Matt Harrison to testify to Congressional committee today

I have it on good authority that Rev. Matthew Harrison, president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, will testify before a Congressional committee investigating the religious liberty issues in the Obamacare abortion pill/contraception mandate.  Testimony is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. ET.  I’m told that you can watch it here:  Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

I’m glad he is doing this.  It’s important to demonstrate that this is not just a Roman Catholic issue.

Do you think this is good for him to do?  Or is this a violation of the Lutheran doctrine of the Two Kingdoms?  Or is it an example of that doctrine?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Booklover

    Of course it is a good thing for him to do. Who knows where this administration’s tendrils will extend next? First they came for the adoption agencies, next to the forced distribution of abortion pills. Where will their intrusion into the free exercise of religion end?

    Sorry for any errors–I am rushing off to work. . .

  • Booklover

    Of course it is a good thing for him to do. Who knows where this administration’s tendrils will extend next? First they came for the adoption agencies, next to the forced distribution of abortion pills. Where will their intrusion into the free exercise of religion end?

    Sorry for any errors–I am rushing off to work. . .

  • http://www.caryschwarz.com saddler

    Harrison’s official role with the church is administrative perhaps more than pastoral. I think this tips the scales in favor of his involvement in the secular kingdom on this one.

  • http://www.caryschwarz.com saddler

    Harrison’s official role with the church is administrative perhaps more than pastoral. I think this tips the scales in favor of his involvement in the secular kingdom on this one.

  • LAJ

    Why shouldn’t he use his God given wisdom to influence the government to good. Luther certainly did.

  • LAJ

    Why shouldn’t he use his God given wisdom to influence the government to good. Luther certainly did.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Harrison’s opening remarks were great. And so far he is doing well in speaking about the two kingdoms. I will also say Mr. Cummings needs to do his homework. I suspect he will be going back and yelling at his staff as they just made him rather dumb.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Harrison’s opening remarks were great. And so far he is doing well in speaking about the two kingdoms. I will also say Mr. Cummings needs to do his homework. I suspect he will be going back and yelling at his staff as they just made him rather dumb.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    Many Americans like to read Two Kingdoms as strict separation between church and state, but this was never the case. Lutheran theology has never held that clergy ought not address politicians or that politicians ought not act upon Biblical teaching.

    The modern division between religion and secular life that such strict separation depends on was utterly foreign to Luther and the other reformers. There is a hypostatic union between a Christian’s religious and secular vocations–though distinct, they always influence one another. President Harrison speaking as both Pastor and citizen on behalf of those who likewise hold dual citizenship in both kingdoms is a fine example of the Two Kingdoms doctrine at work.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    Many Americans like to read Two Kingdoms as strict separation between church and state, but this was never the case. Lutheran theology has never held that clergy ought not address politicians or that politicians ought not act upon Biblical teaching.

    The modern division between religion and secular life that such strict separation depends on was utterly foreign to Luther and the other reformers. There is a hypostatic union between a Christian’s religious and secular vocations–though distinct, they always influence one another. President Harrison speaking as both Pastor and citizen on behalf of those who likewise hold dual citizenship in both kingdoms is a fine example of the Two Kingdoms doctrine at work.

  • Lew

    Sorry if this question has been answered repeatedly. Asking as an outsider, what is a pithy definition of “Lutheran two kingdom theology”, and where should I go to read about it on an introductory level?

  • Lew

    Sorry if this question has been answered repeatedly. Asking as an outsider, what is a pithy definition of “Lutheran two kingdom theology”, and where should I go to read about it on an introductory level?

  • DonS

    In this age of an appalling lack of understanding of religious faith, and the concept of objective Truth, it is sometimes necessary for religious leaders to instruct the government as to how to avoid violating the Free Exercise rights of people of faith. This is clearly such a time.

    It is interesting that those on the left tend to strongly object to the Citizens United decision, ostensibly because they hate the idea of corporations (organizations) being treated like individuals, i.e. being entitled to the same Constitutional rights as individuals, on the theory that these corporations, especially non-profit advocacy organizations like Citizens United, are merely a collective of individuals, banding together to speak with a stronger and louder unified voice. But, on the other hand, on this issue of religious freedom, they only want to (grudgingly) grant religious freedom rights to institutions, namely churches, and not at all to individuals. Strange. What about individual business owners of faith, who don’t want to provide free coverage for benefits they regard as sinful?

  • DonS

    In this age of an appalling lack of understanding of religious faith, and the concept of objective Truth, it is sometimes necessary for religious leaders to instruct the government as to how to avoid violating the Free Exercise rights of people of faith. This is clearly such a time.

    It is interesting that those on the left tend to strongly object to the Citizens United decision, ostensibly because they hate the idea of corporations (organizations) being treated like individuals, i.e. being entitled to the same Constitutional rights as individuals, on the theory that these corporations, especially non-profit advocacy organizations like Citizens United, are merely a collective of individuals, banding together to speak with a stronger and louder unified voice. But, on the other hand, on this issue of religious freedom, they only want to (grudgingly) grant religious freedom rights to institutions, namely churches, and not at all to individuals. Strange. What about individual business owners of faith, who don’t want to provide free coverage for benefits they regard as sinful?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Lew, the best place would be Luther himself, there is a great little book put out by cambridge classics, calle “Luthe and calvin on secular authority” that has luther and calvin side by side to illustrate their similarities and differences. You can find it on amazon.com. I have a list there too for further reading.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Lew, the best place would be Luther himself, there is a great little book put out by cambridge classics, calle “Luthe and calvin on secular authority” that has luther and calvin side by side to illustrate their similarities and differences. You can find it on amazon.com. I have a list there too for further reading.

