From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Church
Christ has warned us in his parables about the Church that when offended by the private vices of priests or people, we should not instigate schisms as the Donatists wickedly did. We consider those who have incited schisms to be altogether seditious because they denied that priests are permitted to hold possessions and property. The holding of property is a civil ordinance. It is as lawful for Christians to use civil ordinances as they use the air, light, food, and drink. Just as the order of the world and fixed movements of the heavenly bodies are truly ordinances of God and are preserved by him, so lawful governments are truly God’s ordinances, and are preserved and defended by him against the devil.
Pulling It Together: It is important for us to distinguish between the two kingdoms—the kingdom of God and worldly kingdoms. Both Church and State are under God’s authority but they serve different ends. The State is used by God to provide order in civic matters. God uses his Church to bring about a different kind of order. The Church’s job is to bring the peace of Christ into the world by proclaiming the gospel of grace and forgiveness. Both of these kingdoms work together for the common good under divine authority. So the Church does not exercise legal authority and the State does not legislate in affairs of the kingdom. May the Church be about the work of the gospel while they pray for peace, pay their taxes, vote, and trust in God.
Prayer: Bless and guide, O Lord, those you have placed in authority over me. Amen.
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