An old power-play dressed up for today
"It is incumbent upon magistrates to restrain false theology by political authority and force, as we taught above, and act as nursing fathers of the church (Isa. 49:23)."
Petrus van Mastricht, Theoretical-Practical Theology, Vol 1., p. 234 (ebook).
This quote, penned in the 17th century by Dutch Reformed Theologian Petrus van Mastricht could be authored today by a zealous faction in evangelcialism known as Theonomists.
As the quote's origin shows, the idea that the state should enforce Biblical principles is not a new one but has its roots in the theocracy of ancient Israel, and "Christian" governments following the age of Emperor Constantine.
Theonomists believe the vast territory taken by secular humanism by corrupting the hearts of the masses should be taken back with the power of the state. They do not shy away from the idea of enforcing the New Testment's ethics with the the legislator's pen, and the policeman's cuffs, and the execuitioner's sword.
What should be made of this development within evangelicalism? For one, it should be acknowledged that perhaps a majority of Christians in church history lived without questioning the idea of that Christian government should enforce theology with governmental power. So it should be clear that I do not intend to condemn my Christian brothers of eons past. But I do raise the question, do we really want the government to decide between sound doctrine and false? Really?
Isn't history a loud adversary to that program? Didn't the martyrs of many an age die from the full approval of the state? Wasn't the seat of the Roman Pope once simply a pastor of the true faith? Did that turn out well? Did the early US state governments not persecute Methodists and Baptists? Didn't the 18th century Baptists score a huge victory for freedom itself by lobbying for the 1st amendment in the Bill of Rights?
I think the real impetus of this movement is this: our gospel ain't workin. Not that the gospel has failed, but God is not honoring the gospel in our mouths. He isn't converting like he used to. Our "converts" are so lackluster as to give the name Christian a bad name. So those who use weapons of fleshly power, will will only get the increases of flesh. The bible says,
"Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD."
That's not even the full curse given in that passage. (Flesh in this context meaning merely human.)
No, you should not stop praying or preaching and take up arms. The Puritans learned that lesson the hard way. No, you should not expect a law to change the heart, Romans says as much:
"For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin."
You should hunker down, let faith be your right hand. Conquer by being steadfast even as you head to the cross (Romans 8:37). That's the bible's game plan. If that's not self-evident in the Scriptures, I'm afraid your vision of the church is bound to an earth that is said to be passing away (Luke 21:33; 2 Peter 3:10).