Church and State Class

Overview

What: This adult Sunday School class will study leading Christian thinkers on the Christian obligation toward our government from the early church through contemporary times. The class will be discussion oriented and will require advanced reading.

When: The class will begin on Sunday, March 4, 2018 at the standard Sunday School time of 9:15 AM. The class will run until June 16, 2018.

Details

Class Outline and Readings

The follow is the current class outline along with links to the readings. Missing readings will be filled in as they are scanned. The schedule may flex to better serve the discussion or as other schedule changes arise. Please be generous with your Sunday School teachers as we attempt to anticipate and publish changes!

  • (3/4) Introduction: Class overview and expectations.
  • (3/11) Biblical Foundations:
  • (3/11) Augustine:
    • Augustine: The Political Writings,  Chapter V, Ecclesiastical Intervention in Civil Affairs; Mercy for Heretics:  Letters to Donatus and Marcellinus, pp. 241-52.
  • (3/18) Thomas Aquinas:
    • Aquinas on Politics and Ethics, pp. 14-29.
  • (3/25) Martin Luther:
    • On Secular Authority, the Extent to Which It Must Be Obeyed (excerpted).
  • (4/1) Easter, no class.
  • (4/8) John Calvin:
    • Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book IV, Chapter XX, Civil Government.  Pp. 1485-1521 (Could skip Sections 17-21; 22 onward is key).
  • (4/15) John C. Bennett and John Howard Yoder:
    • John C. Bennett, Christians and the State, Chapter IV, pp. 36-43.
    • John Howard Yoder:  The Christian Witness to the State, Chapter 7.
  • (4/22) James Madison:
    • Memorial and Remonstrance.
  • (4/29) Missions Conference, no class.
  • (5/6) Mark Noll:
    • America’s God:  From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln. Chapter 5:  Christian Republicanism. Pp. 73-92 (87-92 less important, but the de Tocqueville quote at the end is helpful).
  • (5/13) Mother’s Day, no class.
  • (5/20) Abraham Kuyper:
    • Lectures on Calvinism.  Third Lecture:  Calvinism and Poltics.  Pp. 65-96 (can skip 72-77; need 77-96).
  • (5/27) Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
    • a. Brief biography:  The Cost of Discipleship, Memoir.  Pp. 13-33.
    • b. A Testament to Freedom, The Church and the Jewish Question.  Pp. 130-34.
  • (6/3) Martin Luther King, Jr.
    • Letter from a Birmingham Jail.
  • (6/10) Stanley Hauerwas
    • A Christian Critique of Christian America, from The Hauerwas Reader.
  • (6/17) Conclusion
    • Westminster Confession Chapter XXII:  Of The Civil Magistrate

Summary of Purpose

The purpose of this class is to introduce participants to leading Christian thinkers on the relationship between the church and the state, or government, on a local, national, and global level. The class will begin with an exploration of some of the seminal Biblical texts on the issue, as well as the Westminster Confession of Faith, as the binding distillation of these issues on our church body. It will then explore the writings of leading thinkers on the subject from the church fathers, through the reformation, and culminating with contemporary thinkers. It will also introduce the participants to some of the seminal writings that informed the balance struck by our current national government on church and state issues. The class will be discussion oriented and will require advanced preparation in the form of readings related to the subject. Although the class will not offer firm conclusions outside of the Biblical text and the Westminster Confession, the intent is that participants will come away with a better sense of their own obligations toward the state and a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the state and the church in service to God.

Devotional Resources

Devotional Resources for Spiritual Growth

Bible Reading:

Good Hope Bible Reading Plan (2018) – Following this plan allows one to read through the New Testament every year and the Old Testament every 3 years.

Access the Bible Online

Purchase a personal Study Bible – every Christian needs a book version of the Bible to read God’s Word without distraction! Our congregation uses the ESV Study Bible or the ESV Student Study Bible.

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Exploring Christianity?

Our pastors would be happy to meet with you informally and let you ask any questions you may have as well as explain the basics of Christianity and what it means to be a Christian.  After an initial meeting, many choose to go further, and spend seven sessions exploring the Gospel of Mark and what answers it holds for life.