Synthesis Essay

Synthesis Essay

Institutional Affiliation


Synthesis Essay

Throughout history, religious and theological concepts have been applied to abstract political ideas, thereby legitimatizing political positions, actions, and systems. While government and religion are irrefutably two different concepts instituted for divergent ends, the involvement of religion in political governance has become more profound today so that separating church from state seems almost impossible. Given the intertwined nature of religion and politics, researchers have developed sophisticated theological models to explain the interaction and relationship between religious and political themes, institutions, actors, and ideas. Such scholars are Dreisbach (2011) and Stine (2014), who explored historical political developments within the context of religion, church, and the Bible. Drawing on ideas and arguments presented in these two journal articles, the intersection between religion and politics cannot be overemphasized.

Analysis of Articles’ Contexts

In his article, Dreisbach (2011) examine how the Bible served as the principal guide to inform the political rhetoric of the America’s founding generation. The author clarifies that American founders derived their political thought of the country’s establishment from the Bible. They used this thought to stylistically and substantively shape their political discourse around the literal, cultural, and theological realms. So, Dreisbach (2011) draws a rich picture the role of Bible-centered religious ethos in shaping early American politics. Essentially, biblical themes and Bible-based precepts provided the fundamental supreme rules and normative standards to order public life and guide political principles. The article underscores that previously, the intellectual and philosophical elite of the Enlightenment deemphasized the bible rhetoric in political matters. However, the bible rhetoric and biblical themes and language eventually pervaded the political discourses, pronouncements, and expressions of both religious founders and Enlightenment founding figures who shaped America and its civil establishments (Dreisbach 2011).

In his peer-reviewed article, Stine (2014) offers a comprehensive defense of how the partnership between church and the state enhanced the creation of the Puritan society’s national covenant with God within the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Here, the author delineates the impact of religion in shaping political governance in colonialism. Civil and religious authorities in the Puritan community enacted and enforced Bible-based ordinances within this new Godly state to govern collective and individual behaviors to sustain this national covenant in the colony. While the state and church were distinct mainstays of the Puritan community, the partnership between the two was critical to preserving the national covenant (Stine, 2014). So, this article proves that the unification between church and state was a religious move within Puritan civil religion to legitimize colonial governance and culture under a pious pact. Stine (2014) acknowledges that this sacred agreement with God was overly indispensable that Puritan society codified it within its religious and legal charters and documents.

Evaluation of Articles’ Relationship and Overlay

Putting the two articles into conversation with each other, it is clear that Dreisbach (2011) and Stine (2014) highlight the significant role that religion played in defining the nature of early political establishments. From a critical outlook, these articles intersect or overlap in the emphasis they place on the employment of Bible-based principles and precepts to political ideologies and thoughts that permeated governance and public policy within political institutions in early America history. For instance, Dreisbach (2011) underscores that biblical themes, principles, and precepts defined the thoughts, political rhetoric, and conceptions of America’s founding generation as it formed the nation. On a similar note, Stine (2014) underlines the idea that the Puritans, who viewed the sacred pact with God as the keystone of their civil religion, leveraged biblical ordinances to design and establish the system of political and colonial governance and government functioning to be utilized in the Massachusetts Bay Colony towards sustaining this pact. So, the two articles are exemplary cases for the interplay between religion (the church) and politics (the state) in influencing the political developments of the early national periods in American history.

The two articles relate to each other in two ways. Firstly, they submit that sermons, whether religious or political, were essential avenues for incorporating religious rhetoric into the political discourses of early periods. Secondly, both acknowledge that religion, Christianity, and concepts derived from the Bible were sources of morality in early political establishments. For Dreisbach (2011), scripture and biblical edicts guided the models and normative standards that ordered public life and authoritative paradigms of principles and regulations that enhanced moral conduct and obligation in the political community. Similarly, biblical ordinances and God’s moral precepts outlined in scripture were integrated into criminal regulations and statutes within Puritans’ lawmaking (Stine, 2014). The aim was to promote public morality and maintain social order towards ethical obligation of preserving the national covenant within the church-state partnership context.

How the Articles Enlighten, Engage with, and Challenge Each Other

Dreisbach (2011) and Stine (2014) enlighten each other on two aspects. The first encompasses their stances about the American and British Puritans’ nature and their covenantal functioning. Specifically, both articles admit and clarify that the early Puritans derives their pious lessons from how God dealt with the Hebrew commonwealth that escaped Pharaoh’s tyranny. The second is the precise biblical analogy that the two authors make concerning the development of early American political establishments. Categorically, Dreisbach (2011) and Stine (2014) acknowledge that the British Puritans’ movement to the New World (Massachusetts Bay Colony) and the American experience during the American founding era were analogous to the Israelites’ exit and exodus from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land.

These two articles engage with each other on the grounds of the perspectives regarding the relationship between religion and government in early American history. The two authors allude to the fact that the amalgamation of religion and politics or the state and church characterized some inherent motives to leverage pious channels to facilitate power. Explicitly, Dreisbach (2011) stated the prominent American founding figures used the Bible and its associated allusions to enrich their cultural vocabulary and language aiming at enhancing the weight and power of their political rhetoric. Similarly, Stine (2014) argued that religious and civil leaders used the church-state partnership to tap into state power to advance the church, moderate religious disputes, and main internal unity vital in sustaining the national covenant. So, the two illuminate the common goal of unifying contemporary religion and politics: to acquire or leverage power and use it to mobilize people towards fulfilling political-religious ambitions. A critical review of the two materials does not reveal instances where they challenge each other on whatever argument.

Articles’ Response to the Prompt

The class discussion prompt focused on how religion has been utilized to define the dynamics of oppression in American religious history, including how it has been used to oppress or resist oppression. Dreisbach (2011) and Stine (2014) have not engaged in any individual and collective discussion whatsoever regarding the use of religion to facilitate or resist oppression in America.


Contemporary secular society obscurely accepts the principle that politics and religion are distinct and independent domains. However, the reality is that the influence of religion on politics in numerous dimensions is becoming incessant and ever-growing. This trend is not new in American religious history, as discovered from the two journal articles analyzed. Here, Dreisbach (2011) and Stine (2014) affirmed that religious principles and concepts derived from the bible and other biblical allusions were indispensable in influencing political rhetoric and civil discourses surrounding earlier political establishments and church-state partnerships. The analysis of the unification of religion and government based on these two materials perhaps serves to reinforce the ongoing discourse that separating church and the state might just be impossible.


Dreisbach, D. L. (2011). The Bible in the political rhetoric of the American founding. Politics and Religion, 4(3), 401-427. Doi: 10.1017/S1755048311000423.

Stine, V. (2014). A church-state partnership in defense of the puritan national covenant. Journal of Church and State, 56(3), 486-502. Doi: 10.1093/jcs/cst001.