Two Kingdoms doctrine, who needs that?

“With all the crucial issues in the world like gay marriage and Obama all you preach about is Baptism and Communion.”

This was a comment made to a pastor friend of mine.  Needless to say this person left his church for a nearby AFLC church.  Maybe it’s just a problem we have here in the Illinois district of the AFLC, where the doctrine of the two kingdoms has yet to be discovered, but there seems to be more interest in politics and less the Word of God.  I know that Pulpit Freedom Sunday was two weeks ago, (as Lutherans we are Johnny-come-latelies after all), but here is a list of suggestions to transform a worship service into a political event.

1) Talk about the United States like we are God’s chosen people.  Take any passage from the OT that talks about the nation of Israel and substitute America for it.

2) Mention that Lincoln, Reagan, or even George Bush II, were God’s beloved sons.  However, do not mention Mormonism is a cult because Mitt Romney is a Mormon and God has favored this man.

3) Lambast the homosexuals and liberals of this country and how evil they are.  Ignore the sins of the people in your congregation.

4) Change the church year so that you include Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, and Independence day.

5) If your Pastor wears a stole make sure it is one that has the U.S. flag on it.  If  your congregation is low church and consider vestments to be from Satan, than make sure your Pastor’s tie has the flag on it.

6) Sing any of the patriotic songs from the Ambassador Hymnal, except “O Canada”. We’re not Communists after all!

7) Preach a message on Capitalism versus Socialism (http://www.foxriverlutheran.org/audio/042912%20Involved%20In%20Politics.mp3).  The devil will delight because you have not heard the Gospel, at least not the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified for sinners.

For those of you that still think the doctrine of the two kingdoms still matters today, I highly recommend watching the recent Lutheran Hours Ministries special “Intersection of Church and State.”  This program did an excellent job of explaining left hand kingdom, right hand kingdom, and how God operates in both.  A DVD of the program can be purchased at http://www.intersectionofchurchandstate.com/ or you can stream it on their website.


Comments

Two Kingdoms doctrine, who needs that? — 33 Comments

  1. When I go to church I need to worship, hear God’s Word, confess and be absolved, receive Holy Communion for my forgiveness, and interact with God’s people. When I leave church my faith is active in my life–and in my political considerations. I don’t need my “church time” to be political in any way.

    I thought this was a good article for Christian use in the right-hand kingdom: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/10/15/how-to-use-the-hammer-understanding-the-proper-role-of-government/

  2. “Intersection of Church and State” can also be downloaded if you have an LHMMen’s Network account (free).

  3. Does it have to be either/or?

    In other words, is there a way for us to preach the whole counsel of God in a way that offers insight and application of that Word to our people in such a way that they will be better able inteligently and prayerfully to reflect and process current events, etc.?

    I do not think sermons should be “political” but certainly they can apply God’s Word to current issue and events.

  4. Very good points on this article. I think this would make a great “Issues Etc.” show!
    I have seen this as well as well the church becomes a political platform, once again ignoring Christ. It seems that many churches have gotten so far away from proper preaching (not hearing enough about our sin problem and the cross solution, then joyfully serve your neighbor in your vocation), which in turn makes confused Christians who have no clue as to what our role is in society—not to mention the role of the goverment and church. The church is even confused about what its role is! People can’t make distinctions anymore and we flounder looking for our great “purpose” or wanting our government to have a “great purpose.”

  5. This strikes me as part of the narrative comming from St. Louis and other places in synod. There is a clear effort to reframe preaching, teaching, etc. in terms of “two kingdoms” as opposed to “Law and Gospel”. Law and Gospel, when done properly, deals with both kingdoms. I don’t think it was coincidence that Luther, Walther, and others framed their discussions and writings (especially concerning preaching) around Law and Gospel as opposed to Left and Right hand Kingdom. My concern is that this over focus on two kingdoms leads to moralistic/Law teaching/preaching and exhortation and the Gospel gets misplaced or left out. Again, proper Law and Gospel preaching already should address the hearer in both kingdoms.

  6. Truly, a pastor does need to call out sin where it exists in the left-hand kingdom: the over 50 million abortions, the trampling of religious conscience, etc.

    Yet so many pastors seek to be relevant and comment on current events that their idol becomes a quest for attention.

    If a pastor can’t handle preaching wrt current events, he is better off simply exegeting the Word of God and letting his parishioners handle the “application.” We aren’t going to hear the forgiveness of sins proclaimed anywhere else.

