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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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In Luther's view

'Two kingdoms' doctrine draws line of separation

Separation of church and state is often regarded as a modern American invention. In reality, separationism is an ancient Western teaching rooted in the Bible.

Statue of Martin LutherChrist commanded believers to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s (Matthew 22:21). Paul warned believers they should “not be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2) but remain “separate,” knowing their true commonwealth lies in heaven (2 Corinthians 6:17; Philippians 3:20). Paul spoke literally of a “wall of separation” between Christians and non-Christians set by the law of God (Ephesians 2:14).

Such passages inspired Martin Luther’s famous doctrine of the “two kingdoms.” God has ordained two kingdoms in which humanity is destined to live, Luther argued, the earthly kingdom and the heavenly kingdom.


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