Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Varieties of "Two Kingdoms" Positions

The idea that there are two kingdoms (the civil magistrate and the church) is a distinction that goes back, in terms of historical theology, at least to Augustine (leaving aside the Biblical question, which is an important one).

There are, however, a variety of positions with respect to the two kingdoms.

1. Ultramontanism

The ultramontanist position holds that the bishop of Rome (over the mountains, i.e. the Alps) has supreme power of all earthly powers, both secular and religious. This attitude is expressed in Pope Boniface VIII's Unam Sanctam, which includes that famous line: “Now, therefore, we declare, say, define, and pronounce that for every human creature it is altogether necessary for salvation to be subject to the authority of the Roman pontiff.”

We, the Reformed, reject this position on a variety of grounds, including on the ground that the Roman bishop is not only not the head of the visible church, he is outside the visible church.

2. Erastian

Whether or not Erastus himself ever held the position, the position labeled "Erastian" is a position similar to that seemingly held by the Holy Roman Emperor (at times) and by Constantine and many of the Byzantine emperors, namely that the state has power over the church.

This view was rejected by the Westminster Assembly, although apparently a small contingent of men who held such a view were present (and although apparently Parliament at the time had many members who held such a view). Perhaps my Anglican friends would not appreciate me saying this, but this position seems to be the de jure position of the Anglican church, which has the monarch as its head, although de facto the Anglican church seems to have a large degree of autonomy from Her Royal Highness (May God save the Queen!).

3. Classical Reformed

The remainder of the Reformers held a view that provided a greater level of equality and autonomy between church and state. The state does not administer the sacraments, but can call councils. The church does not have authority over the state, but it may petition the state with respect to matters that concern the church. However, the state does serve the church in a sense, in that it upholds God's law and promotes the true religion.

4. American Reformed

Some of the Americans took the position that religious freedom is a fundamental human right, and that consequently the state should give a large amount of toleration to both a variety of Christian denominations. The motivation seems to have arisen from a concern over the question of "persecuting" heretics. Later this was expanded to include a large amount of toleration even for non-Christian religions.

While I label this "American," many of the sentiments that seemingly flourished initially in America later became popular in other parts of the world. For example, the church of England subsequently revised its 39 articles to make them more inclusive with respect to those who do not hold to the classical Reformed view (or the Erastian view).

5. "Escondido"

It seems that some contemporary theologians - names typically associated with Westminster West (located in Escondido, California) - are advocating a position with respect to the two kingdoms that takes matters even further away from the classical Reformed position. Their position seems to include such ideas as that the American "blue laws" related to the Lord's day, criminal punishment for adultery, and the like are not proper. The position appears to reflect an idea that there should be a radical separation of church and state, and consequently is sometimes referred to as "r2k," although the adherents of the position do not appreciate that label.

I say "seems to include," because there does not appear to be a lot of clear positive statements of their positions. I wonder if any of my readers know of, and can locate for me, their positive Biblical or logical argument for their position. I can find this sort of thing with respect to the American Reformed position, and I can find very excellent works ably defending the classical Reformed position, but I cannot locate anything of substance for the Escondido position.

6. Amish

Various people have argued that civil government is intrinsically evil, and that consequently Christians should not be involved in any way in civil government. Certain sects, such as the Amish, are known for holding to such a position. However, it should be understood that such a position is clearly contrary to Scripture.

-TurretinFan

47 comments:

zog said...

"The church does have authority over the state"

Did you forget the "not"

Turretinfan said...

Yes, I did. Thanks for the correction!

solagratia said...

From more infomation on "Two Kingdoms" theology from WSC here is a helpful link:

(Christianity and Culture)

http://www.christurc.org/catechism_horton.html#culture

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

The position appears to reflect an idea that there should be a radical separation of church and state, and consequently is sometimes referred to as "r2k," although the adherents of the position do not appreciate that label.

So what if they don't like it. It is radical and so Radical 2K or R2K is entirely appropriate.

Mark du Preez said...

These are nice clarifications. To my mind there is need for clarification on the Kuyperian development which also deviates from the Reformational church-state idea. (and gives fuel to the radical 2K view)

Andrew said...

What works would you recommend defending either the American or Classical Reformed positions?

Ken said...

