A Quick and Easy Chart on Two Kingdoms and Neo-Calvinism

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Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
When reformed people talk about Classical Two Kingdoms theology they mean what's embodied in the westminster standards and the writings of Calvin, Bullinger, Turretin, Rutherford, etc. In my understanding, the two kingdoms are the church and state, and redemption does affect how we carry out our vocations. I take issue with the claim that r2k teaches that the state governs according to natural law. Natural law pertains to both tables of the ten commandments. In spite of their claims of promoting natural law governance, they only apply the second table to governance. If they really believed in governing according to natural law, idolatry, witchcraft, and atheism should be illegal in their proposed scheme. There's hardly anything more unnatural than worshipping sticks and stones. And of course there's Horton's famous 2012 countenancing of gay civil unions. So they're hardly consistent in the second table either. Their scheme it seems to me has more in common with anarchism and libertinism than reformed political theology.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
I respect the work that our neo-2K brethren have done in bringing natural law back into the discussion about Reformed political ethics. It was badly needed and long overdue. In line with what Charles said above, however, I just wish that they properly understood what the magistrate upholding natural law actually entails.
 

Mr. Bultitude

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks, both of you. So if I'm understanding correctly, there's two places where the chart is misleading:
  • The chart says the classical view sees the two kingdoms as "vertical (invisible)" and "horizontal (visible)," while the radical view sees the two kingdoms as church and state. You say that both views actually agree that the two kingdoms are church and state. I'm a bit confused on what the chart would mean about vertical vs. horizontal to begin with.
  • The chart says (echoing what r2k proponents say about themselves) that the r2k view is that the state is governed by natural law, but r2k proponents implicitly deny this when they deny the use of the first table of the law in secular governance.
Do I have that right? Any other necessary clarifications?
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thanks, both of you. So if I'm understanding correctly, there's two places where the chart is misleading:
  • The chart says the classical view sees the two kingdoms as "vertical (invisible)" and "horizontal (visible)," while the radical view sees the two kingdoms as church and state. You say that both views actually agree that the two kingdoms are church and state. I'm a bit confused on what the chart would mean about vertical vs. horizontal to begin with.
  • The chart says (echoing what r2k proponents say about themselves) that the r2k view is that the state is governed by natural law, but r2k proponents implicitly deny this when they deny the use of the first table of the law in secular governance.
Do I have that right? Any other necessary clarifications?
Martin Luther often used the language of righteousness "before God" and "before men". It's part of his version of the law-gospel distinction. I assume that's what they're referring to.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
Perhaps the chart is too simplistic, and because of this cuts out vital differences between the views.

I agree with what Charles says above as well.
 
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