Two Kingdoms Primer

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MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
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.

We face all the same problems here in Australia, and we also have unique challenges as a result of British social structures. Western countries as a whole are facing the onslaught of unprincipled pluralism. It has one advantage. The removal of social privilege serves to try the reins and to discover who are truly the Lord's. But this is in the hand of providence alone. So far as the church's commission is concerned, societal territory which had been won through great labour and suffering of the saints is being taken away. Are we to sit back and say that the State has a right to do what it will with its own? Surely not! The State is not invested with unconditional sovereignty but is bound by the law of the Sovereign Who has instituted it.

I should note, Christian establishmentarianism does not offer any solutions to the problems of a godless society apart from the gospel. It does not suggest for a moment that political institutions are the appointed means of advancing Christ's spiritual kingdom. The government's role as a government is to protect the citizens of the territory it governs and to promote their temporal well-being. Where the gospel has so far advanced as to subject a territory to Christ it is the duty of the government of that territory to protect its Christian citizens and make laws for their temporal well-being. It follows as a matter of course that the laws enacted by such a government seeking to fulfil its God-ordained function to the glory of God would contain a distinctively Christian ethos.

The strength of Christian establishmentarianism lies in its refusal to accept the godlessness of society as normal; it functions with the conviction that nations are to be discipled and nations are to bow down before the Lord. This conviction should not lead us to trust in princes whose breath is in their nostriils. It should throw us upon our knees to pray in earnest that the Lord of heaven and earth would open doors and hearts and advance His kingdom through the means of His appointment. The weapons of our warfare are only mighty through God.
 
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Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
I'm finding this relevant to the topics in the discussion- a study of the book of Judges where the Israelites lived in a spiritually "pluralistic" society between the time of strong leadership of Moses and Joshua and then that of the Kings, e.g. David.

A time somewhat like our own, and one worth studying how God's people live in such a situation, a parallel to our own times.
 

dudley

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
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*

To Catechist thank you for this piece. It makes sense, as does all the Reformed Protestant thology!
 

mvdm

Puritan Board Junior
The government's role as a government is to protect the citizens of the territory it governs and to promote their temporal well-being. Where the gospel has so far advanced as to subject a territory to Christ it is the duty of the government of that territory to protect its Christian citizens and make laws for their temporal well-being. It follows as a matter of course that the laws enacted by such a government seeking to fulfil its God-ordained function to the glory of God would contain a distinctively Christian ethos.

A "distinctively Christian ethos". Well put. This is a good summary statement of Belgic 36. Government serves to advance God's kingdom. This naturally has a relationship to both tables of the law. R2k is fairly consistent in its insistence that government has no interest in the first table of the law, and to think otherwise makes one a Constantinian theocrat or theonomist. But that argument quickly crumbles when it is pointed out, for example, that the courts of our land require all citizens to adhere to the 3rd commandment.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
I'm finding this relevant to the topics in the discussion- a study of the book of Judges where the Israelites lived in a spiritually "pluralistic" society between the time of strong leadership of Moses and Joshua and then that of the Kings, e.g. David.

A time somewhat like our own, and one worth studying how God's people live in such a situation, a parallel to our own times.

Nothing can be equal to scripture but some, the reformed thinker James K. A. Smith and adherents to Radical Orthodoxy, have pointed out that we live in a time like St. Augustine a pagan/pluralistic society and have looked to him for inspiration in how to be a christian in our somewhat post-christian society.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Western Christendom and also Modernism are in an advanced state of decay and collapse, as the Roman Empire once was.

But in the end it won't turn out for the defeat of Christianity but for its strengthening and advance.

If we're spared, we may well see even darker days in Europe, North America and the Antipodes and elsewhere, before then.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Okay, you can now all throw stones. I'm sure this pleases nobody who holds a static party line.
What purpose does this serve? This discussion has been mostly civil and I'm trying to keep it that way. People can disagree without throwing stones or baiting others to do the same.
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
Here is a representative quotation of historic Reformed views of the two kingdoms:

Wherefore, whoever proposes the happiness of men as the chief end in describing official duties, must necessarily miss the mark. Since certainly we say that God himself is to be revered by all, and that all duties, whether public or private, are to redound to his praise and glory. This world is indeed the likeness of a single city, as if encircled by the Ocean as by bulwarks, in which all men are rightly to bring about this one city, which is to proclaim the praises of God. But, now, since the days of Cain and Abel (as Augustine teaches) men have been inticed into two cities by the deceptions of Satan, even these two which are diametrically opposed to each other. One, for instance, seeks for her own profit, and depends on her own wisdom. God is either despised by this city, or deceiving herself by her corrupt nature, she maintains a fictitious worship. And therefore she is either entirely deceitful, fashioning whatever religion she can upon such vulgar causes as she can contrive; or even if there are some among them not so utterly senseless and insane, yet they still regard him (from whom they quake in fear, or from whom they anticipate some very great blessing) as being appeased and propitious toward themselves. Such are truly lunatics, who are capable convincing themselves that God is more dimsighted than themselves in choosing and testing his friends. The other, in truth, is a city totally devoted to its Builder, to such an extent that she should consider nothing to be worthy of doing, except such matters as are directed by his voice and command. Likewise, whether public or private, her pursuits are devoted to increasing the glory and praise of God. Moreover, I have displayed that she is not able to be distracted from this, and we will, in truth, say a little more concerning this matter, that we may not only understand the Magistrate's peculiar duty, but also the unique function of that city's duties.

