NEWS FROM THE CENTER FRIDAY DIGEST - September 23, 2022 - A Unique Public Voice of Blessing for All: Part 3



Christian engagement in the political realm asserts that Government has a vital but secondary or penultimate purpose which both supports the family and allows the Church to accomplish its work.[1]

 [1] Article #8 from “Articles of 2KG public engagement,” produced by the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty.

If a 2KG theology is vital to a healthy understanding of both God’s preserving and saving work and the public citizenship that it engenders, what simply does it mean? “Two-Kingdom” theology is the teaching that God is immanently at work in the world two distinct ways–ways differentiated through “two realms”–whereby God preserves and ultimately saves the world.[1] The kingdom of His left-hand rule is accomplished through the honorable vocations of all people, judged and adjudicated by outward adherence to His Law, power which curbs evil and promote outward good for the sake of peace. God also engages the world through His work of the Gospel. This rule in His right-hand kingdom is vastly different than His rule in the left. In this right-hand kingdom, God rules through the message of the Gospel, the declaration of the justification of all sinners in the world through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Gospel is the distinct message of the Christian Church which is offered to the world as pure gift by grace, through faith, in Christ alone.

In God’s “left-hand” kingdom work, He accomplishes His desires through the activities of all people seeking to honorably perform their vocations, especially those that have to do with family, economies-work, and government, compelling people to a sense of duty and honor that befits being a human being for the sake of others. While such activities cannot save humanity—due to humanity’s depravity and sin—God is at work nonetheless through such activity to mitigate humanity’s worst, sinful intentions. It’s to be noted that here, God is doing this civilizing, preserving work through people, even people who do not believe in Him.  Such work provides peace and stability, curbing humankind’s sinfulness and rebelliousness for the sake of the message of the Gospel.

God’s “right-hand” kingdom work is His engagement of the world through the unique Gospel work of Jesus Christ. Such work is vastly different than His rule in the left. In this kingdom, God rules through the message of the Gospel, the declaration of the justification of all sinners in the world through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God rules this kingdom by freely offering this gracious gift of eternal forgiveness, life, and salvation through the concrete gifts of His Word and Sacrament dispensed by His body of believers, the Church. God is at work to preserve through His left-hand Kingdom rule, but He offers salvation uniquely through His Church, as Martin Scharlemann says,

The church on the other hand, consisting as it does of the company of the redeemed, has functions quite different from those of the state. Its primary task is to proclaim the good news of God’s grace. As it goes about its work, it calls men out of this world to serve the God of promise, and so it develops in the individual Christian a loyalty that is focused on the heavenly city. By proclaiming the World and administering its sacraments, the church gathers a people destined to lives with God eternally under conditions that will not require the restraining hand of government.[2]


[1] Foundational Bible verses concerning this differentiating, 2KG theology are: “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36); “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and to God the things which are God’s” (Matthew 22:21/Mark 12:17); “Jesus answered him (Pilate), ‘You would have no authority over Me at all, if it had not been given to you from above” (John 19:11); “Every person is to be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God” (Romans 13:1); “We must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29); the 4th commandment, “Honor your Father and your Mother” (Exodus 20:12).

[2] Martin Scharlemann, “Scriptural Concepts of the Church and State, Church and State Under God, Albert A. Huegli, ed. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1964), 35. In his chapter, Scharlemann provides a simple definition of the uniqueness of the Church and the State under God, where he simply says, “The State exists primarily to establish justice and maintain order among men; its job is of this world. The church, on the other hand, has the task of calling men away from the evils of the world and preparing them for eternal life with God.” 2KG theology has always understood government as created by God as a temporal necessity, because of humankind’s universal condition of sin, for the maintaining of public justice and order; whereas the Church was created in God’s eternal plan to reconcile all things to Himself through Jesus. As such, left hand involvement, while honorable for providing temporal safety, justice, and peace, is always in service to the greater work of the Church to share God’s eternal work in Christ.


The Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz is the executive director of the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty.

This is the third in a series, If you missed Part 2 of this series regarding the two ways in which God is at work in the world and how we as Lutherans are given to embody that message anew for the world in which we live.




Be Informed

Does religious freedom have anything to do with U.S. diplomacy? Thomas Farr of the Religious Freedom Institute explains.


Be Equipped

Learn more about the Supreme Court case in which the court sided with a football coach regarding his right to pray on the field. Click here for the story and to read more of the summer issue of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s Free to Be Faithful newsletter.


Be Encouraged

“For the core of abortion supporters, this is a religion for them. I remember hearing an abortion supporter yelling, ‘This is my body! This is my body!’ But Christ says those words, too, and He uses these words for life rather than for death. They are four words, spoken from opposite ends of the universe. This is a battle of these words, and at the core, it’s a spiritual battle.” – Father Frank Pavone, summer issue, News and Notes, LCMS Life Ministry


Help support our efforts to contend for the freedom to proclaim the faith. Click here to learn more or to donate.

[1] See John Witt Jr., Religion and the Constitutional Experiment. (Westview Press, 2000), where he argues that the Western world which contained two sovereigns, namely the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope, whose tussle over the limits of their authority over their “subjects” actually created the space where “individual citizenship” was born. See also Lyman Stone, “Two Kingdom Theology in the Trump Era,” (First Things,  April, 2018)

[1], also James Madison, Letters and other writings of James Madison Fourth President of the United States (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co, 1867 Vol III), 242.

Rate this item
(0 votes)

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.