Martin Luther - Lesson 17
Luther's Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms
The kingdom of God and secular government have areas of unity and areas of differences.
Luther's Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms
Luther's Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms
Luther, the Pastor
Recent Discussion of the Topic
- The Older "Political" approach
- The Search for Proper Terminology
- two kingdoms and two governments
- some are now suggesting that Luther mentions more than 2 Kingdoms
- The Critiques of Luther's Thought
- some have pointed to this as support for Nazi Germany
- Two irreconcilable ethics. Neibuhr Christ and Culture
- Troeltsch - Reactionary parties
- The Supporters
I. Luther was not a statesman nor a politician, but a preacher of the gospel. For this reason it is not easy to fit him into a political history and to label him and his views.
A. The older descriptions used to speak of Luther's view of the State. This was an anachronistic approach.
B. The search for proper terminology led to the "Two Kingdoms" terminology. This had the advantage of avoiding concepts foreign to Luther, but it had the disadvantage of creating the impression of a dualistic separation of a Christian - the ecclesiastical domain from all secular affairs.
II. The Scriptural Basis for Luther's Teaching. Two types of Scripture.
A. The first comes from the Sermon on the Mount (ex. "Do not resist evil, Do not avenge yourselves, Do not litigate" etc....) These kind of sayings appear to set another standard of behavior over and above the activity of the political authorities. In all these circumstances one is to serve the other to love.
B. There are other statements of Scripture which appear to establish the "sword." The apostle in Romans 13 urges us to "obey the authorities." In addition, statements of the Old Testament institute the death penalty, among other things. In Luke 3:14, John the Baptist says nothing to the soldiers about leaving military service.
III. The Historical Context of Luther's Utterances
A. The Two Kingdoms--Secular and Spiritual
1. The spiritual government brings the kingdom of God into being. This is the kingdom of grace. Christ exercises his government by bringing in the gospel to people who are in bondage to sin and death. The constitutive element is freedom. Force is not used in this kingdom.
2. The secular government includes everything that contributes to the preservation of this earthly life, esp. marriage and family, the entire household, as well as property, business, and all stations. The constitutive element is order. Force is used in this kingdom.
B. The Unity of the Two Kingdoms
1. Both governments have been established by one and the same God. This is how God's own work, institution and creation are established in opposition to the Devil.
2. The unity of the kingdoms is experienced as an individual has dealings as "a person acting in his own behalf," and as "a person acting on behalf of another." Insofar as both are experienced in one's life, the two kingdoms cannot be separated in this life.
C. The Difference Between the Two Kingdoms
1. The spiritual is of higher rank because it deals with things that are eternal.
2. The rule in the kingdom of Christ is that all people, because of their relationship to him, are one and equal before God. In secular government, however, God has instituted differences between individuals and made some dependent upon others
