Caesar and the Church: A Biblical Study of Government and the Church
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“RENDER UNTO CAESAR WHAT IS CAESAR’S!” BUT WHAT IS CAESAR’S?“OBEY CAESAR UNLESS IT’S SINFUL” HAS BECOME AN ALMOST UNIVERSAL INTERPRETATION OF ROMANS 13. BUT IS THAT CORRECT? WHEN THE GOVERNMENT SAYS, “JUMP!” DO WE SIMPLY SAY, “HOW HIGH?”
Since the arrival of Covid-19, governments around the world have been imposing mandates, lockdowns, and other restrictions. Churches were told to close, or, if they could remain open, to do so outside, or with masks, or social distancing, or without singing, or in limited numbers, or even all of the above. And yet despite that the response from churches has been incredibly varied. CAESAR AND THE CHURCH takes us on a brief overview through the biblical teaching on authority, and in particular how it relates to the relationship between Caesar (that is, civil government) and the Church.
Praise for Caesar and the Church:
“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). Jesus’ famous reply to the Pharisees’ challenge recognizes the legitimate realm of authority occupied by Caesar. Even in the realm of secular government, “the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1). Yet Jesus’ statement also acknowledges that God rules in righteousness over a vast domain that does not in any way pertain to Caesar. Paul’s admonition in Romans 13 further makes clear that Caesar’s authority is only derivative, and it is limited. God is the one in whom all authority ultimately resides. So when Caesar meddles in matters that belong only to God, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). The COVID crisis has caused many of us to consider and apply these principles with more meticulous care and discernment than ever before, because secular governments across the globe have exploited and relentlessly worked to magnify fears about the threat to public health posed by the virus. In the process, both federal and local governments in many Western nations have tried to assert control over churches in order to restrict or reorder Christian gatherings for worship. Anthony Forsyth has considered these issues biblically, and he has written a remarkably clear and helpful overview of the topic. I know it will be a great encouragement to pastors and lay people alike as we all attempt to respond righteously to so many unexpected threats to the liberty we enjoy in Christ. absolute.”—John MacArthur, Pastor, Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, California; Chancellor, The Master’s University and Seminary
“This brief work was extremely helpful to me personally. I also appreciate that it was written with the kind heart of a pastor.”
—Paul Washer, Founder and Missions Director, HeartCry Missionary Society
Forsyth’s prudent analysis of scripture shows this truth: all power comes from Christ, all authority is His alone, and the legitimate authority delegated to the state therefore must protect the Church and the Christian to exercise our faith. It is incumbent on every Christian to understand the authority of Christ and begin to scrutinize, through the lens of scripture, the laws and legal doctrines of an ever-changing political landscape. Politicians will clash, petty tyrants will come and go, but truth never changes. This book will teach you how to stand even more firmly in the truth that Christ, not Caesar, is the head of the Church.
—Jenna Ellis, Attorney for John MacArthur and Grace Community Church