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Mt Calvary Evangelical Lutheran ChurchLike

userimgBack to Hamann. If the marks of the Church are what define her mission (i.e., to nurture people with the Gospel and sacraments), then what about the Church's relationship to society as a whole? What this question is after is simply this: does the Church, as the Church, have something to say to civil society about how it should be conducting its affairs? Certainly the Church has God's Word about good and evil, justice and injustice, right and wrong; and certainly the Church ought not hide that word...... But here's the irony: once the Church speaks to the world about good and evil, right and wrong, etc - notice that she is speaking the LAW. Not that the Law doesn't need speaking, but as we have already established, the law can't save anyone, nurture faith, or give hope. So for instance, in these confused times of the "culture wars" in North America, it is clear that the Church has things to say about marriage, pregnancy, economic justice, and a host of other issues. But that will ever and always be the way of the Law. And the law is not our mission. So Lutherans speak of "two kingdoms" as God orders our life in this world. Each with a different function, each with a different purpose. Here's Hamann's take on it: The proper ordering of the world has been committed by God to various structures of society that he himself has ordained. The chief of these are the home and the state. The home is the natural unit of society, where children, to a great extent, can be trained for life by the man and woman who brought them into existence. the "powers that be," the governments of the various independent countries, no matter how they might be organized and no matter how good or bad they may be, are also ordained of God; they are his way, his necessary way, to preserve humanity. Without law and order and, to a large degree, the protection afforded by a government or a state, the human race would soon destroy itself in one big suicidal holocaust. All human beings are included in these structures of society, Christians included. However, the functions of the church and of the structures of society differ in their natures and in how they are carried out. the church's function is carried out by the proclamation of the Word and the administration of the sacraments, the Spirit being the power at work in them to bring about the desired result of faith and the new life. For the ordering of society, the necessary factors are reason or common sense and the judicious exercise of force and compulsion..... (On Being a Christian, pp. 118-19) This is why Lutherans generally believe that the idea of a "Christian" state or nation is finally wrong-headed. You could have a nation made up largely of Christian people, but that would still be distinct from the Church. The Church preaches and teaches and relies on the Spirit to work faith in those who hear. The state orders life, judges, commends, condemns according to its reason and purpose, and what power it has. The Church is not the state, and visa versa. Now, the Church certainly would want to convince the state that her vision of right and wrong, as it comes from God's Word, is the foundation for a well-ordered society - but the only power the Church has here is in reason and her members' vocations as citizens. Beyond that, the Church must not go. The Church may not use secular power to coerce or control - and sadly, every time she has succumbed to that temptation, neither the state nor the Church have prospered. Yet, certainly the best is when Church and state see themselves both as God's instruments for graciously preserving humankind, rather than as competitors for the people's loyalties......