Introduction to Church
and State in Early Christianity | Hugo Rahner, S.J.
The first edition of this book appeared seventeen years ago when the struggle between Church and state in Nazi Germany was at its height. It then bore the title: The Liberty of the Western Church, Documents Concerning Church-State Relations in Early Christianity (Einsiedeln-Cologne: Benziger, 1943). Since then times have become more tranquil, but only in a superficial and impermanent way. Thus the question of the relations between Church and state remains as interesting as ever; it is a continuing problem in America and Russia and could at any moment reappear in Germany now that it has again become a world power. This alone would justify a new edition.
The book remains substantially unchanged in form and fundamental ideas. It provides the living witness of the early Church to the solution of the ever-recurring problem touching us as citizens of a state and members of the Church because all persons, in addition to the complex of influences affecting their personality and status as citizens, are in the Church or are called to her. For the Church is the "Kyriaké", the queen just as Christ is the King. She must, therefore, proclaim to all generations and to all states the revelation that Christ the Redeemer has brought to mankind in his power and majesty, And the state is called to listen to the Church. But both those who make the proclamation and those who hear it must do so in a way that neither exceeds nor blurs the limits of the mutual autonomy that God the Creator has set for the state, and God the Redeemer for the Church. Because citizens of the state and the members of the Church are the same individuals, the problem of the just relationship between Church and state remains a difficult and vital question for all.