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Christendom and the State

By Carman Bradley

Canadian Christendom

Believers speak of the workings of Jesus Christ in regions like the states of the “former” Soviet Union or in China or South Africa.  Christians refer to revivals in cities like Saskatoon.  Citizens of a nation may declare on their currency “In God we trust” or petition God in their national anthem to “keep our land glorious and free.”  Drafters of national constitutions may proclaim the state founded upon principles recognizing the supremacy of God, and parliament may amend a national pledge of allegiance to declare the country under one God.  In these territorial contexts, Christendom refers to the community of all Christians at whatever level of examination - neighborhood, municipality, province, region, nation, continent or world.  Within Christendom, however one chooses to describe the territory, the Christian community is to be guided by Christian values in its politics, economics and social life, indeed, everything.  The one universal church of God is invisible - not an institutional but a supernatural entity.  All its members are in Christ and are knit together by a supernatural kinship.  All their gifts and activities should continue the work of Christ, should originate from Christ, and are co-coordinated by Christ to achieve His goals.  The visible churches and denominations, whether organized in episcopal, presbyterian, congregational or any other structure, are the means by which the Holy Spirit uses Christians to increase the body of believers, witness to the nations and fulfill God’s plan on earth.  The mission of the visible churches within Christendom is always Christ-centered – public witness, example and evangelism leads people to the Saviour; publishing, teaching and following the precepts of God’s Word proclaims Christ’s lordship; Christian nurture through fellowship feeds His lambs and disciplines His flock; and ministering to the needs of Canadians continues the work of Christ in Canada.   


Canadian State

A state is a political association with effective sovereignty over a geographic area.  In Canada, the state is a federation of provinces and territories.  A state usually includes a set of institutions – parliament, senate, courts, armed forces, civil service, and police.  In both Canada and the United States there exists no “state” religion – the federal government does not have clergy, either appointed or elected on its payroll, other than serving military chaplains in the armed services; no single church is favoured by the state in treatment over another.  The concept of the state can be distinguished by the form of government and the concept of the political system.  Canada is a democracy, Cuba is a dictatorship.  A political system is a complete set of institutions; interest groups (such as political parties, trade unions, lobby groups), usually regulated by a constitution and legal system and governed by a group that is in power.   Wikipedia adds: “A political system is one that ensures the maintaining of order and sanity in the society and at the same time makes it possible for some other institutions to also have their grievances and complaints put across in the course of social existence.”  Some Canadians view the state as a secular constitutional democracy; others see Canada as a constitutional democracy founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God.  These conflicting views of the Canadian political system are at the heart of the unresolved controversy over so-called “separation of church and state.”  The former notion rejects all religious influence upon the affairs of state.  The latter view (aptly reflected in the lyrics to Canada’s National Anthem and in the Preamble to our Constitution) holds that Canada is a state under God; and therefore, its governance should reflect this reality where appropriate. 

How Canadians Govern Themselves , first published in 1980, is an excellent reference on the Canadian State, exploring Canada’s parliamentary system, from the decisions made by the Fathers of Confederation, to the daily work of parliamentarians in the Senate and House of Commons. Useful information on Canada’s constitution, the judicial system, and provincial and municipal powers is also gathered together in this one reference book.


Submission to the State (Romans 13)

I refer you to a number of choice articles addressing the topic of submission to government authorities:

“Rethinking Romans 13” by Greg A. Dixon,

“Submission to Governing Authorities: A Study of Romans 13:1-7” by Matthew G. Neufeld, Direction

“Obey? Bible says yes, if government's 'good' 'No civil rulers should be followed if orders inconsistent with God's' by Bob Unruh,


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