031. History of the Separation of Church & State (Dr. Nick Miller)

Welcome back to Advent Next a theological podcast curated for curious faith discussions. This week our guest is Dr. Nicholas Miller professor of Church History at Andrews University. He received his J.D. from Columbia University and his phd in American Religious and Legal History from the University of Notre Dame. This week are exploring the intersectionality of faith and politics along with the history of the separation of church and state. We will also be exploring a new concept called Moral Philosophy, a lost art once used to create moral arguments and standards that could be applied in the public sphere without infringing upon the Church and State ethic of separation. A recommended reading this week would be his book, The Reformation and the Remnant, which touches on a few of the issues we discuss here today.. If you’re not already following us on Facebook, Instagram or Youtube, be sure to find us at the handle Advent Next. I’m your host Kendra Arsenault and this is Advent Next.

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Advent Next Podcast Full Transcript: History of the Separation of Church & State (Dr. Nick Miller). Host Kendra Arsenault

Nick Miller – Episode 1

[00:00:00] Nick Miller: [00:00:00] If you want to reach people who don’t believe the Bible, you can’t just teach from the Bible, right? You have to explain. You have to build a bridge to the Bible. You have to say why things those people understand about morality should cause them to look at the teachings of scripture. So you can’t really do evangelism and apologetics well without some conception of moral philosophy and the natural law.

[00:00:22] Two: it also provided a vehicle for Christians to be actively involved in the public square, because you can’t just take your biblical teachings and say, well, the Bible says, keep the Sabbath day, therefore everyone should keep it. No. You have to translate biblical teachings about alcohol or about slavery into the language of common moral philosophy that can serve as the basis of laws and our pioneers did that and they did it very effectively.

[00:00:49] Kendra Arsenault: [00:00:49] Welcome back to Advent Next, a theological podcast curated for curious faith discussions. This week, our guest is Dr. Nicholas Miller, professor of church history at Andrews university. [00:01:00] He received his JD from Columbia university and his PhD in American religious and legal history from the university of Notre Dame.

[00:01:07] This week, we are exploring the intersectionality of faith and politics along with the history of the separation of church and state. We’ll also be exploring a new concept called moral philosophy. A lost art once used to create moral arguments and standards that could be applied in the public sphere without infringing upon the church and state ethical separation.

[00:01:28] A recommended reading for this week would be his book, the reformation, and the remnant, which touches on a few of the issues we’re going to discuss here today. If you’re not already following us on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube, be sure to find us at the handle at Advent Next. I’m your host Kendra Arsenault, and this is Advent Next.

[00:01:46] Nick Miller: [00:01:46] I started out in England where I was born, but came at a very young age, California, where I grew up. My father worked for the church as an auditor, wasn’t a pastor. He worked on the financial side, [00:02:00] and when I was 16 or 17 I had a conversion experience and developed a strong interest in studying the Bible and the spirit of prophecy.

[00:02:10] And, uh, went to college, went to college at PUC, and um, decided to study theology, though I didn’t necessarily feel called to the pastoral ministry. I had interest in law and medicine and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but you could be premed and pre law and study a substantive degree of something else.

[00:02:30] Right? So I took theology and uh, during that time, I developed an interest, especially in the study of history and church history and religious liberty and church and state. And so at that time I dropped my premed studies and decided I wanted to prepare myself for religious Liberty work of some kind.

[00:02:49] And so I knew that I’d probably do well in that field. A legal background would be good. And so I…The doors opened and I think the Lord led me [00:03:00] to study law in New York City. I was at Columbia university after PUC. It was quite a,

[00:03:06] Kendra Arsenault: [00:03:06] Change of pace.

[00:03:07] Nick Miller: [00:03:07] Quite a transition. At the same time, I left PUC and went to law school, my parents moved from Southern California to Africa, to work for the church there. But I think I had the bigger culture shock going from Napa Valley PUC to Manhattan, upper West side Harlem, and uh, but it was a great experience and I learned a lot and grew a lot, was involved in my local church there. Then I got a job in the legal world.

