Within limits, of course.
If you know me at all, you can imagine how confused I was to hear this yesterday at our church’s Veteran’s Day Luncheon:
Note the order here: the nation was telling the churches to celebrate this day.
I reacted, but controlled it. Someone else had the floor. This gave me time to figure my response.
The State doesn’t tell the church what to do! How dare they? Who do they think they are. The wheels of thought spun inside me, measured by the knowledge that I was surrounded by people, many of whom had served in war, and at least some of whom don’t have exactly the same ecclesiology I do.
As the speaker concluded, she shared that this description of the history of Veteran’s Day came from The United Methodist Church.
My thoughts took an abrupt turn, but not full 180.
Promoting and enduring peace and honoring those who offered themselves to the cause of freedom and justice were certainly worthy values that I could encourage, even lead, my church to uphold.
I’m still nonconstantinian, but I have realized that maybe there is more left to render to Caesar than I thought before yesterday.
My wife Rachel told me this morning that we’ve been asked (by email) not to use the new Dollar coins. They allegedly have left off the “In God We Trust.” I say allegedly because a quick check at snopes proved otherwise.
My first reaction, though, was to remember Jesus’ famous “render unto Caesar” teaching, as in Matthew 21:
15Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. 16So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. 17Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” 18But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? 19Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” 21They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.
If in the case of coins, and no where else, we know what is made to be given to Caesar. US coins have Caeasr pictures on them, after all!