Full Text for Dogmatics 4- Volume 2 - So is this two realms concept really just the same as the American ideal of the separation of church and state that Jefferson espoused? (Video)

No. 2. >> So is this two realms thing really just the same as the American ideal of the separation of church and state that Jefferson espoused? >>DR. JOEL D. BIERMANN: That's a great follow-up question, David. You're definitely thinking already. And that's good. Quick answer, no. Let me unpack that a little bit and explain why. When Luther is talking about the distinction between the two realms, that's what he wants. He wants a distinction. He doesn't want them to be run together into one big mess. And you think about what happens if we do start running them together. If we run them together, we end up having a church that wants to enforce its rules with the sword. In other words, you must become a Christian or die. That's not how the church is supposed to operate. That's not how the Gospel operates. On the other hand, what happens if the Gospel starts to creep into the left hand realm? Now we have the idea that oh, we shouldn't punish anybody because that's not being loving. Or we shouldn't enforce the rules because that's not very kind. And you start getting all kinds of nonsense that operates. And the law loses its teeth and chaos erupts. Luther one time likened it to a farmer who said: Okay, sheep, we're going to close you up in the pen tonight. And then he also closes up in the pen wolves and eagles and locks them all up and says: Okay. Everybody get along tonight. You be -- just love each other. And he says you come back in the morning, you'll have a fine mess. And that's the reality. You can't run the left hand realm with the Gospel. It doesn't work. Because the left hand realm is filled with broken people who are ruled by sin. The law runs the show in the left hand realm. Not the Gospel. And if you confuse them, all kinds of problems result. So Luther wants two distinct realms, one in the left operating with the sword. And then in the right operating with the Gospel. Two distinct realms. But here is the key thing: Not separate. Luther did not envision a wall of separation. Luther envisioned a lot of give-and-take between these two realms. And in Luther's days, I mean, there was all kinds of give-and-take between the left hand and the right hand. In fact, in Luther's day you had City Councils calling pastors and paying their salaries. In Luther's day you had City Councils actually choosing who the pastors would be and then supervising how things operated. So there was a lot of give-and-take. You also had in Luther's day the church counselling the government and giving advice and correcting and challenging where problems were there. So there was plenty of give-and-take. Jefferson was espousing more of this idea of sort of kind of a bifurcated, the church does its thing, the government does its thing and never the twain shall meet. And part of what comes out of the legacy of Jefferson is sort of the idea of a personal very privatized religion. Where religion only matters to you as an individual. And it really has no place in the government or in the public realm. And that's a big problem. Because then we have the idea of trying to shove religion out of the realm of the public arena where it actually needs to be. It has a great deal to say as the church speaks to the government about its responsibilities. So no, we're not looking for this kind of a radical distinction of a separation in sort of the Jeffersonian American ideal. Luther is more nuance than that. So the way to think about it is distinct but not separate. And cooperation but not confusion. Now, that's a fine line. I think it is a fine line. But I think it can be carried out very effectively. And how that looks and what that means, you can begin to think about that. I would say a church that is operating properly has always has its No. 1 task the proclamation of the Gospel. But it doesn't neglect its left hand responsibilities, either. Great example of this is the abortion situation in our country today. So we have legalized abortion. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? It's a bad thing. Clearly. There's no doubt about it. Because this is a violation of God's will. Don't murder. Abortion is murder. And so this is a bad thing. So does the church simply say: Well, that's left hand stuff. That's law stuff. We're just here to preach the Gospel. We'll just give people the forgiveness of sins? I would say the church is missing its responsibility when it does that. No. 1 task, proclaim forgiveness. But when the state needs to be corrected, the church can speak. And should. And should speak often. So there is a place for the church to be involved in left hand civil affairs. But it needs to be careful that those activities don't sort of overwhelm it's responsibility to be proclaiming the Gospel. So we're not looking at a Jeffersonian wall of separation. It's not the same thing. But your question is good, David. Because I hear frequently from Lutherans this idea that: Oh, Luther's two kingdoms, that's just the separation of church and state. No, it's not. Very different things. Jefferson is looking forward to kind of a let the church take care of the morality and the state will do everything else that matters. And that's not at all what Luther wants. Or what I would say even God would have for us. God wants the state to be doing its thing. Enforcing justice. Upholding the law. And then God wants the church doing its thing, proclaiming the Gospel, making people right with him. Both things are important. And this kind of reflects back on that first question again. Both are God's activity. This is critically important. It's not as if the church is God's activity and the state is man's activity. Not at all. God is working in both places. He's working in the church to accomplish his purposes there, proclaiming the Gospel. And he's working in the state to advance his purposes, protecting people, protecting his creation, upholding justice, extending the rule of law. This is God's activity in both. And we see a distinction between them now. But ultimately -- and now we get to the kind of eschatological or end times thought here. Ultimately the goal is when left and right come together again under the rule of Christ at Christ's second coming. It's all God's activity. For now in this broken, fallen world, they are more distinct and more separate. There will come a time when they pull together again at the final fulfillment when Christ comes in glory. But for now we live with this distinction. But not separation. We live with this cooperation but not confusion. Kind of holding onto that tension there. It's a great question.