Can Frame, the Baylys, Kloosterman, Wilson, and Rabbi Bret Really Object to This?

David VanDrunen (whose Dutch heritage should count for more than it does among the nattering nabobs of neo-Calvinist negativism) recently conducted an interview with the folks at Credo Magazine. Two of his answers are particularly useful for explaining 2k (thanks to the Outhouse).

The first:

I like to describe the two kingdoms doctrine briefly as the conviction that God through his Son rules the whole world, but rules it in two distinct ways. As creator and sustainer, God rules the natural order and the ordinary institutions and structures of human society, and does so through his common grace, for purposes of preserving the ongoing life of this world. As redeemer, God also rules an eschatological kingdom that is already manifest in the life and ministry of the church, and he rules this kingdom through saving grace as he calls a special people to himself through the proclamation of the Scriptures. As Christians, we participate in both kingdoms but should not confuse the purposes of one with those of the other. As a Reformed theologian devoted to a rich covenant theology, I think it helpful to see these two kingdoms in the light of the biblical covenants. In the covenant with Noah after the flood, God promised to preserve the natural order and human society (not to redeem them!), and this included all human beings and all living creatures. But God also established special, redemptive covenant relationships with Abraham, with Israel through Moses, and now with the church under the new covenant. We Christians participate in both the Noahic and new covenants (remember that the covenant with Noah was put in place for as long as the earth endures), and through them in this twofold rule of God—or, God’s two kingdoms.

The “transformationist” approach to Christ and culture is embraced by so many people and used in so many different ways that I often wonder how useful a category it is. If by “transformation” we simply mean that we, as Christians, should strive for excellence in all areas of life and try to make a healthy impact on our workplace, neighborhood, etc., I am a transformationist. But what people often mean by “transformationist” is that the structures and institutions of human society are being redeemed here and now, that is, that we should work to transform them according to the pattern of the redemptive kingdom of Christ. I believe the two kingdoms doctrine offers an approach that is clearly different from this. Following the two kingdoms doctrine, a Christian politician, for example, would reject working for the redemption of the state (whatever that means) but recognize that God preserves the state for good purposes and strive to help the state operate the best it can for those temporary and provisional purposes.

The second:

I don’t think the church has any different responsibilities in an election year from what it has at any other time. The church should proclaim the whole counsel of God in Scripture (which includes, of course, teaching about the state, the value of human life, marriage, treatment of the poor, etc.). But Scripture does not set forth a political policy agenda or embrace a particular political party, and so the church ought to be silent here where it has no authorization from Christ to speak. When it comes to supporting a particular party, or candidate, or platform, or strategy—individual believers have the liberty to utilize the wisdom God gives them to make decisions they believe will be of most good to society at large. Politics constantly demands compromise, choosing between the lesser of evils, and refusing to let the better be the enemy of the good. Christians will make different judgments about these things, and the church shouldn’t try to step in and bind believers’ consciences on matters of prudence. It might be helpful to think of it this way: during times when Christians are bombarded with political advertisements, slogans, and billboards, how refreshing it should be, on the Lord’s Day, to step out of that obsession with politics and gather with God’s redeemed people to celebrate their heavenly citizenship and their bond in Christ that transcends all national, ethnic, and political divisions.

Since recent kvetching about 2k included the charge that the outlook has little substance and is hard to define, VanDrunen’s brief and clear responses should put to rest that particular complaint (especially for those too lazy to read the books that keep piling up on the 2k shelf). These remarks should also end criticisms of 2k since I can’t imagine how anyone could object to them. Actually, I can imagine that some will object but have a hard time thinking that the objections will be anything but perverse.

This entry was posted in spirituality of the church and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

132 Comments

  1. Posted March 26, 2012 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    Thank you for posting this. I found it very helpful.

    I graduated WSCA before 2K really became a prominent issue (2001), so I am trying to catch up on it (while navigating through all of the criticism & caricatures).

    Curious to see if any 2K critics read this post & respond to it.

  2. Jared O.
    Posted March 26, 2012 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    “These remarks should also end criticisms of 2k since I can’t imagine how anyone could object to them.”

    Did you forget you did this? http://reformedforum.org/category/series/christ-and-culture These things have already been answered pretty extensively, no?

  3. Posted March 26, 2012 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    DVD is wonderful. :) You’re pretty swell too Dr. Hart, DVDs just less feisty (which means less fun, sometimes).

