Church & State - Ethics

Until the middle of the 18th Century the controversy between church and state was largely concerned with the balance of power between the two jurisdictions. For the next 200 years there was stability in this area and Enlightenment ideas and Christian tradition were not seriously at odds: Protestant and Reformed Churches were generally constitutionally conservative but socially liberal; and Catholic claims, though strongly asserted, were barely recognised and its moral position was not threatened.

There was a watershed in the First World War with the emergence of pacifism but this was reasonably well contained; the state upheld its right of conscription but was generally lenient with genuine objectors.

Differences have now come into much sharper focus in three areas: medicine, gender and pluralist religion.

a) Biblical Claims

Many Christian claim The Bible as their authority for resisting legislative support for medical development. This has been particularly true in the area of human reproduction but 5the issues are not straightforward:

Any Biblically based argument must be very clearly thought through. When we talk about "Christian principles" we are likely to mean derivative positions held by Christians at a given time.

b) Law

c) Experience

As Anglicans we are asked to take into account our life experience in framing codes. That means looking at scientific evidence such as:

This last point is particularly difficult: Christians advance the "Do as you would be done by principle" so it is hard to propose opt-outs for Christians but not for Muslims.


Related Study Sheets…