3. The spiritual kingdom is ruled by the gospel through His Spirit. The secular government is ruled by reason and force.
- 0% Complete
Introduction to the life and theology of Martin Luther.0% Complete
- 0% Complete
Luther expressed his views in a way that was shaped by his theology and the culture.0% Complete
- 0% Complete
Martin Luther was born in Germany in the late 15th century, just after Guttenberg developed his printing press.0% Complete
- 0% Complete
When Martin Luther posted the 95 theses, his intention was to discuss and debate the misuse of indulgences, but it was interpreted by the church heirarchy as an attack on the power of the papacy.0% Complete
- 0% Complete
Luther's writings demonstrate his ability to understand and articulate issues that are at the core of the nature of God and man. His theology is distinct from philosophy and consists of many comments on passages in Psalms and Romans.0% Complete
- 0% Complete
Faith alone justifies. By faith the Christian is made to love God, therefore a person does good works because they cannot remain idle.0% Complete
- 0% Complete
The work of Christ when he allowed himself to be crucified on the cross, teaches us about God's nature, our nature and our relationship to God.0% Complete
- 0% Complete
Luther's fourfold sense of scripture focused on historical (literal), allegorical (figurative), tropological (moral), and anagogic (future).0% Complete
- 0% Complete
Luther's view of the atonement differs from classical views taught during his time and view held by the scholastic tradition.0% Complete
- 0% Complete
Luther's teaching on justification by faith is central to his theology.0% Complete
- 0% Complete
Theology of the cross assumes bondage and moves to freedom.0% Complete
- 0% Complete
Four positions on predestination include the Calvinist, neo-Protestant, intuitu fidei, and Gnesio-Lutherans.0% Complete
- 0% Complete
Luther's commentary on Galatians is an attempt to set "Law" in its proper setting.0% Complete
- 0% Complete
The sacraments are an external expression of an internal reality.0% Complete
- 0% Complete
Luther's teachings on the importance of baptism and arguments for infant baptism.0% Complete
- 0% Complete
Luther's view of the theological and personal significance of the Lord's Supper.0% Complete
- 0% Complete
The kingdom of God and secular government have areas of unity and areas of differences.0% Complete
- 0% Complete
Luther gives a definition of the church and describes characteristics of the church.0% Complete
- 0% Complete
Luther developed a catechism to help people focus on the foundational beliefs of the Christian faith.0% Complete
- 0% Complete
Martin Luther's writings can encourage people to pursue their relationship with God on a deeper level.0% Complete
This course is an introduction to the life and writings of the great German reformer, Martin Luther. There are 20 lectures totaling approximately 18 hours. These lectures were given at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts.
Dr. Gordon Isaac
Luther's Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms
As we start out today, we're going to be talking about Luther's doctrine of the two kingdoms, Luther's doctrine, the two kingdoms, and as is our custom. Let's begin just with a brief reading from Luther. This is just this is just a couple of lines from the treatise. That is for our reading for today. For this reason, God has ordained two governments, the spiritual by which the Holy Spirit produces Christians and righteous people under Christ and the temporal which restrains the un-Christian and wicked, so that no thanks to them, they are obliged to keep still and maintain an outward peace. Thus, to Saint Paul, interpret the temporal sword in Romans Chapter 13, when he says it is not a terror to good conduct but to bad. And Peter says it is for the punishment of the wicked. If anyone attempted to rule the world by the Gospel and to abolish all temporal law and sword on the plea that all are baptized Christians and that according to the Gospel, there shall be among them no law or sword or need for either. Pray. Tell me your friend, what would he be doing? He would be loosing the ropes and chains of the savage wild beasts and letting them bite and mangle everyone, meanwhile, insisting that they were harmless, tame and gentle creatures. But I would have the proof in my wounds. Just so would the wicked. Under the name of Christian abuse, Evangelical freedom carry on their rascality and insist that they were Christians subject neither to lawn or sword, as some are already raving and ranting to such a one, we must say.
[00:02:03] Certainly it is true that Christians, so far as they themselves are concerned, are subject neither to law nor sword and have need of neither. But take heed and first fill the world with real Christians before you attempt to rule it in a Christian and evangelical manner. This you will never accomplish for the world, and the masses are and always will be unchristian, even if they are all baptized and Christian in name. Christians are few and far between, as the saying is, therefore it is out of the question that there should be a common Christian government over the whole world, or indeed over a single country or any considerable body of people. For the wicked always outnumber the good. Hence a man who would venture to govern an entire country or the world with the Gospel would be like a shepherd who should put together in one fold wolves, lions, eagles and sheep and let them mingle freely with one another, saying Help yourselves and be good and peaceful toward one another. The fold is open and there's plenty of food you need. Have no fear of dogs and cubs. The sheep would doubtless keep the peace and allow themselves to be fed and governed peacefully. But they would not live long, nor would one beast survive another. Let's pause for prayer. Almighty God, our dear Heavenly Father, we thank you that you rule the world both through law and through gospel, both through your church and through the temporal government. And we pray that you would give us good political leaders, individuals who will look out for the common good and the welfare of all. And we pray that as citizens of this democracy, we might be keen in our thinking, active in our service to the neighbor, and so fulfill the law of love.
