Revisiting the Christian and State Relationship.

The Church’s Relation to Government and Society

The Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, Article 23

[The Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective was adopted at the delegate sessions of the General Conference Mennonite Church and the Mennonite Church, meeting at Wichita, Kansas, July 25-30, 1995.]

 

We believe that the church is God’s “holy nation,” 1 called to give full allegiance to Christ its head and to witness to all nations about God’s saving love.

The church is the spiritual, social, and political body that gives its allegiance to God alone. As citizens of God’s kingdom, 2 we trust in the power of God’s love for our defense. The church knows no geographical boundaries and needs no violence for its protection. The only Christian nation is the church of Jesus Christ, made up of people from every tribe and nation, 3 called to witness to God’s glory.

In contrast to the church, governing authorities of the world have been instituted by God for maintaining order in societies. Such governments and other human institutions as servants of God are called to act justly and provide order. 4 But like all such institutions, nations tend to demand total allegiance. They then become idolatrous and rebellious against the will of God. 5 Even at its best, a government cannot act completely according to the justice of God because no nation, except the church, confesses Christ’s rule as its foundation.

As Christians we are to respect those in authority and to pray for all people, including those in government, that they also may be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. 6 We may participate in government or other institutions of society only in ways that do not violate the love and holiness taught by Christ and do not compromise our loyalty to Christ. We witness to the nations by being that “city on a hill” which demonstrates the way of Christ. 7 We also witness by being ambassadors for Christ, 8 calling the nations (and all persons and institutions) to move toward justice, peace, and compassion for all people. In so doing, we seek the welfare of the city to which God has sent us. 9

We understand that Christ, by his death and resurrection, has won victory over the powers, including all governments. 10 Because we confess that Jesus Christ has been exalted as Lord of lords, we recognize no other authority’s claims as ultimate.

(1) 1 Pet. 2:9. 
(2) Phil. 3:20; Eph. 2:19. 
(3) Rev. 7:9. 
(4) Rom. 13:1-7. 
(5) Ezek. 28; Daniel 78; Rev. 13. 
(6) 1 Tim. 2:1-4. 
(7) Matt. 5:13-16; Isa. 49:6. 
(8) 2 Cor. 5:20. 
(9) Jer. 29:7. 
(10) Col. 2:15.

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