Friday, March 4, 2016


Part Two
(Part One here)
(Part Three here)

The Spiritual Construct of the Right Kingdom and the Anthropological Construct of the Left Kingdom

The Right Kingdom or Spiritual Kingdom – The spiritual kingdom or right kingdom is also rightly called “the church”. It citizens consist of those who share one essential property, namely that of being born again. When a person is born again, which comes through believing the gospel or exercising faith in the gospel that they may be justified before God, that person is made alive with Christ and made part of a new race which is termed a new spiritual species (Eph. 2:10, 2 Corinthians 5:17). In fact, rather emphatically Peter states in his first epistle (ESV parenthesis mine):
2:9 But you are a chosen race (γένος - genos), a royal priesthood, a holy nation (ἔθνος - ethnos), a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
A person’s membership into the kingdom on the right is based on his/her new spiritual person and its identification. The Christian’s spiritual identification is the result of their being spiritually regenerated (Titus 3:5) and now sharing the spiritual DNA of Christ. Further, beyond their relationship with God is their relationship with fellow members of this spiritual kingdom, which is based on these same spiritual properties.

This is why people who are not brother and sister in the left kingdom are able to now call one another brother and sister in the body of Christ. It is not because they have had their human or anthropological properties of family, race, ethnicity, gender or culture reconciled, changed or even nullified, but because they have been made new, spiritually speaking, not anthropologically speaking, where they have been reconciled to God through Christ, made alive spiritually and now walk with him in fellowship thus, are reconciled to one another, via Christ (1 John 1:7).

The right or spiritual kingdom is not based on anthropological properties rather, on the spiritual property of being a new spiritual species which is our basis for relating both to God and to one another, as we operate in the context of the spiritual kingdom. And context is the key.

To contrast this, which is where we are headed next, is how we relate to one another outside of the spiritual kingdom and in anthropological contexts or in the left kingdom which has to do with the governments of the world. In this kingdom, the left kingdom or the kingdoms of the world, we relate with respect to human properties, not spiritual ones and this will be of significance to my arguments and conclusions.

The Left Kingdom or Governments of the World – To become a citizen of a government in the left kingdom, God has set up valid boundaries or protocols. None of these are spiritual in nature. They are all anthropological in nature and you are ushered into any number of them merely by being born a human being.

That is to say, unlike the kingdom on the right, the church, which limits its citizenship or 1membership to those who are alive spiritually via the new birth, the kingdom on the left is not designed nor intended by God to determine membership based on spiritual properties but on human properties. All humans are members of the left kingdom with their subordinate governments by virtue of anthropological properties. The left kingdom is not a spiritual construct like the right kingdom thus, membership and participation in the left kingdom and its divine institutions was designed by God for all humans and none of these are spiritual constructs like the body of Christ, his church, i.e., the spiritual kingdom. 

1with regard to locally formed visible assemblies, Christ will divide the wheat from the tares later hence, the church operates on the presumption of one’s claim of faith and willingness to cooperate with the requirements of a local church to be a member though clearly not all members of the visible and temporal formation of local assemblies of God’s people are, in fact, real members of Christ’s body

(*I realize I may be guilty of being a bit redundant but grasping the basic biblical principle(s) for the division between the two kingdoms is critical to understanding the implications and subsequent theological application from which conclusions on this matter are derived.)

(**For this essay I am by-passing the temporary hybrid theocracy of Israel in which there was both anthropological and spiritual membership. Its unique status, while recognized as real in the past, is also now not operating as a valid divine institution of God, of which most Protestant, Evangelical or Fundamentalist schools of theology agree. However, I did want to note its existence in the past).