[00:03:33] I knew I needed to get some experience. I worked for some big firms. I worked for the government. But the consistent theme was I was able to work in places that dealt with constitutional issues. Some of it, freedom of the press, first amendment, uh, when I was with the government, constitutional litigation, defending public officials from constitutional tort claims.

[00:03:54] Kendra Arsenault: [00:03:54] Gotcha.

[00:03:55] Nick Miller: [00:03:55] And then I was approached by a church state organization, and I [00:04:00] ran a, I was the executive director of the council on religious freedom, which did religious freedom advocacy in Washington, DC and I got to lobby for legislation on Capitol Hill. Matt, we had a case that went to the Supreme court, got to appear there in a church state case.

[00:04:19] Kendra Arsenault: [00:04:19] Now, what was that case? And what’s the difference between, you know, Religious Liberty and maybe trying to bring your religious norms into kind of the public arena?

[00:04:29] Nick Miller: [00:04:29] Okay, good questions. Advanced questions. We can, we can go there. Um, so the case I was involved with was actually an establishment clause case, and it was an attempt to prevent government funds being used to promote religion.

[00:04:45] We represented a couple of Catholic ladies, uh, at down from Louisiana who were complaining that state funds were going to Catholic schools and the Catholics were compromising their religion to receive them. Taking [00:05:00] crucifixes down from classrooms, um, minimizing their religious teaching. And they felt that this government money shouldn’t be going to these Catholic schools because A, it was government money advancing religion, and B, it was kind of corrupting the religion.

[00:05:13] Kendra Arsenault: [00:05:13] Wow. So they were Catholic nuns.

[00:05:15] Nick Miller: [00:05:15] Well, they weren’t nuns, but they were Catholic members of the Catholic church ladies who were, who were committed Catholics and were doing it for religious freedom purposes cause the separation of church and state is as much to advance religious freedom as the free exercise clause. It just operates in a slightly different way.

[00:05:35] So, um, we did that case, which we technically lost, but, um, the court did not grant the other side it’s broad argument that would have essentially done away with the separation of church and state. So it was a technical loss, but a kind of victory in terms of maintaining a somewhat healthy, establish a separation of church and state.

[00:06:00] [00:06:00] And, uh, then I also got to the white house in the oval office, bill signing ceremony because I was part of a group that helped pass the religious land use and institutionalized persons act, which protects churches and religious institutions in their use of land and property. So all during this time, I enjoyed my Washington experience and the advocacy that went on there.

[00:06:22] But as I looked around and I said, what do I want to be doing 20 years from now? I could see that litigation was kind of awaring life of a one battle to another battle, and I enjoyed it, but did I want to do that forever? And I could see that lobbying on Capitol Hill was something like a popularity contest.

[00:06:39] Can I bring the most influence to bear? And both of those things are worthwhile. And I’m just, I’m not saying they shouldn’t be done in more power to the people that do them, but I was particularly interested in the contributions that academics were making. Scholars would come to town and I could see that a lot of the conflicts in church and state had to do with historical ignorance.

[00:07:00] [00:07:00] Um. Most people didn’t know that the separation of church and state had roots in deeply religious thought. They viewed it as a secular enlightenment idea. And…

[00:07:11] Kendra Arsenault: [00:07:11] Can you touch on that a little bit cause I think some of our audience might also think that church and state, the separation of church and state was more of a secular idea than a religious one.

[00:07:22] Nick Miller: [00:07:22] So that was widely held view in Washington. And uh, I was surprised because, um, you know, we know about Roger Williams and as Adventists, we read the great controversy, and so we actually have more awareness than many Christians of the religious background to these ideas. But I could see that, that had been lost sight of to a great degree, and that you could make a contribution in scholarship.

[00:07:45] If you could bring that to light for contemporary society. And so I began to develop an ambition to do further advanced study in church and state. You know, I’d studied theology and I’d studied law, [00:08:00] but I hadn’t really studied church history in great depth. And so I began to look for opportunities to get an advanced degree in church history.

