Posted by: JohnO | May 17, 2007

Should Church be Separate from State?

Mennonite Statements on Peace (1)

Three points of broad significance may be seen in the Anabaptist view of the state. (1) The corpus Christianum concept is absolutely rejected. Anabaptists insist that church and state are essentially and functionally two distinctl separate orders and cannot be “nuermically identical” or compose one unified order. (2) The particular understanding of the Scriptures that underlies the Anabaptist view of the Christian and state relations is that the coming of Christ has brought about a new situation. Therefore the relation of God to governmental authority and the Christian’s relation to civil government are now under the New Testament ethic which supercedes that of the Old Testament. (3) The Anabaptists see a dualism between the kingdom of Christ and the “world”. The true church of voluntary believers expresses the visible form of redeemed life under the rule of Christ. The “world” is the kingdom of darkness characterized by demonic powers, the realm in which the state must function “outside the perfection of Christ”.

The Nature of the State

Anabaptist writers affirm that the office government is ordained by God as a necessary provision for the ordering of human society, because of the disorder resulting from human sin. Consequently, Anabaptists view the ordering of society by God through the state as expressing both the wrath and the grace of God, a view essentially held by all the Reformers. A qualitative distinction between good and bad government is not made. The necessity of civil order is consistently upheld. Rebellion against the state is excluded as a rightful option, regardless of how evil a given state may be in its performance. The state is viewed from the standpoint of the necessity of its “sword-character” or coercive power to maintain order.

page 12, 13



  1. The Scriptures often speak of a dualism between the world (this present age) and the kingdom (the age to come). For a thorough analysis of the dualistic texts of the New Testament, see Dustin Smith’s paper on Apocalyptic Dualism (presented at the 16th Annual Theological Conference in Atlanta, GA, 2007).

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