The Reformation and puritan era’s teaching on the Church-State relationship, derived from the Word of God in accord with the light of Nature, has been all but lost today. The term for it was circa sacra; it means that the magistrate has authority, not in, but ‘around the sacred aspects’ of religion and the Church.
While the civil government does not have formal authority over the Church, as Christ is her only Head, yet the magistrate does have civil authority over the material Church in legitimate civil matters that pertain equally in principle to civil society.
As all people are to seek first the Kingdom of God with the natural power they have (Mt. 6:33), so likewise the civil government ought to use its natural, God-given, civil power for the good of Christ’s Kingdom, the Church (Isa. 49:23; 60:10,12,16), including in civilly professing, protecting and promoting the True Religion, and civilly establishing it in the land.
We need to reform ourselves and our nations to the Word of God. This newly written Extended Introduction to circa sacra outlines in detail the older view of the original Westminster Confession (1646) and reformed orthodoxy, and is a gateway into puritan literature on the subject. The paper also explains the differences between the Reformation view of circa sacra and the later ‘Establishment Principle’ of the 1800’s Free Church of Scotland.
Appended to the work is a section from the London presbyterian ministers’ Divine Right of Church Government (1646) on circa sacra: the most readable, systematic and brief setting forth of the older view of circa sacra (with most of its numerous necessary distinctions) from the Scriptures in English that the webmaster is aware of.
Take the time to build your life on solid doctrine.
Fentiman, Travis & London Presbyterians – The Civil Government’s Authority about Religion & the Church, Circa Sacra: An Extended Introduction & a Section from the English Presbyterians’ Divine Right (1646; ReformedBooksOnline, 2021) 123 pp.
“Be wise now therefore, O ye kings:
be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.”