[00:08:10] And, um, it didn’t happen for a few years. I moved out to California, sort of a long story, and I was practicing law there, but eventually seminary… seminary professors knew me from my writing for Liberty magazine and other things I’d done. And they thought that it would be a good time for Adventists to contribute in this church state arena.

[00:08:30] And so Andrews approached me about helping them start a church state study center or Institute. And if I would do that, they would sponsor me for a PhD in American religious history.

[00:08:45] Kendra Arsenault: [00:08:45] Interesting.

[00:08:46] Nick Miller: [00:08:46] And so that’s what I did.

[00:08:47] Kendra Arsenault: [00:08:47] Because I think the setting of church and state is pretty fascinating. Um, and what was something that you kind of discovered in your journey of understanding the separation between church and state, and what are things that you feel like [00:09:00] people should know, uh, that we’re not really educated in?

[00:09:04] Nick Miller: [00:09:04] Okay. So, um, I wasn’t surprised. So going in, I had thought that religion had something to do with the separation of church and state. There was this whole Baptist tradition and Roger Williams, and so I knew where to look. For some ideas and information. In fact, I went in thinking I might do a biography of William Penn because I always thought he was an important person.

[00:09:30] Um, Roger Williams was up in the icy cold wilderness of Rhode Island, whereas William Penn founded Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, which becomes very quickly the most influential city in the colonies. And Pennsylvania always has a separation of church and state, more pure than Rhode Island’s. And it’s at the center of influence.

[00:09:53] And I began to believe that that William Penn had a much greater role. So I began looking back in [00:10:00] history and looking for the roots of this. And what I found was very exciting for us as Adventists especially.

[00:10:07] I came across a line of ideas an argument that were shared by writers through generations that argued for the separation of church and state based on the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. The equality of all believers meant not only, we tend to think of it, priesthood of believers is, and we can pray to God. We don’t have to pray through a priest, and that’s part of it.

[00:10:33] But the other part of it is the freedom to study and interpret the Bible for yourself. And this meant that if you take that idea seriously, that, um, you can’t have a legislature making religious laws because then a legislature, a political body has to interpret the Bible and apply it for you. And that intervenes, it cuts across this notion of the individual believers studying his or her Bible [00:11:00] before God and being accountable to God themselves. And I found this going all the way back to Martin Luther and Martin Luther is misunderstood by most people because in early Luther, he had this robust notion of the priesthood of believers, and he tied it specifically to the need for the civil magistrate to stay out of saying what was heresy, enforcing religious ideas with a stored.

[00:11:22] He had a very strong teaching of the two kingdoms, the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of earth, and the civil rulers should only be involved in temporal matters regarding peace and safety of the state. Now, what happened? And, and, and then the church would worry about spiritual things, but they shouldn’t use the weapons of this world.

[00:11:39] They can only use persuasion very clearly laid out in early Luther. But what happens is early Luther kind of changes, he evolves or devolves to the uprising of the peasants in 1525 the ignorance of the people. Made him believe that you couldn’t safely give religious freedom because [00:12:00] people were too ignorant to use it wisely.

[00:12:02] And that the only educated people were the princes and peoples in, uh, the scholars in princes courts. And so they needed to rely on the state. But he, he shifts his position and it obscures his earlier position. Which is picked up by the Anabaptists and other believers and taken, well, first to Holland, and then the, um, British pilgrims come over to Holland and they’re influenced, and this is the start of many of the Baptists who believe in freedom of the will, adult baptism and the separation of church and state.

[00:12:35] Kendra Arsenault: [00:12:35] Okay.

[00:12:36] Nick Miller: [00:12:36] And so I was able to publish, write a dissertation that was accepted by the University of Notre Dame, which is not known for its, uh, you know, strong Protestant views. Although most of my teachers, there were actually Protestants, um, and eventually published by the Oxford university press. So it was an idea that the secular scholarly world [00:13:00] found authentic and credible. And yet it puts at the center of the story of the disestablishment, and you can trace it all the way down to James Madison, who is quoting and using the language of these early Baptists about soul freedom. About. Uh, interpreting scripture and the need to do it personally and privately.

