top of page
Search

Two Kingdoms a la Luther

Here is a little light reading for those interested in the "Two Kingdom Thinking of Dr. Luther - Wikipedia has a very good explanation of Luther's Two Kingdom understanding. It does not divide the Secular Government from the Church as many among even scholars seem to think. The Kingdom of the World includes everything Carnal (that which flesh and blood human beings do outside the Church and inside the Church). Clearly the Word of God as Law speaks to all in their various Carnal actions - in Government and in Churches. The other Kingdom is the Kingdom of Faith which focuses only upon Christ. Clearly, for Luther, God's full word (Law and Gospel) is to be addressed to all in each and every Kingdom. My Comparisom posting was thus completely in order. - Pastor Steward From Widipedia -m"Zwingli had a Two Kingdom Theology different from Luther and Calvin had a Two Kingdom Theology different from Luther and Zwingli. The Roman Catholics had the Two Swords Theology that the Church confers authority to the Secular areas. "The two kingdoms doctrine is a Protestant Christian doctrine that teaches that God is the ruler of the whole world and that he rules in two ways. The doctrine is held by Lutherans and represents the view of some Calvinists.[1] John Calvin significantly modified Martin Luther's original two kingdoms doctrine[2] and certain neo-Calvinists have adopted a different view known as transformationalism. According to what Luther describes as the two kingdoms, in many places, God rules every thing that happens everywhere. He does it in what he describes as "two kingdoms" or in other places using "two different powers" or "two different ways of reigning". One kingdom he calls variously the kingdom of law. Of man. Of old Adam. The other he calls the kingdom of Grace. One of the clearest outline of Luther's idea is found in his marburg sermon. In the earthly kingdom, God has established 3 "ordos" or earthly governments and places everyone under all 3. They are civil government, the church and what he calls the family or the married estate (but in modern terms what he describes sounds more like what Aristotle calls economia. Or maybe all the things like parents or employers that rule over us or we rule over in our personal lives? Two kingdoms is one of many models Luther uses to teach how to distinguish law and gospel. The earthly kingdom includes everything our reason and senses can know. All righteousness in this kingdom, including in the church Luther identifies as the carnal righteousness that Paul say will end with the earth. In this kingdom God rules by the law he has planted in the minds (reason ) of all men (Romans 2:4) In this kingdom Luther says man, alone with reason and free will both completely know and do all outward righteousness. No Bible or holy spirit are necessary for this. (Apology to the Augsburg confession, art 18, free will) What, alone, the holy spirit is necessary for is the faith in Christ by which, alone, he rules in that other kingdom, that is as far from the earthly kingdom as heaven is from earth. So this model of law gospel distinction parallels and amplifies the doctrine of what Luther calls the Christian as at the same time being saint and sinner. A citizen of both kingdoms. In all he can sense to the extent that he is alive he is 1000% a slave of sin the law and death. And exists in the earthly kingdom . And.. to the extent that he is dead, in Christ, he is 1000% Lord over sin the law and death. And Luther says, what if someone were to ask "show me that one who is Lord over sin the law and death!" And Luther says : I can't. He's hidden in Christ . He's dead. Even now he is in the heavenly kingdom at God's right hand, ruling with Christ overall things. ("Only the Decalog is Eternal ,Luther's Antinomian Disputations", Lutheran Press, 2008, pp161) In a sermon for the 19th Sunday after trinity, Martin Luther preached on the two kingdoms or two kinds of righteousness (Luther,Martin, sermons of Martin Luther, the church postils, translated by John lenker, Baker books 1995, vol 4) This sermon explicitly and unmistakably makes clear that two kingdoms is a model or mode for Luther to teach others how to distinguish law/gospel in the context of our life and existence in everything sensible as a slave to the law sin and death, while existing completely, at the same time hidden completely in Christ and Lord over sin death and the law, and exist right now, in a heavenly kingdom....and at the same time, how a Christian is to understand that he is in his Person, internally fully a member of each kingdom simultaneously the saint/sinner in our very being. And he illustrates this by contrasting two kingdoms, two kinds of righteousness, two very different powers God uses to reign and rule over every smallest happening and detail anywhere and everywhere One can trace the law gospel distinction as pervasive and pivotal alense to understand scripture as early as mmelancthon's 1521 romans commentary (Concordia 1992), mmelancthon's 1521 Loci communes at high decibal (Philip melancthon common places 1521, Concordia 2014, cf p163 on old/new man!) And