JESUS CHRIST was put to death as a criminal because his teach and example were contrary to the traditions of the Jews; and his followers are confined as criminals by the Pharisees of this day because their teaching and practice are contrary to popular tradition.
CIVIL government means force. The function of the civil power is not to persuade people, but to compel them. And therefore there cannot be on this earth a Christian civil government; for Christianity does not compel men, but persuades them. The State acting as a mere persuader of men would not be a State at all; it must act by compulsion, or cease to be that for which it is ordained. There is no Christian power in this world other than that which operates through the Holy Spirit.
But the statement that a civil government cannot be Christian in its nature, does not imply that it must be antichristian or that it cannot be administered by Christians. Civil government is not ordained to do that which is evil, but to conserve justice in the sphere of men’s natural rights. It does not pertain to the sphere of man’s relation to God; justice in that sphere cannot be conserved by any human power or wisdom. God will deal with every man according to his works in the day of final judgment, and this takes the matter entirely out of the hands of man. Man’s place here is to be a doer of the divine law, and not a judge. All justice is, of course, in harmony with Christianity. Hence civil government, as ordained by God, does not work at cross purposes with Christianity. It is non-Christian simply as being by nature incapable of doing the work that is being done among men by the gospel.
EVERY man has the right, so far as his fellowmen are concerned, to believe as he pleases; and that right he never can and never will surrender so long as he is a Christian, yea, so long as he is a man.
“CIVILIZATION” must not be mistaken for Christianity. A Christian is always civil and always ready to advance in the direction of physical, mental, and social well-being; but the power which uplifts him is the power of God working in his heart through faith in Christ. “Civilization” is largely made up of that which attracts by its glitter and outward show; but “all is not gold that glitters,” and a showy exterior is the common means of making attractive that which is evil. A nation may be most highly “civilized” at the very time that it is most wicked.