[00:03:59] We pray, Lord, that in these next few moments you would grant us insight, illumined our minds so that we might understand just a bit more clearly what it is that Scripture is saying, what it is that Luther is saying, and where we as your followers might best be found in Christ name, we pray. Amen. Okay. We are going to deal now with Luther's doctrine of the Two Kingdoms. And this is kind of the direction that we're moving in here. We're going to be talking about a few different items and then get into dealing with this text. The temporal. The term for government or temporal authority to what extent it should be obeyed. As we begin talking about Luther's doctrine, the Two Kingdoms, it has to be said that in any hour a lecture, it's only possible just to begin to introduce the discussion. There's a tremendous amount of secondary literature on this subject, and there are no small number of entrants into the intramural debate. With respect to Luther's view of the two kingdoms early on in terms of Luther studies. There was an attempt to try to deal with Luther in terms of his political thought, and there were some authors that set forward, tried to set forward any way his understanding of political thought. But it has to be said that there is no one systematic teaching that Luther has on political thought. He did not write a systematic theology which dealt with that particular issue. He was not a political theologian in the classical sense of the term. He was not attempting to set forward a theory of political action or ethics in the political realm that is all encompassing. Luther, rather, needs to be understood as a theologian who attempts to speak to the political realities of his day.
[00:06:09] In some senses, we'd have to say that his interest is in giving pastoral advice in the context of the world in which he lives. Recognizing that there are Christians and there are non-Christians, and that together society has to be maintained because that in itself, that in itself is an expression of God's rule over the world. So there are attempts to explain Luther's theology in terms of political overarching political thought. And some of these older political approaches have been abandoned. There has been attempt also to find a proper kind of terminology for describing Luther's understanding of political reality. There has been suggestion that indeed, Luther sets forward a doctrine of the two kingdoms. But when you really begin to probe underneath the surface, you find that Luther not only talks about the two kingdoms, but he also talks about two governments. And further, in a recent article, my own advisor, my doctoral advisor, Dr. Kenneth Hagan, sets forward his understanding that actually Luther talks about two kingdoms, but he talks about more than just two kingdoms. There are three or four or more kingdoms, and he ferret out of the sources some very interesting citations which indicate that Luther is dealing with a concept which is much broader than originally or quite often anyway, set forward. So the search for proper terminology has been a very interesting one. I think it's Bernard Llosa that mentions the fact that it says understanding that it's actually Carl Bart in his reading of Martin Luther, who is the first to talk about the Two Kingdoms doctrine. So there's been a search for proper terminology. And of course, there have been lots of critiques of Luther's thought on this particular matter. This in large measure, because of what took place in the 20th century with the rise of the National Socialist Movement and the terrible crimes of Nazi Germany.
[00:08:48] Of course, one of the questions that underlies some of the critique is the thought that, well, perhaps Luther's doctrine of the Two Kingdoms and his political thinking was actually what helped the National Socialists gain ground and to achieve their height of power. So really, it's Luther's two kingdoms that's at fault, and which has allowed Hitler's regime to have the kind of sway that it did. The religion of the state that Hitler set forward gave room for the state to do some tremendously powerful things and even to co-opt the church in the process of the Third Reich. So it's thought that that Luther's thinking on the two kingdoms really helps to allow that to take place. There are some other interpreters who have argued that Luther's radical separation of the two realms or kingdoms, church authority and temporal authority and the emphasis placed on the divine source of temporal authority lead to an unqualified endorsement of state power and to a greater fear of anarchy than tyranny. So you can see how this line of argument flows into this critique of Luther's thought. No doubt Luther had deeply held religious convictions, but it has been argued that he could never reconcile this fundamental mysticism with the practical and political tasks of establishing the reform churches. And as a consequence, his religious and political doctrines were fundamentally inconsistent. Some interpreters have argued that Luther developed two irreconcilable ethics quote He places a perfectionist private ethic in juxtaposition to a realistic, not to say cynical official ethic. This according to Reinhold Niebuhr. It's not surprising, then, to find general assessments of Luther and his significance, which are less than favorable. So you see what we're building up to just in a very brief way. What Luther says is there are two realms.
