Queen Elizabeth’s triumphant Jubilee Year has just ended. It began on June 7 last year with a service of thanksgiving in St. Paul’s Cathedral amid all the traditional pageantry that we British people love. Critics of the institution of monarchy are still vocal, but nobody can doubt the Queen’s personal popularity. She is universally admired for her dedication, hard work, Christian faith, probity, and family life.

She is also the “supreme governor” of the Church of England, a title dating back to the sixteenth century. Pope Clement refused to annul Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon. So Henry asserted the royal supremacy in the church in place of the papal supremacy.

During and after the Reformation period views on church-state relations ranged from the “erastian” (that the church must be completely subordinate to the state) to the “theocratic” (that Christ had put both spiritual and temporal powers into the hands of the church). In sharp contrast to these the First Amendment proclaims the total religious neutrality of the United States Congress.

Here then are three positions that possibly deserve the description “extreme”—erastianism (the state controlling the church), theocracy (the church controlling the state), and neutralism (the entire separation of the two). Must we choose between these alternatives? Or is there another way? Is it possible for church and state to be not separated but related in such a way that each serves, but neither controls, the other? I believe there is.

Distinctions and Definitions

In order to pursue this possibility it is important to distinguish between a “state” church, an “established” ...

John R. W. Stott (1921 – 2011) is known worldwide as a preacher, evangelist, author, and theologian. For 66 years he served All Souls Church, Langham Place, in London, England, where he pioneered effective urban evangelistic and pastoral ministry. During these years he authored more than 50 books, and served as one of the original Contributing Editors for Christianity Today. Stott had a global vision and built strong relationships with church leaders outside the West in the Majority World. A hallmark of Stott's ministry was his vision for expository biblical preaching that addresses the hearts and minds of contemporary men and women. In 1969 he founded a trust that eventually became Langham Partnership International (www.langham.org), a ministry that continues his vision of partnership with the Majority World Church. Stott was honored by Time magazine in 2005 as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World."

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