The Lesser-sized Governments of the Divine Institutions God placed in the Left Kingdom - Luther and those that followed tended to focus on national and state governments in the development of their doctrinal arguments regarding the kingdom on the left. In this case, however, I have decided to expand the consideration of the left kingdom or governments of the world to include the lesser-sized governments of the divine institutions which operate, by divine intent, in the left kingdom. Therefore, my primary taxonomy for the divine institutions given to us by God which function in the kingdom on the left are (I will elaborate on this in a bit):

  • The government of the self or individual
  • The government of marriage
  • The government of family
  • Civil Establishmentarianism – the formation of civil government which includes tribes, villages, hamlets, towns, cities, counties, states and nations and so o
Why is this sub-set in the taxonomy of the left kingdom so pertinent? I do so because it is a valid and critical theological construct which Piper and others neglect in their treatment of the issue but as well, this is essentially where the problem actually lies, in that of personal and practical applications of God’s Word regarding the personal use of weapons for self-defense and not national self-defense so much (I say “so pertinent” because I am addressing Piper’s problematic claims but let me be clear, national pacifism also is in view here and is just as in error though from what I gather, John Piper does not support national pacifism).

Divine Institutions and the Two Kingdoms

The theological category of divine institutions is a familiar one with many Evangelicals. However, their incorporation into Luther’s large schematics of a left and right kingdom (which I find to be a very appropriate construct with regard to the Bible’s presentation of God’s design and intent of world governments and the church or spiritual government) have not been amalgamated by many and prescribed in the manner in which I am providing. I believe my readers will discover this theological blueprint to be a persuasive construct, both theologically and practically, on this this issue and many more related ones.

The Structure of the Right Kingdom – While Luther used the spiritual kingdom and the church synonymously, I want to take time to refine this a bit and give notice to what might be a weighty nuance though, on the whole, still adopting the right or spiritual kingdom and left or worldly government kingdom paradigm.

The right kingdom or the spiritual kingdom is either the church or overseen by the church under Christ’s headship in which our Savior placed two offices for governing, the presbyter (often qualified per Ephesians 5 as Pastor-teachers) and the deacon. But how a taxonomy might be theologically structured requires the observation of another office in the church, instituted by God, which is not one related to church governing rather, one of spiritual self-governance which is the office of the believer-priest.

The problem with the spiritual kingdom and the church being treated as completely synonymous with one another is first, do we mean church as in God's called out people through all the ages or the New Testament church with its unique protocols for this age? 

As well, as part of the church and/or spiritual kingdom, the individual believer-priest does not perform all of his/her functions under the authority or in the context of the church, though one might say under its auspices which means that the believer-priest, while directly attached to a formalized body of believers (the divine institution of the church) is not always answerable to the church for all of their spiritual exercises though is taught, reproved, corrected and trained via ecclesiastical indoctrination (2 Tim 3:16). And while this part of my essay is not really directly germane to the thesis, it is relevant in understanding divine structures and purposes therefore, I am taking a bit more time to address this.

The believer-priest’s conscience before God is at liberty to make many choices to whom the believer-priest answers only to God thus, he/she is not always in the context of the church but always in the context of the kingdom on the right or the spiritual kingdom. This is reflected in Romans 14:20-23 with the Christian’s conscience accounting exclusively to God on matters of liberty. And here is but one example of many. 

From this, ultimately I have formulated two theological constructs regarding the right kingdom or the spiritual kingdom:

1. Right Kingdom/Spiritual Kingdom and its divine institutions (preferred)

A. The divine institution of the New Testament church with its two divinely ordained offices for governing, the presbyter or Pastor/Teacher - first - and Deacon - second, with proprietary gifting for the former and specific divine qualifications and objectives for both (1 Tim 3:1-13)

B. The priesthood of the individual which is under the authority of the divine institution of the church though, some matters are private and exercised outside of the authoritative reach of the church, answerable directly to God, alone.
2. Right Kingdom/Spiritual Kingdom also known as the divine institution called the church
A. The governing offices the NT church are the presbyter or Pastor/Teacher - first - and Deacon - second, with proprietary gifting for the former and specific divine qualifications and objectives for both (1 Tim 3:1-13)

B. The priesthood of the individual which is under the authority of the divine institution of the church though, some matters are private and exercised outside of the authoritative reach of the church, answerable directly to God, alone.
There is no indisputable way to construct a perfect taxonomy but the overriding point is that the right kingdom or the spiritual kingdom which is manifested via the church is specific but limited in its authoritative intent and reach such as membership, the propagation of the gospel and teaching doctrine in order to lead believer-priests into full-knowledge and wisdom and ultimately, God pleasing practices of the highest order (Phil. 1:10, Rom. 12:1-2).

