a principal part in promoting the spiritual welfare of the people. If we accept as our guide the Scriptural record of the kings who reigned in Jerusalem, especially the kings blessed of God such as David, Solomon, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah and Josiah, we are bound to arrive at the same conclusion as to the relationship between Church and State that the Westminster divines reached.” (Note—This conclusion is the same as that expressed in the original 28th Article of our Church Order and in Article 36 of our Belgic Confession prior to the decision of the Synod of 1910). 

The editor further points out from these examples that if the doctrine of separation of Church and State is correct, these Biblical examples must be in error when they, functioning as civil magistrates, made “religious covenants of one kind or another with God on behalf, of the nation,” and further when they “condemned the worship of the golden calf, Baa1 worship, the worship of Molech, the queen of heaven, the sun, moon and planets, and various other forms of worship which the people chose for themselves by exercising ‘religious freedom.'” 

He adds, “These men were wrong in uprooting all forms of false worship by cutting down, burning, breaking in pieces or otherwise destroying the people’s groves, shrines and idols. According to North America’s way of thinking, Moses and the godly kings such as David, Solomon, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah and Josiah, should have taken this attitude: “We are civil rulers or leaders and so we must have nothing to do with determining the religious worship of the people. They must have absolute religious freedom to do as they wish; and although we personally may not agree with their ideas of worship, yet they have the ‘right’ to ‘enjoy’ whatever form of religious worship they may choose for themselves.” 

Some of the examples of civil magistrates, within and outside of the kingdom of Israel, engaging in religious activities are worthy of mention in this connection. Cyrus, king of Persia, issues a decree to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem not only but he even made available tax-money for this purpose. (Ezra 1:1-5). Some years later Darius, one of his successors, did likewise. (Ezra 6:1-12). Nehemiah, the civil ruler in Jerusalem, enacted several religious reforms among which are to be mentioned: (a) He cast out of the house of God the heathen enemy of the Jews, Tobiah, to whom Eliashib the priest had given an apartment, and restored the articles that rightly belonged to God’s house, (b) He restored various offices of which their incumbents, such as the Levites and singers, had been deprived, (c) He stopped Sabbath day violations, (d) He resolutely cleansed mixed marriages between Jewish men and heathen women, and (e) He rearranged the Levites’ work, and satisfactorily settled matters.” (Nehemiah 13) David, the king, made preparations for the building of the temple and laid out huge sums from the king’s treasury for this work. Later it was executed by His son Solomon. Hezekiah and Josiah reestablished the true worship of God after periods of decline and apostasy. The reinstituted the celebration of the Passover and took their stand for the true service of God opposing false worship and idolatry. Much more could be added yet but the reader can find it for himself in his Old Testament Bible. 

Concerning all of this MacKay writes: “If the godly kings of Judah had acted according to the modern North American idea of religious freedom the true worship of God would soon have been overwhelmed by the rising flood of false worship. It would have disappeared beneath a great mass of abominable and corrupt worship. This is exactly what is now happening to the true worship of God in North America and other regions where our doctrine of ‘full, free and unquestioned’ religious liberty, so-called, has been adopted. Never in the history of mankind has there been a more perfect plan devised for the nourishment and spread of false religions than for the State to put them on an equality with the true religion and to grant them the full, free and unquestioned ‘right’ to enjoy and propagate their false religions. It is a fact that false systems of religion spread much faster than the Truth. They do that under the most difficult conditions,—how much more do they flourish when they have the State’s ‘blessing’ upon them, as they do in North America! We can imagine the degenerate condition that any farm. would soon reach if the farmer were to put weeds, briars and thistles on an equality with wheat, barley and tomatoes, giving the obnoxious growths ‘full, free and unquestioned liberty’to grow and spread as they wish. North America has indeed become a ‘farm’ over which every kind of weed, briar and thistle of false doctrine has spread until it has become almost impossible to discover the good plants of Truth. Try to find in any degree—if you can—the ancient and apostolic doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of God along with the related doctrine of unequal and unconditional election, without which there can be no Christian faith, in the midst of the flourishing weeds and thistles of Roman Catholicism (now growing faster than ever and making up nearly one half of Canada’s population and one fifth of the United States), Modernism and Unitarianism, Arminianism and Baptistism, Premillinialism and Dispensationalism, Pentecostalism, Seventh Day Adventism, Spiritualism, Universalism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, Mormonism and so on.” 

