Will A Man Rob God?

In Luke chapter 20, Jesus recounts an interesting parable. In it a man plants a vineyard and rents it out to husbandmen before going on a long journey. At the time of harvest he sends servants to collect from them. Instead of giving the landlord what is rightfully his, they beat the servant and send him back. Each servant who comes to collect is beaten. Finally, the man sends his son, thinking that they will treat the son with respect. They do just the opposite and kill the son of the man.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11143
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Moral proclamations about about abortion are intertwined with the command to be concerned about the “least of these.” Also what about the churches who use their moral authority to call for left-wing economic and immigration policies from the government? Does this supposed Biblical injunction against union of church and state actually only apply to conservative churches? Or does the first century teacher from Nazareth just happen to line up perfectly with the policy agenda of 21st century Democrats in America? That would be a delightful coincidence for those of you on the left.

Thank you very much for the article.
When it comes to the relationship between church and state, it is to me important to identify what the real issue is about and to me it is: to whom should I give my allegiance to without losing my identity? If the church represent the principles of God, therefore let me follow it. If the state represents the principles of God, therefore let me follow it.

Unfortunately it becomes clear that both do not represent God’s principles to the fullest and it is usually the church that has this responsibility to remind the state of its moral obligations to our society. The church does become a moral compass to the state.

The church does not have the expertise on state’s policies but the church as a moral compass can influence those who create such policies so that they may reflect God’s principles for a better society.

Whether we are from the left, or from the right, or from the center or even independent from the existing spectrum of political stands, parties or philosophies, we have no monopoly of truth and therefore we need each other to make our society a better place through state’s policies.

This article does not touch on the existence of members of the church working for the state, the same way as Joseph and/or Daniel who worked for their respective state within the state. States should always be seen as enemies of God’s principles.
However the following questions remain; Do the state’s actions or policies prevent us from being us as followers of God and of His principles? Does receiving funds from the state silence us from speaking out against certain state’s actions or policies?

If we do say yes to any of these above questions, we do have a problem of ‘robbing God’ but if we do say no to both of these above questions we therefore do not ‘rob God’.

Sorry I meant to say " …States should not always be seen as enemies of God’s principles…" Sorry again for such mistake. Thank you!

“Does this supposed Biblical injunction against union of church and state actually only apply to conservative churches?” I would say at this point in history yes.

I’ve asked this before but I’ll do it again. Who is most likely to pressure the government for Sunday legislation?

  • Atheists
  • Agnostics
  • Secular people
  • Buddist
  • Muslims
  • Hindus
  • Christian

Christians and a particular branch of Christianity this is now pushing for the ten commandments on the walls of public institutions. The very ones who want a “return” of school prayer. Christian Dominionism was once a very fringe movement but has now infiltrated major branches of Christianity.

Adventists were once very clear about which nation was the ‘lamb-like beast that spoke like a dragon.’ But now even American exceptionalism has crept into the SDA church.

It’s sad to atheists and secular people more concerned for the “least of these” than Christians.

For I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then those who are right will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and fed you, or thirsty and gave you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger and invite you in, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and visit you?’ [40] The king will tell them, ‘I tell you the truth: whatever you did for one of these of least importance you did for me.’ Matt. 25:35-40 FBV

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So true! Seventh-day Adventists do not have a “monopoly” of truth. Just a thought, but what is truth and what is fact are not one and the same.

Thank you for your thoughtful response to this article.

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None of them. There’s absolutely zero political interest in laws forcing people to worship on Sunday or to not worship on Saturday. Such laws were a localized 19th century phenomena, and the only reason we’re still concerned with it is because we adopted some terrible eisegesis that read 19th century conspiracy theories into Scripture. It’d be like if in the year 2200, there was a denomination still insisting that mark of the beast was the Covid vaccination.