And membership into this kingdom, the spiritual kingdom which comes via a singular spiritual property common to all its citizens - that of spiritual rebirth which comes through faith in the gospel - will be contrasted with membership into the left kingdom or governments of the world which is determined by various anthropological properties such as gender, place of birth, sworn oaths and human genetics and so on, it just depends on the context.

The Structure of Left Kingdom – The left kingdom is the expression used to denote the various governments of the world. To the new believer some of this may be difficult because he/she may run into the theocracy of Israel in the Old Testament and imagine this is how today’s governments around the world are to operate, especially ones which have a Biblical influence in their founding and the predominant culture identifies as Christian.

The answer to that is, no.

Israel was just that, a theocracy. They received direct revelation from God through which God, himself, prescribed specific protocols for both their spiritual and civil governments. This form of establishment was voided by God upon the establishment of the New Testament church.

Matthew 27:51 records God’s signifying his termination of the theocracy by the rending of the Temple veil and then, through processional revelation and establishment through the Apostles, shows that the kingdom of God is now to be expressed as a spiritual kingdom via the church or the body of Christ, whose individual members are its Temple (1 Cor. 3:16) both individually and collectively and who are now called a chosen nation, a royal priesthood and a holy nation (2 Peter 2:9), no longer qualified by any anthropological or geological properties as Israel was, but by being born again, made alive with Christ through faith in the gospel.

While it is true that Israel was both a civil and spiritual kingdom, it was the only one of its kind in human history. However, God established it with a limited scope and intent with respect to many of its properties. And as almost every Evangelical Bible teacher agrees, there is no more theocracy with its special form of civil government and Levitical priesthood, or combination left/right kingdom.

So, does this mean God has left no instruction, no guidance and no moorings for the governments of the world?

Again, no.

Both Paul, in Romans 13 and Peter, in each of his epistles, writing under the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit, recognize the validity of civil government as being divinely instituted along with citing some specific divine goals of civil government. These are divine objectives intended by God for the role of civil establishment. However, unlike the theocracy of Israel where there was a very specifically prescribed form of government, the New Testament reveals that God has no prescribed form of government for the nations, only the rights, duties and privileges of establishment or government which are referred to by the Apostles. I realize the issue of what kind of governments might be premium in enabling a nation to carry out God’s intent of securing freedoms, liberties and justice for its people but this isn’t my aim, here, nor am I going any further on that. My elaboration was simply to point out God has not just instituted the church but as well, civil government, they simply operate on different protocols from God.

Therefore, I want to enlarge the microscope a bit so we can magnify the picture and reduce our focus on lesser-sized but equally divinely instituted forms of government which, just like civil government or establishmentarianism, present to all members of humanity, rights, duties and privileges from God. And by divine design, membership into of these forms of government have nothing to do with spiritual properties rather, anthropological properties.

Here is my construct for the left kingdom or governments of the world as instituted by God and I only have one taxonomy as opposed to two with the spiritual or right kingdom:

Left Kingdom or Governments of the World (as instituted by God)

A. The individual or self
B. Marriage
C. Family
D. Civil government
The very first category is the one on which I will be elaborating the most. First, because it is often overlooked by those who treat the topic of divine institutions and secondly, because categorically, it is the very issue at hand regarding self-defense and its legitimacy as a Christian. Also, I am going to assume that readers recognize and affirm marriage, family and civil government as valid divine institutions created by God for all mankind intended as the mechanism primarily for man’s social perpetuity with his protection and prosperity largely in view.

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