Two Kingdoms Primer

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Catechist

Puritan Board Freshman
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.

I would not quibble to add another category to the Mediatorship as Calvin did here but prefer the way Gillespie and the WCF separated the terms better.

The question is, whether you are asserting that Christ is Mediator in his exalted human nature as redeemer to both kingdoms (this is where one becomes a hypothetical universalist) or whether Christ is Mediator in his exalted human nature to separate kingdoms as non-redeemer and redeemer.

If one insists that Christ the Mediator rules the world in his exalted human nature as redeemer only, or makes Calvin to say the same, then Calvin departs from Gillespie and the WCF. But Calvin does not depart in this manner and provides categories for the Son of God affirming that he rules one kingdom in a redemptive sense and the other kingdom in a non-redemptive sense. Thus a two kingdom view.

Now, without stifling Gillespie's words to fit a party line or reducing or limiting his words relative to a simple civil magistrate framework, his title says what it says, in a more clear manner than how Calvin states it, which effectively adds another "mediatorial" category outside the redemptive mediatorial work of Christ to the church. The two mediatorship view of Calvin is well documented. John Bolt, explains Calvin's social thought in this manner, "As mediator, the divine Logos is not limited to his incarnate form even after the incarnation. He was mediator of creation prior to his incarnation and as mediator continues to sustain creation independent of his mediatorial work as reconciler of creation in the incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus of Nazareth." (Calvin Theological Journal 18, no. 1 (April 1983).

However, Gillespie's formulation and distinctions, like those in Chapter 8 of the WCF, where he insisted upon the same, confesses which great clarity, in no uncertain terms,



CHAPTER V.

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.

Now, I understand that W.D. J. McKay has argued for an element of discontinuity here between Calvin's view and those later in the 17th century but I think it is not so. The problem becomes more problematic when the mediatorship of Christ is thrown around indiscriminately and when that which belongs particularly to the church is applied to the state. This is why I think, Gillespie insisted on the clear words at Westminster. (See also, An Ecclesiastical Republic: Church Government in the writings of George Gillespie (Carlisle: Paternoster, 1997), 56-57.
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
The question is, whether you are asserting that Christ is Mediator in his exalted human nature as redeemer to both kingdoms (this is where one becomes a hypothetical universalist) or whether Christ is Mediator in his exalted human nature to separate kingdoms as non-redeemer and redeemer.

One question regarding your question...

When you use the terms "redeemer" and "non-redeemer" are you referring to this in the limited sense of salvation or in the broader sense of redeeming the creation and creative order as a whole?

In the broader sense of the meaning i have in mind Scripture such as:

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (Rom 8:19-22)
 

mvdm

Puritan Board Junior
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?

Non-R2k persons go by the name "Reformed". :)

Critics see R2k as creating a functional neutral realm shared by believer and unbeliever. R2k-er's attempt to deny their so-called common realm is neutral; rather they say the norms are supplied by "natural law", not special revelation. R2k says the magistrate has no interest in the first table of the law, and conversely, the church as institute has no business speaking Biblical revelation to the magistrate. I would note that in a recent blog post, Darryl Hart accepts the possibility of the magistrate being "neutral" toward religion.

Reformed theology rejects these notions.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
{Moderator Hat On}
We need to strive much harder in this thread to show some charity toward others even if we are convinced that their views are not historically Reformed.

That goes for both sides.
{Hat off}
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Non-R2k persons go by the name "Reformed". :)
I'm sure they like being called Reformed too, but what I had in mind was schools of thought on this issue. I do not accept any notion of a nuetral seculer realm at all as well as an autonomous natural law that was interpreted apart from special revealation, a la Van Til. But no one representing this school of thought, R2K?, has gotten on here and gave their point of view, that I can tell, so I can't say what they think.

It seems to me that one side views the culture/state as inherently good, and never in need of redemption, while one side views it as inherently bad, and always in need of redemption. If we accept that culture/state is creationaly good in its essence but the form of it that we fallen human beings develop it into can either be good or bad depending on God's soverighn common grace choice than we have a basis for agreement. So in some forms of culture/state we can adopt a strong 2K view and sit back and enjoy things, in others we will have to take a strong moral stand and seek to redeem the form of culture/state. My point is this, in my view both views are acceptable and may not always be the norm. I just don't understand what exactly is the disagreement?
 

mvdm

Puritan Board Junior
My point is this, in my view both views are acceptable and may not always be the norm. I just don't understand what exactly is the disagreement?

One lynchpin difference is the Reformed view that special revelation/Word of God is normative outside the institutional church. Belgic 36, for example, makes it clear that God's Word sets normative limits on the magistrate. Canons of Dort III/IV Art. 4 clearly states that the spectacles of Scripture are necessary for ordering civil life aright.

The comparative degrees of corruption in given societies does not change whether God's Word stands normative above them. Rather, that simply testifies to the comparative degrees of rebellion against his revealed will, and the areas of reformation needed. This should not be in dispute, but it is.

