Wrath and Mercy

Dear Residents of Two Kingdoms,

How can we understand the concept that as Christians we live both in the kingdom of heaven and in an earthly realm? I ponder this often, but especially on the eve of such holidays as Memorial Day. Dr Martin Luther, the 16th century church reformer, thought about this carefully. His doctrine of “two kingdoms” may provide a useful perspective:

“There are two kingdoms , one the kingdom of God , the other the kingdom of the world. I have written this so often I am surprised that there is anyone who does not know it or note it…God’s kingdom is a kingdom of grace and mercy, not wrath and punishment. In it there is only forgiveness, consideration for one another, love, service, the doing of good, peace, joy etc. But the kingdom of the world is a kingdom of wrath and severity. In it there is only punishment, repression, judgment, and condemnation, for the suppressing of the wicked and protection of the good. For this reason it has the sword , and a prince or lord is called in Scripture God’s wrath, or God’s rod…Now he who would confuse these two kingdoms –as our false fanatics do—would put wrath into God’s kingdom and mercy into the world's kingdom ; and that is the same as putting the devil in heaven and God in hell. “ (Martin Luther “An Open Letter Concerning the Hard Book Against the Peasants ,” Luther ‘s Works, vol. IV pp. 265-267.)

Let us pray that we live faithfully in the two kingdoms.

Still in one peace,

Pastor David J. Jensen

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