There have been several phases in the relationship between the Christian church and the state.
The uncompromising refusal of the early Christians to accord divine honors to the Roman emperor was the chief cause of the imperial persecutions of the church.
In the West Early Years to the Reformation In the West different factors affected church and state relations than in the East.
After AD 400 there was no central power in the West, but there was a central ecclesiastical power, the see of Rome, which had claimed primacy from the earliest times.
In the Byzantine Empire In the East in the 6th cent., Justinian was ruler of church and state equally, and thereafter the Orthodox Eastern Church in the Byzantine Empire was in confirmed subservience to the state.
This domination of state over church is called Erastianism, after the theologian Erastus.Lanfranc and Anselm contended against King William II, St. The Reformation introduced a great number of complicated factors into the relations of church and state.Different solutions have been found, ranging from the establishment of one particular church (as in England and the Scandinavian countries) to the total separation of church and state (as in the United States).In the Soviet Union, especially in its early period, the Communist party fostered much antireligious propaganda, and a large percentage of the churches were closed.The Constitution of 1936, however, guaranteed freedom of religious worship, and the Russian Orthodox Church was subsequently revived.The patterns of relation between church and state remain a living issue in today's society.In the British Isles The most extreme form of Erastianism is seen in the Church of England (see England, Church of), of which the monarch is supreme head.This situation derives from the strongly political character of the Protestant Reformation in England.It is notable that in the early history of religious dissent, the Puritans (see Puritanism) did not wish to end the Established Church; their aim was rather to capture and control it.After the return of the papacy to Rome the popes generally maintained independence of temporal powers but on occasion were either influenced or coerced by king or emperor.The contest in England was perhaps no less bitter than on the Continent, but it was more sporadic.