Natural Law and Two Kingdoms in Stereo

Status
Not open for further replies.

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
David VanDrunen's latest book, Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms, The book is now in the bookstore at WSC. If you have been wondering what all the discussion about “two kingdoms” and “natural law” is about, here’s the book for you.

To accompany the release of the book, we’ve produced a special edition of Office Hours that lets you hear David explain why he wrote the book and about the two main themes of this survey of the history of Reformed social thought. Follow the Office Hours link above to find the interview. You can subscribe to Office Hours in iTunes or via RSS.

If these things interest you, then be sure to find your way to the campus of WSC for the upcoming faculty conference, Christ, Kingdom, and Culture or to a computer near you to watch the live, streaming video.
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
Dr. Clark, do you think that the two kingdoms as conceived by you and Mr. VD is the rough equivalent of the two cities of Augustine, or what would have been held by Calvin, Beza, or other reformers?

Cheers,
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Well, they are related but no, they aren't identical.

David discusses this in the interview:

http://netfilehost.com/wscal/OfficeHours/01.06.10DVDnl2k.mp3

He explains at length in the book the differences between Augustine's two cities (which persisted through the Reformation and parallel to it; Olevianus spoke of the two kingdoms in similar ways), the various medieval two-swords doctrines, Luther's two kingdoms, and Calvin's refinement of the two kingdoms. It's a fairly comprehensive history.
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
Do you think that being related that they are in any way contradictory or antithetical? Mr. VD and Augustine's views? The reason that I ask is that Theodore Beza said some things in a work of his that I read recently that seemed to indicate that Augustine's views of the two cities would not be welcome among modern variations on the theme.

Cheers,
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Do you think that being related that they are in any way contradictory or antithetical? Mr. VD and Augustine's views? The reason that I ask is that Theodore Beza said some things in a work of his that I read recently that seemed to indicate that Augustine's views of the two cities would not be welcome among modern variations on the theme.

Cheers,

Adam,

Well, I just got my copy of the book yesterday. I've read most of the journal articles, which are the basis for the book, but I've not read the book itself yet. In the interview he didn't set up Augustine's view as antithetical Calvin's two-kingdoms view. The only point I've heard him make, in our discussions, over the last 8 years or so has been that Augustine's 2 cities view isn't the same as Calvin's (or Reformed orthodoxy's) 2 kingdoms view. I think they are complementary. They address different questions. Augustine's view is really an eschatology. That eschatology was assumed by most of the 16th-century proponents of the 2 kingdoms. As he says in the interview the 2 kingdoms approach is a way of analyzing questions more than an outcome. This is why it's misleading to speak of "the 2-kingdoms view of x or y."
 

Casey

Puritan Board Junior
Does VanDrunen think he is simply restating/recovering what he thinks to be the historic Reformed view on the subject, or does he think he is developing/innovating?
 

mvdm

Puritan Board Junior
Does VanDrunen think he is simply restating/recovering what he thinks to be the historic Reformed view on the subject, or does he think he is developing/innovating?

Casey: I'd encourage you to listen carefully to the interview yourself; you will find him saying he is "recovering" Reformed thought on the matter, but also acknowledges ongoing "revision" of the original view. Here the items caught my attention from the interview:

1. This theology appears to be a "signature" issue for V.D at WSC. The issue will tie in to the upcoming WSC conference on Christ, Kingdom, and Culture. Thus, it is reasonable to surmise there has been no retrenchment on the matter at WSC and the project proceeds apace.

2. This theology is not limited to questions over Biblical ethics, but as critics have warned, is much more sweeping in nature: it affects covenant theology, ecclesiology, worship, etc. Thus, the broader question is whether we are witnessing a larger paradigm shift in the Reformed world, per the Kerux critique of "The Law is Not of Faith" that ties some of these issues together.

3.. Simply using the label "two kingdoms" or "natural law" does not mean you are speaking according to a Reformed confessional understanding on the topic. While the terminology may sound the same, it has had very different meanings in history, depending on the context and who is espousing it {Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, etc}.

4. For Calvin, the two kingdom/natural law was "theocratic" , esp. in the sense that the civil magistrate has an interest in the entire Decalogue, not just the 2nd table. VD acknowledges that answering critics' concerns over this point is more complex and are not so easily dismissed.

5. The WSC efforts are a continuation of revisions to the 16th/17th century understanding of this theology, in large part based on their understanding of the subsequent culture's rejection of Christendom and the modern period's acceptance of religious pluralism.

From these items, I would advise that those that are concerned/interested in this matter should not get distracted in their ongoing analysis of WSC's theology:

a. One can shrink back in the face of a seeming flood of selective appeals to individual theologians. My guess is you will hear such appeals at the upcoming conference. Keep in mind that critics have also unleashed a flood of appeals to Reformed theologians which counter the premise of the original appeal. One must examine whether a particular use of the term "two kingdoms" or "natural law" is being used in the same way that WSC is using the term, or if perhaps WSC is misconstruing the original source they are citing. Further, the question of whether WSC revisions are in conformity with the confessions is not answered by simply pointing to some earlier theologian's use of the term. I appreciate VD acknowledging that this is an area is undergoing revision. I well understand he contends that his work on NL2k conforms with the confessions.

b. The tired tactic of labeling critics as "theocrats" is a distraction technique, and quite frankly, nonsense. Critiques pointing out the problems associated with WSC's approach to application of natural law vis a vis special revelation in the "civil realm" are not so easily dismissed out of hand, and I appreciate V.D. acknowledging this.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top