For getting a flavor of R2k, go to Hart's blog at oldlife.org. He has a category there called "two kingdom tuesdays".
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Non-R2k persons go by the name "Reformed". :)
I'm sure they like being called Reformed too, but what I had in mind was schools of thought on this issue. I do not accept any notion of a nuetral seculer realm at all as well as an autonomous natural law that was interpreted apart from special revealation, a la Van Til. But no one representing this school of thought, R2K?, has gotten on here and gave their point of view, that I can tell, so I can't say what they think.

It seems to me that one side views the culture/state as inherently good, and never in need of redemption, while one side views it as inherently bad, and always in need of redemption. If we accept that culture/state is creationaly good in its essence but the form of it that we fallen human beings develop it into can either be good or bad depending on God's soverighn common grace choice than we have a basis for agreement. So in some forms of culture/state we can adopt a strong 2K view and sit back and enjoy things, in others we will have to take a strong moral stand and seek to redeem the form of culture/state. My point is this, in my view both views are acceptable and may not always be the norm. I just don't understand what exactly is the disagreement?

James,

I don't think that anyone would say that the culture/state is inherently good and not in need of redemption but that culture is not an object of redemption. In other words they would say that it is not the Church's mission to redeem culture but to proclaim the Word and administer Sacraments to disciples in the Church. They're not saying that the world outside the Church is good - it is, admittedly, lost. Societies, then, are made up of the lost and the redeemed and the Church's mission is to be a place where the Gospel is proclaimed to bring men into the visible Kingdom of God.

As pertains to the governing of societies, however, they would see that as falling in a social sphere outside the Church's "sovereignty". I've never seen any denying that magistrates fall under Christ's lordship but the distinction rests with how that lordship operates. As Matthew Winzer pointed out, it is a distinction in type of two kingdom view and not a choice between a two kingdom and a non-two kingdom view (as is common in reductionist arguments).

The R2K view, as I understand it, see civil law as operating under the rules of natural law (law written on men's hearts). There is an explicit assumption that whenever the magistrate attempts to ground its laws on the Word of God that this will inevitably lead to Christendom where the boundary between the Church and State is blurred and the spheres of sovereignty are intermingled. The State starts telling the Church what to preach or treats baptism as a citizenship requirement while the Church starts thinking it has the power of the Sword.

Where I see problems is an apparent paralysis for the Church to even speak to social evil because of a slippery slope (we don't want the Church to think it's got the power of the sword) argument. A wicked law (i.e. abortion or gay marriage) is really never to be the subject of any condemnation from the pulpit because it is, by definition, something the Church has no authority over in the civil sphere.

As you see Matthew Winzer's presentation in contrast to this idea, he's not saying that Christ's relationship as Mediator is the same for the Church as it is for the State but that the fact that the State operates under Christ's Sovereignty in His Person (which is as Mediator). Because it is under Christ, the State has only legitimate authority before God insofar as its rule is according to what it has been granted. It is not granted the authority to re-define marriage and there is not really any confusion about whether the Church has a responsibility to prophetically condemn unjust laws. This does not mean that the Church is telling the magistrate that the magistrate must be under the Church in order to govern but it is proclaiming to the magistrate to be the magistrate that God has commissioned Him to be under Christ's authority.

Insofar as I inaccurately represented either view I apologize for brevity or any inclarity of expression.
 

Willem van Oranje

Puritan Board Junior
common grace institution

Can you please define this term?

---------- Post added at 05:23 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:22 PM ----------

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.

Can you please explain?
 

mvdm

Puritan Board Junior
I believe the Van Drunen book linked above is just the "popularized" version of the more scholarly "Two Kingdoms and Natural Law" book he just had out late last year.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I would not quibble to add another category to the Mediatorship as Calvin did here but prefer the way Gillespie and the WCF separated the terms better.

There is no difference between them. Both maintained that the magistrate's authority is derived from God as the ruler over all things and both maintained that the magistrate is bound to acknowledge Christ the Mediator as Lord and Judge of all. These are two different issues, which you are failing to discern. The Confession asserts that the civil magistrate has a duty concerning the Christian religion, WCF 20.4, 23.3. Gillespie taught likewise. As did all the covenanters. They did so on the basis that Christ has all power given to Him, has power over all flesh, and is made Head over all things to the church. Please consider reading the commentaries of Dickson on Matthew 28:18-20, of Hutcheson on John 17:2, and of Fergusson on Ephesians 1:21-23. Christ as mediator rules over all things for the good of His church.

The question is, whether you are asserting that Christ is Mediator in his exalted human nature as redeemer to both kingdoms (this is where one becomes a hypothetical universalist) or whether Christ is Mediator in his exalted human nature to separate kingdoms as non-redeemer and redeemer.

Every man has an obligation to repent and believe the gospel. The gospel preaches that Christ is the Redeemer of sinners. It offers salvation to all who hear. The church is to make disciples of all nations on the basis that all power in heaven and earth is given to the risen Christ, Matthew 28:18-20. That is historic Calvinism, not hypothetical universalism. Any two kingdom theology which undermines these basic truths is clearly not teaching historic Calvinism.

