By Graham Glover –
We Lutherans typically don’t do secular politics well. Unlike most of our Evangelical Protestant (and even Roman Catholic) friends, we Lutherans tend to be a quietist bunch when it comes to American politics. Although born out of rebellion (or more accurately, a reformation) whose theological roots were quickly and intimately tied to secular politics, Lutherans have never been at the forefront of where the ecclesial and secular converge.
In many respects this makes sense. Martin Luther’s “Two Kingdom” theology is abundantly clear in how and why the ecclesial and secular realms are distinct entities, never to be confused, and always to be understood for the purposes God intended them. The Church does not wield the sword of the State, nor does the State dictate the doctrine of our Lord’s one holy catholic and apostolic church.
In the United States this premise has manifested itself in my denomination, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, shying from a regular and active engagement with our elected officials in Washington, D.C. The LCMS has never been confused with the political aggressiveness of the Religious Right (or for that matter, the Religious Left…and yes, there is a religious left). Seldom are our denominational leaders found roaming the halls of Congress, and until recently, they seemed reluctant to make their voice heard in the governing process. Again, this makes sense. One could argue that our quietism is part of our theological DNA. Other Lutherans, of a particularly progressive bent, have long championed secular causes that hardly mesh with the Lutheran Confessions, but never the LCMS.
Today, the LCMS is about to do what many longed to see for years. Today, the LCMS is in the process of establishing itself in and among the secular officials that govern our nation. Today, the LCMS is putting the finishing touches on a new office that will represent its interests in Washington, D.C.
I know it’s Lent…but Hallelujah!
This is glorious news and sets the stage for what I think could be the dawn of a renewed interest in Lutheran theology, specifically, two-kingdom theology, among our elected officials and those that serve alongside them. As Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison, the President of the LCMS noted in a recent press release: “We have a gem to share – that is, the Lutheran/New Testament teaching on the two kingdoms. Government is established by God (Romans 13). The Church is established by God (Matthew 16; 28). Government is ruled by reason (Rom. 2:12ff). The Church is ruled by revelation (i.e., the Bible, as John 8:31 says). “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). Unlike many Protestants, we Lutherans have no interest in “Christianizing the government.” The government should operate according to sound reason. Good laws are reasonable and do not contradict the Ten Commandments. Bad laws are unreasonable…”
I am not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, but I’m sure this office will be unlike most every other denominational or para-church organization in DC. If staffed and funded well, it has the potential to offer our nation a theological and political perspective it often is either ignorant about or simply refuses to appreciate. That’s about to change. So get ready…the Lutherans are coming to DC and I have a feeling things will never be the same.