Upcoming Theological Cogitations

I am going to need some of yall’s help with this. part of my relationship with God is that, from time to time, He sets me off on a new line of inquiry. These tend to be broad, far ranging and time intensive. I am not usually able to focus on them exclusively, but the impetus comes in waves, each time reaching a little higher into my awareness and education of my spirit. I have not had one of these puzzles come my way in many months, but I became aware of one today that has been on slow simmer for about a year and is coming to a head in my mind. I believe God is calling me to focus some specific effort in deeply digging into the history, pedagogy and opposing viewpoints on this issue.

To that end, the first step would seem to be to define the question. This is not entirely clear to me, though I believe it is an off-shoot of my earlier research into the theory of Just War. I keep coming back to the Scripture “…render unto Caesar…”. I am left struggling to define who/what is Caesar in my life and how do I render his due unto him without withholding my much greater due to “…render unto God…”. Along with this, intertwined in a way I am as yet somewhat unsure of, is the question, “what is a Christian’s proper role in governance?” I have some strongly held beliefs here, but they are not solidly founded, other than in my own conscience. I need to sink the roots into history and the Church to understand how to convey my beliefs effectively. I am also keeping my mind open enough to accept the real possibility that what I dig up may be contra to the beliefs I now hold and that may well be an inner struggle of largish proportions.

Here is where you can help. I would greatly appreciate suggestions for modern and historical authors who have discussed the relationship of the Church and the State. From the varied traditions, Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox and wide ranging in political beliefs. Specifically, I am looking for good history on the early churches decision to become a recognized religion under the Romans. When, why and how did the early home churches become “official”. I believe, but am not sure, that the next phase of this question will be to look at the faith of America’s founders and see how their faith informed their rebellion and how their views pair up with the views of the early Church.

I’m sure more will come of this. I tend to chew and digest these topics very slowly. I can use all the grist for the mill you guys can provide. I will revisit this from time to time as necessary to update you. The same friend who provided Fukuoka’s book also gave me “The Humanure Handbook” and “Yellow Gold”, so I will be reading those this week and continuing to develop my business model for our future homestead. Lots going on in my head these days, just have to get down to it!

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About cptcaveman

An Army Major, my family and I are in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. We enjoy photography, cooking, reading and outdoor sports like hunting, fishing and trapping.
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10 Responses to Upcoming Theological Cogitations

  1. Not a thing to offer by way of a resource I have read myself but definitely along for the journey. The question of many intangible things like this have been on my heart the past couple of years. So many words are heavy laden with meaning and highly debated without a clear foundation of common understanding.

  2. aleph says:

    ” I am looking for good history on the early churches decision to become a recognized religion under the Romans. ”

    I do not see the history developing like this.

    What started was loose groups of people who did their own thing in their local area. They had a representative system to hammer out what was right and wrong in faith (the early councils), but this was calling the local leaders to come together to share. It was not an authoritarian system, with top down authority.

    This is what developed in Rome and gradually spread throughout the realm of Christianity, since it was the most effective way of running things. (but this is something the church adopted from the empire – post Constantine 313AD).

    The church did not start as a roman church world take over movement – but developed into the situation where one size fits all. That is until 1215 AD with the first great schism, of Rome from the east. This lead to more and more schism, till in our day we can see this habit well ingrained in church life (at least in the West).

    more later

  3. aleph says:

    a most recent author – Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Not sure which book but you could try “letters and Papers from Prison”

  4. aleph says:

    In the beginning the church was a fellowship of men and women centering on the living Christ. Then the church moved to Greece, where it became a philosophy. Then it moved to Rome, where it became an institution. Next, it moved to Europe, where it became a culture. And, finally, it moved to America, where it became an enterprise.”

    Richard Halverson, former Chaplain of the United States Senate

    from my commonplace book

  5. aleph says:

    stray thoughts keep coming up so I share them with you here.

    in the early church there were various groups each tying to follow the truth as they understood it. There was no central reference as to ho was “right”. All these groups lived together and did what they understood was right. Some, however, had ideas that others thought were wrong, so they brought the issue to a council where it was decided. Look at the list of heresies that existed in the early days. I give there folk the credit of recognising that they honestly believed what they believed, and had not deliberately chosen to believe error. It was others who told them that what they believed was not compatible with the wider faith community, so they were told they they were in error.

    I know I am going on about the point in your original posting about “under the Romans”. What is niggling me is that your seem to be saying that Roman had, a priori, the right to be the group that decided who was right. This is what I am challenging, for I do not see this in church history. Sorry if I am going on a bit against the Romans.

    • cptcaveman says:

      My understanding of the early Church meetings was that Rome pushed itself forward to be the “mother” church and this was largely rejected, though they eventually settled on the Creed. I guess the question I need to answer in this regard is which came first, the split between the Roman church and its adhereants with the other “Orthodox” churches or the political split between the Eastern and Western Empires and was the Church split more about the fact that they had become intimatly intertwined with the politics of the day, or legitimate theological differences.

      • Ben says:

        My (limited) understanding is that the creed contributed to the Catholic and Orthodox church split.
        I haven’t read them yet, but my son gave me two books when he was contemplating the same issue. Just and Unjust Wars by Michael Walzer and When God Says War is Right by Darrell Cole. Best of luck in your studies. Knowing if there is a just war and deciding if THIS war is just are difficult questions.

  6. cptcaveman says:

    The question is becoming more and more what is a Christian’s right response to the government under which he lives. What does “render unto Ceaser” really mean? To get at that in the unique context of America, what did the Founders REALLY have in mind when they wrote the Constitution, when, where and how did that origional intent begin to stray and what, if anything can we do to rectify that. More to the point, do I want to anymore?

  7. aleph says:

    I thought of you as I was listening to this podcast, and some of the topics you were thinking of (or rather I think you are thinking of)
    http://www.onbeing.org/program/ethics-and-will-god-legacy-dietrich-bonhoeffer/91

    I know it is a bit old now, but the material is still relevant.

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