Atheists and baptists agree?

I know that a couple of you are pretty interested in issues of church/state relationships, theologies of state, and social/civic engagement. So, I’d thought this post from Exploring Our Matrix might interest you. McGrath is basically arguing that atheists and baptists have (or should have) the same basic attitude on the relationship between church and state. Take a look at it and let us know what you think. There are really two questions here: (1) Do you think he is right about baptists and atheists have the same general take on this issue? And, (2) Do you think this is the correct stance that we should have toward church/state relations?

About Marc Cortez

Theology Prof and Dean at Western Seminary, husband, father, & blogger, who loves theology, church history, ministry, pop culture, books, and life in general.

Posted on May 10, 2010, in Culture and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. 1) No reply. I’m unqualified to answer – though there is a strain of American Presbyterianism that has a similar view of the “atheist” position, ranging from 19th c. Southern Presbyterians who argued for the spirituality of the Church (e.g. Dabney and Thornwell) to folks like J. Gresham Machen in the early 20th c.

    2) Something like this seems right, but not for the reasons the atheist wants to argue. The state is as religious in nature and function as any other religion (cf. Cavanaugh). And it doesn’t protect its citizens from religious coercion in the way that it postures, i.e. it is still enforcing a kind of religious belief – the belief that says historic religions must be managed by the state. Nothing is religiously neutral. BUT, for reasons rooted more in the gospel, we should order society so that the Christian faith is ultimately embraced because of the persuasive witness of Christians to the cross and empty tomb, not because it is coercively situated into our cultural fabric like so much pious white noise.

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