August 10, 2017
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. Pay to all what is due them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.
There is a belief in many Christian circles concerning the idea of ‘Two Kingdoms’. One kingdom is often called the ‘Kingdom of the Left’. The other kingdom is often called the ‘Kingdom of the Right’.
The thought concerning these Two Kingdoms is that both are created by God but that these Two Kingdoms serve two different purposes.
Let me begin with the ‘Kingdom of the Left’. This is often called the ‘Secular Kingdom’. This kingdom is ruled according to the laws or customs of governments, social structures, political systems, cultures and so on.
This ‘Kingdom of the Left’ is a way in which God cares for the world. For example, the state sets traffic speeds at certain limits for the protection of the individual and for the protection of the society at large. God uses the state to set laws for the benefit and safety of the people. The benefit is not only for religious people but also for non-religious people.
To be sure, the state is never a perfect state. Human beings can be sinful and use their authority in ways contrary to the benefit of the people. To the extreme, states can become totalitarian states and abuse people.
However, that is not God’s intent for the state. God’s intent is care for all people.
The other kingdom is the ‘Kingdom of the Right’ or the ‘Spiritual Kingdom’. This is a kingdom not based on laws of the state but on the grace of God. Some even call this the ‘Kingdom of Grace’. This kingdom has a different function. God’s grace and forgiveness rule this kingdom.
This has several implications. One implication is the separation of Church and State. Church and state have two different functions and therefore should be separate.
Another implication is there is no ‘Christian’ government. Christians certainly do participate in the public and secular arenas. They may even shape the form of government in some spheres. However, the Kingdom of Grace should never take on the responsibilities of the Kingdom of the Secular.
There is so much more to say on this topic. More than this blog allows.
Suffice to say there are Two Kingdoms created by God. Those Two Kingdoms have two different purposes.
Peace Lutheran Church
Mill Valley, California