The two kingdoms doctrine: what’s all the fuss?

A good, irenic post at Ref21:

One of the ways in which modern advocates could strengthen the two kingdoms doctrine is by further emphasizing and clarifying its fundamentally eschatological character, particularly in light of the fact that the two kingdoms are often confused with two spheres into which life is to be divided. It may be that part of the problem is a conflation of the two kingdoms doctrine with Abraham Kuyper’s concept of sphere sovereignty. But Kuyper’s spheres denote different areas into which human life under Christ’s lordship are to be divided; they do not designate the eschatological distinction between this age and the age to come. As such, the concept of sphere sovereignty is a sociological concept that is consistent with but different from the two kingdoms doctrine. We confuse the two when we think of the two kingdoms as two spheres (because they denote two governments) but forget that they also denote two overlapping ages. As 1 Corinthians 7 and Ephesians 5-6 make clear, because Christians live between two ages, they cannot turn everything they do into the kingdom of God, but they are to do everything that they do in obedience to Christ’s lordship.

15 thoughts on “The two kingdoms doctrine: what’s all the fuss?

  1. Classic (c. 2008) Horton on 2K ~

    Tidbit therefrom: In our Christian circles in the United States today, we can discern a “Christendom” view, where some imagine America to be a Christian nation invested with a divine commission to bring freedom to the ends of the earth. Of course, Christians have an obligation both to proclaim the heavenly and everlasting freedom of the Gospel and the earthly and temporal freedom from injustice. But they are different. When we confuse them, we take the kingdom into our own hands, transforming it from a kingdom of grace into a kingdom of glory and power.

    …We need not “Christianize” culture in order to appreciate it and participate in it with the gifts that God has given us as well as our non-Christian neighbors.


  2. The Riddleblogger’s Primer on 2K ~

    Teaser quote: When these two kingdoms are confused or conflated, we see the rise of the “social gospel” of Protestant liberalism, American civil religion of the Christian right and the liberal left, as well as the rise of Constantianism (Christendom). The church must never take up the sword and Caesar must never enter the pulpit.

    When the Christian’s dual citizenship is denied (or ignored), we see the rise of asceticism, pietism, radical pacifism and Anabaptism.


  3. Lots of issues to “fuss” over:

    Would be curious as to how Horton/ Riddlebarger differ from Adams,
    and how (if) they differ from
    Van Drunen


  4. I am on that page, researching your research on DVD, RS Clark, & Hart. These are generally in the same camp as Mike & Kim?

    I am missing how Tuininga (or Kuyper) differ from these. Or, is that your point – they don’t, and you’re against them all?


  5. Tuininga’s point is that this view, particularly as Hart expresses it, confuses categories. They take Kuyper’s sphere sovereignty idea and confuse it with the two kingdoms doctrine – which Tuininga is saying are two different things:

    Part of the reason that Hart’s version of the two kingdoms doctrine is somewhat controversial is that at times Hart has pressed the distinction between the two kingdoms to the point of separation. Indeed, if the classic two kingdoms doctrine denoted the difference between two ages and two governments, Hart has often written about it as if it amounted to a distinction between two airtight spheres, one the sphere of faith and religion, and the other the sphere of everyday life. While it is clear that Hart views these two spheres as expressions of the two ages, by speaking of them in terms of separate spheres he ends up downplaying the overlap between the two ages. This tendency becomes all the more marked in Hart’s more polemical moments.

    What is comes down to, and what I have heard time and time again from the advocates of this particular view of 2K is basically that you can read and apply your bible inside the church, because it is a covenant document for the church, but not outside it, because that’s another kingdom.

    (My big gripe with Hart and DVD is their attempt to use “natural law” as a guide for one kingdom and the bible for the other – Tuininga didn’t necessarily address that issue specifically)


  6. To answer Mr Wedgeworth’s question, Westminster Seminary in California operates in another dimension altogether – as a sort of axis mundi, a tertium quid, a cosmic via media, if you will.

    Neither fish nor fowl, but a glorious, superior-to-either hybrid, WSC is like the legendary Jackalope. The ultimate in Yin & Yang!


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