Theodore Beza, Concerning the Punishment of Heretics by the Civil Magistrate

Note: the two kingdoms are NOT the church and state, but the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the devil. Note also that civil duties are part of the "one City."
 

mvdm

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.

I don't believe it is inconsistent. The state implemented a law governing supervision of individuals with criminal history and this church submitted by implementing the policy. R2k heavily emphasizes our duty to submit to governing authorities.

The rub comes in if the law required the church to supervise such persons in a way contrary to God's Word. The R2k church could stay consistent with its
R2kt and stand mute before the magistrate, or abandon its R2k and testify to the magistrate why they will not submit on Biblical grounds.
 

Catechist

Puritan Board Freshman
Okay, you can now all throw stones. I'm sure this pleases nobody who holds a static party line.
What purpose does this serve? This discussion has been mostly civil and I'm trying to keep it that way. People can disagree without throwing stones or baiting others to do the same.


Agreed.

Just some of the people that have posted on this thread know positions that I tended toward previously as a strict covenanter (SL&C type) and an Establishmentarian. So the purpose of the statment was said to them in humor (probably a better word to use than "humor" so hope you're not offended) noting in my post #61 that I have not given up on the Establishment Principle under certain national social circumstances, yet notably, holding a foundational two kingdom view.

Therefore, mostly pointing the finger at myself because I know how I used to present myself as one who held to the "original confessional position" in a static manner.

I should keep the broader audience in mind. Thanks for pointing this out, I guess I should start using the emotion smileys if not always speaking pointedly, serious.
 
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Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
To what extent may the church "speak to" moral issues in the public realm (e.g. abortion, sexual immorality)-
in the ordinary course of teaching, extraordinarily, not at all.

Does the church have a right to call on the magistrate to "do right"? Ever? Extraordinarily? In the ordinary course?

Is any one of these views saying that a broad public morals issue cannot be addressed because it is in the public arena by virtue of legislation or common practice?

Also, are we merging 2k and R2k views in the way they are being discussed in this post?

Or, can one explain the key difference between the two?
 

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.

I don't believe it is inconsistent. The state implemented a law governing supervision of individuals with criminal history and this church submitted by implementing the policy. R2k heavily emphasizes our duty to submit to governing authorities.

The rub comes in if the law required the church to supervise such persons in a way contrary to God's Word. The R2k church could stay consistent with its
R2kt and stand mute before the magistrate, or abandon its R2k and testify to the magistrate why they will not submit on Biblical grounds.

Inconsistent in that they permitted the state to interfere generally with the internal preaching of the gospel by dictating how they are to treat a certain class of attendees. If the church already had a policy in place that was fully informed by the Word of God prior to the enactment of "Megan's law", that would be a different matter. But to merely react to the state without biblical mandate seems inconsistent.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Note: the two kingdoms are NOT the church and state, but the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the devil. Note also that civil duties are part of the "one City."

That is a summary of Beza's quotation but the very fact that the two cities are diametrically opposed to each other suffices to show that this quotation is not setting out to teach on the two kingdoms. The two kingdoms are both derived from, and serve for the glory of, God.
 

littlepeople

Puritan Board Freshman
I am really a blank slate on this topic. I have picked up that it is pretty hotly contested these days (at least in the blogoshpere) My head keeps swimming reading through all the posts. To quote Painted Jaguar "You are making my spots ache, and besides, I didn't want your advice at all. I only wanted to know which of you is Hedgehog and which is Tortoise." Could someone tell me if the following statement would be R2k, 2k, or something else? It will help me get my bearings. Thanks

Wherefore, if we are cruelly tormented by a savage, if we are
rapaciously pillaged by an avaricious or luxurious, if we are neglected by a sluggish, if, in
short, we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake by an impious and sacrilegious prince,
let us first call up the remembrance of our faults, which doubtless the Lord is chastising
by such scourges. In this way humility will curb our impatience. And let us reflect that it
belongs not to us to cure these evils, that all that remains for us is to implore the help of
the Lord, in whose hands are the hearts of kings, and inclinations of kingdoms.
 

tcalbrecht

Puritan Board Junior
I am really a blank slate on this topic. I have picked up that it is pretty hotly contested these days (at least in the blogoshpere) My head keeps swimming reading through all the posts. To quote Painted Jaguar "You are making my spots ache, and besides, I didn't want your advice at all. I only wanted to know which of you is Hedgehog and which is Tortoise." Could someone tell me if the following statement would be R2k, 2k, or something else? It will help me get my bearings. Thanks

Wherefore, if we are cruelly tormented by a savage, if we are
rapaciously pillaged by an avaricious or luxurious, if we are neglected by a sluggish, if, in
short, we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake by an impious and sacrilegious prince,
let us first call up the remembrance of our faults, which doubtless the Lord is chastising
by such scourges. In this way humility will curb our impatience. And let us reflect that it
belongs not to us to cure these evils, that all that remains for us is to implore the help of
the Lord, in whose hands are the hearts of kings, and inclinations of kingdoms.