If one insists that Christ the Mediator rules the world in his exalted human nature as redeemer only, or makes Calvin to say the same, then Calvin departs from Gillespie and the WCF. But Calvin does not depart in this manner and provides categories for the Son of God affirming that he rules one kingdom in a redemptive sense and the other kingdom in a non-redemptive sense. Thus a two kingdom view.

This is the absurdity to which dualists are bound to give their adherence, but it was not shared by Calvin, Gillespie or the historic reformed divines.

Now, without stifling Gillespie's words to fit a party line or reducing or limiting his words relative to a simple civil magistrate framework, his title says what it says, in a more clear manner than how Calvin states it, which effectively adds another "mediatorial" category outside the redemptive mediatorial work of Christ to the church. The two mediatorship view of Calvin is well documented. John Bolt, explains Calvin's social thought in this manner, "As mediator, the divine Logos is not limited to his incarnate form even after the incarnation. He was mediator of creation prior to his incarnation and as mediator continues to sustain creation independent of his mediatorial work as reconciler of creation in the incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus of Nazareth." (Calvin Theological Journal 18, no. 1 (April 1983).

Gillespie's title should be taken in the context of the debate with Erastianism and should not be made to deny a fact he clearly affirmed. Although Calvin taught a mediatorship over creation he nevertheless affirms that Christ's rule over all pertains to the name which was given Him in view of His humiliation.
 
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Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
As Mediator Christ is in a relationship with the State as well as the Church - even if the particular State doesn't recognise Christ and Christianity.

But Christ the Mediator is in a very different relationship to the Church than to the State - whether or not it is a well-ordered Christian State. Christ rules the Church as the Head to the Body, as the Vine to the Branches and as the Bridegroom to the Bride.

He rules the State, however, ultimately for the sake of the Church. In Christ's providence the State can be more or less Christianised.

But it is Christ's preceptive will that the State recognise Him and Christianity, that it be more and more conformed to God's Word (properly interpreted), and that as part of their work here on Earth, Christians seek this as they are able and given opportunity.

It's a process in history and possiblities for the State to be more conformed to God's Word often/usually depend upon the size and health of the Church within the nation.

The Church must still be a faithful prophetic voice to the State even when the State and others don't seem to be listening, though.

The Church has to be as wise as a serpent, and much depends on what kind of State you're dealing with, the size of the Church within a nation, how strong and healthy that Church is, and how it pervades the nation or not.

The real Two Kingdoms are Christ's Kingdom - which is all the kingdoms of the World since the end of the Jewish Theocracy (Rev. 11:15) - and, secondly, the Devil and His angelic and human minions who are "squatting" (i.e. taking up illegal residence) in Christ's Kingdom.

There are no carnal means for their defeat but God's Spirit, Word, Church and Providence is achieving it.
 
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jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
My point is this, in my view both views are acceptable and may not always be the norm. I just don't understand what exactly is the disagreement?

One lynchpin difference is the Reformed view that special revelation/Word of God is normative outside the institutional church. Belgic 36, for example, makes it clear that God's Word sets normative limits on the magistrate. Canons of Dort III/IV Art. 4 clearly states that the spectacles of Scripture are necessary for ordering civil life aright.

The comparative degrees of corruption in given societies does not change whether God's Word stands normative above them. Rather, that simply testifies to the comparative degrees of rebellion against his revealed will, and the areas of reformation needed. This should not be in dispute, but it is.

For getting a flavor of R2k, go to Hart's blog at oldlife.org. He has a category there called "two kingdom tuesdays".

I agree with you on all counts, it is just that no representitive of the so called R2K has gotten here and stated their case so I shy away from any critiques of them but I appreciate that reference to Hart I will look up his blog, thanks!

---------- Post added at 08:35 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:27 PM ----------

Non-R2k persons go by the name "Reformed". :)
I'm sure they like being called Reformed too, but what I had in mind was schools of thought on this issue. I do not accept any notion of a nuetral seculer realm at all as well as an autonomous natural law that was interpreted apart from special revealation, a la Van Til. But no one representing this school of thought, R2K?, has gotten on here and gave their point of view, that I can tell, so I can't say what they think.

It seems to me that one side views the culture/state as inherently good, and never in need of redemption, while one side views it as inherently bad, and always in need of redemption. If we accept that culture/state is creationaly good in its essence but the form of it that we fallen human beings develop it into can either be good or bad depending on God's soverighn common grace choice than we have a basis for agreement. So in some forms of culture/state we can adopt a strong 2K view and sit back and enjoy things, in others we will have to take a strong moral stand and seek to redeem the form of culture/state. My point is this, in my view both views are acceptable and may not always be the norm. I just don't understand what exactly is the disagreement?