  4. Posted March 26, 2012 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Jared, I don’t know what you mean. It seems to me that everyone is asking questions of 2kers and that the answers keep coming. But the people asking the questions are never satisfied.

    So what questions are still pressing?

  5. Jared O.
    Posted March 26, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Which questions do you feel Dennison has not addressed?

  6. Posted March 26, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Jared, since you’re bringing up an old exchange in a context where 2kers have been the ones having to answer questions, why don’t you tell me which questions Dennison answered.

  7. Posted March 26, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    In spite of Jared’s public denouncement of this blog as “one of the last blogs in the Reformed world I would pay any attention to,” he obviously can’t stay away. :-) http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/thabitianyabwile/2011/10/26/pots-and-kettles-calling-each-other-black-or-white-or-asian/?comments#comment-7633

  8. Jared O.
    Posted March 26, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Yep, I stand by that comment but also don’t consider one comment here in violation of what I said there.

    As far as the 2k issue, I know how these things go and was only concerned to point out that I think we all know that the above article on 2K doesn’t settle the matter or criticisms. It can’t be that hard to imagine how one would answer after the extensive exchange on culture was pointed out. It’s not my purpose to rehash Dennison, but those who listen to him will find it obvious.

  9. Posted March 26, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Jared,

    I am not sure what the beef is here. DVD was pretty clear and succinct in his description of 2k here. It’s not as if there isn’t volumes of pages in print, and online discussions clearly outlining the major tenets of 2k theology. The lack of clarity is surely not attributable to a lack of definitions, it seems to be more sourced in an unwillingness to be satisfied with the good faith attempts by 2kers to clarify their views.

  10. Posted March 26, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    By the way, I agree with you here, Dr. Hart and, in my humble opinion, DVD’s arguments are pretty much airtight. Objectors need to give serious consideration to his articles “Bearing Sword in the State, Turning Cheek in the Church: A Reformed Two-Kingdoms Interpretation of Matthew 5:38–42″ (Themelios 34.3 [2009]: 322-334) and the more recent “Israel’s Recapitulation of Adam’s Probation under the Law of Moses” (Westminster Theological Journal 73.2 [Fall 2011]: 303-324), in addition to his books, obviously his Living in God’s Two Kingdoms being the most pertinent to this discussion. The latter article from the Fall ’11 WTJ was especially important in advancing the discussion as DVD did a fantastic job of responding to some of the dissenters.

  11. Posted March 26, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    To add to the above comments, one could press Dennison on the same account, you know, the endless implications of his views depending on the scenario being evaluated. To Dennison’s credit, he was clear, those of us who listened to the exchange are grateful even where we disagree, because there is no doubt to where he stands. Are you somehow confused as to what 2kers affirm as the central tenets of our theology? If so, why pray tell?

  12. Zrim
    Posted March 26, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Lane, speaking of the Themelios piece, one of the more interesting applications was in the very end concerning state action against the church. While he clearly recognizes the apostolic example to appeal to civil government “to abide by its own laws,” the accent seems placed upon the fact that “[T]he apostles…never retaliated when government officials treated them unjustly and never pursued legal action against those who persecuted them.” This brought to mind an example Stellman offers in his “Dual Citizens” when making the general point that voluntarily relinquishing rights (instead of clamoring for them) is in better service of boastworthy suffering for citizens of the New Covenant:

    Here is a trickier example: if your legal right to practice your faith is in danger of being compromised, what should you do? If you Google the phrase “law firms protecting Christians’ rights,” you’ll get myriad matches, and there’s no rule that prohibits you from taking to court anyone who infringes your right to pray or read Scripture wherever you want (within reason, of course). There is something inconsistent, however, about Christians fighting for their faith by means of the sword of the U.S. justice system. Would it not be far more Christ-like to patiently endure when we are wronged, as the writer to the Hebrews makes clear?

    “But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven. Therefore, do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward” (10:32-35).

    http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/publications/34-3/bearing-sword-in-the-state-turning-cheek-in-the-church

  13. Posted March 26, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Jared, like Jed said, I understand that Dennison disagrees with 2k. But you haven’t explained why you agree with Dennison. Maybe you graduated from Covenant?

  14. Posted March 26, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    Q. — Can Frame, the Baylys, Kloosterman, Wilson, and Rabbi Bret Really Object to This?

    A. — Yes

  15. Posted March 26, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Bret,
    Anarchists advocating cultural Marxism? Is that anything like 2Kers being antinomian legalists?