  7. The items in the “list of suggestions” appear to be extremist political positions, rather than current ethical issues in the kingdom of the left, which rightfully should concern Lutheran citizens in this election period.

    The CTCR’s 1995 publication, “Render unto Caesar… and unto God: A Lutheran View of Church and State,” presents the following chart (p. 72), “A Lutheran Two Kingdom Perspective” (see p. 63ff for detailed discussion):

    A Lutheran Two-Kingdom Perspective

    The brokering of honest, probing dialog regarding social concerns based on principled participation, principled persuasion, and social influence from the “bottom up.”

    THE MESSAGE
    Principles: Differentiate Law/Gospel and two-kingdom concerns
    Purpose: Distinguish between convicting of sin and restraining sin
    Priority: Not all concerns are equally important
    Prudence: Beware of politicizing the church

    THE MESSENGER
    “Church” as Spiritual Body of Christ: Located by Word and Sacrament
    “Church” as Social Institution: Incorporated entities
    “Church” as Christians Generally: Individual Christians pursuing their vocations

    THE MEANS
    Indirect and Unintentional Influence: Lets the Word speak for itself
    Indirect and Intentional Influence: Teaching resources aimed at own membership
    Direct and Intentional Influence: Infrequent, based on clear and fundamental Scriptures
    Direct and Intentional Action: Always flirts with the establishment of religion

  8. From the 1995 Render unto Caesar… and unto God (pp. 86-7):

    “One of the few social issues concerning which the Synod has been willing to take a (more or less) ‘activist’ role is abortion. While presumably recognizing the risks and dangers of such an approach, the Synod has nevertheless concluded that the question of abortion is addressed so clearly by Scripture, that it is such an extraordinary social problem, and that this problem is so fundamentally tied up with what Scripture says about the God-given duty of the state, that failure to speak and under certain circumstances to act would be tantamount to the failure of the German church under Hitler.”

    This year LCMS President Matthew Harrison has added the issues of the HHS mandate and the Obama regime’s attack on Religious Liberty.

  9. I do not think sermons should be “political” but certainly they can apply God’s Word to current issue and events.

    This is tough because there are issues like abortion that are political issues and also religious issues. Political issues like taxing people to pay for a football stadium should not be the subject of a sermon, I wouldn’t think.

  10. Concordia Seminary, St. Louis had a Lutherhostel last week on this very topic-‘One King-Two Kingdoms- Living as a Christian American, by Dr. Joel Biermann. My husband and I were privileged to attend. It was simply outstanding to be able to listen and ask questions concerning this important topic. If you want to see extended lectures on this topic, go to CLS.edu, Dr. Joel Biermann, and the videos are titled: ‘From Sea to Shining Sea’ in the Lay Bible Institute section.

  11. @Mrs. Hume #9: “Political issues like taxing people to pay for a football stadium should not be the subject of a sermon, I wouldn’t think.”

    Well, probably not the subject, but it certainly could be an example used in a sermon while preaching about the seventh commandment.

  12. Two Kingdoms is one of Dr. Biermann’s areas that he is very good at, but he does excessively hype. I believe he is one who suggests replacing Law/Gospel with a Two Kingdoms paradigm. The point of this article seems to me to be talking specifically about worship. That’s primarily all right hand kingdom, the proclamation of the Gospel. Now certainly the Law is also spoken and preached and in the two kingdoms it rules the Left hand, but there is no need to differentiate between kingdoms. God’s law is true no matter if it is the left or right. To have a focus on the left hand kingdom in worship would be to leave out the right hand, hence the Gospel. To muddle the two would be an attempt to combine both kingdoms, something that will not happen until Christ Himself accomplishes such with His second coming. So again, I think the question is, what does a “Two Kingdoms” approach accomplish in worship that “Law/Gospel” does not already do? What tends to happen when you take the Two Kingdoms approach to preaching is simply a very moralistic, Law based, ethics speech on proper behavior.

  13. Pastor McCain & Carl have great points here.

    This comes up every 4 years or so…(WI this past Spring,lol).
    I wonder why, we don’t talk about Polycarp or teach the basics of the average Joe/Jane Lutheran on navigating both Kingdoms per daily living.
    We skip over everything we take for granted everyone knows, when it comes to the politic.
    It is a struggle daily, to navigate both realms. It should be. We are taught that it is God Himself, that places those in authority over us all.
    We can start w/how to submit & obey God’s Will & daily living w/proper Law & Gospel for the average Lutheran. Either is echt.
    The US was founded as a Republic, it is now a Democracy. They can be both, but not always. We need to train & teach daily living & what Christ asks firstly.
    If Luther spoke volumes on so very much, right down to changing dirty nappies, this isn’t rocket science.