[00:13:19] So it puts the argument for separation, uh, not only in the religious arena, but in the, you know, conservative, biblical theological ideas in the religious arena. So it’s not a skeptical enlightenment idea or only a liberal Christian idea. It goes right to the core of Protestant biblical understanding.

[00:13:39] Kendra Arsenault: [00:13:39] And it’s interesting, and I’ve, and maybe you can help shed some light on this because depending on where you find your lineage, right?  Uh, whether it’s a Baptist or a Puritan or Anglican lineage, they all had their own ideas of church and state, right? So you had like puritanism coming from Calvinism and they had more of a,  more of an integrated [00:14:00] view.

[00:14:00] Nick Miller: [00:14:00] That’s right. Yes. And that’s what drives a lot of the current day arguments, because you can go back to early America and you can find quotes from founders that seem to support that this is a Christian nation and we need God at the center of it.

[00:14:14] And, and you know, politics and Christianity need to mix. And those ideas were there and the Puritans carried them out. But what people need to understand is that, yeah, there were all, there were these competing views, but when it came time to frame our constitution, we very clearly and deliberately chose the view held by the Anabaptist tradition and William Penn and Roger Williams. So there are these other voices, but they were on the losing side and we rejected them for a reason. So let’s not confuse history and say, cite voices from the losing side as though that represents the nation we became.

[00:14:53] Kendra Arsenault: [00:14:53] You know, you just held the, the Jesus and politics conference here in Andrews University.

[00:14:57]Nick Miller: [00:14:57] Right?

[00:14:57] Kendra Arsenault: [00:14:57] And what are some things that you’re wanting [00:15:00] to bring to that conversation that you feel like, how do we navigate this? I feel like a lot of Christians are a little bit tentative about having their faith and their, uh, kind of their political involvement united. So what are some things that you want to bring out of that conversation?

[00:15:15] Nick Miller: [00:15:15] Well, part of it is what I’ve just stated already is that separation of church and state is not an imposition of the enlightenment on Christian America. It comes from the heart of Christian America, but you can go to an extreme in the other direction as well. And so in fact, our church in the 20th century seems to have gotten caught up in saying yes, separation of church and state.

[00:15:38] So as Christians, we should have nothing to do. With politics, with the public sphere, with morality in, um, government policy, we should just stay quiet. And that’s not what our founders of our country, our founders of our church believed about the separation of church and state. They believe there should be an institutional separation.

[00:15:59] [00:16:00] Yes. They also believe that the state shouldn’t enforce, the specifically religious ideas of the church. But, um, some went further and said, separation of church and state essentially means the separation of morality in the state. And this was driven in good part by Christians in the South. And it arose from a particular historical set of circumstances revolving around slavery.

[00:16:27] The southerners loved their slavery. It was a center of their industry and economies, and they didn’t want abolitionists and Christians criticizing it. And so they took the notion of the separation of church and state, and they made it a doctrine of the separation of morality in the state so that the church, not only did it have to stay separate and apart institutionally from the state and not impose its doctrines on the state, it had to keep quiet about moral issues in the state, [00:17:00] and therefore it couldn’t, shouldn’t would be the teaching, um, argue against slavery. And after slavery was gone, it shouldn’t have things to say about discrimination in Jim Crow. Now, our pioneers. The Adventist pioneers came from the North and they didn’t have this view.

[00:17:17] They believe in the separation of church and state quite strongly in the institutional and in doctrinal sense, but they didn’t believe that this church or church members should stay quiet in the face of public immorality and the mistreatment of humanity. And so they would rally and they were very much involved in the abolitionist movement and the temperance reform movement seeking to either oppose and disobeyed laws that protected slavery or seeking to pass laws that would protect women and children from the abuses and ravages of alcohol.

