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CONFORMITY, NONCONFORMITY, AND CRITICAL SOLIDARITY: The Church-State Issue and the Use of the Bible

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The focus of this article is on the church-state issue, particularly in relation to the use of the Bible. The article has three parts. The first introductory part identifies four contemporary challenges: the attitude of Christians toward asylum-seekers and refugees, the question of civil disobedience, the role of the church in nation-building and the problem of nationalism and identity. Then follows some notes on the question of definition and methodology. The way we define the "state" influences our selection of relevant biblical texts. Any use of the Bible must face the risk of "proof texting." The second part offers some historical comments on selected texts. This includes the traditional "state" texts as well as other texts that reveal a critical perspective on the power issue. The third part points at a number of hermeneutical problems: (1) diversity and unity in the New Testament; (2) various levels of authority; (3) selective Bible reading and the method of correlation; (4) three different ways of perceiving the church-state issue: assimilation, alienation and critical solidarity. Both formation and malformation can be the result of the encounter of the churches with the public world. The article concludes with some reflections on the search for a just society in the biblical tradition.

Affiliations: 1: University of Aarhus, Denmark

10.1163/157338300X00271
/content/journals/10.1163/157338300x00271
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/content/journals/10.1163/157338300x00271
2000-01-01
2016-09-30

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