The candidates and the Two Kingdoms

I’ve been studying the Lutheran doctrine of the Two Kingdoms, which has some interesting applications to our controversies today.  Christian defenders of Donald Trump are saying that his sexual transgressions show that he isn’t a saint.  But he is well-suited to the pragmatic, rough-and-tumble world of secular government, and that’s what we need in a presidential candidate.

Well, according to the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms, God’s spiritual Kingdom is ruled by the Gospel, but His earthly Kingdom is ruled by the Law.  That is to say, morality does apply precisely to secular government.

UPDATE:  Specifically, the first use of the Law, the civil use, which curbs external vices.  Though it cannot justify or get at our internal sinfulness, it restrains the outward expression of that sinfulness.  Such restraint and self-control can be practiced, to a certain extent, by all members of society, which depends on some kind of moral order.

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Non-denominational vs. confessional evangelicals on politics

Jacob Lupfer makes the observation  that non-denominational evangelicals tend to support Donald Trump, while “confessional evangelicals” (those committed to a specific theology) tend not to.

These are generalizations about leaders who are vocal about the election, not poll results of rank and file members.  But his lists of partisans on either side (see his article after the jump) hold up.

We confessional Lutherans are counted as “evangelicals” in surveys, based on our belief in the gospel of Christ and the Bible, though we are different from others in that camp.  We would doubtless count in the use of that term as “confessional evangelicals.”  As evident in our blog discussions, some Lutherans fiercely support Trump and others fiercely oppose him.

I don’t know how a majority of confessional Lutherans will come down on the election.  Because Lutheran confessions teach the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms, which distinguishes between the political and spiritual realms, there may be more political diversity among Lutherans.  Many confessional Lutherans are on the political left and many are libertarians.

But what would account for Lupfer’s observation?  Why would “mere Christians” support Trump, who himself makes some pretty strong distinctions and has a forceful ideology?  You would think that those who reject denominational distinctives and think all Christians should get along wouldn’t be attracted to Trump’s exclusive kind of nationalism.  And why would Christians with a distinct and forceful theology be so opposed to him?  You would think that these Christians often branded as “intolerant” would like Trump’s exclusive political ideology.  Somebody please explain this.

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How much money do people in different churches make?

This is an unspiritual topic that is none of our business and appeals only to our morbid curiosity.  The Pew Research Center has released findings about the income levels in different religious groups.  (Not just churches but religions and no-religions.)

It’s notable, for one thing, in including the Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod separately, unlike most polls that group us into categories that we have little affinity with.

Go here to see the chart:  How income varies among U.S. religious groups | Pew Research Center.

I have a few comments after the jump and then I’ll invite yours. [Read more…]

Ben Sasse is a “Lutero-Calvinist” 

Nebraska Senator and rising conservative star Ben Sasse describes himself as a “Lutero-Calvinist.”  Though he grew up and came to faith in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and says he is “in love with the Lutheran tradition,” he is now a member of a Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) congregation.  He talks about his faith and his Reformed theology with World Magazine, excerpted and linked after the jump.  I then raise some questions. [Read more…]

InterVarsity gets tough on sex issues

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship has long been one of the best evangelical campus ministries, cultivating the Christian faith along with the life of the mind.  I had heard that it was slipping to the liberal side, but the organization has told its 1,300 staffers that they must support its statement on sexuality (that sex is only for heterosexual marriage), or they will be asked to leave.  Expect controversy to ensue. [Read more…]

In defense of small churches

Most churches throughout history and throughout the world have been small.  Today more than one billion Christians worship in small congregations.  Christianity Today author Karl Vaters has written a series of five blog posts on the subject “The Astonishing Power of Small Churches,” urging that contemporary Christians move away from the megachurch ideal and realize the unique value of small congregations.

Get started reading the first post after the jump, then follow the link for the other four.

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