  • Pete

    Lew @6

    There is a book called “Lutheranism 101″ that I believe addresses two kingdom theology. I think Dr. Veith’s book “The Spirituality of the Cross” does also.

  • Pete

    Lew @6

    There is a book called “Lutheranism 101″ that I believe addresses two kingdom theology. I think Dr. Veith’s book “The Spirituality of the Cross” does also.

  • Lew

    Thank you, Bror and Pete.

  • Lew

    Thank you, Bror and Pete.

  • SKPeterson

    Lew – It is found in several places, especially in the Lutheran Confessions found in the Book of Concord, specifically the Formula of Concord. One problem with translating Two Kingdoms is that the “Left-Hand Kingdom” is not exclusively the province of the government – it encompasses the family, the neighborhood, the community and all of the institutions that make up, support and allow for people to act together. So, this issue becomes not only a Left Hand v. Right Hand conflict, but also a disagreement on the proper scope of one Left Hand institution in relation to the other Left Hand institutions.

  • SKPeterson

    Lew – It is found in several places, especially in the Lutheran Confessions found in the Book of Concord, specifically the Formula of Concord. One problem with translating Two Kingdoms is that the “Left-Hand Kingdom” is not exclusively the province of the government – it encompasses the family, the neighborhood, the community and all of the institutions that make up, support and allow for people to act together. So, this issue becomes not only a Left Hand v. Right Hand conflict, but also a disagreement on the proper scope of one Left Hand institution in relation to the other Left Hand institutions.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Video from the LCMS of Harrison’s opening statement. Overall, I think he did a good job, though I’m not sure his tone always made sense. Maybe it was nerves — I’d be incredibly nervous in such a situation.

    I also felt like Harrison was trying his best to squeeze in an advertisement for the LCMS. To some degree, that’s appropriate — this is who we are and why you should care about my testimony — but some of those points seemed rather tangential.

    But these are mere tactical critiques. I certainly don’t think anyone could legitimately criticize the man for testifying in front of Congress. Heck, wasn’t he invited to testify? It’s not like he barged his way in there and demanded to be heard.

    I will note, however, that the current liberal meme response to the testimony in Congress today is to note that it’s all men doing the testifying. I don’t think that’s a terribly valid critique, but, you know, FWIW.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Video from the LCMS of Harrison’s opening statement. Overall, I think he did a good job, though I’m not sure his tone always made sense. Maybe it was nerves — I’d be incredibly nervous in such a situation.

    I also felt like Harrison was trying his best to squeeze in an advertisement for the LCMS. To some degree, that’s appropriate — this is who we are and why you should care about my testimony — but some of those points seemed rather tangential.

    But these are mere tactical critiques. I certainly don’t think anyone could legitimately criticize the man for testifying in front of Congress. Heck, wasn’t he invited to testify? It’s not like he barged his way in there and demanded to be heard.

    I will note, however, that the current liberal meme response to the testimony in Congress today is to note that it’s all men doing the testifying. I don’t think that’s a terribly valid critique, but, you know, FWIW.

  • Jeremiah

    @ Lew – Another great book that lays out the Scriptural teaching of the two kingdoms is Civil Government: God’s Other Kingdom by Prof. Em. Daniel Deutschlander. It’s published by Northwestern Publishing House and explains well both the history and theology behind the two kingdoms. Here’s a link to it: http://online.nph.net/p-1428-civil-government.aspx

  • Jeremiah

    @ Lew – Another great book that lays out the Scriptural teaching of the two kingdoms is Civil Government: God’s Other Kingdom by Prof. Em. Daniel Deutschlander. It’s published by Northwestern Publishing House and explains well both the history and theology behind the two kingdoms. Here’s a link to it: http://online.nph.net/p-1428-civil-government.aspx

  • Lew

    Thanks, SKP and Jeremiah

  • Lew

    Thanks, SKP and Jeremiah

  • http://www.concordiakingsport.org Paul Becker

    The church is the conscience of the state.

  • http://www.concordiakingsport.org Paul Becker

    The church is the conscience of the state.

  • JunkerGeorg

    @SKPeterson, #11

    “…this issue becomes not only a Left Hand v. Right Hand conflict, but also a disagreement on the proper scope of one Left Hand institution in relation to the other Left Hand institutions.”
    ———–
    Bingo! And, if I may dare add, perhaps it is not only a disagreement on the proper scope, but also a disregard of what the Constitution (e.g., 10th Amendment) has to say regarding the proper scope (numerated powers) of the Federal Government.

  • JunkerGeorg

    @SKPeterson, #11

    “…this issue becomes not only a Left Hand v. Right Hand conflict, but also a disagreement on the proper scope of one Left Hand institution in relation to the other Left Hand institutions.”
    ———–
    Bingo! And, if I may dare add, perhaps it is not only a disagreement on the proper scope, but also a disregard of what the Constitution (e.g., 10th Amendment) has to say regarding the proper scope (numerated powers) of the Federal Government.


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