[00:17:51] So, the, you mentioned the conference we had Jesus and politics. It was an attempt. To, to [00:18:00] help define a middle way between these two extremes.

[00:18:02] Kendra Arsenault: [00:18:02] Yeah. You kind of have to have a lawyer’s brain to understand, you know, what territory can I, can I enter into and what territory should I stay out of? And I think finding that line and that delineation is sometimes difficult just for the lay member to be able to find.

[00:18:17]Nick Miller: [00:18:17] It’s difficult for all of us, but, um, but it’s important and it’s not impossible in our, our pioneers who… almost all of them were not even college educated, much, much less graduate school level educated or advanced law degrees.

[00:18:33] They, they did a, quite a good job. Um, because they held to some principles that, that we’ve lost sight of involving general and special revelation, um, that there are truths that the Bible gives you only and that, that we call the Bible special revelation, and that these you apprehend by faith and therefore it’s not appropriate to impose those through civil [00:19:00] law on a society which is filled with people who don’t have faith, faith, and non-faith.

[00:19:05] Whereas general revelation are those truths about human nature and morality that everyone can apprehend through the use of reason and common sense and intuition, and that therefore you can build moral laws based on that other book of revelation. And we’ve lost sort of sight of the difference of those two books and how they relate to each other.

[00:19:27] And it, it relates to a word you mentioned earlier, moral philosophy. We used to have a robust conception, uh, as Christian, Protestant Christians that there were, was a world of morality that you could understand outside the Bible, and that this was a shared world with other citizens and that you could argue for and build a public policy that was more just and more fair.

[00:19:50] Um, and than slavery and other abuses and, but modern day  in the 20th century, many Christians came to believe you [00:20:00] could really only get your morality from the Bible and that you were limited to that, and they abandoned this field of moral philosophy that our finding pioneers found so important, and they built up a morality on the Bible, which was maybe adequate for their purposes inside the church, but which could have no influence on the public square in their involvement as Christian citizens.

[00:20:24] Kendra Arsenault: [00:20:24] Let’s, let’s talk a little bit about, and kind of a little bit of a history of moral philosophy and to kind of the emergence of that and the importance of that. I know that we divvied into that, but maybe kind of getting a little more specific about what does that really mean? Cause that might be a new term for a lot of people listening in.

[00:20:41] Nick Miller: [00:20:41] Right. So, I should be prepared for this. As I just finished teaching a course on the history of moral philosophy and natural theology was the, was the other part of it, and the two are related. Moral philosophy tends to look at the world around us. And what we can understand through reason and [00:21:00] examining humans and human behavior and human history.

[00:21:04] Um, natural theology is more of the vertical, what we can understand about the divine through an examination of the created world and the things that he’s made. Um, and both of these traditions go back thousands of years and, uh, into the Greek and Roman era before Christ. And if you think about it, by definition, they would need to, I mean it; the claim of natural law and the moral philosophy is that humans can have some sense of right and wrong from their experiences in the world, and God has laid like an open book, the book of nature, we call it. And if that’s true, then you should be able to look in all cultures and all places and see that humans had some sense of this. And lo and behold, we do.

[00:21:49] Um, C S Lewis famously talks about this in his book, the abolition of men, uh, where he defends notions of the natural law in the [00:22:00] 20th century that has mostly lost sight of it. And as part of doing it, he gives it a name and he doesn’t give it the name natural law. He gives it a name from the East. The Tao.

[00:22:09] T-A-O. Right? Dow to how. And his point is that Confucianism and the Eastern religions also had this conception of higher standards of right and wrong and justice. And by using the word Tao, he’s showing that this isn’t just a Western invention. That it’s cross culture and cross time. But there was certainly a Western tradition of it.

[00:22:32] And we can look back at our own roots to the Stoics, uh, philosophers who talked about natural law, Cicero, the Roman, a thinker and philosopher. And it’s reflected in the writings of Paul. So if you go to Romans chapters one and two, it talks about nature, uh, in the passage on that involves sexuality.

