Two Kingdoms Primer

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by Catechist, Sep 7, 2010.

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  1. Catechist

    Catechist Puritan Board Freshman

    After reading many posts on PB that seem to confuse the two kingdoms or deny the two kingdoms, I thought the outline offered here by Kim Riddlebarger might be a help.

    "Here's a brief primer on the basics of the Reformed doctrine of the two kingdoms.

    As you consider the distinctions between these two kingdoms, please keep in mind the following presuppositions upon which the distinctions are based:

    1). Christ is Lord of both kingdoms. He rules the kingdom of Christ (regnum gratiae) as the mediator of the covenant of grace, and he rules the civil kingdom (regnum potentiae) as sovereign Lord.

    2). Every Christian is simultaneously a citizen of both kingdoms (Philippians 3:20; Romans 13:1-7).

    3). The state is a post-fall, common grace institution given by God for the administration of justice and to restrain evil (Genesis 4:18 ff; Romans 13:1-7).

    4). Non-Christians do not accept or acknowledge Christ's Lordship over the civil kingdom. This is the basis for the antithesis between Christian and non-Christian ways of thinking and doing. The failure to acknowledge Christ's Lordship renders one guilty before God (Romans 1:18-25), but does not invalidate the civil kingdom or the non-Christian's place in it.

    5). While Paul calls Rome a minister of God (Romans 13:4), a generation later John describes that same empire as the beast, empowered by the dragon to persecute the people of God (Revelation 13). The Christian's confession that "Jesus is Lord," is likewise a confession that Caesar isn't. Christians must be cognizant that the kingdom of Christ can be seen as a threat to the power of the state. In fact, throughout Scripture, the state is the dragon's weapon of last resort against Christ and his kingdom.

    6). From the time Adam was cast from Eden, God has intended the kingdom of Christ (the church) to dwell and advance in the midst of the civil kingdom (the world). This is the foundation for the missionary endeavors of the church, as well as a hedge against either utopianism (an over-realized eschatology) or escapism (i.e., monasticism)."

    For the distinctions between the two kingdoms (see more here)

    Riddleblog - The Latest Post - A Two Kingdoms Primer 
  2. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    This makes sense, thank you.
  3. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

    Though the kingdom of Christ is not OF the world, it is certainly IN the world. Therefore, I don't see how the kingdom of Christ (the Church) can advance without affecting the civil kingdom (the world).
  4. ADKing

    ADKing Puritan Board Junior

    Although this distinction surely can be found among reformed writers, it does not do justice, in my opinion, to the many testimonies in Scripture that Christ's dominion over the nations has been given to him (e.g. Matthew 28.18). Christ exercises dominion over all things, including the nations, as Mediator.
  5. Catechist

    Catechist Puritan Board Freshman

    Probably the best argument(s) I have found against generalizing the mediatorial kingdom doctrine and applying Christ as Mediator to both realms indiscriminately -is to study George Gillespie.

    He proves the opposite point in Aaron's Rod Blossoming pg.90 here,
    Aaron's rod blossoming, or, The ... - Google Books

    I would like to see any modern day covenanter deal with Gillespie above and take on each of his arguments one by one.

    Christ rules the civil kingdom (regnum potentiae) as sovereign Lord and not as mediator.

    Gillespie got it right, Aaron's Rod pg 90 (Best argumentation to deal with here)
    Rutherford got it right, Divine Right pg. 564
    Rutherford got it right, Divine Right pg. 510
    Rutherford got it right, Lex Rex pg. 216
    Turretin got it right, Institutes 3.278
    To mention a few...
  6. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    I can agree with everything but this point:
    The two proof texts given don't show that in its essence the state is a post-fall institution. They both show an exspansion to what was ohterwise an aspect of creation itself. If Adam never sinned than we would probably still have some form of goverment or state. The aspect of the state was developed by God to deal with the reality of sin. It is the direction this creational aspect can be developed that determines whether or not it is Godly or not. That is why Paul and John can make different statments about the same thing at different times and both be correct. The direction that Rome as a state was developed was into a apostate form of essentially an anti-Christ state. But with the Christianzation of the state of Rome it was developed in yet another more, maybe?, Godly direction. So the state is essentially "good" but the direction a state can be developed can be good or bad. Other than that I don't have any real quibbles with it.
  7. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I don't believe any reformed writers would exclude the fact that the donation made to Christ includes "all things." How does Mr. Riddlebarger propose to account for the fact that the church is gathered out of the world and preserved in the world if the world is not under the dominion of Christ as Mediator? The 2K distinction as it set forth in the OP simply is not biblical or reformed. It is none other than Christ the faithful witness and the first-begotten of the dead Who is is the prince of the kings of the earth, Rev. 1:5. Without that understanding the Apocalypse makes little sense.

