Four Views Concerning the Relationship Between “Church and State”

In my study for this coming Sunday’s message on Romans 13:1-7, “Citizenship in the City of Man,” I have been reading John Stott’s commentary on Romans. In his comments on chapter thirteen, he distinguishes four historic views concerning the relationship between the church and state.


He writes, “Relations between church and state have been notoriously controversial throughout the Christian centuries. To oversimplify, four main models have been tried…

  1. Erastianism (the state controls the church)
  2. Theocracy (the church controls the state)
  3. Constantinianism (the compromise in which the state favors the church and the church accommodates to the state in order to retain its favored status, and
  4. Partnership (church and state recognize and encourage each other’s distinct God-given responsibilities in a spirit of constructive collaboration).”

According to Stott, “The fourth seems to accord best with Paul’s teaching in Romans 13.” I’m not sure I’d call the fourth partnership, but maybe, respectful co-existence, where, in the best circumstances, there is “a spirit of constructive collaboration.” 


What do you think?


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