Church & State Excerpt One

“The first level of the Church’s faithfulness and in a sense, a test of the validity of everything else she will say later, will be her own obedience to the standards of discipleship.” (Yoder, The Christian Witness to the State, 16)

This first principle supersedes everything else. Though no person lives a perfect life, the ethics of the Church must be consistent with those things that she witnesses to and about. This overarching principle serves to ground the next three principles offered by Yoder.

1. The witness to the State must be representative of the Church’s clear conviction.

2. The witness of the Church must be consistent with her own behavior.

3. The Church should speak only when she has something to say. (Yoder, 21)

These three principles work hand in hand. On any given topic, unless a Church is exhibiting a certain type of behavior, it has no true conviction, and if it has neither behavior nor conviction, it has nothing to say.

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