Voluntaryism is a name for the principles or system of polity distinctive of those who advocate the separation of Church and State, the cessation of State endowments and State grants for religious purposes, and, in general, of all interference, patronage, or exercise of authority on the part of the civil power in the religious and ecclesiastical affairs of the citizen. The terms Voluntaryism and Voluntary have been in use since the date of the exciting discussions known as the Voluntary Controversy (q.v.); and they serve to suggest the fundamental conception which underlies the creed of religious dissent that all true worship, or acceptable service in religion, must be the free expression of individual minds; and that religion ought to be left by civil society to mould itself spontaneously, without violence to individual freedom from any interposition of secular authority or compulsory influence. Voluntaryism seeks to define more accurately the limits of civil power by defining more adequately than preceding theories have done the latitude due to the movements of religion. Assigning the magistrate his proper sphere, it is equally careful to assign the Church and the individual their appropriate spheres of responsibility and duty in reference to religion, within which they man work unchecked, in full harmony with all the claims of civil order. Voluntaryism may be regarded as the formula of advanced Protestantism, the corrected doctrine of Church and State, which the failure of the experiment of national churches has forced on public thought. It is a protest in modern language against the encroachment of the temporal power, whether under the name of magistrate, nation, or political majority, on the rights of individual conscience. SEE CHURCH AND STATE; SEE ESTABLISHMENT.

Definition of voluntary

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

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