This essay briefly attempts to explore the major formational differences between Baptists and Reformed Christians in the American republic on the question of church and state.
Aristotle described politics as involving art or craft (techne). It, too, required skill. It, too, could produce excellent, even wondrous edifices: regimes. Once upon a time, the Reformed tradition saw politics in the same manner. Althusius, for example, spoke of “the art of governing.” Joseph Caryl, a Westminster Divine, described rulers as engaging in an “art” or a “craft.” These thinkers, moreover, developed this artistry, doing so consciously within a Reformed framework.
Few topics are more likely to cause a stir among Christians than universal salvation, or apokatastasis—the view that no person will ultimately experience eternal estrangement from God. Although the universalist view is difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile with the authoritative teaching of most Christian churches, it is not consistently considered heresy on the level of, say, denying the Trinity or the hypostatic union in Christ. But the concept of hell as “eternal conscious torment” has undoubtedly been a part of the Christian theological fabric for centuries, and from the perspective of the broader Church catholic, the burden of proof is probably on any challenger wishing to disrupt that consensus.
For the Christian, the threat of death, in whatever form it comes, does not have the final word. Jesus said it this way: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).