[00:11:12] There is the there's the temporal order and there is the spiritual order. And these two orders are two different ways in which God rules his world. And he does talk in his treatise and is in his various writings on this subject about the difference between the authority of the state and the authority of the church. So if read wrongly, you can see how one could say that there are two very distinct and contradictory realms in Luther's thinking on this topic. Hopefully, over the course of the next few minutes will begin to make a case where that's really is a false reading. But nonetheless, there are these critiques of Luther's thought. Aaron's church levels this critique against Luther. He says this from the political and social point of view. The significance of Lutheranism for the modern history of civilization lies in its connection with reactionary parties from the religious and scientific standpoint. Its significance lies in the development of a philosophical theology, which is blended with a religious mysticism and inward spirituality, but which, from the ethical point of view, is quite remote from the problems of modern political and social life. So what Trell just trying to say is, look what happened in Lutheranism. Is with all of the talk about justification by faith, with all of the talk about the fact that we have rights standing with God apart from our works. What this does is it establishes an inward spirituality which is not concerned with the outward manifestation of life and the rest of political reality. So a trilogy is trying to say that there is a real divide then that takes place within Lutheranism and it tends towards inward mysticism and political thought then is thus abandoned. So there are quite a number of critiques of Luther's thought, and not the least of which we might mention here in passing is H.
[00:13:30] Richard Niebuhr in his little book, Christ in Culture. It was a tremendously influential book and continues to be incredibly influential. And in that piece, there is a setting forward of political thought. And one of the categories you see what what Niebuhr does is he sets forward various paradigms for understanding Christ and culture. Niebuhr sets forward five types of Christian social thought, and he personally favors the conversion as a mode of relationship between society in general and ecclesiastical life. And he goes on to an analysis of Luther's understanding his two realms, understanding of the relationship of church and society, complaining that it's incomplete and burdened by two significant mis choices of vocabulary. He groups Luther the ancient Heretic Marcion, the Apostle Paul and Kirkegaard together in one type, which he labels Christ and culture in paradox. And in this description he attempts to show that in this particular paradigm of Christ and culture and paradox, what you have is a failure to take fully into account the way that life really operates. Niebuhr maintains that Luther distinguish between the realms of faith and works, and he claims that there really in Luther's thought is a dualism in dealing with the world in two different manners. And this makes establishing a political theory a unified political theory quite impossible. So Niebuhr is is fairly fairly negative in his assessment of Luther's approach to the business of establishing a political theory. So H. Richard Niebuhr is also rather influential in terms of the way that he critiques Luther's thought. And H. Richard Niebuhr in his book, Christ and Culture have been and continue to be very influential in terms of orienting discussion about political thought and ethics within the context of the political realm. So there are a number of critiques of Luther's thought that on this particular topic of the Two Kingdoms now there are other interpreters of Luther who found enduring significance in Luther's political thought.
