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3.19.2006    |    Separation of church and state
One of the things that Baptists should agree with, if nothing else, is that religion and the state should be separate. The obvious source of our strong philosophy, rooted in freedom of conscience, was that established churches were particularly hard on early Baptists and other dissenters. Some of us Baptists and other Christians may appear to forget this, when we fulminate against secular political figures. Pat Robertson, call your office...

One early American voice striving against the establishment of any church was Baptist minister John Leland (1754-1841). Unfortunately, the Rev. Mr. Leland has been appropriated by some who think that the prohibition of an established church means that there be no religion expressed in the public square.

Leland would likely have been horrified at some of the things that some Baptists (and other Christians) say. I think he would have publicly disciplined them, and reminded them that the Christian religion is about the salvation of our souls, about our personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. In other words, public statements by Christians speaking as Christians must be about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Period.

As for the wisdom of involvement in secular politics, consider these words from John Leland:
Guard against those men who make a great noise about religion, in choosing representatives. It is electioneering. If they knew the nature and worth of religion, they would not debauch it to such shameful purposes.

-- "July 4th Oration by John Leland, July 5, 1802". The Writings of John Leland, Edited by L.F. Greene
The Rev. Mr. Leland was a wise man. His advice still stands as worthy of emulation in this year of our Lord 2006.

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About this site and the author

Welcome. My name is John Luke Rich, (very) struggling Christian. The focus here is Christianity in its many varieties, its fussing and feuding, how it impacts our lives and our society, with detours to consider it with other faiths (or lack thereof).

Call this blog my way of evangelizing on the internet.

Putting it differently, we're only here on this earth a short time. It's the rest of eternity that we should be most concerned about. Call it the care and feeding of our souls.

I was born Jewish, and born again in Christ Jesus over thirty years ago. First as a Roman Catholic; now a Calvinist by persuasion and a Baptist by denomination. But I'm hardly a poster boy for doctrinal rigidity.

I believe that Scripture is the rock on which all Christian churches must stand -- or sink if they are not so grounded. I believe that we are saved by faith, but hardly in a vacuum. That faith is a gift from God, through no agency on our part -- although we sometimes turn a deaf ear and choose to ignore God's knocking on the door.

To be Christian is to evangelize. Those who think it not their part to evangelize perhaps haven't truly understood what our Lord told us in Matthew 28. We must preach the Gospel as best we are able. Using words if necessary.

Though my faith waxes and wanes, it never seems to go away. Sometimes I wish it would, to give me some peace of mind. But then, Jesus never said that walking with Him was going to be easy...

Final note: I also blog as Jack Rich on cultural, political and other things over at Wrong Side of the Tracks

Thanks for stopping by.