September 16, 2014

Two Types of Two Kingdom Theology

By In Blogs, C.Jay Engel

In several upcoming articles (starting tomorrow), one of our contributors will be analyzing the “extent and efficacy of natural revelation.”  He will be commenting on the debate between the neo-Kuyperians and the Reformed Two Kingdom (R2K) camp.  The R2k folks toward which his comments are directed have as their most prominent representative David Van Drunen who has done quite a lot of work in recent years in presenting his case for Natural Law.  As I have stated previously, the debate is a difficult one for those of us who are not completely in either camp.  It is my conviction that the Thomist tradition of Natural Law is flawed for various reasons, some of which will be expressed this week.

And yet on the other hand, I do adhere to the Two Kingdom framework.  Which necessitates my statement here, before the articles are published, that it seems we must make a distinction between two types of Two Kingdom Theology.  The phrase “Two Kingdoms” is indeed employed by the two debating camps to represent the views of Van Drunen et al.  And thus, in context of the back-and-forths between both parties, “Two Kingdoms” refers to Natural Law Two Kingdoms (NL2K).  Perhaps it might be helpful to clarify that my own understanding of Two Kingdoms theology is made distinct with the phrase Propositional Revelation Two Kingdoms (PR2K).  That is to say, contrary to the NL2K camp, I believe that the ethical standard to which civil governments and non believers should be held is the moral law of God as revealed propositionally in Scripture.  Nothing “discovered in nature” can bind the conscience and neither can it produce the necessary stipulations and rules that must judge the civil magistrate.

We will attempt to keep this distinction clear as we proceed. My main complaint against Van Drunen is not his Two Kingdoms model generally, but rather his insistence on Natural Law specifically.

UPDATE: On second thought, perhaps “Moral Law Two Kingdoms” (ML2K) might be even better to make my own view distinct. Because moral law is more specific and relies on propositional revelation. If anyone has an opinion on what is preferable here, let me know!

UPDATE 2: I agree with Brandon Adams’ comment below; PR2K it is.

Written by C.Jay Engel

Editor and creator of The Reformed Libertarian. Living in Northern California with his wife, he writes on everything from politics to theology and from culture to economic theory. You can send an email to reformedlibertarian@gmail.com
  • I don’t like “Moral Law Two Kingdoms” because that sounds like you think the civil kingdom should enforce the moral law, not simply be subject to it. PR2K is fine.

    Of course, “two kingdoms” also needs to be defined. Kim Riddlebarger defines it as “the church does not bear the sword and the state does not hold the keys of the kingdom.” In that sense, I think even theonomists agree (but I could be wrong). The magisterial reformers agreed.

    • reformedlibertarian

      I agree. PR2K it is!

      You are right of course. The debate is not whether or not there is a separation of church and state as two institutions. The theonomists agree wth that indeed.