In this blog I hammer a lot on the two kingdoms – the “left-hand kingdom” of secular authority granted by God and the “right-hand kingdom” which is the spiritual aspects of justice, righteousness, Christ’s atoning work on the cross, grace, forgiveness, all which lead to either eternal life or eternal separation from God.
Both of these have their place in God’s creation, but when people try to use what belongs to the right-hand kingdom to execute left-hand kingdom affairs, the results can be less than desirable. This is what happened when CEF management decided to abandon its promise to only place depositor funds into church and school buildings and instead “erred on the side of ministry” and placed funds in seniors housing and care initiatives.
This kind of error can also happen when believers are faced with an increasingly hostile secular political environment like we have today. On Aug 24, 2018 the Canadian Lutheran posted an excellent article titled “Trust Not In Princes” where Rev Dr John Hellwege discusses the differences between the two kingdoms, makes a case for why believers should engage in the political process, and includes a cautionary tale about what can happen when one puts too much trust in “earthly princes.”
From Pr Hellwege’s article:
Here is where our great danger lies. It is easy for everyone, Christians included, to fall into the trap of thinking that if we can only get the right people or party into power, then all will be well. But when we act in this way, then we are no longer trusting in God—we are trusting in fallen sinners.
I would note this includes all “secular” powers including people elected to political office and people elected to positions within Synod or the local church.
If we hand too much power to sinners, we can end up with tragic problems, such as befell Germany under Hitler. But even to a lesser extent, we need to be vigilant. Yes, we should work to put the best individuals into power, but we also need to make sure that our trust is not in people, but in God. Likewise, we must pray for our leaders, even those we do not like—and especially for those with whom we do not agree.