  16. TUAD
    Posted March 26, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Pastor Bret McAtee lists his objections here: I Object.

  17. Posted March 26, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    Lane,

    If you understood anything about political theory you would know that anarchy is always in the service of the Marxist agenda.

  18. Henk Blom
    Posted March 26, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    Whether I agree with 2k or not is immaterial to my comment here. I find the tone of this post demeaning to brothers in the Lord, and would expect more from a fellow elder in the OPC. “nattering nabobs”? “kvetching? “lazy”? “perverse”? Please, brother, I beseech you, show some restraint.

  19. Posted March 26, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Bret,
    You lost me at “always.”

  20. Posted March 26, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    Lane,

    Start at 3:50. This is of course is just the basics.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvZADC9dW3s

  21. svrgn
    Posted March 26, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Hart,
    I actually am at Covenant and have found your writings to be very helpful in sorting through things here. I rely heavily on WSC and consider Horton, Scott Clark and yourself to be primary sources in laying foundations for my theology. I also recommend your Recovering Mother Kirk to every student who will hear me. I think it’s great and am sad to see it out of print. That being said, your sarcasm is bit much and I don’t understand why you employ such methods in seeking to advance the kingdom of our Lord. I realize that it must be frustrating to be misunderstood and to have to repeat the same things over and over again. But why such a spirit? Eph.4:1-3
    Your younger brother in Christ

  22. David
    Posted March 26, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    DGH;

    I sent you an email discussing some 2k and Law-Gospel topics –– I used the necessary CAPS you mentioned. I also mentioned the NRO freelance article. Take your time reading and responding because I know you’re busy. Have a blessed week.

    -djbeilstein

  23. Posted March 27, 2012 at 3:03 am | Permalink

    Henk and svrgn, thanks for your input. Believe it or not, I do try to show restraint, especially compared to the disparagement that regularly descends on 2k views. Think about how you might respond if you were called antinomian, not Reformed, a Communist, and a sissy. Kvetching, lazy, and perverse seem tame by comparison.

    Also, I do see something different about a blog compared to other forms of communication. This may be of help.

  24. Posted March 27, 2012 at 3:06 am | Permalink

    Rabbi,

    Help me out. I watched some of the video. Thanks. But I didn’t see any reference to a Christian w-w. Are you drinking the 2k koolaid?

  25. Posted March 27, 2012 at 4:13 am | Permalink

    The video clearly says “some,” not all. However, I’m not here to defend anarchism. It’s off-topic. I would only point out that there are different kinds of anarchists, some of which neither you nor the video takes into account. My overriding point in all this, if I have not made it obvious, is to show a glaring fallacy in your argument.

  26. Posted March 27, 2012 at 5:07 am | Permalink

    LOL … If you say so Lane.

  27. Posted March 27, 2012 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Fallacy of composition. Look it up.

  28. Don Frank
    Posted March 27, 2012 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Darryl,

    I suggest that DVD’s conviction that God through his Son rules the whole world in two distinct ways is as poisonous as the transformationist approach. Secularism is not neutral — it is a product, a false religion, of this fallen world. In the guise that secularism is the product of common grace, the fallen world has accepted the reduction of God to an area called “Sacred” (“spiritual,” “supernatural”) — as opposed to the world as “profane.” It has accepted the all-embracing secularism which attempts to steal the creation away from God.

    It is as wrong to think that we can “participate” in this false kingdom as it is to think that we can “transform” it. Christ died to the world and the world to Christ. Why should we participate in or attempt to transform a dead thing?

    Christ also rose from the dead and lives. His life is not simply “manifest in the life and ministry of the church” as DVD mysteriously and uncomprehendingly wants you to think. His life is life now and eternally as head, in heaven, and body in the church. And when He returns, His head and body will be joined in eternal glory to God.

    A biblical appreciation of reality is refreshing, not only on the Lord’s Day, but every day that we must endure, as the psalmists repeatedly remind us, while the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain.

  29. Adam
    Posted March 27, 2012 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Don,

    What do you suggest as an alternative? Maybe follow the way of the anabaptists?

  30. Don Frank
    Posted March 27, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Adam,

    This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.

  31. Posted March 27, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Also, I do see something different about a blog compared to other forms of communication. This may be of help.

    Still, would it be OK if I stick with a cigar rather than a cigarette?