James,

I don't think that anyone would say that the culture/state is inherently good and not in need of redemption but that culture is not an object of redemption. In other words they would say that it is not the Church's mission to redeem culture but to proclaim the Word and administer Sacraments to disciples in the Church. They're not saying that the world outside the Church is good - it is, admittedly, lost. Societies, then, are made up of the lost and the redeemed and the Church's mission is to be a place where the Gospel is proclaimed to bring men into the visible Kingdom of God.

As pertains to the governing of societies, however, they would see that as falling in a social sphere outside the Church's "sovereignty". I've never seen any denying that magistrates fall under Christ's lordship but the distinction rests with how that lordship operates. As Matthew Winzer pointed out, it is a distinction in type of two kingdom view and not a choice between a two kingdom and a non-two kingdom view (as is common in reductionist arguments).

The R2K view, as I understand it, see civil law as operating under the rules of natural law (law written on men's hearts). There is an explicit assumption that whenever the magistrate attempts to ground its laws on the Word of God that this will inevitably lead to Christendom where the boundary between the Church and State is blurred and the spheres of sovereignty are intermingled. The State starts telling the Church what to preach or treats baptism as a citizenship requirement while the Church starts thinking it has the power of the Sword.

Where I see problems is an apparent paralysis for the Church to even speak to social evil because of a slippery slope (we don't want the Church to think it's got the power of the sword) argument. A wicked law (i.e. abortion or gay marriage) is really never to be the subject of any condemnation from the pulpit because it is, by definition, something the Church has no authority over in the civil sphere.

As you see Matthew Winzer's presentation in contrast to this idea, he's not saying that Christ's relationship as Mediator is the same for the Church as it is for the State but that the fact that the State operates under Christ's Sovereignty in His Person (which is as Mediator). Because it is under Christ, the State has only legitimate authority before God insofar as its rule is according to what it has been granted. It is not granted the authority to re-define marriage and there is not really any confusion about whether the Church has a responsibility to prophetically condemn unjust laws. This does not mean that the Church is telling the magistrate that the magistrate must be under the Church in order to govern but it is proclaiming to the magistrate to be the magistrate that God has commissioned Him to be under Christ's authority.

Insofar as I inaccurately represented either view I apologize for brevity or any inclarity of expression.

There is not much to disagree with in your comments but I would widden the definition of redemption when applied to the state. I also can tell you that any argument based soley on natural law with no appeal outside itself is a logical fallacy because of history. We function withen natural law, we use natural law but it is not autonomous in and of itself, that we can base an argument upon it. If the the strong view of 2K, they may like that term better?, beleives differently on natural law than they can produce an argument contrary to my critique. I don't completly understand the strong view of 2K view so I cannot comment any further on that without a representitive of their school of thought on here to state their case.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
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.

Can you please explain?

All are agreed that the "two kingdoms" paradigm was worked out within the historical reality called "Christendom," which is nothing more than a friendly relationship between church and state as they both function to glorify God. The Gelasian theory of the two swords understood that civil and ecclesiastical power were distinct but connected. Calvin and the reformed tradition adopted and developed this paradigm with a view to properly distinguishing the different foundation and function of civil and ecclesiastical power, but in such a way as assumed that each worked for the mutual benefit of the other. We now have a situation where "Christendom" has broken down, or there is at least a theory of political philosophy which requires the church and state to be completely separate. Reformed people have addressed that situation from a number of different perspectives in the last century and a half. In the process the "two kingdoms" teaching has been lost or confused. Some in the reformed community are attempting to revitalise the two kingdom paradigm while insisting on the complete separation of church and state. Their starting point is contradictory to the starting point of Calvin and the refromed tradition. They believe the two kingdoms are two separate spheres of activity and require two different ethical approaches; they go so far as to say that principled pluralism is the most consistent outworking of the two kingdom paradigm and regard the "Christendom" ideal as incoherent. This is a paradigm shift. The very state of affairs which called two kingdom thought into existence is regarded as an incoherent and inconsistent application of two kingdom thought.
 

Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
Two things:
1. I think it is plain wrong when R2K advocates try to claim Calvin, Turretin, Gillespie, and Rutherford for advocates of their views, when all of these men held the establishment principle and that magistrates are to uphold both tables, execute heretics, etc. It is one thing to say that Christ is over the nations only as Creator (not Mediator), another entirely to take it to the radical conclusion that magistrates as such are not bound to keep and enforce the Ten Commandments.

2. I find their position to posit a radical disjunction between "natural law" and the moral law summarily comprehended in the Ten Commandments; or between general revelation and special revelation. It is the duty of all people (including magistrates as magistrates) to obey the revealed will of God. His expectation for any indivual or institution can be no more than what is actually revealed; but it can also be no less than what is actually revealed. He will judge individuals and magistrates in an isolated South American village, with no contact with the outside world, on the basis of what has been revealed to them thus far. The moment that a Bible is brought into their midst, their standard for judgment has been raised (both as individuals and magistrates).

I sometimes joke with my Baptist friends about how my daughter is Presbyterian, but their children are Pagans until they decide for themselves; but just as Anabaptism in the church makes Christians treat their children as Pagans, so Anabaptism in the state makes Christians be ruled by Pagans (regardless of if those magistrates are actually Christians).
 