The biggest threats to liberty are from those who have the most power and the Christian right just doesn’t have that much power anymore. They are despised social pariahs with the mainstream academia, the entertainment industry, and the news media being actively hostile to them. These institutions are overwhelmingly secular and left leaning. Same is true of big-tech and much of big business. The only domain, in which conservative evangelicals are not being completely shut out is electoral politics. But they’re declining in that realm to as one would expect with secularists having a near monopoly on the institutions that shape hearts and minds; Democrats have long outnumbered Republicans and even Republicans are becoming less socially conservative. Demographic trends are pointing downward for the Christian right. If they were going to impose some kind of theocracy, they lost their chance in the 1980s or 1990s.

I’d be interested in what data you have to back up this claim. Perhaps, you’re basing it off the perception that atheists are more likely to support left-wing economic programs. That would be problematic for several reasons. First, it ignores private charity, an area in which religious conservative do comparatively well. It’s easy to go a voting booth one ever 2-4 years and fill out a ballot for your favorite party, it’s much more of a sacrifice to actually give your own money and time to help the least of these. Secondly, it would ignore the many Christian churches who actually do actively support left-wing economic programs. The idea of Christians as conservative erases non-white Evangelicals, black Protestants, mainline protestants, and Catholics (who tend to be left-wing on economic issues, but right on social issues). Thirdly, it begs the question of whether left-wing policies are actually the most effective in helping the poor and needy.

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Private charity doesn’t do it. Talk with people who went through the great depression. Sure they help people as best they can but they can’t fix systemic economic problems, Thomas Piketty and Rutger Bregman have some interesting things to say about it. Looking at everything as either left-wing or right-wing is a very simplistic way to view a complex world. Generally poor and working-class people live much better in secular democratic-socialist countries.
Here is just one metric:
https://www.ibtimes.sg/fact-check-do-mcdonalds-employees-denmark-get-paid-22-hour-six-weeks-paid-vacation-55960
Do you support eliminating “left-wing” notions such as child labor laws, 40 hour week, minimum wage, unemployment insurance, social security, Medicare, Medicaid, or disability? One can also sacrifice by paying into a pool of funds, to help people, aka taxes. You are being dismissive of democracy here.
Many historians and political scientists have written about the threat of Christian nationalism and fascism in the US, whether you believe Sunday laws are an outcome or not it is a serious concern. Christianity is not the problem, it is a subset of Christianity that is the problem as I stated in my first response.

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In Daniel we see the beginning of the union of the state and the “church” (Israel) under Nebuchadnezzar. In Revelation there are warnings against Babylon and I think you can make the case that ,here Babylon is a metaphor for the merging of church and state. Babylon is referred to as the mother of prostitutes I think the warning to refrain from becoming a “harlot” is aimed at the church. Engaging in “social justice” movements is selling your soul to the state to get the state to do the churches bidding. Christ followers message is distinct from the states The states uses coercion to control the masses and Christian disciples use truth and gentle spirit to spread His love. Our message is to represent God as the foundation of human interaction. Unfortunately churches are becoming more of a socialist movement and thus more Babylonian than promoting the knowledge of God which is has become distorted through the lies that the Evil one is promoting

but surely full submission to the will of god, and seeking to spark a change in people, means doing something with the influence we have…it can’t mean doing nothing with that influence, and in effect keeping our talent buried in the ground…

i do agree that in our corporate capacity we never want to compel others into our distinctive beliefs, if for no other reason than we don’t want to see that done to us, nor do we want to cut ourselves off from any potential for relevance with those who disagree with us…perhaps there is wisdom in choosing our battles strategically…

but i don’t think this means that individual church members should effectively fade from the political landscape, given that the arena of politics is where so much that affects society is implemented…individual adventists, like sheila jackson lee, can run for office and effect positive change…but even those who don’t run for office - the vast majority - can seek positive change through their votes…

i don’t think it’s viable for us, in our individual capacity, to use faith to obviate responsibility to help those around us through the major tool each of us has, which is our vote, and possibly our wallets…and in the case of our wallets, i don’t think church entities, like ADRA, are our only options…

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