The author we have been quoting contends that Scripture supports the “original Presbyterian doctrine of the State acknowledging and supporting the Reformed< faith, that is, for the ‘establishment’ of the true religion by the State.” That being the case it follows that the Civil State has a Divine mandate to eradicate by means of force, if necessary, every false religious sect and, apostate church. Were the State to. assume such power today, a religious persecution unparalleled in history would take place and, were this to be sanctioned by God in heaven, it would be imperative that a true Josiah or Hezekiah be seated at the head of the government of the United States or Canada. To direct the faithful church toward an expectation of such a revival is, I believe, misleading but rather we shall, D.V., a bit later write of the reality of Scripture for which the faithful must even now be prepared and according to which those who adhere to and maintain without compromise the true Reformed Faith” will be the objects of the persecution instigated by “the man of sin, the son of perdition” who, by all that is false and apostate, will be exalted and honored. 

First we must mention yet one more reason the editor of The Contender is opposed to the doctrine of separation between church and state. This argument, if I understand it correctly, is that the doctrine that all religions have equal rights which, as MacKay sees it, is synonymous with the doctrine of the separation of church and state, the calling of the church to oppose and fight false doctrine is denied. For he writes: “If all religions have equal rights to enjoy whatsoever they believe and to propagate their doctrines then it is wrong for any one religion to oppose another: (1) It islegally wrong, for if the government says, for example, that the Roman Catholic Church has just as much right to enjoy its religion as has the Presbyterian Church, then you are opposing the spirit of the law by saying that Roman Catholicism is a false, wicked and dangerous system of religion; (2) It is morally wrong, for if Roman Catholics have such rights, then you are acting unjustly in trying to persuade people that this Church is an undesirable organization, thereby undermining the rights of others, and (3) It is logicallywrong, for you are contradicting yourself by saying, on the one hand, that the Roman Catholic Church is on an equality with the Presbyterian Church, and on the other hand you are saying that it is anything but equal to your own church.” 

Thus the church looses her fight except where she can combat the lies of atheism and the ignorance of pagans. For the rest she must be content to say, if she wishes to honor her government and maintain any degree of consistency, that all churches and all beliefs are good and none are bad. And what does this position lead to? The following quotation expresses the answer as the Editor of The Contender sees it. 

“The great outdoors tells us that a good thing and a bad thing cannot be regarded as equal. A tree that’s worm and insect-eaten and produces bad fruit cannot be in the same class as a tree that is healthy and gives choice fruit. A deforested, run-down, washed-out tract of land cannot be considered equal to a well-watered, fertile, beautiful region. Any governmental agriculture bureau which would make no distinction between good and bad produce, and class worthless land with valuable property would soon be given a thorough shake-up. But, strange to say, when it comes to religion, the government (which we must remember is ordained of God whether it acknowledges it or not, or even whether it realizes it or not) puts all religions on an equality making no distinction between a ‘good tree’ and a ‘corrupt tree,’ no difference between grapevines and thorny brambles, or figs and thistles as Christ did in the Sermon on the Mount, Matt. 7:16, 17. And everywhere in Protestant circles this Equality standard is praised as just and right. No wonder the ordinary citizen can see no difference between truth and error! The Equality doctrine has blinded his mind. And as long as this Equality doctrine is maintained by government and church leaders, there will be no possibility of our citizens seeing any difference between truth and error.” 

Next time, D.V., we will begin our evaluation of these arguments in an attempt to arrive at the truth concerning the matter of the Church and State!