    I’ve heard sermons done well & in good form on this topic & I’ve seen & heard them done in very bad form indeed. We define in the pulpits, what marriage & families are & what they should & shouldn’t be & all that Christ commands. Life & who & what it is & who decides, is defined by Him also.
    Daily living, at it’s most basic, is more important to teach weekly. It is why & by what those who choose to cast a ballot go by, either way.

  14. What is there to navigate in both kingdoms?
    Teaching people how to live, instructing on how a marriage should be, how we treat our neighbor; that’s not a matter of kingdoms, that’s the Law. It applies to both Christians and heathens.
    What the right hand kingdom Christian has that the left hand heathen does not have is the Gospel. That’s what the left needs to hear. Christ crucified and risen.
    Law/Gospel. Pretty straightforward.

  15. @Rev. McCall #12

    Pastor McCall,
    With all due respect, I didn’t see ‘excessive hype’ by Dr. Biermann at all. I also never heard him ‘suggest replacing Law/Gospel with a Two Kingdoms paradigm.’ His lectures were very detailed so I would suggest that you go to CSL.edu and view his extended lectures yourself.

  16. @Diane #15
    I had Dr. Biermann for three courses at the seminary in St. Louis. I’ve heard and seen more than any lecture on CSL.edu. I also happen to like him and think he is an excellent professor (he was one of my top two favorites). And yes, he thinks two kingdoms is a better paradigm than Law/Gospel. I disagree. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t teach Two Kingdoms. By all means I hope everyone takes you up on your links to watch his lectures. He is also the one and same Dr. Biermann from the “Intersection of Church and State” T.V. special. Again, great guy. 🙂

  17. Rev McCall,
    If pew sitters do, what they hear…no it is not easy.
    There is quite a bit to it.

    Not in preaching, but in practice, practical application of the Sermons on any given Sunday.

  18. Rev McCall, you are thinking of two kinds of righteousness, not two kingdoms. Biermann has asserted that is a better distinction than law and gospel.

  19. @Rev Paul T McCain #18
    You are right! My apology! Is there a sheepish smiley face for on here?!

    @Dutch #17
    Let’s look at the point of this article. What role does Two Realms (Biermann’s actual preferred term rather than two kingdoms) play in the worship service?

  20. Pastor McCall,
    Looking at the article, it has much to do w/politics referring to the left hand & Right hand, or did I err?

  21. @Dutch #21
    What governs the Left hand realm? The Law.
    What governs the Right hand realm? The Gospel.
    Preach Law and Gospel and you are addressing both without any need to be overtly political.

  22. If I walk into a church and see a US flag/ Canadian flag on the altar, I will walk out and find another;likewise if a pastor clearly implies that if I don’t vote for a particular candidate I’m not a Christian. The only One I understand I need to put my trust in is Christ. I will not put my trust in “princes.”

  23. @Peggy Pedersen #23
    Peggy,
    US flags appeared in German speaking Lutheran churches during WW II, (in “self defense”, you might say). After, they were explained as a tribute to veterans, when someone asked. However, they are gradually being moved from the chancel to the nave and sometimes directly to the fellowship hall. I have never seen one on the altar.

    I agree that flags are not appropriate in church; I’d include the “Christian flag” (which is a Methodist Sunday School flag when it’s at home).
    [Now Rev. McCain will come aboard to sell us the “Luther seal flag”… nice for the fellowship hall, too.] 🙂

  24. As a pastor ordained by the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations (AFLC), I have to protest this post.

    The author claims someone left the church of a friend and joined an AFLC congregation, saying, “With all the crucial issues in the world like gay marriage and Obama all you preach about is Baptism and Communion.” The author says “the doctrine of the two kingdoms has yet to be discovered” in the Illinois district of the AFLC.

    I assure you the AFLC adheres to and teaches Luther’s two kingdoms concept as set forth in the Augsburg Confession and other Lutheran symbols. May I gently remind the author that two kingdoms means just that, two kingdoms, and Luther wrote and taught about both kingdoms. Certainly it is possible that some Lutheran churches preach excessively about the kingdom of the left (the State) and ignore the kingdom of the right (the Church). But it appears to me that far more churches, Lutheran and otherwise, ignore the kingdom of the left and preach exclusively about the kingdom of the right. Certainly a balance is needed, but I see no balance at all in the author’s post.

