The Tale of Two Kingdoms

Matthew 22:15–22

John 19:1–15

You will notice that the conflict in each of these texts is between two kingdoms.

Several years ago, I listened to a series of lectures on World History by an accomplished professor of history from Columbia University. He told of a student he once had who was from South Korea. This young man said that his goal was to become an accomplished historian and then write the first recognized history, from a pro-Korean bias.

The professor told the story to illustrate that history, all history, is an art.

History is true. But since no one living saw it happen, historians take the clues they find in written documentation, archeological digs and anthropological studies to paint their pictures of history. It is their perception of what happened, not actually what happened.

I had not been a Christian very long when I was invited to attend a prayer breakfast where the keynote speaker was a noted Christian anchorman from a Portland News Channel. He made a statement I never forgot but took decades to understand. He said that there is more proof that Jesus rose from the dead than that Alexander the Great ever lived.

Wow.

Yet the majority of the world would not question the history of Alexander the Great but doubt the resurrection of Christ.

His statement is accurate because, comparatively speaking, there is very little reliable documentation of the life of Alexander the Great and thousands of pieces of documentation on the resurrection. We have written records of Jesus’ resurrection that date back to as close as 100 years after the fact. But all of the documentation concerning Alexander the Great rely on just a hand full of sources

Herodotus

Livy

Thucydides and

Tacitus

There are only a handful of their works surviving, they are all copies of copies hundreds of years after the originals, and even they were not eyewitnesses to the histories they wrote.

In one case the historian was a teacher in a school. Nearing his death, and not wishing his predecessor to have the library of his works, he willed them to family, who simply stored them in a basement. Centuries later someone discovered them and. Realizing their value, set out to publish them again. However, being stored in a negligent way for so long they were severely degraded. Rather than allowing them to remain as they were, this person “filled in the blanks” and unfortunately did not leave indications of what was original and what was his work. When historians study this work today they can only guess at what was the original author’s and what was added.

Some years ago, I heard a series of lectures of retired history professor from the University of Oklahoma, Rufus Fears. He said in one of his lectures that historians today debate the actual date of the Declaration of Independence, this despite the fact that both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on the 50th anniversary of the 4th of July, and acknowledged it as such. If historians can’t agree on something some near to us, and so well documented as that, I suggest that we ought to accept any written history as simply a work of art.

The point

Church history happened. But the histories you read are all just works of art the historian’s perception of what actually happened. Most Baptist history extant was written by those who hated them.

A few months ago I was speaking to a well known Baptist pastor about the Anabaptists. He asked me, “Wouldn’t we disagree with most of what the Anabaptists believed?” My answer, “They were just men and therefore fallible. But I am confident that they were consistently faithful to

The preservation of the Scriptures

The preservation of the soul and

The preservation of the sanctuary

Outside of that, the thing that separated the Anabaptists from the rest, and what got them in trouble the most, was the doctrine of separation of church and state.

I. THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

Was a marriage of church and state. With the Roman state as the head.

Constantine declared that there was but one universal (catholic) church and he was the head of it.

II. WHEN ROME FELL

The Roman Catholic Church did not. The Roman Empire fragmented into the many European kingdoms. It was a marriage of church and state with the church as the head.

Consider the history and you will see that this marriage always resulted in the persecution of those who disagreed.

III. WHEN THE MARRIAGE OF CHURCH AND STATE BORE CHILDREN

In the form of the Protestant Churches, they naturally followed suit.

Luther married his church to Germany

Calvin married his church to Geneva

Zwingli married his church to Switzerland

The result in every case was the persecution of those who disagreed.

Luther was helped out of Catholicism by the Anabaptists in Germany. He would not unite with them because he believed their premise to be untenable. He did not believe people would

Attend services

Observe the ordinances and

Support the ministry

If the government did not force them to do it.

When King Henry VIII defied the Pope, he called his new church, The Church of England. It was a marriage of church and state.

IV. THE PILGRIMS AND PURITANS

Came to the new continent to escape the persecution of the Church of England. But they each married their church with their new state. Early continental history is filled with the persecution of Baptists (and others) by the Pilgrims and the Puritans.

When the War for Independence was won, the greatest contribution of the Baptists was to press for no state-sponsored church.

Protestants are quick to point out that there is no separation of church and state in the Constitution. Jefferson used the term in a letter to a group of Baptist pastors from Danbury Connecticut.

Baptists were the catalyst for the first amendment.

The Baptist doctrine that counters universal church is the separation of church and state.

This election season the most Baptist thing we can do is to get on our knees and pray for revival. The answer for America is not the re-election of Donald Trump.[1]

The answer for Washington State is not the election of Loren Culp.[2]

The answer for America is revival. And I believe revival is the rebooting of the Baptist doctrine of separation of church and state, “We have no head but Christ.”

[1] Although he is who I will vote for.

[2] That’s who I voted for.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store