This is a response to some of the comments in my ongoing discussion with Bob Waters regarding the Left Hand (LH) and Right Hand (RH) kingdoms…
In my way of thinking, pastors do hold some LH authority, but it is not what I would call a "proper" authority, rather, an "alien" one. Another way of looking at it, might be, that pastors are accorded RH authority by virtue of their divine call, while any LH authority is that which is voluntarily accorded by the congregation. For example:
When it comes to the teaching/preaching of the Gospel (RH kingdom), the "buck stops here" so to speak.
I suppose when it comes to second and third use of the law, the same applies. The second use of the law, showing our sin, should always be with an eye toward the Gospel. Likewise there can BE no third use without the Gospel.
But would our discussion so far indicate that when it comes to the first use of the law as curb, the pastor’s authority is more coram deo than coram hominibus? The latter would fall under the realm of the state? Or is the first use wholly LH kingdom, and outside the role of the Office? Guess I need a little clarity here….
But when it comes to LH kingdom type decisions in the congregation (what color should the carpet be?) the pastor has no real authority, unless it is voluntarily given by the congregation (which it often is). Here the LH kingdom application seems to go to property ownership, and at least in our circles, the congregation (as a corporate entity under the state) “belongs” to the members. Finally, I would think a wise LH leadership would want to consult the pastor on many decisions for possible RH implications. After all, the primary purpose of a congregation is a RH one…
I know a pastor who said it this way: “If the toilet backs up, call the trustee. If the toilet backs up and floods the hallway, call the president of the congregation. If the toilet backs up, floods the hallway, and drowns three people… THEN you call the pastor.”
In the case of Stephan, here we had a faulty balance (best construction) of 2 kingdom authority. The pastor must always spend most of his time and energy in the RH kingdom, else trouble ensues. He must remember what his proper authority is, and not demand LH authority as Stephan did. Even if the LH authority is voluntarily afforded, the pastor should never let it overshadow or distract from his RH role,
This is an interesting point of debate too… should pastors have a vote in congregational meetings, council meetings, etc..??? Constitutions probably vary on this, as to what they allow, but in most cases I avoid it, personally, even though ours allows it.
I would think that such things as Confirmation instruction have some LH kingdom implications, inasmuch as the pastor performs this task on behalf of the parents (read Luther’s instructions in the front of the catechism about how the head of the household should teach this to his children – I often think about canceling confirmation classes and pointing parents to THAT). It’s not the pastor’s main responsibility to do this particular teaching (though it is to teach the word in general), however I do believe that because most parents are (sadly) not equipped to do so, it makes sense to have the pastor teach the confirmands. Having said all that, confirmation instruction, also has RH kingdom aspects too, of course. I guess I’m a little fuzzy on this one. Maybe it’s a case of both?
The dividing lines of the two kingdoms seem clearer when discussing the roles of church and state, than dividing various issues within, say the church.
Anyone else feel free to jump in here....