[00:16:37] So the critiques of Luther are not the last word. It's been argued, for example, that Luther's doctrine, the Two Kingdoms, has been of great value in the development of Western political thought and practice. The radical separation of temporal authority from man's ultimate end in the Kingdom of God emphasizes the limited and lesser goals of the political sphere. Moreover, by the digitization of politics, both the political and the religious figures are purified of the temptation toward political millenarian ism and the worship of power. Likewise, Luther's theological doctrines, which stressed the personal religious freedom of the Christian and the sanctity of the individual conscience, are said to have nourished long lasting political things, including various aspects of individualism as an instance. These interpretations clearly suggest that the state's power over the individual is limited. Temporal authority is never justified in trying to coerce the individual conscience. Its act of political resistance by the individual is not fully developed on these theological grounds. The right to disobey is, and Luther's view of the sanctity of the individual conscience is also said to provide an impetus for religious toleration. The famous doctrines of justification by faith and the priesthood of all believers had the significant consequence of placing a new stress on social, political action and responsibility, since all callings can be used to serve God and neighbor. And one particular instance of this, the Peasants Revolt, actually very interestingly cites Luther and his treatise on the freedom of a Christian as being the basis upon which they were making their appeal to the rulers to give them greater freedoms in living out their lives. They felt as though the the politics of the time were so oppressive that they couldn't continue on in those rights that had been originally given to them.
[00:18:50] So it's actually on the basis of and notice the title of this treatise, The Freedom of a Christian, that the peasants make their argument to the social order. So I suppose one of the questions that arises in dealing with this topic is where does the truth really lie? I mean, what is the truth in all of this? Who's got it right? Are these critiques of Luther's Doctrine of Two Kingdoms correct? Or is it that the Luther's abiding significance has to do, at least in terms of political thought, in terms of his understanding of the two kingdoms? I suppose one of the things that we have to maintain, and this is something that Bernard Llosa stresses quite nicely and in this little work, is simply to say that we need to recognize that Luther was not a politician, and Luther, in the strictest sense of the term, was not a political theologian. He was a preacher of the gospel. And as such, we need to recognize that what he did was to make comment in certain occasional pieces as to what he thought might be best and most appropriate for his own time period. But to take his treatise temporal authority to what extent it should be obeyed, and to then spin it out as a systematic statement about all political activity would be to misuse this particular piece. Luther was not a statesman, but a preacher of the gospel. And for this reason, it's not easy to fit him into a political history and to label him in his views. An investigation will, moreover, show a wide deviation of his principles from those of political philosophers. Luther's pronouncements on questions of political and national life are spiritual counsel. The application of the Word of God and the activities of individuals sharing in the order of civil life.
[00:20:54] And they do not lend themselves to being pieced together into a systematic whole. Now, Luther recognized the impossibility of applying the Gospel directly to civilize. But he also knew that although the Bible does not prescribe political rules, it does inculcate brotherly love. It inculcates a sense of responsibility before God, which spell out moral forces and making for correct political and civil attitude and conduct. He did not write a commentary on the ethics and politics of Aristotle, as Aquinas did, and he did not set out a treatise on dogmatically as both Aquinas and Calvin did. But Luther did write against the mad princes who, quote, could act as they wanted and command their subjects as they chose, could even dictate what their subjects should believe and what books they should not read. One of the things you might be interested in noting is that in Luther's lifetime, Duke George lived in the area next to that of Saxony and where Luther lived declared that the people could not meet a law, that they could not purchase the New Testament in their own language. And Luther said, This is absolutely total nonsense. It's a matter of fact. This is a classic case in which the ruler has got it absolutely wrong. And as good Christian people, we have the right to resist our ruler because he's trying to legislate in areas that he ought not to have any say over. So Luther's position, and in light of this particular discussion, is a very interesting one. We need to keep our historical balance. One of the things that's driven many of the critiques of Luther's side on the Doctrine of Two Kingdoms is how this whole thing played out in the Second World War. It's anachronistic to place upon Luther the ethos of the Lutheran church setting and their response to the National Socialists.
