Church – State Relations

by Elias Blum

‘In the second century, when Christians first intervened in the public arena, they stressed that their contribution, Christians favoured the good, for the sake of the good, regardless of whether the state looked favourably on Christianity. Even though an appeal to Christian revelation had no meaning in Roman society, Christians worked for the public good because it was the right thing to do. They advocated for the disadvantaged, they sought to limit violence, etc. They were motivated by Christian teaching, but they didn’t rely on revelation when they made their case in public. Instead, they developed sophisticated and rational justifications for why their vision of the public good was one that would benefit everyone.’ Prof. George E. Demacopolous

To me, this is the essence of secularism. It is not necessary for the church to have any institutional connection to, or special favour from the state. All that is necessary is an open, pluralist society in which Christians, individually and communally, can advocate publicly for the public good – not for the good of Christians, but for the good of society as a whole.