[00:22:53] So clearly Paul is echoing, but he’s placing it more firmly in creation. Plato has this [00:23:00] notion of the eternal universe and the the heavenly realm of the ideal forms. Paul understands that there was a beginning of creation, but that God put into this creation a moral framework that nature itself reflects.

[00:23:15] And so it was a fairly common theme through the, the early church, but there’s always swings between kind of scripturalist Biblicism versus natural reason, a natural law, and you can go wrong by going too far in either direction, right? If you put natural law and reason and kind of ignore scripture, then you lose out on the important divine insights that scripture gives.

[00:23:46] But if you go too far over to Biblicism, you lose the materials that attach the truths of scripture to the practical realities of the world around you. And so in the middle ages, you have some of this [00:24:00] back and forth and the um reformers came along, Protestant reformers, and they tended to need to swing it back towards the biblical side because the medieval church had been very much over in this kind of reason.

[00:24:12] And scholasticism and making the Bible correspond with Plato and Aristotle, and Luther and Calvin Sola scriptura, right, is the cry that they came with. But even they understood that Sola scriptura didn’t work in a vacuum,

[00:24:28] Kendra Arsenault: [00:24:28] Right.

[00:24:29] Nick Miller: [00:24:29] And that there were teachings of nature and, and history and even tradition that helped informed Bible study and they believe certainly in a natural law that the princes would use to pass laws, and there was a robust tradition of natural law. Hugo Grotius was probably the great articulator of natural law. Um, in creating rules for nations internationally. In fact, even the today, the international law society is known as the [00:25:00] Hugo Grotius society, and he was a follower of Jacob Arminius, the famous freewill theologian. And he based his notions of natural law on Arminius’ idea that God has given us a free will, and that he’s also given us a capacity to see and understand right and wrong in the world around us to exercise that will on. And so, um, he said, look, if this is the case, then we don’t just have to look at the parliament to see what the law is. Cause this was the problem of the law in the seas, right.

[00:25:31] When you went out on the high seas and there was no court or legislature, what was the law? And Grotius said, well, God has given us minds and reason and these principles that we can use to create rules for international engagement and, and laws on the sea. And he was a deeply religious man in doing this, and it was aided by his theological insights that we’ve lost sight of that today.

[00:25:55] Um, and so there was this proud Protestant tradition of up to [00:26:00] Ellen White who said, we have to study moral philosophy for three reasons, actually. Um, and they’re all important. One, you had to study it because if you want to reach people who don’t believe the Bible. You can’t just teach from the Bible, right?

[00:26:15] You have to explain, you have to build a bridge to the Bible. You have to say why things those people understand about morality should cause them to look at the teachings of scripture. So you can’t really do evangelism and apologetics well without some conception of moral philosophy and the natural law.

[00:26:32] Two: it also provided a vehicle for Christians to be actively involved in the public square.

[00:26:37] Kendra Arsenault: [00:26:37] Yeah.

[00:26:38] Nick Miller: [00:26:38] Cause you can’t just take your biblical teachings and say, well the Bible says keep the Sabbath day, therefore everyone should keep it. No. You have to translate biblical teachings about alcohol or about slavery into the language of common moral philosophy that can serve as the basis of, of laws.

[00:26:55] And our pioneers did that and they did it very effectively. And the third thing it does, and [00:27:00] this is less obvious, but um, it enables you to interpret the Bible more clearly and correctly. So an obvious example is prophecy. You really can’t understand prophecy just from the Bible alone, right? You have to go and look at history and the events of the past to match up the events and the dates.

[00:27:19] And so that’s one obvious example, but another example are teaching the parables of Jesus. He’s teaching spiritual lessons. But if you don’t know what fishermen do and lost coins are like, and what the harvester does and the meaning of that; Christ in a sense, is doing the kind of natural theology, a moral philosophy, using lessons from nature.

[00:27:43] And it seems true that when people stop using moral philosophy to inform their biblical study, their biblical ethics goes really wrong.