[00:23:14] It it simply is anachronistic to do so. Luther had a particular theory our understanding of how church and state relate with one another, and that was not even very clearly given down through Lutheran orthodoxy. So to to take the further step that many have of critiquing Luther's views on the basis of how the Lutheran Church responded in the Second World War is anachronistic and and not very helpful. Okay. Perhaps what we can do here is we can. Kind of move forward in terms of our thinking here on Luther stocking the Two Kingdoms, and we can talk a little bit about the scriptural basis for Luther's teaching. Luther did not base as Dr. the Two Kingdoms on his own speculative thinking. He felt that in this matter to his position was wholly determined by Scripture. He distinguished between two types of statements. In the first type of statement, you had the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus urges nonviolence. The Law of Christ never use force. Do not resist evil. Do not avenge yourself, but in all circumstances serve one another in love. Now, these statements of the gospel appeal to reject completely the state and the activity of the political authorities. It would seem that according to this new kingdom, this Kingdom of God, that Jesus is establishing and setting forward in the Sermon on the Mount that all force is set to one side. It's simply not necessary in the Kingdom of Christ. We would have to say that that's perfectly true. And Luther did not want to minimize the commandments and the regulation, as it were, that the Sermon on the Mount set forward for common people. It was common practice. For example, at the time, the Roman Catholic tradition said that the Sermon on the Mount was simply too hard for common people to fulfill.
[00:25:23] Therefore, it was a special counsel that was to be taken up by the monks and the the spiritual estate. So it was to be fully fulfilled only by the monks. It was good advice for the laity, but to the church, recognizing that the laity probably wouldn't reach the final goal, recognize that the admonitions given in the Sermon on the Mount then were to be understood as counsel only. Luther's is. No, that's not true. The admonitions of the Sermon on the Mount apply to all Christians, and therefore we ought not to make some special provision. And so he takes all of that very, very seriously, urging people to fulfill the kinds of requirements that Jesus utters in the Sermon on the Mount. Now, the second type of scripture seems to move in another direction Type two scriptures. For example, the Apostle in Romans 13 and first Peter 213 through 14 admonish us to obey the authorities. In addition, statements of the Old Testament Institute, the establishment of the sword, including the death penalty. Genesis nine six. Exodus Chapter 21, Verse 14 and versus 22 and following. You've got all of these kinds of admonitions that seem to seem to be set forward clearly in Scripture that there is a place for government, for authorities in the Old Testament, of course, was kings. And in the New Testament it was it was also a matter of kings or emperors. And so these second kinds of texts seem to indicate that there is a proper place for this kind of expression of rule or authority. Now, what Luther is trying to talk about here is is simply trying to say that God rules the world in a two fold way. God has provided two governments, the spiritual and the secular or earthly.
[00:27:41] The secular government serves to preserve this physical, earthly life, thereby preserving the world. The secular authorities do this because that is their particular place in the scheme of things. Their position and their their role in terms of governing the world is not to exert power and authority and oppressive political regime, but rather it is to serve the common good and thus preserve physical life. Now, if one begins to take seriously the doctrine of creation, if God has created the Earth and where we are, it is subject to sin. And therefore we do need governments in order to maintain some degree of civility. Although it's all too true that governments introduce all kinds of incivility. But nonetheless, Luther is saying that in Scripture we have we have warrant for obeying authorities and they have been given. The sword. And we need to recognize that they have a proper role. So these are the scriptural basis for Luther's teaching moves in both directions. Some ways, this simply parallels Luther's teaching on law and gospel. We need both, and both do their work, and we would be foolish to assume that we don't need the one or the other. There are times in raising your child when the best thing you could do is wrap your arms around your child, give kisses and expressions of love. There are other times when the best thing you can do is discipline your child and say, No, that's not appropriate action. So you need both law and gospel in relationship in this one relationship. And also we need to think in terms of relationships. It's not simply in terms of institutions or structures. Now, the historical context of Luther's utterances are rather interesting here because and I've already mentioned the fact that the secular authorities during Luther's time outlawed books, and many of them were religious books, and Luther thought that was outrageous.
