Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Restore Balance in the Two Kingdoms

This is the kind of comment that leads people to call an unbalanced view of the two kingdoms, "radical two kingdoms":
Indeed, in general terms, it seems from the New Testament that the less we have to do with the magistrate, the better it will be for us.
(source R. Scott Clark)

That's the same R. Scott Clark who was recently stumping for civil magistrate on his blog as discussed at this link.

Clark further states:
Nevertheless, when it comes to the visible, institutional church, the Scriptures enjoin on us an attitude of submission and a desire to protect those who look after the welfare of our souls that it does not require of us regarding the civil magistrate, who looks after our outward, common, shared life. The magistrate, in his office, is not enjoined to pray for us.
I respond:
a) The duty of submission is a mutual duty of the brethren, not a one-way duty toward elders.
Peter, in his first catholic epistle, says:
1 Peter 5:5
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
Likewise, Paul teaches us:
Ephesians 5:21
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

b) We are explicitly told to submit ourselves unto those who have worldly authority:
That same Peter in the same book we mentioned above - earlier in the book - says:
1 Peter 2:13-14
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
Likewise, still earlier:
1 Peter 2:17
Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
Colossians 3:22-24
Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God; and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
Indeed, these commands are quite closely paired with obedience to the Lord.

c) Clark seems to have in mind the following passage from Hebrews:
Hebrews 13:17-18
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.
But this resembles Paul's exhortation regarding kings:
1 Timothy 2:1-4
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
Incidentally, the structure of Hebrews 13 is quite beautiful - it includes "Remember them which have the rule over you ... Obey them that have the rule over you ... Salute all them that have the rule over you ...."

d) Furthermore, while there may not be an explicit command for kings to pray for those entrusted to them, that surely is a logical inference to be drawn from the duties of superiors to inferiors.

e) Moreover, the Scriptures do explicitly norm kings and those in authority:
Psalm 2:10-12
Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

f) Certainly, we should not fall into the opposite extreme from Clark, of some kind of democratic congregationalism and denial that those who have rule over us in the church do not have any rule over us in the church. I hope no one will take my criticism of one imbalance to suggest the opposite imbalance.

g) Rather, neither magistrates nor elders of the church are priests whose job it is to stand between us and God. While those who rule over us bring the Word of God to us and set a good example for us (Hebrews 13:7) the great Shepherd of the sheep is Christ (Hebrews 13:20). Christ is Lord over all - both Lord of the Sword and the Gospel. The cattle on a thousand hills are his.

- TurretinFan

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