The Christian And The State

Caesar’s or God’s?, The Conflict of Church and State in Modern Society, by Peter Meinhold, translated by Walter G. Tillmanns (Augsburg, 1962, 170 pp., $4), is reviewed by Clifford L. Stanley, Professor of Systematic Theology, The Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary, Alexandria, Virginia.

The main theme of the book is the relation of church and state, a relation which, as the subtitle suggests, often nowadays takes the form of conflict. A familiar threefold approach is used in presenting the subject—exegetical, historical, systematic.

Besides the major theme there are two closely related minor inquiries, “Revolution in the Name of Christ,” and “The Church and War.” The threefold outline is used in presenting each of these also. A word may be said about them in passing. Though insisting that “the traditional opinion that Luther rejected without qualification any resistance or revolution … must be modified thoroughly” (pp. 107, 108), the author admits that “the whole complex of the right to resist and of revolution … was not probed sufficiently within the Lutheran Church” (p. 111). The author admits candidly that totalitarianism presents a new order of problem for which adequate precedents are not to be found in the tradition.

In presenting “The Church and War,” Meinhold gives a great deal of weight, as does the ecumenical movement, to the “historic peace churches.” Nevertheless he follows the major churches in their acceptance of the Augustinian “just war.” The result is a complicated attitude in which there is little complacency. Meinhold tests the “just war” concept by the new atomic weapons and finds it to be valid still.

In 1959 Bishop Otto Dibelius published a book entitled Higher Authorities. ...

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