Which view is closest to the Baptist (Reformed Baptists and other Baptists) and independent/free church movement; that is not Amish or Mennonite?

"The American Reformed" position?

or the radical 2 kingdom view?

the Escondido (Westminster Seminary) position?

Do you think death penalty for adultery and /or bestiality and / or homosexuality should be re-instituted?

What about for blasphemy laws and Sunday/Sabbath laws?

What about for disobedience to parents, lazy, drunkard, gluttons? Deut. 21:18-21

Are you a Theonomist? I haven't seen you come out saying that. (But I did not read your prior articles on this subject very closely)

And then the kicker question of all --

How will USA deal with Islam and encroaching/creeping/stealth Sharia? Since it (USA) has pretty much abandoned all the historical positions?

Turretinfan said...

Ken:

You asked: "Which view is closest to the Baptist (Reformed Baptists and other Baptists) and independent/free church movement; that is not Amish or Mennonite?"

I think the American Reformed position (as it later developed to include wide tolerance) is probably closest to what we see among most Baptists.

"Do you think ... [list of examples of laws]"

I'd rather not get into that here.

"Are you a Theonomist? I haven't seen you come out saying that. (But I did not read your prior articles on this subject very closely)"

I'm not sure what you mean by that. If you'd consider Calvin and Turretin to be "theonomists," then you'd probably consider me one too.

"How will USA deal with Islam and encroaching/creeping/stealth Sharia? Since it (USA) has pretty much abandoned all the historical positions?"

I presume it will be handled similarly to the way that the USA handled Nazi-ism and Communism. Treat it like the subversive political system it is. At least, I don't see another way that the USA can handle it without dramatic change to the US Constitution's judicial interpretation.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

"What works would you recommend defending either the American or Classical Reformed positions?"

Well, of course, you must read Calvin's Institutes, Book 4, Chapter 20

Turretin's Institutes are also good. But there are many other defenses that can be found. For example:

James Douglas (1779-1857), “Detecting Some of the Errors Concerning God’s Ordinance of Civil Magistracy

John Howie of Lochgoin (1783), “A Preface Concerning Association, Toleration, and what is now called Liberty of Conscience

Those would be for the Classical view.

I'm hesitant to recommend anything for the American Reformed view, since it's not my view. I've read the explanation in a few authors such as Charles Hodge and his son A.A. Hodge. But perhaps I might recommend Dabney's treatment of the subject in Chapter 47 of his Systematic Theology.

- TurretinFan

Eric said...

Thanks for these clarifications. If you ever go and update this could you try and summarized the Kuyperian view because I have a hard time understanding it as compared to the views you listed.

David Ould said...

Perhaps my Anglican friends would not appreciate me saying this, but this position seems to be the de jure position of the Anglican church, which has the monarch as its head, although de facto the Anglican church seems to have a large degree of autonomy from Her Royal Highness (May God save the Queen!).

Well, this Anglican (and I trust, also your friend) will concur.

To a point. What you state is certainly true for the Church of England, but far less so and mostly not at all for all other Anglican provinces.

John D. Chitty said...

"I'm not sure what you mean by that. If you'd consider Calvin and Turretin to be "theonomists," then you'd probably consider me one too."

This means that you hold to the Classical Reformed view, right? How would you apply that to today's America in light of the establishment clause of the first amendment?

Turretinfan said...

Mr. Chitty:

I'm not in a position to apply it to today's America. Some of this is very "pipe dream" stuff. "If I were king [blah blah blah]."

I do think that the establishment clause has been taken far far away from the original intent (the intent was just to limit the Federal government).

-TurretinFan

donsands said...

Hard to get the two kingdom doctrine for me, being an American. If I lived in Indonesia, it would be easier, though living as a Christian would be much more difficult.

Thanks for the study.

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior"-Paul

Lee said...

Turretinfan,

In reference to Ken's question if you were a Theonomist.

Are you familiar with Kenneth Gentry, Rousas Rushdoony, Greg Bahnsen, and Gary North?

I'm mostly familiar with Kenneth Gentry. Americanvision.org also seems to write many of their articles concerning Kingdom Theology and Dominion Theology.

I'm not sure if Calvin held to these views. I would have guess Classical Reformed.

Ken said...

Lee wrote:

"Are you familiar with Kenneth Gentry, Rousas Rushdoony, Greg Bahnsen, and Gary North?"