If you finish the quote I think you will see it is classic 2K.

"God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods." Before his face shall fall and be crushed all kings and judges of the earth, who have not kissed his anointed, who have enacted unjust laws to oppress the poor in judgment, and do violence to the cause of the humble, to make widows a prey, and plunder the fatherless.
 

littlepeople

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks. I'm assuming that the underlined portion is primarily what distinguishes it as classic 2k vs R2k. Is that crushing to occur in this life, or at the last day?

What words could be changed to make it a R2K statement?
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
I am really a blank slate on this topic. I have picked up that it is pretty hotly contested these days (at least in the blogoshpere) My head keeps swimming reading through all the posts. To quote Painted Jaguar "You are making my spots ache, and besides, I didn't want your advice at all. I only wanted to know which of you is Hedgehog and which is Tortoise." Could someone tell me if the following statement would be R2k, 2k, or something else? It will help me get my bearings. Thanks

Armadillo will bend your mind!
 

Catechist

Puritan Board Freshman
Many people on this list have been asking and answering many good specific questions.

As the 2k doctrine is presented and as more and more people are asking questions about the practical application of it beyond an idealist scope, I have found more good discussion here.

Two Kingdoms Discussion « Green Baggins
 

Willem van Oranje

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.

I don't believe it is inconsistent. The state implemented a law governing supervision of individuals with criminal history and this church submitted by implementing the policy. R2k heavily emphasizes our duty to submit to governing authorities.

The rub comes in if the law required the church to supervise such persons in a way contrary to God's Word. The R2k church could stay consistent with its
R2kt and stand mute before the magistrate, or abandon its R2k and testify to the magistrate why they will not submit on Biblical grounds.

Inconsistent in that they permitted the state to interfere generally with the internal preaching of the gospel by dictating how they are to treat a certain class of attendees. If the church already had a policy in place that was fully informed by the Word of God prior to the enactment of "Megan's law", that would be a different matter. But to merely react to the state without biblical mandate seems inconsistent.

How does the posting of someone's photo, name and address on an unafiliated website affect the "internal preaching of the gospel" by a church?
 

tcalbrecht

Puritan Board Junior
Inconsistent in that they permitted the state to interfere generally with the internal preaching of the gospel by dictating how they are to treat a certain class of attendees. If the church already had a policy in place that was fully informed by the Word of God prior to the enactment of "Megan's law", that would be a different matter. But to merely react to the state without biblical mandate seems inconsistent.

How does the posting of someone's photo, name and address on an unafiliated website affect the "internal preaching of the gospel" by a church?

I'm not sure how that question is germaine to the matter at hand. I didn't see anything about pictures or web sites in the policy statement linked here.
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
Note: the two kingdoms are NOT the church and state, but the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the devil. Note also that civil duties are part of the "one City."

That is a summary of Beza's quotation but the very fact that the two cities are diametrically opposed to each other suffices to show that this quotation is not setting out to teach on the two kingdoms. The two kingdoms are both derived from, and serve for the glory of, God.

Not the "two kingdoms" as defined here, that is. Beza's doctrine is one of one kingdom with various functions.

Either way you slice it, he's no friend of the concept that church and state are not under one King, Christ Jesus.
 

Willem van Oranje

Puritan Board Junior
How does the posting of someone's photo, name and address on an unafiliated website affect the "internal preaching of the gospel" by a church?

I'm not sure how that question is germaine to the matter at hand. I didn't see anything about pictures or web sites in the policy statement linked here.

OK, this is the church's policy, but none of it seems to be required by law, unless I am mistaken.
 

tcalbrecht

Puritan Board Junior
How does the posting of someone's photo, name and address on an unafiliated website affect the "internal preaching of the gospel" by a church?

I'm not sure how that question is germaine to the matter at hand. I didn't see anything about pictures or web sites in the policy statement linked here.

OK, this is the church's policy, but none of it seems to be required by law, unless I am mistaken.

To the point, this is clearly a reactive policy based on something that occurred in the civil realm, the so-called Megan's Law. It is not based on sound biblical/theological reasoning about how to interact with those who come into the church with a particular sin background. It seems like a capitulation to civil law, thus it impacts the ability of the local church to preach good news to those in need. And by "preach good news" I do not mean what merely goes on in the pulpit. Anything that impact the local body ultimately impacts the preaching/teaching witness of that body.
 
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