Church and State: The Origins & Implications of Separate Jurisdictional Spheres
67 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2009
Date Written: February 7, 2009
This article explores the early development of the concept of separation of Church and State. Although many today may think of the concept as an innovation of the United States and the "American experiment," it is instead a concept which emerged part and parcel with the Christian Church. Within decades of imperial recognition of the Church as an institution, the Church began breaking free from the traditional mold in antiquity, in which the State was a political, ethical and religious unity. To great thinkers within the Church, the nature of the Church itself compelled separation from the State. Yet, a level of collaboration existed and Church influence on certain aspects of secular government was accepted as necessary and appropriate. As society today struggles with the many questions associated with the relationship between Church and State, it is useful to review the early Church's stance on the issue and the reasons underlying that position. A key insight from such reflection is that the early Church's success in having a meaningful impact on secular society was closely tied to the Church's understanding of the nature of the Church itself - and its ability to effectuate and give life to that understanding.
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