Yes, those are some of who I was thinking of as holding the view of Theonomy; along with Gary DeMar of American Vision. I love Gary DeMar's Worldview stuff and magazine. They have some really good material, DeMar does a good job of exposing problems with modern culture and "millennial madness".

What do you think of their views on Theonomy, Turretinfan?

Is that what Calvin and Turretin taught?

Is that what Geneva (under Calvin's pastoral leadership) tried to do, by following the Mosaic law even in the punishments, etc.?

Turretinfan said...

We're at a little impasse here, since I haven't read the men you've listed as theonomists.

Ken said...

Turretinfan wrote (in response to my question about Islam in USA)

"I presume it will be handled similarly to the way that the USA handled Nazi-ism and Communism. Treat it like the subversive political system it is. At least, I don't see another way that the USA can handle it without dramatic change to the US Constitution's judicial interpretation."

Ok, true; seems that there is really no solution to stop them from trying to take over the west by immigration and using our freedoms to get their rights and start demanding different Sharia courts for marriage and divorce issues and Sharia compliant finance laws are already being used all over the western world.

They say that Democracy and Capitalism are anti-antithetical to real Islam.

Also, USA seems to have changed in its Christian worldview since the days of fighting Nazi-ism and Cold-war Communism. In the 40s, 50s, and 60s, at least most of USA still had a general Christian worldview (right and wrong on morality). It seems that the moral strength of the population is what gave our military and political the strength to defeat evil.

Since then there is so much political correctness and relativism and atheism and paganism and new-Age-ism and pro-abortion/pro-homosexuality, etc.; the USA does not seem to have the moral authority to fight the deceptions of stealth/civilization Jihad.

They are using our freedoms of religion and speech, etc. against us. ( it seems) - like the NY Mosque situation and the Cordova initiative. Also, in the United Nations, the Muslims are demanding that no one can criticize the founder of Islam, Muhammad.

natamllc said...

I am going out on a limb here.

As for this R2K and Escondido's view, I don't know and I am not sure they themselves know?

I have been exposed to a little Michael Horton.

I have most of Dr. Fesko's books, read them all and don't know where his views play into that question seeing he is just newly installed there at Westminster So. Cal..

Having noted the above I am seeing the Hand of God working upon my life this way which develops a sort of two Kingdom mindset:

1Ch 17:9 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall waste them no more, as formerly,
1Ch 17:10 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will subdue all your enemies. Moreover, I declare to you that the LORD will build you a house.
1Ch 17:11 When your days are fulfilled to walk with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom.
1Ch 17:12 He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever.
1Ch 17:13 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from him who was before you,
1Ch 17:14 but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.'"

1Pe 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
1Pe 5:9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
1Pe 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
1Pe 5:11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.


For the present, there is this two kingdom sort of tension.

To the reprobate, there is no distinction.

To the Elect, we go in and out constantly depending on the dominion of Our God and His exercise in bringing us into the proper relationship in Christ so that what the Apostle noted, we experience and enjoy with our brethren under the same oppression, common suffering by us all:

1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
1Co 15:23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
1Co 15:24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.
1Co 15:25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
1Co 15:26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
1Co 15:27 For "God has put all things in subjection under his feet." But when it says, "all things are put in subjection," it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him.
1Co 15:28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.


If you are not One of His Children called from the foundation of the world to experience His Eternal Glory in this life, none of this applies, nor makes any good sense seeing until Death (that Paul writes about there) is brought to an end, all reprobates and Elect alike suffer the same fate of death; albeit, one to Eternal Life, while the other, to Eternal Damnation.

Such is life as the dominion is to the God of all Grace!

Ken said...

I am surprised you have not read or are familiar with Greg Bahnsen, Kenneth Gentry, or Gary DeMar's books, articles, web-sites on these issues.

Bahnsen wrote the chapter on Theonomy in "Law and Gospel: 5 Views" (Zondervan)

www.amazon.com/Five-Views-Gospel-Stanley-Gundry/dp/0310212715


DeMar's website and worldview magazine is excellent. (though I don't think he ever gets into the punishments / penalties issues; at least I have never seen that discussion.)

www.americanvision.org/

Ken said...