  32. Posted March 27, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Don, you may not like broccoli, but that doesn’t make it poisonous. Just because you don’t agree with DVD, doesn’t mean that he’s wrong.

    As I just wrote about the early church to Truthdivides, you need to show where 2kers like DVD are doing anything different from Christ and the apostles who were not in the business of telling Christians not to participate in a culture where idols abounded. Paul even told Christians they were free to eat meat offered to idols. Your position seems like a direct contradiction of Paul. You seem to be saying that to eat the meat is to participate in the idolatry, or that to participate in a secular society is to deny Christ. Since Paul told Christians to submit to an emperor who claimed to be God, I’m not sure where you get support for your position other than not liking broccoli.

  33. Don Frank
    Posted March 27, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Darryl,

    Its not that I don’t like DVD. DVD is wrong. We are not citizens of two kingdoms, and I am not telling Christians not to participate in a culture where idols abound. Culture is a gift of God, and we are to participate in it as citizens of His Kingdom, the Church, not as citizens of a secular kingdom that does not honor God or give Him thanks. This is what Paul was telling the Corinthians when he said that you may eat whatever is sold in the meat market for “the earth is the Lord’s and all its fullness.”….But if anyone says to you, “This was offered to idols,” do not eat it for the same reason, i.e., that “the earth is the Lord’s and all its fullness.”

  34. Posted March 27, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Don, are you saying that secular society is a false kingdom? Are you saying that secular society is just as false as an emperor who accepted worship as a divine figure?

    Or are you saying that secular society is part of Christ’s kingdom?

    I am really trying to figure out your point. But again, you don’t seem to acknowledge the teaching of Paul who told Christians to submit to an emperor opposed to Christ and his people.

  35. Henk Blom
    Posted March 27, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    I read the blog post that you referred to in your response to me, but I think it misses the point. I was not commenting on how well thought out your blog post was, and whether the arguments were well polished. I was commenting on the lack of charity shown to brothers in the Lord who happen to hold opinions that differ in some respects from yours.

    I fully understand that showing restraint can be a challenge at times. Others can be tactless in their comments, to be sure. But how is that an apologetic for your comments? Our Saviour instructed us to turn the other cheek, not let him have it with both barrels.

    There is clearly a lot of heat in the 2k discussion. Some of it is likely warranted, but much of it is certainly just a lot of hot air that serves to create more and more distance between brothers and sisters in Christ. It is my prayer that all sides of this debate will actually listen to each other. So much of what appears in the blogosphere (and other media) on this topic misrepresents the other positions. If we all humbly submitted ourselves to the (hopefully) loving critique and evaluation of others, this discussion might actually get somewhere.

    This comment has gone on long enough! Maybe I need to start my own blog! :)

  36. Mike K.
    Posted March 27, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    That logo makes me sad that there’s been no competition against Madden for years. My wife and I still play NFL2k5 on occasion, epistemologically self-consciously or otherwise.

  37. Don Frank
    Posted March 27, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    Darryl,

    If by “secular society” you mean what we do when we are not practicing “religion”, then yes we are still citizens and part of Christ’s kingdom. Our submission to an emperor opposed to Christ and his people does not make us citizens of another kingdom.

  38. Posted March 28, 2012 at 2:37 am | Permalink

    Don, I am still not sure what you’re saying. I am not asking about us but about society. Is secular society a “false” kingdom? Should Christians reject secular society? Or is secular society part of the kingdom of Christ?

    Either way, why do you reject a dual citizenship? How is it not the case that I am a member of the kingdom of Christ and a citizen of the United States?

  39. Don Frank
    Posted March 28, 2012 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Darryl,

    The definition of “secular” from dictionary.com is

    of or pertaining to worldly things or to things that are not regarded as religious, spiritual, or sacred; temporal: secular interests.

    Here is what Paul says about worldly things:

    1 Corinthians 7:31
    those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.

    In the context of the dictionary.com definition of secular and the apostle Paul’s inspired words, secular society is a vapor. This is why the Preacher says Vanity of vanities, says vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them.

    Scripture rejects dual Citizenship. The fact that you are a citizen, small “c” of the United States, does not compete with the fact that you are a Citizen, large “C” of heaven. And this is the problem with DVD’s false theology which wants to equate small “c” with large “C”.

  40. Posted March 28, 2012 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Don, now I am very confused since you have made comments before about the new creation extending to all things. That meant that previously you argued for redeeming or transforming culture. Now you say it’s a vapor and vanity. So once again you sound closer to Billy Sunday than Leslie Newbiggin.