Catechist

Puritan Board Freshman
common grace institution
Can you please define this term?

The Distinction Between the Two Kingdoms (see #7 below) taken from
Riddleblog - The Latest Post - A Two Kingdoms Primer*


1) Christ's Kingdom

This is a spiritual kingdom and is ruled by Christ in his mediatorial office, in and through the historical manifestation of the covenant of grace (the church)

The Civil Kingdom

Here we speak of human government (the state) and Christ's rule over the earth and its creatures (the kingdom of power), according to God’s divine purpose for humanity (his eternal decree)

__________________________________


2) Christ's Kingdom

The charter of Christ’s kingdom is the “Great Commission” (cf. Matthew 28:16-20)

The Civil Kingdom

The foundation of the civil kingdom is the “Cultural Mandate” (Genesis 1:28' Genesis 9:6-7)

___________________________________

3) Christ's Kingdom

The church is given the keys of the kingdom (Matthew 16:19). The kingdom is closed to the unrepentant and heretics through church discipline

The Civil Kingdom

The state is given the sword (Romans 13:4). Those who break the law are subject to civil and criminal justice

___________________________________


4) Christ's Kingdom

Requires “spiritual discernment” (1 Corinthians 1:13 ff; 2:14)

The Civil Kingdom

Requires the light of nature (i.e., general revelation--Romans 2:14-15)

____________________________________


5) Christ's Kingdom

Christ’s kingdom is manifest on earth through the ordinary means of grace and through those biblically mandated activities of the church (i.e., evangelism, discipleship, and diaconal ministries)

The Civil Kingdom

The civil kingdom is manifest in all human cultural endeavors and governing institutions. In the civil kingdom, Christian citizens seek to be salt and light as they fulfill their callings and vocations along with their non-Christian neighbors


____________________________________


6) Christ's Kingdom

The focus is upon our heavenly citizenship (Philippians 3:20-21)–which is realized in our membership in Christ’s church. The church is the assembly of Christian believers

The Civil Kingdom

The focus is upon our national citizenship (i.e., the country of our birth, or of which we are presently citizens). As such, this kingdom includes all people (Christians and non-Christians alike) who are citizens of a given nation/society


____________________________________


7) Christ Kingdom

Entrance is granted into this kingdom only by virtue of regeneration. The focus is upon redemptive grace–God saving his people from the guilt and power of sin

The Civil Kingdom

Entrance into the civil kingdom is granted by virtue of birth (or naturalization). The focus here is upon common grace–God providing for all of his creatures

____________________________________


8) Christ's Kingdom

As citizens of Christ’s kingdom, we live under the authority of Christ as revealed in Scripture (special revelation)

The Civil Kingdom

In the civil kingdom, we live under the authority of the laws of the land (i.e., general revelation and natural law)
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
quote from Mr. Riddlebarger's blog:

3) Christ's Kingdom

The church is given the keys of the kingdom (Matthew 16:19). The kingdom is closed to the unrepentant and heretics through church discipline

To this we might add the kingdom is opened by those keys in the sense of the church preaching, teaching the Gospel, and the Word of God.


How do we describe the view that is not theonomy, theocracy or establishmentarian, but:

1) sees everything under Christ's control,
2) that the church influences the culture (including government) by discipling people who go out and affect it
3) that the church can speak out on moral issues (to government and socieity at large)
4) that the church is not to prioritize a "social gospel"
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
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.

Can you please explain?

All are agreed that the "two kingdoms" paradigm was worked out within the historical reality called "Christendom," which is nothing more than a friendly relationship between church and state as they both function to glorify God. The Gelasian theory of the two swords understood that civil and ecclesiastical power were distinct but connected. Calvin and the reformed tradition adopted and developed this paradigm with a view to properly distinguishing the different foundation and function of civil and ecclesiastical power, but in such a way as assumed that each worked for the mutual benefit of the other. We now have a situation where "Christendom" has broken down, or there is at least a theory of political philosophy which requires the church and state to be completely separate. Reformed people have addressed that situation from a number of different perspectives in the last century and a half. In the process the "two kingdoms" teaching has been lost or confused. Some in the reformed community are attempting to revitalise the two kingdom paradigm while insisting on the complete separation of church and state. Their starting point is contradictory to the starting point of Calvin and the refromed tradition. They believe the two kingdoms are two separate spheres of activity and require two different ethical approaches; they go so far as to say that principled pluralism is the most consistent outworking of the two kingdom paradigm and regard the "Christendom" ideal as incoherent. This is a paradigm shift. The very state of affairs which called two kingdom thought into existence is regarded as an incoherent and inconsistent application of two kingdom thought.

Concise and helpful articulation. Perhaps we can advance this discussion if we discuss how the classic 2K view would operate in our society today.

Often I find these discussions break down because there's the situation as it is today with Magistrates who are Godless and the situation as it was at the time of the writing of the Confessions - an establishmentarian State with magistrates who are Church-going Christians and governing distinctively from but in cooperation with the Church. In its ideal there was never supposed to be a confusion between authority although it happened but that does not mean that, by definition, it is a wrong 2K view simply because sinful men abuse it.

