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The Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man

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Already the new Alabama Governor, Robert Bentley, is embroiled in controversy over comments he made in a church service following his inauguration. At the heart of the controversy are his comments about non-Christians not being his brothers and sisters.

On one hand, the reaction highlights the pervasiveness of religious pluralism.  The gospel proclaims God’s forgiveness in Christ and that all who are united to Christ by faith—regardless of race, socio-economic background, and gender—are brothers and sisters.  That Gov. Bentley’s comments could be excoriated as divisive points up the scandal of the gospel in our culture, with all claims to “no other name” considered incendiary.

On the other hand, the reaction highlights the danger of confusing state office with church office.  What’s a governor doing in a pulpit and what’s a church doing hosting a service celebrating an inauguration?  If non-Christians are a little tightly wound about Christ’s exclusive claims as endangering the public order, maybe it’s not entirely their fault.

It’s ridiculous to assert that Gov. Bentley’s comments violate the First Amendment; to disallow such comments would be a violation, in fact.  However, strictly from a Christian point of view, such unauthorized use of Christ’s embassy for the affairs of civil society ought to be challenged. I doubt that faithful sermons, songs, and prayers in churches this Sunday will undergo similar scrutiny, even though they would be just as offensive to many of our neighbors.  But a governor preaching on inauguration day in his secular office makes it even harder for us to convince our neighbors that the gospel triumphs through Word and Spirit rather than through the sword of state.
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Tagged in: Two Kingdoms

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  • This is what happens when those who do not know 2 kingdom theology speak up. He should not be making theological statements as Govenor. He should only be making governmental comments, those things dealing with the reason he was elected by his constituants.
    Mark 12:17

    Fr. Patrick Malone
    preachingchrist.org

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  • This is another political action in recent news history that reminds us, as Christians, the world hates us. This is good because Christ said it would. This should also be a reminder to us that we need to be in the business of the great commission instead of politics.

    While I agree with the initial comments he made, I disagree on where he made them. What is a church doing hosting a political event? The other issue is now he is apologizing for the remarks. So are non-Christians now his brothers and sisters? This is the kind of issue that happens when we are more concerned about politics instead of Christ.

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  • [...] Michael Horton weighs in& Already the new Alabama Governor, Robert Bentley, is embroiled in controversy over comments [...]

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  • Guest - Johann

    I think he forgot to speak the truth in love. May this serve as a reminder that the Lord also commanded as to love Him and our neighbors. I also agree that he shouldn't have made that statement in a church setting. May the Lord enable us to love Him and our neighbors as well

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  • Guest - Dan

    Right on, brother Horton! (My apologies for 70s lingo!)

    Seriously, I appreciate the manner in which you and WHI have painstakingly distinguished between the two kingdoms in your writings and conversations. It's a crucial mindset-reset for a guy who cut his evangelical teeth in the midst of the Religious Right generation, and now finds himself emerging from Fox News detox in the aftermath of the midterm elections.

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  • Guest - Alberto

    I feel bad for the governor. He said the right thing in the wrong place at the wrong time. I think someone should send him some of Dr. VanDrunen's work.

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