Two Kingdoms

Here are very important documents

about the Enduring influence

of Luther’s Teaching of the

“Two Kingdoms”

a Believer Lives in



Martin Luther Memorial in Dresden, Germany.

“Formerly I addressed a booklet to the German nobility, setting forth their Christian office and functions. But how they have carried out my suggestions is very plain to see. Hence I must change my tactics and write them, this time, what they should omit and not do. I fear this writing will have just as little effect on them as the former one had— they will by all means remain princes, and by no means become Christians. For God Almighty has made our rulers mad. They actually think they have the power to do and command their subjects to do, whatever they please. And the subjects are  led astray and believe they are bound to obey them in everything. It has gone so far that the rulers have ordered the people to put away books, and to believe and keep what they prescribe. In this way they presumptuously set themselves in God’s place, lord it over men’s conscience and faith, and put the Holy Spirit to school according to their mad brains. They let it be known, at the same time, that they are not to be contradicted, but called gracious lords into the bargain…”

  • From (principally) Karl Barth, Barmen, Germany, in May, 1934:
Karl Barth

Karl Barth

Barmen Declaration (English)

“I. An Appeal to the Evangelical Congregations and Christians in Germany

“8.01 The Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church met in Barmen, May 29-31, 1934. Here representatives from all the German Confessional Churches met with one accord in a confession of the one Lord of the one, holy, apostolic Church…”





Following portion of the Ansbacher Proposal translated by Richard Pierard:

“3…[Law binds everyone] to the station he has been called by God and obligates us to the natural orders to which we are subject—such as family, people, race (that is, blood relationship). Furthermore, we are associated with a certain family, a certain people, a certain race. Moreover, inasmuch as the will of God always confronts us in our here-and-now world, it likewise binds us to a historical moment in the family, the people, or the race, that is to say, to a certain distinct point in its history.

“5…We give thanks to God the Lord for bestowing the Führer as a pious and faithful chief of state “upon our people in their time of need, just as we thank God for desiring to grant us “good government,” a government with “discipline and honor,” in the form of the National-Socialist state. For this reason, we recognize that we are held responsible before God to assist the Führer in his work through our respective vocations and professions.”

Richard Pierard

Richard Pierard

  • From June, 1986, by Richard V. Pierard, “The Lutheran Two-Kingdoms Doctrine and Subservience to the State in Modern Germany”:

Lutheran Two Kingdoms Doctrine

“A debate has raged during the past few decades within German Protestant and particularly Lutheran circles over the so-called “doctrine of the two kingdoms.”…this essay will examine the doctrine as it was formulated in early twentieth-century Lutheranism and point out ways in which it reinforced the concept of authoritarian government. It must be emphasized that the traumatic experiences of the Third Reich forced theologians to rethink their understanding of this teaching. As a result a variety of interpretations exists today among Lutherans, but few are willing to abandon it entirely…”

2 thoughts on “Two Kingdoms”

  1. These are wonderfully clear examples the classic German mind and how accurately these men and women of sound thought have been able to clarify the murky field of secular politics and the claims of Christ on the willing human life. Thank you for publishing these words. As I’m sure you know, the early Anabaptists were quite familiar with the distinctions and boundaries between the Two Kingdoms. Though we are bound to respect what we can respect, one is a temporal system and the other is eternal. The closer we get to the restoration of all things, the differences between the two will become clearer and clearer and, as in the first century, follower of Jesus who are laying down their lives for one another day by day will be called to suffer martyrdom.

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