in 1531 the Apology to the Augsburg confession frames every one of its articles in a law gospel parsing. So by 1528, you will see in the marburg sermons and the sermons before and after, sermons that apply law gospel distinction to month of Sundays. In the marburg sermon, Luther states that the earthly Kingdom includes everything we can see and do in our bodies. This fully and especially includes whatever is done in the church. Everything! is carnal righteousness . Luther says This is taught why? so that it is clear that in the Heavenly Kingdom, the only thing that is included there is faith alone in Christ. Luther make clear in his preface to his 1545 translations of St Paul's epistle to the Romans, that he is only describing what he was taught by St Paul. Flesh vs spirit is not body/material/physical vs spiritual/transcendent/ethereal The thomist scholastics understood that in this dichotomy the flesh was vice, the profane the secular vocations of marriage work etc. While the sacred was the church, Aristotelian virtues, being a priest monk or nun. Luther saw this contrast from flesh and carnal righteousness to spirit, instead to be a movement from man's higher powers described by Aristotle and Aquinas, man's reason, his virtues as all being what Paul labels carnal righteousness and flesh to, alone, the invisible righteousness of faith in Christ, which in the sermon referenced here he says is "meaningless on earth except to God and a troubled conscience". (Cf Marburg sermon) One editor here inserted the comment that the law and gospel distinction was only first defined in 1580 in the formula of Concord. I hope I have shown or provided references so the reader can evaluate for his own self what is described in this article. Currently there is a renewed discussion among Lutherans about law and gospel in the life of a Christian and how law and gospel relate to sanctification. Luther's take on this, is found in his Disputations against the antinomians and in his opening words it should come as no surprise that he says : " you have heard frequently that there is no better way of reaching and preserving the pure doctrine than that we follow this method, namely, that we devide christian doctrine into two parts, law and gospel, that there are two things which are set before us in God's Word, namely, either wrath or grace, sin or righteousness, death or life, hell or heaven. And these matters are certain and clear. "(Ibid P34) Then, in the second disputation, Luther points to repentance as the law/ gospel description of the entire Christian life. (One can read this in more detail in a law gospel parsing of repentance both in the 1531 apology, luther's large catechism on baptism, and the 1580 formula) which Luther recaps briefly as... "Everyone who has faith has sorrow over sin. Every believer , who by faith begins to conquer the terrors of the Law, repents throughout his entire life For the entire life of the faithful is an exercise and a certain hatred against the remainder of sin in the flesh, which grumbles against the Spirit and faith. The pious repeatedly feel terrors. Then faith battles against unbelief and despair, as well as against lust , anger, pride , revenge , etc. This battle remains in the pious as long as they live. In some it is more violent, in others gentler. They therefore have sorrow and hatred over sin combined with faith and this is why they cry out with St Paul "o wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?! Staupitz used to say , death is desirable to the pious because there is never an end of sinning in this life. And this is most truly how it is. In pious minds the sadness over sin and fear of death is greater than the joys over the life and oneffible grace given thru Christ . To be sure , they wrestle with this unbelief and conquer it by faith, but this spirit of sadness always returns. Therefore repentance remains with them until death. I bring this up because rthey thought sin is an easy and momentary matter that can be abolished by contrition, confession and satisfaction . They didn't comfort those who made confession by making them sure their sins were forgiven. Instead they imposed and obligated them with some work like celebacy or fasting or some other worthless effort."(p60 ibid)"

10 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment


revroyas
revroyas
Apr 04, 2020

Regarding the Two Kingdom Doctrine of Luther - I have found it rather ironic that here in America "Liberal or Leftist oriented Religionists" have no problem with protests and efforts that challenge Government in its various forms. When I entered Seminary, many years ago, the Vietnam War was at its Home Protest stage. In Gettysburg, The largest Lutheran Church in the Town had endured a fire that destroyed most of the Church. While that congregation was rebuilding they Worshipped at the Lutheran Seminary Abiding Presence Chapel. The Congregation had many ardent Political activists and among these were many of the Lutheran Seminary Professors - covering the range of Systematic Theology - to Church History. Banners were hung from th…

Like
Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page