Reformed pastor and professor R. Scott Clark recently posted an article on his blog ("Religious Freedom Watch: Feds to Force Schools to Monitor Facebook?"). A reader asked me how Prof. Clark can do this while holding to the Escondido position on the two kingdoms.
I should preface my response by saying that I don't know whether R. Scott Clark takes as extreme a view of the two kingdoms as Darryl Hart or others who are associated with Westminster West. So, I hope no one will take this article as representing R. Scott Clark's views. Instead, the article takes Prof. Clark's post as an opportunity to comment on an important issue.
The Escondido position on the two kingdoms seems to be that the church generally should not be involved in political affairs. This issue looks like a political affair, therefore (one might think) the church should not be involved in it.
I think most of the Escondido folks would say it is ok for a minister to comment on political things on his personal blog. Perhaps some would not, but I think most are ok with that - as long as he doesn't use the pulpit for those political comments.
But imagine if Prof. Clark had raised the same point from the pulpit. I think that some of the Escondido folk would have a problem with that, in that it would seem to involve the church getting involved in political matters.
This, however, would create an odd tension. Why? Because the Westminster Standards (in the American revision) as well as the Belgic Confession (in the American Revision) call for the civil magistrate to protect God's church. Yet, the duties of the civil magistrate are always a political matter.
So, can the church speak to political issues or not? Or is there an exception for certain political matters and not others? If there are exceptions, it starts to look like the prohibition on political speech by the church is ad hoc. And if the church can speak to political issues, then why are the Escondido folks so upset when people like the Bayly brothers preach sermons on highly politicized topics like abortion?