    The author offers seven “suggestions to transform a worship service into a political event:”

    “1) Talk about the United States like we are God’s chosen people. Â Take any passage from the OT that talks about the nation of Israel and substitute America for it.” I know of no one in the AFLC who believes America is God’s chosen people in the sense that Israel was or is God’s chosen people.

    “2) Mention that Lincoln, Reagan, or even George Bush II [sic], were God’s beloved sons. However, do not mention Mormonism is a cult because Mitt Romney is a Mormon and God has favored this man.” No one in the AFLC is ignorant of the errors in Mormon doctrine. But in choosing a Chief Executive, a candidate’s moral values are more important than his theology, and Mormon moral values are consistent with ours. If the author disagrees, perhaps he needs to revisit his own two kingdoms theology.

    “3) Lambast the homosexuals and liberals of this country and how evil they are. Ignore the sins of the people in your congregation.” Does the author have any evidence at all that AFLC pastors ignore the sins of the people in their own congregations? We preach Law and Gospel, and we do not shirk from preaching about the sin of homosexuality just because it is currently politically incorrect to do so.

    “4) Change the church year so that you include Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, and Independence day.” The AFLC has no policy concerning these days, but I see nothing unscriptural about honoring them and using them to teach about the kingdom of the left. If Lutheran pastors fail to teach the Lutheran view of the state, who will?

    “5) If your Pastor wears a stole make sure it is one that has the U.S. flag on it. If your congregation is low church and consider vestments to be from Satan, than make sure your Pastor’s tie has the flag on it.” This is too absurd for comment.

    “6) Sing any of the patriotic songs from the Ambassador Hymnal, except ‘O Canada’. We’re not Communists after all!” The AFLC’s Ambassador Hymnal has seven patriotic hymns out of a total of 634. Is that a bad balance? And yes, I’m sure our Canadian congregations do sing “O Canada.”

    “7) Preach a message on Capitalism versus Socialism (http://www.foxriverlutheran.org/audio/042912%20Involved%20In%20Politics.mp3). The devil will delight because you have not heard the Gospel, at least not the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified for sinners.” I urge the readers to listen to the sermon at the above site and judge for yourselves whether it is Biblical.

    In short, we of the AFLC take our God-given responsibilities to both kingdoms seriously. I hope the author will find time, when he is not writing absurd sarcastic articles about fellow Lutherans, to do the same.

    John Eidsmoe

  25. As a former member of an AFLC congregation in the Illinois district, I applaud this post. It is snarky, yes, but on target with the trends in this district. I’m not going to respond point by point, but I will say that for 6) Yes, the attitude toward vestments (and the historic liturgy for that matter) in this district is that they are evil. It was not at all absurd to say so. And for 7) I listened to the “sermon” in its entirety. Around minute 24, the word “Gospel” was mentioned twice. That was the only appearance the Gospel made in the entire “sermon”. Perhaps the principles in it were biblical, though I would contest that on some points, but the sermon was certainly not Christian because it did not deliver Christ and him crucified. It was an abuse of the pastor’s position to take the time when he was supposed to be delivering Christ and Him crucified for the forgiveness of sins and instead get on his personal soapbox and harangue the congregation for its political complacency. If he wanted to take the time on a Sunday or weekday evening to give this series of lectures, more power to him. But the sermon is not the place for this.

  26. In the Lutheran Hour Ministries (LHM) video, “The Intersection of Church and State,” a major point made is that the First Amendment imposes a one-way restriction to prevent the state from interfering with the church, but it was never meant to keep the church from having any impact on the state. Another point made in “The Intersection of Church and State” is that the U.S. Supreme Court has often made rulings favorable to Christianity but that still, sometimes it’s wiser to keep government separate from church affairs and not involve it in religious matters.

    Both goals in this second point were seemingly accomplished as discussed in the video with the U.S. Supreme Court 2012 decision in the Hosanna-Tabor case. However, some of the statements made in the LHM video are incorrect or misleading:

    1. LCMS President Matthew Harrison [40:15]: “The New York Times said of the Hosanna-Tabor decision that it was the most significant religious freedoms decision in decades.”

