John R. Stumme and Robert W. Tuttle
Wherever the church of Jesus Christ exists, it stands in some relation to civil community and its governing institutions. For its own integrity as well as for the well-being and instruction of the faithful, the community that confesses and proclaims “Jesus is Lord” must define its relation with civil governance. Governments, in turn, must account for the fact that at least some of their citizens belong to a community that relies on an authority that transcends that of civil authority. Readers of a book on “church and state” know they are being invited to take part in an inescapable and enduring conversation.
History reveals various patterns of relationships: church withdrawal from public affairs, church support for government, church opposition to government, church control of government, government persecution of the church, government support of the church, government discrimination toward the church, government control of the church, as well as friendly and hostile divisions of spheres and responsibilities between these two actors. Be it through cooperation, conflict, compromise, coercion, or collision, both church and government have to come to terms with the other in practice and in theory. The many variables that shape these patterns in particular contexts—the society's religious composition and history; the church's theology, size, and organization; and the form of government and its political philosophy—are a reminder that church and state relations have been and continue to be complex and dynamic.
This book has its particular setting in the Lutheran tradition in the United States at the beginning of the twenty-first century. On the one hand, then, the book arises from a Christian tradition that believes that God is at work in