There is no Christian government

By Pastor Mark Samuelson, Our Saviors Lutheran Church | Oct 24, 2012

“Secular government has laws which extend no further than to life and property and to external things and relations on Earth. For over the soul God can and will let no one rule but Himself alone.” – Martin Luther

Do you remember the first time you voted? I remember when I turned 18 I was much more concerned about the military draft than I was about my new franchise to vote. I also remember the two were linked.

What should a Christian think of government? Martin Luther struggled with that question in his day just as we struggle with it today. Some think that our country should reflect “Christian values” as they define them or “Bible values” – that we need a “Christian” government.

The trouble is that we do not all agree on what those values are, what priority is placed on them from the pages of scripture, or how they should make their way into policy.

The early Lutherans came up with a helpful way to understand citizenship. It has come to be known as the “Two Kingdoms Doctrine.” Basically, it states that in matters of salvation, God rules and his way is clear – Jesus and the cross.

In matters of government, God is active as well, but his way is not always clear. Further, we should always be vigilant for evil and sin in our government affairs, so we cannot take for granted that everything is “of God” and we need to be mindful that sin affects us all.

The best way to navigate the problem is to think of it as vocation. The Lutheran reformers thought of all of life as “call” from God to live and serve others both in church and in our secular life.

There is no “Christian” government, but there are faithful and thoughtful Christians in government who hear the call to serve their neighbor in love; and if we take this Two Kingdoms understanding seriously, there are people of other faiths and even atheists that God can use to serve people.

When you get in that voting booth and contemplate your decision, rather than asking who is the most “Christian,” ask yourself who will help fulfill my calling as a Christian to serve my neighbor in love.

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