Oops; typo

They say that Democracy and Capitalism are anti-antithetical to real Islam.

Should be:

They say that Democracy and Capitalism are antithetical to real Islam.

Andrew said...

Thanks TurretinFan, I'll look these up.

John D. Chitty said...

I agree the establishment clause is to limit the government, but not the church. My point is that if one holds to the classical Reformed view as you describe it, in which the government "promotes the true religion," then this would seem to necessarily involve the "establishment" of religion in something like the original sense of the amendment. The government would have to come to a decision as to which denomination constitutes "true religion" in order to "promote" it.

Of course, the state of our nation's constitution proves neither the truth nor error of the classical Reformed view, but it does show that such a view is incompatible with the American way, if you will.

Turretinfan said...

John D. Chitty,

If I have to choose between the "American way" and what the Bible teaches, my mind is made up, and I trust yours is too!

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

Jim:

You're not welcome to continue posting your off-topic comments.

-TurretinFan

Anonymous said...

I understand. What I don't understand is your inaction at making it a topic.

Jim

Turretinfan said...

It's not a pressing issue these days.

Robert said...

Turretin Fan,

This is no small subject either of importance or significance as you will discover the deeper you dig.

Here are some helpful links to get a feel for Westminster Escondido and its position (which I disagree with and feel it has damaging ramifications).

This is a lecture Vandrunen gave at a Jan. 2010 conference Westminster Escondido held on just this topic. They have been one of the major voices in the Kingdom debate.

I couldn't help but notice the uncertainty of his own position (Biblically) when I first heard this. It was especially troubling since he is the head of the dragon for Westminster west, or so to speak.

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/4018694

I have listened to all the lectures from that conference and found them enlightening to their particular school of thought concerning the Two Kingdom controversy.

This is more Vandrunen:
http://wscal.edu/resource-center/category/david-m-vandrunen/P0

Sorry I came late to the discussion, and I hope the information helps.

Robert

Jordan Cooper said...

I'm not sure why there is an "Escondido" view. This is just the Lutheran two kingdom approach which has been adopted by some Reformed theologians in recent years. A good book on the subject is the following:http://www.amazon.com/Christ-Culture-Dialogue-Constructive-Applications/dp/0570042739/ref=sr_1_25?ie=UTF8&qid=1296973327&sr=8-25

I hear VanDrunen's book is very good as well, but I have yet to read it.

ChaferDTS said...

"Bahnsen wrote the chapter on Theonomy in "Law and Gospel: 5 Views" (Zondervan)"

I have that book. I found his position as not exegetically sound. At times presented strawman type of arguments of other positions and his exegetical errors that were pointed out in each of the response sections of his chapter. The response by Douglas Moo sticks out as the best reply to him though the others made valid points too.Bahsen came across as implying that all non-theonomic positions are " antiniomian " . His presupositions blinded him to trying to understand the other points of views properly though that happened alittle bit too with Strickland in the book.While I personally disagree with Bahnsen he was a man of God. It is a pretty good book. Another intresting book is Continuity And Discontinuity :Perspectives On The Relationship Between The Old And New Testament edited by John Feinberg.

Justin said...

I find it a bit humorous that the Lutherans are not mentioned somewhere up in that list, as if it the whole Reformational concept of the two kingdoms was not a distinction that they came up with and the Reformed took it up for the ride when they started to branch off from the Lutherans during the Reformation (remember, for a time, Calvin fancied himself a Lutheran). I suppose that in typical fashion though, the Reformed like to take any useful distinctions and claim them for their own theological rubric, even when they are not the ones who formulated them.

Turretinfan said...

Justin:

I'm not sure your hypothesis fits with listing the Amish and the Papists, but clearly there is some kind of contra-Lutheran conspiracy afoot here.

-TurretinFan

Justin said...

Would you include the Amish or the Papists in any sense among the formulators of Reformational concepts, T-fan?

Turretinfan said...

No.

Justin said...

Then reread my post and take the specific nuance I placed there into account.

Turretinfan said...

Justin: I have heard tell that the Escondido view is just a warmed-over re-telling of a Lutheran view. I haven't heard too many people try to claim that the view of Calvin, Augustine, and the Reformers is somehow "Lutheran."

But - it wouldn't surprise me to hear such a claim.

-TurretinFan

Justin said...

