James Bannerman (1807-1868), one of the “Disruption Worthies,” wrote a comprehensive two-volume work on the Presbyterian doctrine of the Church, The Church of Christ. It is a definitive treatment of the subject and really ought to be on the shelf of every Reformed minister, if not of every Reformed head of household.
The following quote comes from a selection in the first volume on the subject of the necessity of a friendly connection between the Church and State. One of the reasons is that the State cannot be altogether neutral to the universal claims of the of the Kingdom of God within its boundaries. While the Church does not have a right to interfere in the sphere of civil government, yet it demands audience from king and people of all lands. Her warrant comes from none less than the Most High:
“[The Church’s] first principle and first duty is that of aggression. The ministers of the Gospel claim it as a right to go into every nation, however fenced around and guarded from intrusion, and to demand an entrance in the name of Him who sent them, even although the magistrate should bid them depart from his coasts. Further still, the messengers of the Cross arrogate to themselves thee title to enter into every human dwelling where a sinner is to be found, – seeking admittance in the name of the Saviour of sinners, that they may negotiate with the inhabitant in behalf of their Master, however sternly the door may be closed against them by jealousy of their errand, or hatred to their cause.
It has been the eloquent boast of freedom in our country, that every man’s house is his castle; and that, be it but a straw-built shed, open to every breath of heaven, yet fenced about by the protection and the sanction of law, there even ‘the king cannot and dare not enter.’ But where the king cannot enter, there the missionary of Christ claims to be admitted; and, with a higher warrant in his hand than that of human law, bids the gates be lifted up, that with the Gospel he may enter in” (The Church of Christ, 1:142).
Too often we fail to appreciate this authoritative dimension to missions. While the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be patient with all men, yet he is not go to into the world hat-in-hand. Mission forbids timidity, for we have been sent by the King of kings. No, we should not force entry, for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. Yet alternately, we should not so ‘respect’ the boundaries of men when our Lord counts it no trespass. It is His claim after all, the deed and grant of His Father. And the warrant is in our hand.
So let us go. Aggressively.