    In his January 11, 2012, New York Times article, “Religious Groups Given ‘Exception’ to Work Bias Law Adam Liptak actually stated:

    “In what may be its most significant religious liberty decision in two decades, the Supreme Court on Wednesday for the first time recognized a “ministerial exception” to employment discrimination laws, saying that churches and other religious groups must be free to choose and dismiss their leaders without government interference.”

    The substitution of “freedoms” for “liberty” is probably not significant here. However, claiming the NYT said it was “the most significant… in decades” when the NYT actually said the court’s decision “may be its most significant… in two decades” is a significant difference.

    2. Female Voice [40:25]: “Considered a minister of the church, the teacher was granted a leave of absence to receive treatment for narcolepsy. When the school denied her request to return to work, she sued the church for violating her rights.”

    To the contrary, court records indicate that Called Commissioned Minister Cheryl Perich was granted a disability leave of absence before the diagnosis of narcolepsy was made or treatment began. Also, court records document Hosanna-Tabor School Principal Tracy Hoeft informed Perich that, following her approved disability leave of absence she would “still have a job with [Hosanna-Tabor]” when she regained her health. (Dist. Ct. R.E. 24 Ex. 6). Perich regularly provided the school with updates on her condition and progress, and on January 27, 2005, told them she would return to work between February 14, and February 28. Perich returned to her called position as teacher on February 22, the day after her physician had noted in a signed release that her disability period would end and that she could then return to work.

    Perich did not “request to return to work”; she was following school policy. Court records indicate the Hosanna-Tabor School handbook stated that failure to return to work on the first day following the expiration of an approved medical leave may be considered a voluntary termination.

    3. Pres. Harrison [40:39]: “Instead of following the process laid out by the church for dispute resolution, she went to the EEOC and filed suit.”

    Perich was not deposed by the church congregation because she went to the EEOC and filed suit. Court documents show that in a February 22, 2005, telephone conversation, Hosanna-Tabor School Principal Stacy Hoeft told Cheryl Perich, a called commissioned teacher, she would likely be fired (despite the fact that Perich was a called worker who could only be deposed). Perich responded to Hoeft’s threat of being fired (contrary to the process laid out by the church for dispute resolution of called workers) by telling Hoeft that she would assert her legal rights against discrimination if they were unable to reach a compromise. Court documents show that the church that same night sent a letter to Perich claiming that Perich had “damaged, beyond repair” her working relationship with Hosanna-Tabor by “threatening to take legal action.” On April 10, 2005, the church deposed Perich from her call.

    In fact, it was five weeks after the church removed her as a called commissioned minister, that Perich filed a complaint with the EEOC. And it was three years after she was deposed that Perich joined a 2007 EEOC lawsuit against Hosanna-Tabor.

  27. 4. Male voice [40:47]: “The church school planned to have her return in the fall [of 2005], having contracted a temporary replacement for the rest of the school year.”

    Court records stated that the school principal informed Perich that, following her approved disability leave of absence she would “still have a job with [Hosanna-Tabor]” when she regained her health. (Dist. Ct. R.E. 24 Ex. 6). On December 16, 2004, Perich informed Hoeft by email that her doctor had confirmed a diagnosis of narcolepsy and that she would be able to return to work in two to three months once she was stabilized on medication. Perich regularly provided the school with updates on her condition and progress, and on January 27, 2005, told them she would return to work between February 14, and February 28, 2005. It was after this that Hoeft informed Perich she would not be teaching the third and fourth grade up her return. Three days later the school board gave the congregation its unsubstantiated opinion that it was unlikely Perich would be physically capable of returning to work that school year or the next and asked Perich to resign as a called commissioned minister/teacher.

    5. Male voice [41:20]: “Douglas Laycock spoke on behalf of the church school [here the audio is presented along with a video of quotes from Mr. Laycock and Justice Scalia].”

    “Laycock [for Church/School]
    The churches do not set the criteria for selecting or removing the officers of government, and government does not set the criteria for selecting or removing officers of the church. She could have had a hearing in the synod before decisionmakers who would have been independent of the local church. This Court has repeatedly said churches can create tribunals for the governance of their officers.”

    “Justice Scalia
    I think your point is that it’s — it’s none of the business of the government to decide what the substantial interest of the church is.”

    The quotes from these two men are actually taken out of context from separate statements made in three different places in the Supreme Court transcript (p. 3, p. 8, and p. 10.). The three excerpts are about three different specific points but were combined to give the false appearance they were stated at the same time about the same point.