That is the point. You are apparently so unfamiliar with the history and proper labeling of the positions, that you would have to label the view that of a minority of Reformed thinkers from WSC under the rubric of a Reformed position. Whereas if you had done more than even a cursory study of what you were talking about, you would have realized the professors and their followers were just espousing the Lutheran view of the two kingdoms.

Justin said...

Oh and as a side note...despite their Reformed confessional orthodoxy, it should be fairly obvious that in the few places where a large portion of the WSC crew tend to branch off somewhat from some of the more traditional tertiary doctrines, that it is because of the heavy influence that Rod Rosenbladt has had on many of the upper crust at WSC. So while they can hardly be accused of being Lutherans, they have a nice bit of Lutheran icing on their Calvinistic cake.

Turretinfan said...

Yes, Justin. It must be a lack of study - it couldn't be something else. "The Lutheran view." It sounds so grand. And by that, I suppose you mean the position of the Missouri Lutheran Synod - the position they adopted in 1932. After all, the ELCA isn't Lutheran, nor is the Church of Norway or etc. etc.

-TurretinFan

Justin said...

*rolls eyes*

Come on T-fan, you know what I meant. It is the historic position of the Lutheran church. I am not taking the Liberal Lutheran churches into account when talking about "the Lutheran position" any more than you would take Liberal Presbyterian churches into account when talking about the historic positions of the Presbyterians.

And btw...nice google search skills with the date the LCMS formally accepted the Two Kingdoms doctrine as the official doctrine of the church. Attempting, of course, to put forward the impression it was not taught or accepted by the Lutherans before. The view goes back to Luther and has been taught since Luther. To attempt to give the impression otherwise, liberal Lutherans notwithstanding, is as bad as saying that just because creationism was not formally put forward as the doctrine of the LCMS until 1932 as well, that Lutheranism did not hold the creationist position before that time.

I wonder how many positions that what ever branch of whatever Calvinistic denomination you care to mention I could use the same sort of logic on to give the impression that they only recently held to a position because it was only formally voted on to be the official position so they could exclude unorthodox positions (by the standard of their confessions) from being accepted as something that should be taught among their congregations, despite them having obviously taught it well before the voting took place.

Turretinfan said...

I think I do understand, but the situation of the American Lutherans is somewhat different from the situation of the European Lutherans, particular when it came to having Lutheran state churches, wouldn't you say?

And - of course - I fully expect that there were people in Lutheran churches teaching what was adopted in the 30's before the 30's. But, on the other hand, it's not like it made it into the Smalcald articles (or did I miss something).

-TurretinFan

Justin said...

I will have to look over the some of the other sections of the Book of Concord, but off the top of my head I know the doctrine is taught in the Augsburg Confession Article XVI (though not as completely fleshed out as in other places in various other Lutheran works) and it arguably is assumed in the Table of Duties.

Justin said...

And I realize I got focused on the Confessional question and forgot to touch on your question about the Lutheran State Churches. I personally would argue, outside of those congregations among the Lutheran state churches that actually truly attempt to hold to the Confessional line, that they have actually failed to actually be true Lutheran churches because they no longer hold to the Confessions. When you preach, teach, and confess (in terms of the things you are confessing by the positions you actually hold to) things that contradict the historic confessions your church body are supposed to hold, you can hardly baptize those positions and call them Lutheran simply by holding out your Book of Concord and saying this is our Confession.

Turretinfan said...

Justin:

I agree with you that Article 16 of the Aug. Conf. of 1530 does address the issue of the civil magistrate. However, as you will note, it basically limits itself to denying the validity of the position I've identified above as the "Amish" position (which it terms "Anabaptist").

Here is a link to the confession

-TurretinFan

Justin said...

Augsburg Confession Article XXVIII also has some pertinent discussion of the topic and dealt with a little in Power and Primacy of the Pope.

As for Article XVI primarily dealing with the arguments of the Anabaptists, you are correct. It still deals with the subject though.

Joseph Bradberry said...

Can you give me some good reading sources, so that I may learn more on this subject. I'm a little confussed at this point... Thanks and God Bless

Joseph Bradberry said...

Do you reject this perspective? Would really like to know...

http://kimriddlebarger.squarespace.com/the-latest-post/2010/9/2/a-two-kingdoms-primer.html