The theology of church-state relations in Protestant thought with final reference to the contemporary context of the Chinese churches
The thesis is a study of the theology of church-state relations in Protestant thought with reference to the secular world and the Chinese context in particular. The theological basis is the Chalcedonian character of differentiation without confusion yet coordination without division. Hence I argue for both complementarity of church and state and critical support of the church for the state. In the contemporary pluralist era, the church should recognize itself as one among other institutions cooperating with the state for the benefit of society. Also the church should emphasize itself as a religious community proclaiming Christ's salvation and a moral community living out Christ's love for others. The manner of applying this theological principle is context-specific, giving rise to different emphases. Luther emphasizes the necessity of civil obedience to be offered by the church to the state, unless the state oversteps its limit. This emphasis fits in the context of obtaining civil support for his reformation. Calvin upholds a distinction while emphasizing a cooperation of the two entities to regulate society, even allowing the convergence of their jurisdiction. It is feasible only when the Genevan city council sides with Calvin's reformation, providing a suitable context beforehand. In the context of Nazi Germany, Barth emphasizes a theology of mutual responsibility as the basis of church and state to fulfil their obligations. His writing of Barmen Declaration manifests a distinctive confessional responsibility as the basis of Christian political witness. This context of a totalitarian government also promotes Bonhoeffer's teaching on Christian discipleship, emphasizing representative action which is an imitation of Christ to live for others, even to the extent of self-sacrifice. Moreover, by stressing religious and political differentiation, secularization leads to a more clarified distinction of the functions of church and state in society. Yet the context of secularization enhances the theology of mutual responsibility of church and state which can beneift society as a whole. It excludes the concept of anarchy, and the church's flight from the concrete conditions of human society. The Chinese context further reveals that the church in this modern world is no longer the sole partner of the state but is merely one among other institutions working for the good of the nation. So the church's contribution to secular order is less at the level of state and more at the level of civil society.