Earlier this year, I summarized an essay written by Pastor Ronald Baines called “Separating God’s Two Kingdoms: Two Kingdom Theology among New England Baptist in the Early Republic” which was published in the 2014 Journal of the Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies (JIRBS). I noted the importance of the essay in context of this website and the larger inter-Reformed debate on the Two Kingdom/Neo-Kuyperian debate.
The conclusions that I have reached on this matter, with my co-conspirator Brandon Adams, are twofold: We agree with the so-called NL2K (Natural Law, Two Kingdoms) that there is a sharp distinction between the Kingdom of God, which is spiritual (please consider Brandon’s notes from Abraham Booth here), and the kingdoms of this world to which everyone belongs and which is physical. While we are to always speak truth to culture and States and communities which radically despise the Christian religion, we are to realize that our goal is not to redeem or conquer or exercise dominion over those who are not part of the kingdom of Christ. As I have noted previously, we can be confident in speaking the Word of God to all that will hear, but in regards to wining the culture war and overcoming the world around us, Christ has already purchased victory and we await his glorious second coming. We do not fight now so as to win. There is nothing more to win. We agree with the general idea of “2k.”
And yet, you’ll notice that the position promoted above advocates that truth be spoken and the Word of God declared. Where else does truth come from than the mind of God? Is there any other source of truth? No, there is not; and God has graciously given us his thoughts, his mind, in the form of propositional revelation. Only propositions can have truth value and there is no other perfect intellectual justification for our claim that a certain proposition or set of propositions is truthful than the highest authority: the Bible. Importantly, God thinks logically and thus, not only can we trust the propositions of the Bible, but we can also trust whatever propositions can be logically deduced (WCF Ch 1, VI). Right and wrong therefore can be justified by the Bible alone. Neither the nature around us nor the idea of self-observation can yield an objectively true proposition regarding right and wrong. It is clear, per passages like Romans 1 and 2, that human beings have consciences that are innately aware of the existence of God and of ethics. But you’ll notice that these things are apriori, not found outside of the individual observer. It is not in nature around us, that is, we do not utilize our senses to know what is right and wrong. In order to make us intellectually aware of these rights and wrongs in propositional form, which are in our minds innately, we need the means of God’s written Word, since otherwise by our evil nature we suppress them. Natural Law then, if it has any use, must be synonymous with God’s Moral Law as revealed in the Bible.
And yet, for the NL2K camp, this natural law is not synonymous with God’s propositionally revealed moral law, which means that they are advocating for both an epistemological and an ethical dualism. That is, they do not believe that the Scriptures are to be the binding authority on the wrongful actions of those acting through the means of the State. Or in the words of eminent NL2K theologian David van Drunen, “Scripture, strictly speaking, is not meant to serve as the moral standard for the civil kingdom.” Van Drunen continues to explain that “the point is that the moral instruction given in Scripture cannot be taken simply as the moral standard for the world at large.” (VanDrunen, David (2012-03-20). A Biblical Case for Natural Law (Kindle Location 606). Acton Institute. Kindle Edition.)
One wonders in that case what the standard might be by which God judges the sinner. According to what law is the sinner compared and deemed unworthy of eternity?
We disagree then with the “NL,” part of NL2K, preferring instead Propositional Revelation, or “PR.”
PR2K in a nutshell.