Published April 7, 1996
“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,” said Jesus, “and to God the things that are God’s.” What does this mean in a time and place drastically different from first-century Palestine? As more and more Christians from differing traditions exercise power in the political arena, what theological principles should shape their views of the role of government?
Protestant and Catholic scholars of diverse views debate these questions in Caesar’s Coin Revisited. Luis E. Lugo explicates Mark 12:13-17, reminding Christians that while they should be exemplary citizens, governmental authority ultimately derives from God’s authority. Jean Bethke Elshtain discusses the nature of the modern “Caesar,” drawing insights from Bonhoeffer’s resistance to the Nazis. Kenneth L. Grasso explores Catholic social teaching on the nature and role of the state. Doug Bandow points out that Scripture offers only guidelines and not a blueprint for godly government, and says that economic and social problems are often exacerbated dy government intervention. Each essay is followed by a response from a respected commentator and by a lively conversation among the speakers and more than a dozen other scholars and practitioners. The respondents are James V. Schall, S.J., Wilfred McClay, Max Stackhouse, and Glenn Tinder.