    I’m not trying to be difficult (you know me), just trying to understand.

  41. Zrim
    Posted March 28, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Don, what I’m trying to see is how you think DVD wants to equate the two kinds of citizenship. What he says is: “I like to describe the two kingdoms doctrine briefly as the conviction that God through his Son rules the whole world, but rules it in two distinct ways. As creator and sustainer, God rules the natural order and the ordinary institutions and structures of human society, and does so through his common grace, for purposes of preserving the ongoing life of this world. As redeemer, God also rules an eschatological kingdom that is already manifest in the life and ministry of the church, and he rules this kingdom through saving grace as he calls a special people to himself through the proclamation of the Scriptures. As Christians, we participate in both kingdoms but should not confuse the purposes of one with those of the other.”

    It seems to me that if there are two kingdoms ruled by the same Lord but in two different ways (i.e. law and gospel) then it follows that the kind of citizenship we live in each kingdom is also different, not equated. In fact, he makes that plain in the last sentence. How are you getting that “…the problem with DVD’s false theology [is that he] wants to equate small ‘c’ with large ‘C’”?

  42. DJG
    Posted March 28, 2012 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Don,

    I’m not sure how helpful it is to associate a definition of secular from dictionary.com with Pauline usages. Which isn’t to say that dictionary.com isn’t wholly unhelpful: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/anachronism

    Anyway. I’d suggest you take a look at DVD’s “A Biblical Case for Natural Law” – it’s a quick, simple read that would mitigate against some of the arguments you are reading into DVD’s 2k approach.

    With respect to your claim that dual citizenship is contrary to scripture, I’d remind you that DVD constructs his arguments within the context of covenant theology, which is to say that DVD would say that we are citizens of two kingdoms inasmuch as we (believers) are beneficiaries of two covenants: the Noahic and the New. The Noahic covenant further establishes the common kingdom which isn’t referred to as such because it is neutral, but because it is for all people and lacks the blessing of redemptive grace (unlike the covenant of grace which is particular and redemptive; see pg. 29 of the aforementioned book).

    So. Are you willing to grant that we are under two covenants like Abraham (Peter’s model 2ker)? Or does scripture reject that as well?

  43. DJG
    Posted March 28, 2012 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Forgive my abundant use of negatives in my attempt at a joke. Try: “Though dictionary.com isn’t wholly unhelpful…”

  44. Don Frank
    Posted March 28, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Darryl.

    I do know you, and I think you are trying to take me for a ride; but I’ll go along with you for the fun of it.

    You have mixed several terms together, shaken them up, and hope that nobody will notice. Let me sort them out for you, so you won’t be so confused. The terms are “new creation”, “culture”, and “secular society.”

    In light of scripture, those terms have very different meanings. New creation – we are a new creation in Christ. Culture – we are to sing to Him a new song. Secular society- unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.

  45. Posted March 28, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Don, I’m feeling a little dizzy from the ride your answers provide, but please explain your previous assertions that culture will be renewed because of the work of redemption and now your apparent relegation of culture to vanishing vapor. I may not be the only one confused.

  46. Don Frank
    Posted March 28, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    DJG,

    You may want to check with Darryl on your understanding of covenantal theology. I know he would not want to disagree with the Westmiinster divines (except for Ch 23 of the WCF) on the Noahic covenant being in the covenant of grace. Does DVD really believe that the Noahic covenant is not part of the covenant of grace? Wow, he’s even further off than I thought.

  47. Posted March 28, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Don, you do know, right, that the Confession doesn’t mention Noah and does not include God’s promise to Noah as part of the Covenant of Grace?

    You may want to be cautious with those “wows”.

  48. Don Frank
    Posted March 28, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Darryl,

    I never relegated culture to vanishing vapor. Remember that I said culture is a gift of God. Secular society is a vapor because it is a house that is not built on the Lord.

  49. Don Frank
    Posted March 28, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Darryl,

    You are not serious, are you? Are you sayiing that the covenant of grace did not begin after the covenant of works, or is the Noahic covenant outside of both of them?

  50. DJG
    Posted March 28, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    The Covenant of Grace was made with Christ and his elect according to WLC 31… which is slightly different in scope from the Noahic covenant:

    Genesis 9: 8-10 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth.

    Maybe I’m reading this wrong… I’ll check with our host.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>