Tuesday, October 3, 2023

God's Reign Over Every Sphere of Life - A.A. Hodge

Shortly before his death in 1886, Archibald Alexander Hodge gave a series of popular lectures on theology. This series is available online as Popular Lectures on Theological Themes and are currently published by Banner of Truth as Evangelical Theology. Three of the lectures give attention to the reign and kingdom of Christ: "The Kingly Office of Christ," "The Kingdom of Christ," and "The Law of the Kingdom." I have quoted from the first one here and the second one here. Here I would like to share a couple quotes from the third of these lectures.

He begins by speaking of how the gospel of grace accords with the pursuit of the practice of righteousness in accord with God’s revealed will in the Holy Scriptures. Since our obligation to God is universal and absolute, Hodge goes on to note that God's law demands obedience in every sphere of a person's life. 
"This law, moreover, demands instant and absolute obedience, not only from all classes of Christians, but also in every sphere of human life equally. A Christian is just as much under obligation to obey God's will in the most secular of his daily businesses as he is in his closet or at the communion table. He has no right to separate his life into two realms, and acknowledge different moral codes in each respectively--to say the Bible is a good rule for Sunday, but this is a weekday question, or the Scriptures are the right rule in matters of religion, but this is a question of business or of politics. God reigns over all everywhere. His will is the supreme law in all relations and actions. His inspired Word, loyally read, will inform us of his will in every relation and act of life, secular as well as religious, and the man is a traitor who refuses to walk therein with scrupulous care. The kingdom of God includes all sides of human life, and it is a kingdom of absolute righteousness. You are either a loyal subject or a traitor. When the King comes how will he find you doing?"

He discusses the three uses of the law - to restrain the wicked for the good of society, to convince us of our sin that we might embrace Christ, and to be the rule and goal for the regenerated and progressively sanctified Christian who obey out of love and in the Spirit. Then he goes on to speak of the implications of this obligation for our social responsibilities. 

"Since the kingdom of God on earth is not confined to the mere ecclesiastical sphere, but aims at absolute universality, and extends its supreme reign over every department of life, it follows that it is the duty of every loyal subject to endeavour to bring all human society, social and political, as well as ecclesiastical, into obedience to its law of righteousness. It is our duty, as far as lies in our power, immediately to organize human society and all its institutions and organs upon a distinctively Christian basis. Indifference or impartiality here between the law of the kingdom and the law of the world, or its prince, the devil, is utter treason to the King of Righteousness. The Bible, the great statute-book of the kingdom, explicitly lays down principles which, when candidly applied, will regulate the action of every human being in all relations. There can be no compromise. The King said with regard to all descriptions of moral agents in all spheres of activity, 'He that is not with me is against me.' If the national life in general is organized upon non-Christian principles, the churches which are embraced within the universal assimilating power of that nation will not long be able to preserve their integrity."
What this looks like in practice will vary in accord with each one's place and calling, but it is a project and goal that Christians should share. With the respect to the last sentence of that quote, it might be objected that it is possible for churches to resist assimilation into a national life that is non-Christian. It is possible, but it is also a real challenge. It might be easy for us to underestimate this challenge and overestimate the church's ability to be able to resist these forces, especially if Christian give up the effort to apply Christian principles to their life and culture. The more the life of a community or society is organized upon Christian principles, the better it is for that society and for the spiritual welfare of the people living in it. National life has an assimilating power, and it is better when this is a force for good that encourages faith and obedience, rather than a force that encourages unbelief and unfaithfulness.

1 comment:

Jim Lauerman said...


Thank you for this reminder. You end your post with, “ National life has an assimilating power, and it is better when this is a force for good that encourages faith and obedience, rather than a force that encourages unbelief and unfaithfulness.”

Amen, and I would add that from my view there has been a great deal of assimilation in the Evangelical church in our land.

Beyond the theory, what does obeying this truth look like in practice in today’s culture?