How can Christian views of the State be so different?

Jerusalem or Babylon

The following comments emerged out of a conversation with a friend over the ethics of war and the extent to which churches are biblically (and thus morally) obligated to support the militaristic function of the state.

In essence, my friend believes Romans 13 legitimises the violent defence of the state by Christians, whereas I believe Romans 13 only precludes violent rebellion against the state by Christians … and nothing more. Concurrent with this are different understandings on the normativeness of Christ for Christians. My friend sees the “love your enemies” teaching of Jesus as hyperbole, which admittedly was a teaching technique Jesus used, however I believe this interpretation inadequately fails to take the social subversiveness of Jesus seriously enough.

In the process I observed our differing ethics stemmed from differing eschatological outlooks, particularly in terms of the identity of the state:

You know, I strongly suspect our differences are more grounded in theological motifs than theological minutiae. In particular our differing views of the state. Correct me if I am wrong but it would seems that you see the state more through the lens of Jerusalem and David, whereas I see the state more through the lens of Babylon and Daniel. It would therefore seem that any arguments that we advance, against the background of these theological motifs, will inevitably fail to persuade the other, no matter how logical they are within the terms of these motifs. Our very understanding of the phrase “separation of church and state” is different in significant respects. That leaves us at somewhat of an impasse as motifs tend to operate at a deeper level than the minutae, capturing our imaginations as well as our intellect. I appreciate that we can discuss it amicably though.

I would be interesting as to what degree this resonates with your own experience in similar conversations over the relationship of church and state?

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