    To avoid confusion it may be helpful to distinguish between the modern "dual two kingdom" view and the traditional "mutual two kingdom" view. It is in the interests of good historical theology to make note of the paradigm shift which has taken place.
  8. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    Three cheers.

    Four cheers.
  9. Catechist

    Catechist Puritan Board Freshman

  10. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    Gillespie's argument was against those who would give the civil magistrate authority in and over the Church. His remarks must be understood in that context.

    Also, Gillespie would not argue that the Christian civil magistrate cannot use the revealed Word of God as his guide and authority in justly ruling the nation. He would also certainly not argue that the civil magistrate is not bound to enforce the entire moral law, i.e., the Ten Commandments.

    Both points are historical two kingdoms teaching.
  11. Catechist

    Catechist Puritan Board Freshman

    Mr. Riddlebarger writes,

    "Mr. Barrow,

    Simple answer.

    Does Christ intend to save the world? Or does he intend to save his people?

    I'm not a hypothetical universalist. Christ's redemptive work is effectual for all those who are his and truly, not just externally in the covenant of grace. Therefore in his mediatorial office he rules his church."
  12. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    Yes. John 3:16 is not just theory.
  13. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I'm not sure of the propriety of cross posting in this way. But a simple answer deserves a simple response -- the visible church consists of some for whom Christ did not die (WCF 10:4; LC 63, 68); so Mr. Riddlebarger's categories are failing to account for at least one important dynamic of reformed theology.
  14. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    On the civil side, Mr. Riddlebarger fails to carefully articulate the role of state as beast vs the role of state as protector of God's covenant people, specifically the role the state plays in providing opportunity for gospel advance.

    Regarding role as beast, if one takes the position, as I do, that the beast of Revelation 13 was a unique prophetic image of 1st century Rome which, together with apostate Israel, waged war against the Church in that day, a) to strengthen the Church and b) to mark the divide between the old covenant people identified with a single nation and the universal new covenant people. In this sense it is impossible to identify the beast of Revelation with events subsequent to that day.
  15. Kevin

    Kevin Puritan Board Doctor

    Since I hold to the WCF, I must reject the R2K theory.

  16. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I don't believe we need to make any historical application of the text to see that the very term "beast" pictures an inhumane use of power which should never be regarded as functioning legitimately as part of the civil kingdom, when it is understood that the civil kingdom belongs to and functions for God.
  17. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritanboard Amanuensis

  18. Catechist

    Catechist Puritan Board Freshman

  19. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Why is the defense of R2K always "Go and read all our books!"? Dr. Clark and Dr. Hart always use this defense. As if the only reason we disagree with R2K is because we are ignorant of what has been written on the subject.
  20. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    If they could name just one Reformer who would have given them the time of day.......
  21. Catechist

    Catechist Puritan Board Freshman

    To the point, Gillespie's major premise does not change with his audience.



    Aaron's rod blossoming, or, The ... - Google Books

    Now...did he say, Mediator Reigning over the Church Only....
  22. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    You may want to consult p. 97 to properly identify the issue under discussion:

  23. Catechist

    Catechist Puritan Board Freshman

    And did not Symington depart from a distinction Gillespie makes in his debate with the Erastians, Of a Twofold Kingdom of Jesus Christ: A General Kingdom, as He is the Eternal Son of God, the Head of all Principalities and Powers, reigning over all creatures; and a particular kingdom, as he is mediator reigning over the church only.

    Gillespie insisted on this so strongly, it is one of the few documented changes to the Westminster Confession due to one divine's insistence as the words were being passed.

    Rev. Winzer...would you deny this?
  24. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Gillespie is being called in to give his opinion on two distinct questions. On the first question, whether the magistrate derives his authority from Christ as Mediator, he denies. On the second question, whether the Christian magistrate is subject in the use of his authority to Christ as Mediator, he affirms. If Symington is to be understood as affirming what Gillespie denies then obviously Symington departs from Gillespie; but if his assertions relative to the civil magistrate fall under what Gillespie also affirms then he ought not to be read with a party spirit and made to disagree with Gillespie.

