By Adriane Heins
“We can’t step back. We must participate.” That’s LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison’s stance when it comes to confessing the faith in the public square.
On Nov. 13, Harrison hosted a free webinar as part of the Synod’s “Free to be Faithful” campaign, an endeavor aimed at education and awareness with regard to three key topics: marriage, life and religious liberty.
“We are going to be pushed on many sides on our participation in the state,” Harrison warned those watching. “There will be people among us, among the orthodox Lutheran fellowship, who will have different ideas on [matters of] conscience.”
The key? “Grab hold of and become clear on the precious gift that we have been given by the Lutheran Reformation,” he encouraged. “That is the biblical teaching of the two kingdoms.”
During the course of the webinar, Harrison explained — to viewers from New Jersey to Colorado — the history of the Synod’s two-kingdom theology and why it’s unique to Lutheranism.
Citing the Augsburg Confession and Article 16, which discusses civil government, he noted that the “Divine realm and the temporal realm are both God’s orders. They are established by God, but they have different purposes. The kingdom of the left hand — the state, emanating from the family — is ruled by reason and natural law. … The other kingdom of the right — of the church — is a matter of grace.”
Clarifying that the Church doesn’t “want to meddle in the affairs of the state,” Harrison also noted that, “On the other hand, we don’t want the state meddling in the church’s business.”
“It’s insanity for the state to turn its coercive powers on the Church and hinder its work,” he explained, reminding attendees that “anything by the state that hinders the Gospel must be rejected out of hand and out of conscience.”
Harrison also prepared viewers for the days ahead, when beliefs and convictions will continue to be tested and tried: “We will feel like strangers increasingly, and so it goes. Luther said the Gospel comes and waters a place and then for thanklessness it passes away. And we see in our time the Gospel passing America. The Lord is allowing it to move to the South.”
Nevertheless, he encouraged: “Christ is for us. The eternal game is done. The deed is done. The once-for-all act happened 8,000 miles away 2,000 years ago.”
For those weary of hearing about increasing intrusions by the government in the realm of the Church, he had a word of comfort — “Grab hold of your Baptism!” — but also emphasized the importance of an aggressive defense of the truth: “Agitate. Agitate. Agitate,” he said, quoting Frederick Douglass. “We must not grow weary. We must teach, teach, teach!”
Watch Harrison’s webinar in its entirety here, and find more information on the topics of marriage, life and religious liberty on the Synod’s Free to be Faithful website, along with many other resources.
The next Free to be Faithful webinar will be held Tuesday, March 10, 2015, at 9 a.m. The presenter will be Wesley Smith, senior fellow at Discovery Institute and one of the nation’s experts on bioethics.
Adriane Heins is managing editor of The Lutheran Witness.
Posted Nov. 17, 2014 / Updated Nov. 18, 2014
I am going to quote Ray Comfort here: ” Many of us were disappointed recently because we had our hopes in a political solution to save America. But our problems are deeper than political. America needs a change of heart that only the gospel of Jesus Christ can bring about. Politics shakes the branches, but the gospel take an axe to the root of the tree”
I have another quote that I kept: ‘How is it that Christians called to disperse the aroma of grace instead emit the noxious fumes of ungrace. In the United States the church has allowed itself to get so swept up in political issues that it plays by the rules of power, which are rules of ungrace. In no other areas is the church at greater risk of losing its calling than in the public square.”
These two statements put into reality the state of the church today! We need to eliminate the love of power (engaging in politics ) and display the power of love!!!
I have to differ with Gerri. What one person sees as the “love of power (engaging in politics)” others see as the witness Scripture requires that Christians give to what is right. The common comparison is with the German Christians in World War II, who stayed out of the politics of genocide and thus passively contributed to the murder of 12 million-or-so Christians and Jews. I love my country and am appalled and frightened by the depth to which we have sunk, not only in politics but in our national conscience and morality. I will witness to that, with the power God gives me. And I am grateful that my beloved LCMS is fearlessly witnessing to a government that is trying hard to make us violate our consciences and doctrines. Of course, we can witness with love, not with spit and vinegar, but witness we must … and sometimes emphatically. God help us all to serve in our own ways and to His glory.
Thank you Charlotte.
Yes, Christians are not required to be politicians, but we are citizens and are called to Faithful Citizenship.
There is some level of duty or obligation regarding civics. Here in my home state of Connecticut, over 90% of churchgoers in the conservative churches are NOT regular voters. Many have grown cynical.
One can see that Faithful Citizenship is not a popular idea.
Ultimately, in matters of Life & Liberty, “we must obey God rather than men,” and must not and cannot remain silent.
Even so, I believe Gerri and Charlotte are both correct.
On the one hand, we must always be vigilant to stand on the Truth of God’s Word, standing firm on matters of conscience. In the Public Square this means not bending to popular opinion, nor being swayed by those who demand “Political Correctness.”
This means affirming the the Sanctity of Life, God’s Institution of Marriage, and the Freedom of Speech and Religion.
We cannot, and must not, go against conscience.
On the other we must express these matters of conscience in meekness, humility, and in the Spirit of Love, using discretion in our words when confronted by these issues, publicly or privately.
And as Jerry says, “we need to eliminate the love of power” – being that ever present danger to take authority over others, for Our Lord says to us,
“Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Yes, this is most certainly True, “we need to eliminate the love of power” and, rather, as Gerry and Huey Lewis encourage us to do: always display “the Power of Love . . .”