[00:27:52] Kendra Arsenault: [00:27:52] And that’s pretty much what happened during the turn of the century, during the turn of the 20th century, right, that there was a return back to [00:28:00] fundamentalism, Sola scriptura, and basically, and you can probably explain this better than I can, but there was the rise of Darwinism.

[00:28:08] And so in order to kind of defend the original creation account, that they began to become very more fundamentalistic in their interpretation and kind of reason and moral philosophy kind of got the boot.

[00:28:19] Nick Miller: [00:28:19] Good. That’s a very excellent summary. I’ve been an okay teacher. Um, yeah. Very well put. And, and I would just add to that, that at the time of the civil war, before and after it, some of the staunchest defenders of slavery were the people who insisted most strongly on Sola scriptura. We can only get our morality from the Bible. Since the Bible doesn’t have an explicit text, um, condemning slavery, then neither can we condemn it. But our pioneers said, no, we can take biblical principles of human equality and fair treatment and, and the philosophy of all humans made in the image of God.

[00:28:59] And we can [00:29:00] condemn slavery and we can, in fact, Ellen white herself said that those who support slavery should not be church members. So this combination of moral philosophy and biblical teaching. Is necessary to keep the Bible connected with contemporary issues. And as you’ve noted, at the beginning of the 20th century, Ellen white died and she’d been the sign of balancing influence in the church and Christianity split between liberalism on one hand and fundamentalism on the other.

[00:29:30] Well, Adventists were kind of in the middle, but they knew they weren’t liberals because they believed in inspiration and the virgin birth and the resurrection and all those things and miracles, and so they felt naturally inclined to follow the fundamentalists. And we tended to do that. And they believe, not in what I call Sola scriptura, but something else.

[00:29:49] Solo scriptura, Sola scriptura means by scripture alone, meaning that it’s scripture is the highest authority, but there’s other authorities that you measure by [00:30:00] scripture. Solo scriptura is, it’s only the Bible, and that’s all we’re going to look at and so Adventism fell into this rather impoverished ethical world after the 1920s looking only at the plain reading of scripture, not the plain meaning. I’m supportive of that, but the plane reading is looking at the surface language of scripture. And if it doesn’t condemn the particular act, then we won’t either. And so the civil rights movement came along and we felt this was a political thing and the Bible didn’t speak about this, and therefore we needed to stay out of it.

[00:30:35] And, and we had a teaching for our church internally. But we didn’t have the language to communicate it in these broader moral philosophy notions. And so we were almost entirely absent from that. And it’s affected our evangelism as well. I mean, it’s an open secret that Adventism in the Western world, industrialized West.

[00:30:54] It’s not really growing. You know, we’re having some conversions, but it’s not really keeping up with the death rate. The reason [00:31:00] the church is growing is because, um, immigrants are coming from overseas where our evangelism still does work successfully because it’s in supernaturalistic cultures that believe in God and miracles and spirits.

[00:31:14] Kendra Arsenault: [00:31:14] It’s true.

[00:31:14] Nick Miller: [00:31:14] And we have a good framework for that. But when you’re dealing with a secular world, our rejection of moral philosophy or maybe our ignorance of it… At this point, people maybe aren’t intentionally rejecting it, is making our evangelism much less effective than it could be or should be.

[00:31:33] Kendra Arsenault: [00:31:33] We’re so glad you joined us this week as we explore the intersectionality of faith and politics. Stay tuned for next week as we look at some practical applications of moral philosophy, tackling some. fun issues like what should the extent of our persuasion versus legislation be when it comes to issues like substance usage such as marijuana.

[00:31:54] We have a pretty lively discussion that brings out some out of the box insights you don’t want to miss. [00:32:00] Once again, our recommended reading for this week is his book, the Reformation and the Remnant. We want to thank the Adventist learning community for making this program possible. As well as our guest, Dr. Nicholas Miller. If you’re not already following us on Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram, be sure to do so at the handle at Advent Next. Thanks so much for tuning in. See you next week.



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