    I have commented on the formulation of WCF 23 in last year's Confessional Presbyterian Journal. I would not call it a "documented change" seeing as the Confession was still in the process of being written; there is, however, clear evidence that Gillespie's distinction had a direct influence on the use of the word "God" instead of "Christ" where the confession speaks of the authority of the magistrate.
  25. Catechist

    Catechist Puritan Board Freshman

    Seems like party spirit may go both ways here, as is evident in these posts. I will look up your journal comments to get a further take on the matter...
  26. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    I must say I don't really understand the disagreement here between R2k'ers and the other points of views represented, I don't know what name they are called by sorry. Unless R2k'ers believe that there are 2 different ethical codes for each kingdom, which I disagree with on theonomic grounds, I just can't pin down the exact differences in the two points of views, what are they?

    ---------- Post added at 05:10 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:05 PM ----------

    Just a thought does a R2K view believe that the state or culture is a neutral areana and therefore insist on pluralism? What would the other views think on this?
  27. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Christ rules the Church in a different way to that in which He rules over the nations. But He rules over all things as Mediatiorial Prophet, Priest and King unto His Church and for the sake of His Church.

    As part of this the Pagan, Secular, Unsanctified, Persecutory, State, represented by the First Beast of Revelation will be brought to an end in history, through the sanctifying influences of Christ's Spirit, Word, Church and Providence.

    All kingdoms and nations have been given to Christ by His Father, and He is in the process of taking them "little by little.''

    By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land (Ex. 23:30, KJV)

    When under Constantine Rome was converted to Christianity, it seemed as if the Beast had been slain, but it was in God's providence not to be:-

    And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. (Rev 13:3, KJV)

    But it will be later:-

    And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. (Rev 19:20, KJV)

    Amillennialists are wrong when they believe that Christians throughout the World can't enjoy the relative freedom from Statist persecution that has been largely enjoyed by Christians in the West for some time. Postmils aren't talking about a perfect world before the Eschaton, but an imperfect but better World that is/has already been realised in measure by the influence of Christianity.

    The modern Christian magistrate is the civil minister of God, but not the Mediatorial King or the Lord's Anointed, as were David and Solomon, which offices now reside in Christ, along with the Greater Prophet than Moses and the Great High Priest.

    Therefore we don't need erroneous R2K teaching to refute the erroneous direct-line applications of Israel's Law to modern Christian states by "theonomy".

    There is one Kingdom with different aspects - e.g. ecclesiastical and civil and eschatalogical - to which the Law applies in different ways.
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2010
  28. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    Richard, are these two summaries saying something substantively different?

    Also, does amillennialism really say can't, or does it allow for good and evil growing side by side until the end of the age? Doesn't it just say there will not be an overwhelming Christianization of all nations before His return?
  29. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Calvin's comment on Psalm 2:8 is quite explicit in attributing the rule of the world to Christ as He is exalted in human nature, and therefore to the whole person of the Mediator.

  30. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Possibly not. But I believe the more usual way of expressing Christ's position is that He has been given all power in Heaven and in Earth and rules all things as Mediator unto His Church.

    Maybe Rev. Winzer or someone else can tease things out better, language wise. The whole World - Cosmos even - is Christ's One Kingdom. The real Q is what should be the relationship between the ecclesiastical and civil elements of that kingdom, at different stages in the development of the Church within a nation. Ideally the civil and ecclesiastical elements should be co-ordinate and recognise one another. The laws of the land should be shaped by the Moral Law and the moral principles contained in the judicial law and the ceremonial law.

    The civil realm should recognise Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords and Christianity as the one true religion. That need not (should not) involve persecution of e.g. Muslims and Roman Catholics as some (seem to) demand.

    There are ways of dealing with communities without persecuting them - e.g. don't let them into the country. Before the War there were few Muslims in UKGB; now there are about 1.5 - 2 million.

    Amillennialists don't seem to believe that the First Beast of the Unsanctified, and often Persecutory, Beastly State will be defeated in history, but only at Christ's return. Revelation 19 for them only speaks of Christ's return at the Eschaton, rather than Christ defeating the Beast by His Spirit, Word, Church and Providence in history.

    Amils (apparently?) teach that there will always be Christians persecuted by the State until the Eschaton, and the State is so incorrigible, it will never be truly reformed.
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2010
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