From the Editor. Seeking to define the purpose of government has been a quest of American Christians since the settling and founding eras of our nation. Even though the initial pursuit of religious freedom was still tainted by the Medieval notion of Christendom, the establishment clause in the First Amendment made the disestablishment of state supported Christianity inevitable. By the fourth decade of the nineteenth century it became an institutional fact. But ever since, American Christians have been uneasy with their position as an embassy of the heavenly kingdom. Whether it is reviving Christian America or reconstructing government and society after a Christian pattern, the culture wars continue. So I ask the question, What is the state for?
Church historian Alan Strange helps us frame the questions we need to ask in his article "Church and State in Historical Perspective." Professor T. David Gordon takes a minority position on the decline of Christendom in "The Decline of Christianity in the West? A Contrarian View." Old Testament professor Bryan Estelle's review article of Gentry, Covenant Theonomy, and Church historian Darryl Hart's review of De Jong and Van Der Slik, Separation of Church and State are sure to advance the discussion.
My own views on this subject have taken something close to a 180 degree turn over the past three decades of ministry in the OPC. As your editor I unashamedly put the stamp of my own personality, interests, and perspective upon my work. However, this is not meant to inhibit, but rather to stimulate, healthy discussion of issues upon which there is a variety of opinions within our church. Thus, since OS serves the whole church, I am open to considering a thoughtful and well written response to any aspects of the current issue.
Blessings in the service of the Lamb,
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