Desiring a “Christian Theocracy”: the Blurring of “Church” and State
As far as SA being a Christian country is concerned, this is as much a fallacy as the first error. Here’s the plain truth: SA is not, never has been, and never will be a Christian country. For this to be the case,
the overwhelming majority of people in a particular country would have to be true Christians. Not churchgoers; not nominal Christians; not professing Christians – true Christians! But this has never been the case and never will be, because few find that narrow way that leads to life, and many walk down that broad way that leads to destruction (Matt. 7:13,14). This is as true today as it has always been and always will be.
Of the 75% or 80% of South Africans who think they are Christians, how many are Papists? This accounts for millions of them – and they are not true Christians. How many belong to one or other of what are called the “African traditional churches”, which are a mixture of some elements of Christianity and a great deal of outright African heathenism and ancestor worship? Millions belong to these – and they are not true Christians. And what about all those belonging to the liberal, Christ-denying, Gospel-denying, once-Protestant “churches”, today so far departed from the true Gospel as to be nothing but “social justice” clubs, political parties at prayer, and politically correct versions of the old “freak shows” in a religious disguise? This accounts for the majority of these once-Protestant denominations – and their millions are not true Christians either. Then lastly, there are all the others: Arminian, Pentecostal, Charismatic, and who-knows-what-other “churches, proclaiming all kinds of doctrinal errors and permitting all kinds of worldliness. Most of their adherents are not true Christians either.
No, South Africa is not a Christian country. No country in the world has ever been a Christian country, and no country ever will be. And those who think such a thing actually exists have, firstly, broadened the term “Christian” to include all kinds of people to whom it does not belong, and, secondly, they have blurred the clear, biblical distinction between the State and the “Church”!
Multitudes professing to be “Christians” can’t see this; yet it was correctly pointed out by one Patrick Pillay, not a Christian but the author of an incisive article on the “Day of Prayer”. Although his article contained some of the usual liberal twaddle about apartheid and praised the ultra-liberal SA constitution, he was nevertheless 100% correct when he wrote: “For all intents and purposes, the South African Parliament on the afternoon of 24 November became a Christian church. From the opening prayer and address of Christian supremacist Reverend Kenneth Meshoe [leader of the African Christian Democratic Party, an opposition party in parliament] to the closing address and prayer of evangelist Angus Buchan, it was patently obvious that this was about power and matters of public policy in the here and now. From Reverent Meshoe declaring that ‘this place will never be the same again’ to the preaching of Pastor Angus Buchan in his address, ‘I don’t know another nation in the world who can take over Parliament and repent for three hours… It’s time for Christians in this nation to stand up and be counted… There is not another government that will allow Christians to dominate Parliament.’”
In saying such a thing, Buchan gave the impression that the SA government was either already Christian, or at the very least favourably inclined towards Christianity. Nothing could be further from the truth. The ruling party in parliament is made up of men and women who are former terrorists, who led a violent revolution against the State so as to take power. What’s more, this very same government legalised such abominations as abortion and homosexuality – which Buchan (to his credit) has condemned. This very same government is constantly seeking to restrict religious freedom, to control all pastors and churches, and reveals its anti-Christian bias in a thousand and one ways. Yet there he was, talking as if this government favoured Christianity, just because it permitted prayer in parliament in this way. This is so utterly naive and foolish as to leave one astonished.
The New Testament is crystal clear: the State and the “Church” (I write it this way because I refer both to the true Church and to the merely professing “Church”) are two entirely separate things. It is simply not the purpose of the true Church of Jesus Christ to christianize the State – although the false “Church” will often attempt to do so. Pentecostals are not unique in blurring the two: many other professing Christians do so as well. They think they are serving God when they christianize society – yet they are unable to point to a single Scripture which authorises them to do so.
The mission of the true Church (which consists only of truly regenerated and converted souls) in this world is to glorify and worship God by living separate from the world (2 Cor. 6:14-18) and living in holiness (2 Cor. 7:1); by preaching the Gospel to the people of the world that the elect among them may be saved (Matt. 28:19,20); and by being the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matt. 5:13-16). Its mission in the world is not to turn any country into a theocracy. And yet truly, “this [the Buchan “Day of Prayer”] was advocacy for a Christian theocracy, writ large.”
And that, dear reader, should make the blood run cold! Not only have they confused “Church” and State by seeking to blend the two together in this way and assuming that this is the mission of the “Church”, but they have also revealed that what they would truly love to see in South Africa is some kind of theocracy. This is always an extremely dangerous situation, which history proves to have been the cause of innumerable abominations in one country after another. Israel in the Old Testament was the only divinely-sanctioned theocracy in the history of the world. In the New Testament period the Gospel is to go into all the world, and men and women from all the nations of the earth will be converted, forming the true Christian Church. The true Church will never be equated with the State. The Church is a new, “holy nation” (1 Pet. 2:9), made up of believers from all nations. The true Church consists only of those who have been born from above, not of those who are born into a particular earthly nation.
Ever since the Roman Emperor Constantine made his false version of “Christianity” the State religion, “Christian theocracy” (falsely so called) has led to the persecution of those who disagree with the official “State Church” position: the Roman Catholic system throughout the Dark Ages and into modern times; the “State Churches” of England, Scotland, Germany, Holland, Russia; and so many others. Since a “State Church” is never, and can never be, biblical Christianity (the two are mutually exclusive), this means it will always be a hybrid, unbiblical and ultimately intolerant of dissent. But many Pentecostal/Charismatics subscribe to the heretical Dominionist/Kingdom Now theology, which advocates that Christians need to take over the world and occupy positions of power everywhere. When multitudes of professing “Christians” in a country start to believe this error, they are falling right into a modern version of the same terrible “State Church” monstrosity held by Rome to this day, and by the various Protestant “State Church” advocates of earlier centuries.
With the above in mind, Patrick Pillay made an extremely valid point when he wrote: “Consider the possibility of a Hindu nationalist majority calling for a public order based on Hindu precepts for South Africa, or a South Africa based upon Zionist principles, or for Muslims calling for an Islamic caliphate. Religious theocracies, Christian or otherwise, do not square with the South African Constitution and are a bad idea. Period.” The fact that it doesn’t square with the SA constitution (a document we abhor) is irrelevant, but the rest of what he said was absolutely correct, and we would simply put it this way: Religious theocracies, “Christian” or otherwise, are a very, very bad idea. Period. He can see it, but so many professing “Christians” can’t. They have been imbibing false doctrine for so long.
India, right now, has just such a Hindu nationalist party in power – and Christians are facing increasing persecution there as a result. And we all know that wherever Islam is in power, persecution of Christians follows. No professing Christian in South Africa would want to see a Hindu, Zionist or Islamic theocracy ruling the land. But, as proved by the “Catholic State Church” of the Constantinian period and afterwards, the Papal “State Church” during the Dark Ages (and beyond), the Lutheran “State Church” in Germany, the Anglican “State Church” in England, and various other examples, persecution inevitably follows even when the State religion claims (albeit falsely) to be a “Christian” one.