Where do we derive our freedom? The constantianian church claims that we owe our freedom to democracy. That democracy offers ultimate freedom is critiqued effectively by Stanley Hauweras:
“The primary entity of democracy is the individual, the individual for whom society exists mainly to assist assertions of individuality. Society is formed to supply our needs, no matter the content of those needs. Rather than helping us to judge our needs, to have the right needs which we exercise in right ways, our society becomes a vast supermarket of desire under the assumption that if we are free enough to assert and to choose whatever we want we can defer eternally the question of what needs are worth having and on what basis right choices are made. What we call “freedom” becomes the tyranny of our own desires.”
It is generally understood that the dichotomizing between the church, following the teaching of Jesus for private living, but the state in public living is attributed to Justin Martyr’s dualistic claim, to the emperor that we offer worship to Jesus but we render everything else to you. This was his way of preventing the church from getting it’s head kicked in, but prior to this, Christian’s saw the sermon on the mount as their political ethic. This meant that their worship, ethic, and social polity was counter-cultural to Rome, remember the first century Christians were under a pagan imperialism, who eventually started kicking their butts. Their allegiance was not to any empire but that of Jesus.
Jesus’ words, “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” are misunderstood as a dualistic separation of God for our personal life and the government for our public life; Jesus being a good Jew didn’t believe that. What we have is a parallel thought, give Caesar that quarter in your pocket, but give God “everything else” for Jesus God was over all, including Caesar. Justin Martyr reversed the intentions of Jesus’ words and many do the same thing today. Once Constantine was converted, Christians began believing God was on their side and on Rome’s side. Where as before it was difficult to be a Christian, it now was difficult to be a pagan or a Jew!
Paul taught that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). This should not be construed to mean, we are going to live in heaven so we have nothing to do with down here, or ultimately we will go to heaven but as sojourners we must conform to the politics of down here. To be a citizen of Rome in a different city, meant you were a representative,a small colony of Rome implanted in another place–you were to follow Roman rule, and life. The same is true for us. We are a heavenly colony, the colony of God, as such our life and ethic is derived from Jesus who is Lord over all, not from American culture. Our nationalistic zeal for America is idolatrious, our zeal would better be served as a light to America. We don’t make the gospel relevant to the world, but the world relevant to the gospel.