If we fast-forward to today, we find ourselves in a pretty fractured Church environment and a government that can be described as everything except God-fearing or Christian. The State religion is pluralism and those who name Christ often find themselves having to worry more about defending themselves from the State over-stepping its authority and cannot even conceive how the State they know would compliment their activity.

In other words, the principle of the matter is often lost because those that argue for a classic 2K view remain in the realm of "theory". The government and the Church are almost viewed as illegitimate until we return to the halcyon days of the 16th and 17th centuries.

How does a classic 2K view operate as a "practical" theology in a pluralistic culture and society? How does a Church operate within the same? How does a Christian submit to governing authorities rather than simply complaining that it was great "...way back when..."?

I'm not accusing you of complaining. I think you have an interesting perspective as a non-American who probably finds it amusing to see Americans trying to establish a Reformed confession in a country founded on the principle of antidisestablismentarianism.

It seems that the reason that the R2K view resonates is that it sort of figures out a way to "operate" in today's culture. It doesn't deal only in the theory of the way the world might be but the way it is today. American Reformed people live in and among their neighbors and have to figure out a way to cooperate where possible and stand in opposition where necessary. There's also an understanding that the Church does not have the sphere of governing as its responsibility and we've all witnessed Churches who neglect Word and Sacrament and become political action committees.

I find myself resonating with much of the R2K stuff simply because it speaks to our present climate and most of the classic 2K folks tend to focus on the past and, quite frankly, many who concentrate on the present only seem to be able to complain about things without offering any roadmap on how to walk in this present age.

Hope that makes sense.
 

Willem van Oranje

Puritan Board Junior
What is below is some helpful analysis. I would simply add that even in today's climate, a degree of cooperation is necessary, and everyone recognizes this. The church needs the protection of the civil magistrate. This is provided in the USA in the form of police protection as needed, and the enforcement of the law against those who commit crimes directed against the church. In addition, there is a form of financial support in the American system, where donations to churches are tax-free, which of course encourages offerings. There are many other ways in which the state cooperates with and helps the church of Jesus Christ and her ministers.

As far as the church cooperating the state, I could also provide many modern examples of our civil government in its various branches reaching out to get input from the church on various moral and religious matters as they pertain to the law. There are also cases where the church provides much-needed counsel to the state, unsolicited.



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.

Can you please explain?

All are agreed that the "two kingdoms" paradigm was worked out within the historical reality called "Christendom," which is nothing more than a friendly relationship between church and state as they both function to glorify God. The Gelasian theory of the two swords understood that civil and ecclesiastical power were distinct but connected. Calvin and the reformed tradition adopted and developed this paradigm with a view to properly distinguishing the different foundation and function of civil and ecclesiastical power, but in such a way as assumed that each worked for the mutual benefit of the other. We now have a situation where "Christendom" has broken down, or there is at least a theory of political philosophy which requires the church and state to be completely separate. Reformed people have addressed that situation from a number of different perspectives in the last century and a half. In the process the "two kingdoms" teaching has been lost or confused. Some in the reformed community are attempting to revitalise the two kingdom paradigm while insisting on the complete separation of church and state. Their starting point is contradictory to the starting point of Calvin and the refromed tradition. They believe the two kingdoms are two separate spheres of activity and require two different ethical approaches; they go so far as to say that principled pluralism is the most consistent outworking of the two kingdom paradigm and regard the "Christendom" ideal as incoherent. This is a paradigm shift. The very state of affairs which called two kingdom thought into existence is regarded as an incoherent and inconsistent application of two kingdom thought.

Concise and helpful articulation. Perhaps we can advance this discussion if we discuss how the classic 2K view would operate in our society today.

Often I find these discussions break down because there's the situation as it is today with Magistrates who are Godless and the situation as it was at the time of the writing of the Confessions - an establishmentarian State with magistrates who are Church-going Christians and governing distinctively from but in cooperation with the Church. In its ideal there was never supposed to be a confusion between authority although it happened but that does not mean that, by definition, it is a wrong 2K view simply because sinful men abuse it.

If we fast-forward to today, we find ourselves in a pretty fractured Church environment and a government that can be described as everything except God-fearing or Christian. The State religion is pluralism and those who name Christ often find themselves having to worry more about defending themselves from the State over-stepping its authority and cannot even conceive how the State they know would compliment their activity.

In other words, the principle of the matter is often lost because those that argue for a classic 2K view remain in the realm of "theory". The government and the Church are almost viewed as illegitimate until we return to the halcyon days of the 16th and 17th centuries.

How does a classic 2K view operate as a "practical" theology in a pluralistic culture and society? How does a Church operate within the same? How does a Christian submit to governing authorities rather than simply complaining that it was great "...way back when..."?

I'm not accusing you of complaining. I think you have an interesting perspective as a non-American who probably finds it amusing to see Americans trying to establish a Reformed confession in a country founded on the principle of antidisestablismentarianism.

