Church, State, and Pluralistic Society: Reforming Lutheran Teaching on the Two Regiments

Article by Jeppe Bach Nikolajsen in International Journal of Public Theology.


This article demonstrates that Lutheran teaching on the two regiments can be drawn in different directions and how it was drawn in a particular direction for centuries so that it could provide a theoretical framework for mono-confessional Lutheran societies. It argues that the Lutheran two regiments theory can be developed along a different path, regaining some emphases in Luther’s early reflections: it can thereby contribute to an improved understanding of the role not only of the church but also of the state. While a number of Lutheran theologians believe that Lutheran teaching on the two regiments is particularly difficult to apply today, with some even contending that it should simply be abandoned, this article argues that Lutheran teaching on the two regiments could present a potential for a relevant understanding of the relationship between church, state, and society, and its ethical implications in a contemporary pluralistic society.