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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Christian leaders threaten civil disobedience

A number of prominent Christian leaders are threatening civil disobedience if the Supreme Court rules that gay marriage is constitutionally mandated.  Here is the statement and here are the signers.  I’m curious what acts of civil disobedience they have in mind.  An account of the pledge after the jump.

I didn’t notice any Lutheran signers.  Why would that be?  What would a Two Kingdoms approach to the current controversy look like?  [Read more…]

Christianity’s relationship of opposition

The Orthodox Rod Dreher, who quoted Bonhoeffer in an essay on Christians separating themselves from the world, quotes another Lutheran, Søren Kierkegaard.  In his Attack upon “Christendom”, his devastating critique of the Danish state church and “cultural Christianity,” Kierkegaard argues that inherent to the faith is “a relationship of opposition” to the world.  He also makes the point that the final apostasy will not be when everybody renounces Christianity but when everybody claims to be a Christian. [Read more…]

Alexander Hamilton on religion

July 11 was the 210th anniversary of the death of Alexander Hamilton, who was killed in a duel with the sitting vice president Aaron Burr.  Hamilton was one of the important founders, having written most of the Federalist Papers, being a key aide to General Washington, and organizing the foundations of the American economy.  He well deserves to be on the ten dollar bill.  But, according to Mark Movsesian, “he also wrote one of the most important texts on the place of religion in American public life.” [Read more…]

The street and the altar

The Lutheran pastor, Christian Führer, whose prayer meetings became a catalyst for the protests that overthrew Communism in East Germany died Monday at age 71.

I was struck by this quotation from him:  “It is not the throne and the altar, but the street and the altar that belong together.”  That’s an interesting version of the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms.   That concept is often taken to refer just to the relation of the church to earthly governments.  That’s part of it, but I think it applies more broadly to society and culture as a whole, where God is also active in vocation and in caring for His creation. [Read more…]