On Monday, Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion and Democracy responded to my piece on some unfortunate comments by Fred Luter. In my piece I cautioned Christians about confusing church and state. I’m thankful for Tooley’s response, and I agree with some of his points, though not all.
First, I’d like to say that I affirm Tooley’s point that “God is sovereign over all.” I never intended to argue that nation-states operate autonomously from God’s will.
Second, I’m skeptical of a human institution’s ability to become an “instrument of [God’s] favor.” The Bible seems quite clear that the righteousness of humans and their institutions falls short of meriting favor from God. Any perceived favor should be reckoned to God’s common grace and his long-suffering mercy.
Third, the Church is the only institution that can expect God’s favor precisely because its origin is divine, not human.
I think our differences are not as great as Tooley might have assumed. However, I do acknowledge that deep-seated differences probably exist. These differences undoubtedly derive from differing hermeneutics driven by theological presuppositions. As an Augustinian Baptist, I realize that my perspective on the world can be quirky.
I thank Mark Tooley for the dialogue. It gives me the chance to sharpen my thoughts and see where I am being less than clear.