Thursday, September 27, 2012

Response to R. Scott Clark's "Parody or Serious Proposal" Post

R. Scott Clark (of whom I'm fond and whose blog I was very glad to see recently restored to life) asked for clarification regarding Larry Ball's statement: "Historically, the Church has defined the parameters of the civil magistrate and guaranteed its right to redistribute income."  I don't pretend to speak for Mr. Ball, but I assume that he means simply, the churches following Scripture have held that the government may tax (cf. Deuteronomy 17:14-20) and that the government has discretion regarding how that tax is used, under a "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" (Matthew 22:21; Mark 12:17; Luke 20:25; and cf. Romans 13) principle.

Prof. Clark wrote: "I’m also wondering where in history the church “defined the parameters of the civil magistrate….” There wasn’t much of that going on in the first 5 centuries and there hasn’t been much of it happening since the 16th century."

I think Prof. Clark is reading "defined" as "dictated."  The churches ought to follow Scripture in defining their teachings regarding the civil magistrate.  Nevertheless, the churches have rarely been in a position to dictate to the civil magistrate.  Again, I don't speak for Mr. Ball, but I assume he meant what he wrote.


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