Secular government

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"THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS" is a secular edict by a secular government about another secular government.

In Phil Zuckerman Ph.D. article, "What Does 'Secular' Mean?"[1], he states "It means being non-religious. But what does that mean?"

His short definition of the modern use of the term "Secular" was simply "non-religious". But then he proclaims “religion" "is notoriously difficult to define". So, settling on a definition for religion will be critical in determining what is a secular government and what is not a secular government.

The Miriam-Webster Dictionary says "secular" means:

a) of or relating to the worldly or temporal <secular concerns>
b) not overtly or specifically religious <secular music>
c) not ecclesiastical or clerical <secular courts> <secular landowners>
Everyone knew that a king was to be born. Herod knew it, the Magi, angels, and shepherds knew it. At Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, thousands of people hailed him as the highest son of David, the Messiah, the King, the Anointed, the Christ. Jesus said that it was for this cause that he came into the world and even the Procurator of Rome admitted that this was the King, and officially proclaimed it so on the epigraph nailed to the cross. The only ones who do not understand His appointed government is the Modern Christians.

The word Religion is barely mentioned in the New Testament and it is never spoken of in a good sense until James talks about Pure Religion.

Jesus talks about a government, threatens to take that government from the Pharisees[2]. That group was the disciples who continued to follow Him[3] and learn The Way of His government at hand.[4]

Then with specific instructions[5] to not be like the governments of the world He appointed His Kingdom, His government[6] to His trained apostles who would bear fruit on they day of Pentecost. According to the Bible Jesus was born to be king but was his government a "secular government"?

Jesus and His ministers were very involved with "worldly or temporal" concerns. The kingdom they preached was not only "for the living", but they were extremely concerned with the people's health, education and welfare, and the concern extended to their general well being, the success of their marriage, and the condition and growth of their children. They also immediately directed their attention to a system of daily ministration which provided local welfare and international relief in "worldly or temporal" ways, by providing foreign aid along with bread and assistance from house to house[7].

So the Kingdom of God preached and promoted and appointed by Jesus to his apostles was keenly "worldly or temporal", and it was therefore secular.

When the "worldly or temporal" desires of the needy of the early Christian community were being neglected, they told the people to elect men amongst themselves that they could appoint over this very secular business. If they were appointed by the Church, they could be overseen by the Church - and even fired, if need be.

The Temples in Roman governments were funded by secular taxes to provide government welfare and services. At that particular time the temple in Jerusalem which Herod had built provided a similar welfare funded by collected taxes. This was the Corban of the Pharisees. For the last few decades the biggest controversy in Jerusalem was who should be the king of the government of Judea?

Jesus as the head of the secular government of Judea had the power to fire the moneychangers who were working in the government temple, which we see him doing with his string whip.

Since Miriam-Webster Dictionary also says "secular" is "not overtly or specifically religious" we might ask how the early Church would qualify as secular?

The apostles could not exercise authority one over the other, like other secular governments, but they had rank within the Church, which was determined by who was servant of who. The highest among them were merely servants of servants of servants determined by individual election of ministers in a network of people in a pattern of tens.

The power to choose who was accepted as your personal minister, and the power to determine how much you were willing to freely give left much of what might be called secular powers in the hands of the people.

This might be a good time to examine what is religious and what religion is. The two basic opinions or definitions swing between what you think about a supreme being and how you perform your duty to your fellowman. That duty may very depending on your opinion of the character of who you accept as a supreme being.

Peter allows the people the freedom to decide who and how the secular welfare of the people would be managed while he devoted himself to explaining Christ's interpretation of the government of God through the teachings of Christ. The Church was already separate from the people, just as the Levites were separate. It was also supposed to be separate from the secular world of Rome. But Peter keeps a degree of separation from the first seven men chosen by the people, to focus on these clearly secular concerns.

Since this institution of a system of daily ministration was both secular and part of the performance of the duty of man to his fellowman, it was both secular and religious based on the definition of Pure Religion.

But the preaching of Jesus' opinion about a supreme being was still kept somewhat separate in this arrangement by Peter. Since all of these institutions of His Holy Church - appointed by Christ and the Seven men appointed by the apostles - was still a part of the same institution established by Christ, there would be no way to say that Jesus did not appoint a secular system along with the religious system of the kingdom of God.

Secularism is said to be "the principle of the separation of government institutions and persons mandated to represent the state from religious institutions and religious dignitaries", which appears to be what Peter and the apostles were doing.

The word secular in modern dictionaries is "denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis." But it also can refer to the Church, and it may include "(of clergy) not subject to or bound by religious rule; not belonging to or living in a monastic or other order."

If we look at the word from the Latin, we see saecularis, from saeculum, meaning ‘generation, age’. But used in Christian Latin, it can mean ‘the world’.

One manifestation of secularism is asserting the right to be free from "religious rule", or, in a state declared to be neutral on matters of belief imposed by government.

But Jesus forbade the apostles to "rule over" the people like the rulers of other secular governments who called themselves benefactors but exercised authority. So the Church did not impose what you would call "religious rules" on the people like the Pharisees did. Jesus was accused of breaking the" religious rules" of religious sects[8] praised the faith of Romans[9] and men of other religions like the Samaritan crossing the boundaries of religious groups.[10] His kingdom seems to be secular in that sense.

Another manifestation of secularism is the view that public activities and decisions, especially political ones, should be uninfluenced by religious beliefs and/or practices.

This of course would apply to the Church if it came to rule over the people as a religious institution, but Christ and His Church came to serve, not rule, so the "public activities and decisions" would not be influenced by the Church except by the moral nature of the law. And all the law hinged on the Royal law to love thy neighbor as thyself.

The Ten Commandments, properly understood, were certainly "worldly or temporal" foundational laws of government. The problem with modern religious thinking is its lack of understanding that Jesus was the head of government and he appointed a secular government with secular responsibilities. The problem in their thinking is due to the fact that the modern Church has neglected its responsibility of being the total daily ministration and source of welfare.

The Modern Christian church has swung the definition of religion away from what is its duty, swinging it toward its religious opinions about God. They call these opinions faith.

  • 1 John 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
  • 1 John 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
  • 1 John 2:22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
  • 1 John 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
  • 1 John 5:10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.

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Footnotes

  1. Posted Jul 28, 2014
  2. Matthew 21:43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
  3. Luke 22:28 Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.
  4. Luke 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
  5. Luke 22:25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. 27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.
  6. Luke 22:29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;
  7.  : Acts 2:46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
    Acts 20:20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,
  8. Acts 26:5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
  9. Matthew 8:10 When Jesus heard [it], he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
  10. Luke 9:52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
    Luke 10:33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
    Luke 17:16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
    John 4:9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
    John 4:39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.
    John 4:40 So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.


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