It seems that the reason that the R2K view resonates is that it sort of figures out a way to "operate" in today's culture. It doesn't deal only in the theory of the way the world might be but the way it is today. American Reformed people live in and among their neighbors and have to figure out a way to cooperate where possible and stand in opposition where necessary. There's also an understanding that the Church does not have the sphere of governing as its responsibility and we've all witnessed Churches who neglect Word and Sacrament and become political action committees.

I find myself resonating with much of the R2K stuff simply because it speaks to our present climate and most of the classic 2K folks tend to focus on the past and, quite frankly, many who concentrate on the present only seem to be able to complain about things without offering any roadmap on how to walk in this present age.

Hope that makes sense.
 

mvdm

Puritan Board Junior
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.

Can you please explain?

All are agreed that the "two kingdoms" paradigm was worked out within the historical reality called "Christendom," which is nothing more than a friendly relationship between church and state as they both function to glorify God. The Gelasian theory of the two swords understood that civil and ecclesiastical power were distinct but connected. Calvin and the reformed tradition adopted and developed this paradigm with a view to properly distinguishing the different foundation and function of civil and ecclesiastical power, but in such a way as assumed that each worked for the mutual benefit of the other. We now have a situation where "Christendom" has broken down, or there is at least a theory of political philosophy which requires the church and state to be completely separate. Reformed people have addressed that situation from a number of different perspectives in the last century and a half. In the process the "two kingdoms" teaching has been lost or confused. Some in the reformed community are attempting to revitalise the two kingdom paradigm while insisting on the complete separation of church and state. Their starting point is contradictory to the starting point of Calvin and the refromed tradition. They believe the two kingdoms are two separate spheres of activity and require two different ethical approaches; they go so far as to say that principled pluralism is the most consistent outworking of the two kingdom paradigm and regard the "Christendom" ideal as incoherent. This is a paradigm shift. The very state of affairs which called two kingdom thought into existence is regarded as an incoherent and inconsistent application of two kingdom thought.

Concise and helpful articulation. Perhaps we can advance this discussion if we discuss how the classic 2K view would operate in our society today.

Often I find these discussions break down because there's the situation as it is today with Magistrates who are Godless and the situation as it was at the time of the writing of the Confessions - an establishmentarian State with magistrates who are Church-going Christians and governing distinctively from but in cooperation with the Church. In its ideal there was never supposed to be a confusion between authority although it happened but that does not mean that, by definition, it is a wrong 2K view simply because sinful men abuse it.

If we fast-forward to today, we find ourselves in a pretty fractured Church environment and a government that can be described as everything except God-fearing or Christian. The State religion is pluralism and those who name Christ often find themselves having to worry more about defending themselves from the State over-stepping its authority and cannot even conceive how the State they know would compliment their activity.

In other words, the principle of the matter is often lost because those that argue for a classic 2K view remain in the realm of "theory". The government and the Church are almost viewed as illegitimate until we return to the halcyon days of the 16th and 17th centuries.

How does a classic 2K view operate as a "practical" theology in a pluralistic culture and society? How does a Church operate within the same? How does a Christian submit to governing authorities rather than simply complaining that it was great "...way back when..."?

I'm not accusing you of complaining. I think you have an interesting perspective as a non-American who probably finds it amusing to see Americans trying to establish a Reformed confession in a country founded on the principle of antidisestablismentarianism.

It seems that the reason that the R2K view resonates is that it sort of figures out a way to "operate" in today's culture. It doesn't deal only in the theory of the way the world might be but the way it is today. American Reformed people live in and among their neighbors and have to figure out a way to cooperate where possible and stand in opposition where necessary. There's also an understanding that the Church does not have the sphere of governing as its responsibility and we've all witnessed Churches who neglect Word and Sacrament and become political action committees.

I find myself resonating with much of the R2K stuff simply because it speaks to our present climate and most of the classic 2K folks tend to focus on the past and, quite frankly, many who concentrate on the present only seem to be able to complain about things without offering any roadmap on how to walk in this present age.

Hope that makes sense.

These are good points. However, my assessment is just the opposite, in that it is R2k has little plan to deal with the messiness of our pluralistic society, except to draw an impermeable line between the church and state.

The confessional approach retains a straightforward plan that is applicable even in our pluralistic society, i.e., the church as institute may speak special revelation on a particular issue in the civil realm. This played out recently at our URC Synod on the question of addressing the military on its "don't ask, don't tell" policy. R2k arguments were made from the floor against doing so. The Synod overwhelmingly rejected that argument and approved sending a letter which gave Biblical {not natural law} witness on the topic. As I've said before, these principles should not be in dispute, even while acknowledging that they may be difficult to apply under a given circumstance.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Could a R2K view be pushed into an acceptance of rampent social sin on the grounds of their strict seperation of the two kingdoms and the beleif that biblical law only affects christians? Or to put it another way how would an advocate of this view argue against acceptance of rampant social sin on their assumptions?

