I’m beginning to do some reading on the Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms (aka the Two Realms). This is the concept that God is the ruler over all things, and all He rules over is based in two realms, His left hand (the “civil” realm) and His right hand (the “heavenly” realm). But before I go any further, let me break this doctrine down very quickly (I’ll do a more in-depth post on the Two Kingdoms later…and special thanks to Pastor Joel Biermann and Concordia Seminary’s iTunesU videos as a source for information).
The “civil” realm is not just the government, but also includes the home, the economy, the environment, etc. It is the realm of preservation, such as preserving peace and justice in the world. It is the realm of the Sword, which the government (or those in authority, i.e. parents, teachers, bosses) wield to maintain order over the earth and those over which God has placed them. This is a key point. God rules over both realms, and as such, grants authority to those He wishes to have it.
The “heavenly” realm is the church, but not the little “c” church of this world, necessarily. It is the realm of forgiveness, life, and salvation. It is the realm of the Word, and is the realm of the work to bring salvation to those who believe.
The two realms are not opposed to each other. They are not at odds. Instead, they cross into each other and even compliment each other. The work of the left realm is to maintain order and civility so that the work of the right may continue to save. The right hand will bring peace and comfort to the soul, and allow the left to complete it’s task.
An excellent set of examples is the judge and the murderer. The judge will work in the left realm, dispensing justice from the authority of the government to the murderer. The murderer, who may repent and truly be sorry for his sins, will still be punished for his crime. The judge does not let the repentance of the murderer sway him from his task of judgement, and the murderer does not expect that his repentance and forgiveness from God will remove from him the judgement he faces. The murderer will be forgiven by God, but will receive the Sword of the left hand kingdom. The judge will use the Sword, but may still work to spread the Word of the right hand kingdom outside of his job.
Still, both kingdoms are ruled by God. He grants grace and forgiveness on the right, and sets up any authority He wishes on the left. If God did not want an authority to rule, He would not allow it to be.
So, was the American Revolution against the will of God? Did our forefathers sin as they overthrew the government which ruled them? The answer is a resounding “Yes.”
Romans 13:1-2: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”
But God works through the sinfulness of man to fulfill His purposes. Were our forefathers wrong? Yes. Does that mean that our nation is inherently evil? Not necessarily (although THAT’S a discussion for another time). God uses our country to fulfill His purpose. May He grant us the strength to do His will when it is our time to complete it.
Now, ask yourself this: Are the Occupy Wall Street protesters right or wrong? Are they doing God’s will? And is supporting them sinful?