[00:30:06] This was a case where the civil government was really extending their rule into the area of spiritual conscience. And he says this is where they have gotten the shoe exactly on the wrong foot for as a secular government, their job is to preserve order to make sure that things moves. You know, the roads are there for the infrastructure, to do all the kinds of things you need to do for government, but leave the people's consciences alone. That's not your realm as a spiritual, as a temporal government. It's the spiritual government, namely the church that needs to instruct and inculcate people with respect to spiritual and religious things. Therefore, there needs to be freedom for the church to have its its say. So we have these two kingdoms, the secular and the spiritual, and we have this dual way of describing the single rule of God over the world. Now, notice that in Luther, one of the things that you have is you have a distinction of two different kinds of people. In the quotation that I read for you at the beginning of class. He indicates that they're Christians and they're non-Christians. There there are two kinds of people, and these two kinds of people exist in one society. One of the things that he says is this In this treatise, he says here we must divide the children of Adam and all mankind into two classes, the first belonging to the Kingdom of God, the second to the kingdom of the world. Those who belong to the Kingdom of God are all true believers who are in Christ and under Christ. For Christ is King and the Lord in the Kingdom of God as Psalm two and all Scripture says. For this reason, He came into the world that He might begin God's kingdom and establish it in the world.
[00:32:15] Therefore, he says, before pilot, My kingdom is not of this world, but everyone who is of the truth hears my voice in the gospel. He continually refers to the Kingdom of God. Amend your ways. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Seek first the Kingdom of God. Now what Luther is attempting to do here is this attempt to say, Look, what you have is the new we on is already broken into time and it is already establishing the final kingdom of God. But in this lifetime we live in the already, but the not yet. So we have to recognize that there are these two different kinds of peoples, but that they all live together in these two kingdoms, secular and spiritual. On the other hand, we need to recognize that this isn't the totality of what Luther is trying to say. When Luther is talking about the two kingdoms, secular rule and spiritual rule. He's recognizing that everyone has the right to live as they will, and that God deals with all human beings, Christians and non-Christians alike, with respect, especially to the temporal kingdom. Secular people can make wonderful contributions to common life. Luther's not saying that non-Christian people can't make good contributions. They can, and they do. But what he's attempting to say is that, look, the kingdom is already entered into time. And now there are two different kinds of people that are at work. What are you saying? Is that according to the people that are a part of the spiritual kingdom, they don't need the law insofar as they're Christian. They don't need outside laws to tell them what to do and to act rightly. But that's not true of society as a whole. Therefore, it's still needful for there to be a secular kingdom.
[00:34:08] The spiritual government brings the Kingdom of God into being. And this is the kingdom of grace. God's grace is present in Christ. And so this kingdom is Christ's kingdom and Christ is its King and Lord. Christ exercises His government by bringing the Gospel to people who are in bondage to sin and death. So we have the forgiveness of sins and the freedom of the children of God. We have the Lordship that He exercises now in insofar as we're talking about this kingdom. We have to say this Christ does not participate in the secular kingdom, God, the Father and not Christ institutes it. For Luther, secular government includes much more than political authorities and governments. It includes everything that contributes to the preservation of this earthly life, especially marriage and family, the entire household, as well as property, business and all stations in life. So one of the things that we have to recognize is the unity of the two kingdoms. Both governments have been established by one and the same God, God's own work, institution and creation established in opposition to the devil. God stands behind both governments and is effectively present in both. Although he works differently in both. I suppose we could talk about the proper work of God in terms of the spiritual government and his alien work, in terms of the secular government and its need for the use of force. Indeed. Now, one of the things that we'd have to see here is that Luther, against what the Anabaptists would say, is concerned that Christians become a part of the ruling government. So Christians really do have an obligation to participate in the secular government, and we ought not to abandon it. You know, the anabaptists, particularly in the slow time confession of 1527, claimed that no Christian could have a role in secular government.
