God and Caesar
God and Caesar
Give government its due, but don't relinquish your religious liberties.
The story behind the sermon (by Dan Meyer)
The personal backdrop
The sermon "God and Caesar" reflects my longstanding curiosity about the proper relationship between piety and politics. This interest, I suppose, is a function of extended exposure to the topic. I grew up in a political family, the son of a state senator and nephew of a U.S. senator. I hold a political science degree from Yale and led its student government. Today I pastor a large non-denominational church in one of the most conservative and politically active counties in Illinois.
Over the years, I've spent enough time close to the work of the state and the work of the church to know that neither is entirely pure nor profane. Pursuing the cause of righteousness anywhere is the messy work of imperfect people. The state and the church have important roles to play in the advancement of God's plan.
Nonetheless, it has amazed me how quickly many people I listen to and preach to tend to reduce these complex spheres and the people who inhabit them into mere caricatures. The solutions prescribed for our challenges often seem to me similarly naéve or narrow. My personal study of Scripture and history pushes me to view the relationship between church and state as fraught with creative tensions and the need for frequent course corrections. But I increasingly see the people of my own church—and perhaps the wider Christian community—tempted to follow a variety of voices who view the relationship between God and Caesar as much simpler.
The public battle On one side are those who seem convinced that the cause of righteousness can't be advanced without a much closer alignment between the law of God and the laws of Caesar. While few go so far as to demand ...
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Dan Meyer is pastor of Christ Church of Oak Brook in Oak Brook, Illinois.