Historical Theology of Church and State

Course code: HITH632

A Christian theology of Church and State seeks to articulate the relationship of Christian holiness and civic life. In this course we will examine this relationship historically and theologically, beginning with three foundational statements from the New Testament: “Jesus Christ is Lord,” “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,” and “submit to authorities.” The meanings of these statements have been tested at key points in history, and we will analyze how Christians acted out a discernible theo-politic during those times. The readings include primary sources in ancient Greek and Roman literature, the early church fathers, the medieval scholastics, Reformers, and contemporary authors. In the end each student should articulate a Christ-centered political theology.

Intended Outcomes

Knowledge Outcomes—By the end of the course, you will…

  1. Have learned which Scripture passages are most critical for a political theology and how to draw from them your guiding principles for your personal theo-political ethic.
  2. Have gained a basic familiarity with the historical figures and documents that are formative for the Church today and how to integrate the best thoughts from them into your theo-political ethic.
  3. Have developed a personal understanding of the role of the Church in public life (a theo-politic), particularly how Christian witness to the kingdom of God shapes public life.

Value Outcomes—By the end of the course, you will…

  1. Appreciate the various sources from which Christians have drawn theo-political principles and the resulting diversity of Christian views of Church and State
  2. Recognize the unique mission of the Church as a witness to the State, and the State as a facilitator of the moral principles revealed by God through general and special revelation.
  3. Be confident in God’s promise to establish His kingdom in Christ and through the Church

Skills Outcomes—By the end of the course, you will…

  1. Be able to apply biblical instruction in a clear and consistent theo-politic.
  2. Be able to articulate your core beliefs regarding Church and State with reference to historical personalities, philosophies, and principles.
  3. Be prepared to live out God’s mission for the Church by developing a personal theo-political ethic that will guide the public display of your faith.

Assignment Overview

  • Regularly assigned textbook and article readings on political theology across the history and traditions of the Christian church.
  • A book review.
  • Weekly live synchronous video class meetings for discussion.


Dr. David Fry

David Fry


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