How the Church Works Best

Herein lies the chief danger to grace: the state, which runs by the rules of ungrace, gradually drowns out the church’s sublime message of grace.

Insatiable for power, the state may well decide that the church could prove even more useful if the state controlled it. This happened most dramatically in Nazi Germany when, ominously, evangelical Christians were attracted to Hitler’s promise to restore morality to government and society. Many Protestant leaders initially thanked God for the rise of the Nazis, who seemed the only alternative to communism. According to Karl Barth, the church “almost unanimously welcomed the Hitler regime, with real confidence, indeed with the highest hopes.” Too late did they learn that once again the church had been seduced by the power of the state.

The church works best as a force of resistance, a counterbalance to the consuming power of the state. The cozier it gets with government, the more watered-down its message becomes. The gospel itself changes as it devolves into civil religion. – Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing about Grace?

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