    6. Pres. Harrison [43:00]: “The Supreme Court ruled 9 to 0 for the congregation.”

    In fact the SCOTUS made no ruling about the congregation and its flimsy pretextual decision to depose a called commissioned minister. The SCOTUS simply ruled that whether the firing of Perich was pretextual or not, the ministerial exception rule (based on the First Amendment) requires that the church alone decide who is and is not a minister. From the Supreme Court decision (Syllabus; pp. 4-5):

    “Any suggestion that Hosanna-Tabor’s asserted religious reason for firing Perich was pretextual misses the point of the ministerial exception. The purpose of the exception is not to safeguard a church’s decision to fire a minister only when it is made for a religious reason. The exception instead ensures that the authority to select and control who will minister to the faithful is the church’s alone.

    “Today the Court holds only that the ministerial exception bars an employment discrimination suit brought on behalf of a minister, challenging her church’s decision to fire her. The Court expresses no view on whether the exception bars other types of suits.”

    Whether Hosanna-Tabor deposed Cheryl Perich for valid doctrinal reasons was immaterial to the Supreme Court decision, but it should be of concern to members of the Missouri Synod, especially those who may be (or know another member) in a similar situation, and especially since the LCMS amicus curiae brief stated:

    “the Synod teaches that ministers can generally be fired [sic] only for certain narrow reasons—’1. Teaching false doctrine, 2. Offensive conduct or scandalous life, 3. Deliberate unfaithfulness in the performance of offi cial duties, 4. Neglect of, or inability to perform, official duties, [or] 5. Domineering in office.’ LCMS Commission on Theology, The Divine Call, at 25.”

  28. This article is laughable. Some of it, to quote Mr. Eidsmoe, “is too absurd for comment.” The author seems to believe that some topics are off limits for preaching. The last time I checked, the Bible and Christian faith were relevant to all facets of life. That would include the political realm. Jesus clearly tells us to “render unto Caeser what is Caeser’s.” Paul reaffirms that we should be good citizens in the land we live. And in a democratic republic, citizens have the responsibility to vote or even to be involved in the political process. And this should not be done in a self-serving way, but rather in a wise and dutiful manner. Why is it wrong for a preacher to address a Bibically-illiterate generation on the topic? Who will teach and edify people on the matter if preachers can’t?

    How is honoring veterans on Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day un-Christian? What is the harm of celebrating Independence Day if it happens to be on a Sunday? Patriotic songs would be out of place in church most times of the year, but if they are sung on national holidays, how is that wrong? Does patriotism automatically make one a replacement theologian?

    The subtext of this article indicates that the author is attacking one particular church or pastor. He implies that speaking against homosexuality or about politics is equivalent of turning a blind eye to other sin. And the comment on a pastor wearing a tie with a flag on it is perplexing. Since the author is a pastor with his own congregation to serve, I have to wonder when he might have seen this display? Is he judging based on one sermon? Had he investigated to see whether or not that pastor might speak about a wide variety of issues? Or is that church indeed making an impact for the kingdom by reaching lost souls, making disciples, and edifying the Body of Christ?

    The problem I see is that of Christians attacking one another, and worse, pastors attacking one another both from the pulpit and in private sectors. Mr. Lohse, are not churches in the Association of FREE Lutheran Congregations free to govern themselves under the constraints of God’s Word? Energy would be better-spent building up your Illinois District, rather than doing the devil’s work of tearing it down.

    Thank you Mr. Eidsmoe for a clear and well-reasoned response to this nonsensicality.

  29. Eric :
    This article is laughable. Some of it, to quote Mr. Eidsmoe, “is too absurd for comment.” The author seems to believe that some topics are off limits for preaching.

    Eric, I can’t help but think that you and Pastor Eidsmoe both missed the main point Pastor Lohse was making. No one is questioning anyone’s Constitutional right to do the things listed in the article (or not do, as the case may be). What is being argued is that these things are replacing the preaching of the Gospel for sinners. The “sermon” that is linked is a perfect example of this in that it contains no Gospel whatsoever. It is interesting that neither of you address the main point of the article.

  30. I appreciate your comment. I have listened to the sermon, and agree that it contains no Gospel message. But I don’t believe that one message is the measure of a preacher, unless it is directly heretical of course. Nor does one message make a trend within a district or denomination. I also believe in the autonomy of the preacher, as guided by the Holy Spirit, to preach whatever message God has given him to preach–no matter the topic or if that message seems palatable to me.