[00:36:21] It was their belief that if as a Christian, you participated in secular government, you would be so compromised that it would be equivalent to sinning against God. Therefore, you had to avoid any participation in government. Luther said, No, we need to have Christians that are a part of the secular government because Christians, above all people should recognize that this is a legitimate place to work and live. So there's unity of the two kingdoms. There's also a difference between the two kingdoms. There's a difference in rank between between the two governments. Clearly, from Luther's point of view, the spiritual kingdom is the kingdom which Christ is after. And what he is creating with is death. Resurrection with His death on the cross and his resurrection on the third day. He is establishing the Kingdom of God, which will extend into all eternity. The secular government as it exists today, is temporal. It will have an end even as the law comes to an end. The secular government will have an end. We, once we are purged from all sin, will operate in perfect love toward our neighbor and therefore will no longer need that kind of secular government. There's also a difference in form of rule. The secular government rules by force, law and coercion, and the kingdom of the spiritual kingdom is ruled in terms of love, in terms of the Word of God. And it is characterized by peace. So there's a real difference between these two kingdoms. So as far as Luther is concerned, you have this this kind of presentation of the two kingdoms, the secular and the spiritual. In many ways, this corresponds with his understanding of law and gospel and the dialectic of moving back and forth between these two things.
[00:38:37] And this is how he approaches his understanding of the relationship between the Kingdom of Christ and the Kingdom of this world. Now, notice what's going on here, because Luther really does mark a very interesting transition. On the one hand, you have him receiving from August, you know, the one of Augustine's major works as the two cities, and you have the city of heaven and you have the city of the Earth, the temporal world and the city of the Earth is just kind of a diabolical city. And what we really want to do is we want to get to the heavenly city, and that's the whole thing. But that's really kind of two dimensional. What Luther wants to say is, no, there is a legitimate place for the kingdom of this earth because ultimately heaven will come on earth. And we need to recognize that there's not a dualism in Luther's thinking along those lines. So he presents a very different picture than Augustine, who simply speaks in terms of a temporal and a non temporal city. Luther also marks out a difference between the Anabaptists, as I've already mentioned, in that he sees that Christians need to participate in government and that there is a real role for Christians to play. Christians are too spiritual to deal with governmental issues and the issues of the common good, and therefore he sets forward an understanding of the two kingdoms that's very different than his received tradition from the medieval world and also from the new radicals that oppose him on the other side. Also, you need to recognize, too, that in his two kingdoms teaching here, simply by virtue of saying that, look, there are two realms and they are distinct. He is really setting up his understanding of things in opposition to the Roman Catholic tradition.
[00:40:47] You remember that the Roman Catholic tradition from early on the Pope is the one who crowns the Holy Roman Emperor. And it was believed that the Pope had not only spiritual power, but also political power and ought to have political power. And you need to keep in mind that the Roman Catholic Church at this time owned about as much land in Europe as did the Princes. And so they had tremendous power in terms of their church institutions, but also in terms of the political clout that they had in arranging different kinds of actions in the Holy Roman Empire. So in Luther says, look, the church has spiritual authority but ought not to mess around with political authority. He really is drawing a line in the sand and saying, we need to rethink this whole category, this whole way of doing business, politically speaking. And on the other hand, he's saying, look, we as the church need to recognize what the true responsibility of our office is, namely to preach the word of God and to be persuasive amongst our people so that they will understand their identity before God, that will thus release them out into the world to serve their neighbor, because that's the real purpose and the work of the Christian life. Not quiet ism, not simply a personal religion that I have in my closet at home, but it is meant to serve the neighbor. And so you have that kind of action characterizing Luther's work in the area of two kingdoms. Now, let me entertain a couple of questions. This is just a very brief kind of introduction to what Luther does in terms of the doctrine of Two Kingdoms. But it gives you an idea in the first instance how this parallels his understanding of law and gospel and thus connects him with a theology of the cross.
[00:42:55] But further, it shows you in small measure how he differs from the medieval tradition of the Roman Catholic Church and also from the new radicals. So Luther once again finds a middle way, as it were, politically speaking.