I don't like how this view, if anyone actually holds to it, seems to accept a nature/grace dualism that I don't really like. They also seem to bifuricate human beings into part religous part whatever else which only led, in my opinion, as a view, along with the nature/grace dualism, to seculerism and John Ralws' views that have pushed religion back into the cave they want us in. We are not allowed to bring our religous convictions into the public square and how would this view argue for allowing these religous views to be held in the public square?
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Mark,

I'm not saying that there are no proponents of a differing type of 2K view but that, when it comes to articulating a full-orbed view, they often remain theoretical.

You present an example but that's not an articulation of a principle. Instead of presenting a positive case for how your view would look in our society you simply point out that the R2K is defective - this is where I see most energy directed rather than building a full-orbed practical presentation of how the principle operates in our culture.

I'm not necessarily advocating the R2K view but its proponents have articulated how they would deal with (or not) our government according to the principles of their view. It's not all a presentation of how bad others' views are.
 

tcalbrecht

Puritan Board Junior
These are good points. However, my assessment is just the opposite, in that it is R2k has little plan to deal with the messiness of our pluralistic society, except to draw an impermeable line between the church and state.

Perhaps inconsistently. I'm perplexed by the "Megan's Law" policy adopted by Rev. Riddlebarger's church documented here, and its prima facie inconsistency with R2K.
 

mvdm

Puritan Board Junior
Mark,

I'm not saying that there are no proponents of a differing type of 2K view but that, when it comes to articulating a full-orbed view, they often remain theoretical.

You present an example but that's not an articulation of a principle. Instead of presenting a positive case for how your view would look in our society you simply point out that the R2K is defective - this is where I see most energy directed rather than building a full-orbed practical presentation of how the principle operates in our culture.

I'm not necessarily advocating the R2K view but its proponents have articulated how they would deal with (or not) our government according to the principles of their view. It's not all a presentation of how bad others' views are.

I agree just stating the defects of the opposing view is insufficient, although examining them is helpful to elucidate the alternative. However, critics of R2k have in fact set forth their full orbed view. {see eg. Kloosterman's Christian Renewal series}. One could easily mine Kuyper's Lectures on Calvinism for Reformed worldview refutation of it. My posts here were not intended to be "full orbed" responses, but key bits/morsels to answer some of the questions I saw arising.

Also, I don't believe I've just said R2k is defective. I've stated both a postive principle {the church speaks normative special revelation to the civil realm} and a practical application of that principle {URC spoke to the military on "DADT"}. I can't help it if the R2k position is the negation of that principle.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
The practical possibilities for the recognition of Christ and Christianity by the State, vary from country to country and the condition of the Church in each country.

The Church is slowly growing like a Great Mountain (or Great Balloon) in each country of the World.

If the Mountain in a particular nation is currently merely a stone, it would be a pyrrhic victory for the Christians to seize the reigns of power and declare a Christian state.

Christians and the Church have to prioritise according to the practicalities of the situation, even if they believe that the State is under a moral obligation to pass certain laws and recognise Christ and Christianity. But the social, economic and political dimensions of Christianity shouldn't be forgotten but flow out of the evangelistic.

The Church has to be in a position of overwhelming ascendency for establishmentarianism to be a viable or worthwhile option or even to be possible in a democracy by democratic means.

The salvation of souls is more urgent than establishmentarianism and the more souls that are saved, the closer one gets to an establishment.
 

Catechist

Puritan Board Freshman
Perhaps inconsistently. I'm perplexed by the "Megan's Law" policy adopted by Rev. Riddlebarger's church documented here, and its prima facie inconsistency with R2K.

Don't think it's an inconsistency - but a practical application of a type of the two kingdom view. Here the moral and enlightened policies of a church or Christian, via special revelation, participate with the natural policies of the state - Megan's Law. Though the civil sphere is naturally in an unenlightened state, via general revelation, they can get it right. Being a right and good policy, the church here supports the judgment of the state toward a common goal recognizing its policy is good.

In the opposite direction, the state applies itself to the church circa sacra within the two kingdoms.

Now for the rub, if living in the times of a Reformed Establishment based in true religion, both spheres would act morally and both spheres would be enlightened and act according to the first table of the law, the civil sphere thereby being enabled to apply special revelation due to good providence (though the state is not naturally endowed with special revelation, though if their constitution is Christian they would be required to live by it - and ultimately are required to live by it, similar to the reprobate who has no excuse)

Yet, with respect to the civil sphere's natural foundation: it is natively natural, general, and non-redemptive based in creation (not mediatorial).

Therefore all R2K and C2K is not created equal: Some is RADICAL, some is RADical, and some is radical and some is CLASSIC, some is CLAssic and some is classic.

I like what Calvin said, in his Institutes 3.19.15. “The Two Kingdoms” here are good starting principles based in his section on Christian Freedom.

The two kingdoms paradigm is dynamic and thus the application follows.

Okay, you can now all throw stones. I'm sure this pleases nobody who holds a static party line.
 
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