    As to the main point of the article, most of Pastor Lohse’s text is carping on patriotism from the pulpit and political involvement, not on the absence of the Gospel. It infers that such behaviors equivocate Replacement Theology and neglecting Law and Grace. It infers that speaking out on homosexuality and liberal politics leads to ignoring the sins of congregants. This article does nothing to promote it’s thesis, aside from posting a link that most readers would never take the time to view. It doesn’t even define the “Two Kingdoms” for the reader. If I might infer a little farther, I think Pastor Lohse would say that if you simply preach the truth of the Word of God, the behavior of the church will follow. (Certainly some of the comments on this page follow that reasoning.) But rather than simply speak the truth of the “Two Kingdoms,” he launches a biased and feebly-supported attack against sister churches.

    I am from Northern Illinois, and am aware of some of the unrest in the AFLC’s Illinois District. It pains me to see it. Until they died, my grandparents were members of the church Pastor Lohse refers to in his opening statement. My parents were married there. As a Christian, I hurt along with those believers. And I am sure that the issues at those warring churches are more than Baptism, Communion, and Luther. For starters, there is ego and pride on both sides.

    I firmly believe in confronting error and sin, but that should be done directly. It should not be done through back-biting, gossiping, or sowing discord. Such behavior does nothing to bring unity, fellowship, or the Gospel back to the Body of Christ. It treats brothers and sisters as enemies rather than coheirs.

  31. Eric, I’m glad you responded. It’s nice to have some actual dialogue about this! 🙂

    I agree with you about the tone of the article. Sometimes, sarcasm is not the best way to communicate. But in this case, it can be hard to be straight about this issue since it is so painful right now. I know Pastor Lohse is enduring direct attacks on his ministry as a result of holding the line on confessional Lutheranism. I’ve had several conversations with him about it recently and so I know that it can be difficult to write about what is happening right now without letting the anger and hurt just spill out. Sarcasm isn’t the best, but I guarantee you it is better than the other emotions. You could argue, and I might agree to a point, that if that is the case, it would be better not to write at all, but then this stuff will just continue unchallenged.

    I only wish that the linked sermon was a one-of-a-kind sermon. Unfortunately, this pastor is known for that type of sermon. I have family members who visit there and each time, the sermon is like this one. Perhaps not as strongly, but still highly political and mostly void of Gospel.

    As for the church mentioned at the beginning, until May of this year, I was a member there. My wife was a lifelong member, as was her mother and as her grandparents still are. We’ve had 5 generations there, at least, going back to the founding of it. I stood by the pastors as they got slandered and emotionally beaten before being forced out. I was in the congregational meetings where members told the pastors to stop preaching that people were sinful and in need of forgiveness (“I’m tired of hearing about my sin.”), how they didn’t do visitation enough, how their sermons where too hard to understand, and that they instead wanted “practical advice for living” and taught “how to be better parents”, etc. And, yes, pride was involved, but that wasn’t the issue. I personally had the lug nuts on my car loosened so that my wheel would fall off while driving – by someone angry at me for teaching the college kids to be Lutheran. It got very nasty and we were glad to get out.

    And Pastor Lohse is still in the middle of this stuff. It isn’t happening directly to him at his church, but he is taking heat from the pastors here and from other laypeople and leadership. So I understand his snark, but I also understand his need to write about it. Those involved have been confronted directly, privately and publicly. It has done nothing. We’re at the point now where we just warn people away. There isn’t any other option. And so Pastor Lohse writes here, if for no other purpose than to warn people away from these churches. We’re not left with many other options. Well…I joined an LCMS church…so that got me out of it entirely! But not everyone has or wants to take that option. 🙂

  32. Prior to our Divine Service 3, I played a video of Reagan reminding this country, our veterans, and soldiers of Joshua’s words “never will I forsaken you, never will I abandon you.” People clapped. It was very stirring. Was Reagan’s words in this context completely correct? No. However, even I was moved knowing that the Lord will be with us because of His grace. The Holy Spirit works in lovely and amazing ways. Let me explain:

    One veteran came up to me and said, “Pastor, I needed to hear that. We, ‘Nam vets, need to be reminded.” I take umbrage with changing the “Church Year” but I think we can provide simple but pastoral efforts to one) say thank you and two) remember.

    Thanks for allowing me to share. Blessings!

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