Two-Kingdom Tuesday: James Jordan for President (of the U.S.A.)

A constant them in objections to two-kingdom teaching is that it fails to follow the Reformers even while claiming their imprimatur. As the Rabbi Brets, the Baylys, and the Wilsonians like to remind us, the magisterial reformation was just that – a reformation conducted by magistrates, some of whom were the ministers who were themselves agents of the state. The city council of Geneva called John Calvin to be pastor. So, two-kingdom theology must be wrong because it would have never put Calvin in Geneva.

Seldom conceded in this argument is that 2k critics are also a long way from the Reformers. To be consistent with the joys of a magisterial reformation, the critics should be calling for President Obama and Governor Rendell, among others, to reform the churches, call the right ministers, approve the proper liturgies, establish the right forms of church government. Well, the problem here is that Obama might appoint Jeremiah Wright to be his Archbishop Laud. Doh (I)!

That possibility should be a reminder that state-run churches have never preserved Reformed Protestantism (or any religion, for that matter). Even when the covenants with the king were long and exacting, the magistrates only made life more difficult for the good guys in the church and regularly backed the bad guys. This is why the good guys in church history, from Calvin, to the Contra-Remonstrants, to the Covenanters, to the PCUSA, to the Free Church of Scotland, wanted autonomy of the church from state-control in order to govern the church properly (and they argued, biblically).

So if anti-2kers want to be as consistent in their doing as they think they are in their saying, they need to persuade James Jordan, the Godfather of things Federal Vision, to run for the presidency. I assume he will need to run on a political platform very much contrary to the policies and laws that guided Geneva’s magistrates in their oversight of a reformed church. Small government, reduced taxes, vouchers for religious schools, maybe even reduction of the U.S.’s superpower footprint could Jordan’s candidacy off the runway. And then once in office, Jordan can implement the suppression of heresy, the closing of synagogues, mosques, and cathedrals, and the prohibition of usury. Politicians lie through their teeth all the time on the campaign trail. What would be the problem with one more? Wait a minute. Jordan believes in the law. Doh (II)!

30 thoughts on “Two-Kingdom Tuesday: James Jordan for President (of the U.S.A.)

  1. You seem to have trouble not only providing arguments from sources (as the discussion with Peter Esclante on Wedgewords well showed), but also in fairly representing your opponents.

    Doug Wilson responded to you on Wedgewords and said that he DOES believe in freedom of conscience in the public realm. Your last sentence fails to take this into account, but gives the exact opposite impression – an egregious misleading of your readers since you mentioned “Wilsonians” at the beginning of your post.

    Also, your post here gives the distinct impression that all of your opposition is emanating from “the Federal Vision” camp, which is simply untrue. Wedgeworth has some affiliations with Federal Vision writers, but he has been fairly critical of a good bit of FV theology. Jordan is often busy advocating worship reform as the way to solve political problems, so the sort of view espoused by Wedgeworth can’t be put in the same universe as “Jordan for president.”

    Further, no one that I know of who opposes your view is advocating a “state-run” church, so your entire third paragraph is meaningless as a contribution to this debate.

    Seldom have I seen a professional scholar think and write so sloppily. Given that you’re in a leadership position in the seminaries and in the church, you should be ashamed of yourself. Why do you have such trouble being scholarly toward your opposition?


  2. Now there is some provocative and pugilist looking for rhetoric. Put on your Warfield like polemical hats (in regards to political thinking not theology)- a fight is a brewing. This stuff gets my blood flowing again. I hope that is not out of line.


  3. Tim,

    I am sure Dr. Hart can speak for himself here, but I think you are unduly criticizing his lack of scholarship. If you want his scholarly work read his books, the blog is more of a discussion based on rapid-fire information. Often bloggers are accused of poor scholarship, but the fact remains that blogs are generally not used for scholarly dialogue in the same way publications such as books and journal articles are.

    If you read more of the blog you would find that Dr. Hart’s opposition comes from more than just FV circles. My guess is that you aren’t a scholar yourself simply because you wouldn’t be lodging complaints about blog conversations if you were.

    Drawing analogies to the magesterial Ref. isn’t sloppy thinking, it’s connecting some dots. If Wilson is advocating some form of Constiantinianism, then the questions can be appropriately raised. It is hard to understand how those with theonomic leanings aren’t going to at least have to deal practically and specifically with questions of state-run churches, even if they are taking it in a different direction, history begs the question.

    My question is what is your real rub with the 2k position? If you read the 2k authors in their published works, they are at the very least lucid in their positions of what 2k looks like, and how notions of the Spirituality of the Church (SOTC) play out practically.


  4. Tim, is it not the case that Steve and other critics of 2k fault 2k for not holding to the magistrates role in overseeing the church? Maybe you’re the scholar on this one, but between 313 and 1776, the general pattern in Christendom was for heretics and blasphemers to be punished (sometimes executed) by the state. Constantine did it, various European monarchs did it, city councils did it. After 1776 the church has gained greater autonomy in the West while also losing its power.

    The thing is, Wilson and Bret and the Baylys tout either Christendom or Geneva and do so in opposition to 2k. So it seems a necessary implication that the critics of 2k want an establishment that enforces the true religion. But they also want the blessings of religious pluralism and a voluntary church.

    Again, Tim, you seem to be the expert on scholarship, but I don’t see how you promote Christendom and make room for Mormons without the crutch of 2k.


  5. Tim, I just perused your CV, apologies for doubting your scholarship-ness dude. It does make me wonder all the more about your demands for scholarship on weblogs though.


  6. John, Considering my background in business, I am usually the guy that shows up to the sword fight with a butter knife in these types of discussions, but that is what makes it so fun.


  7. If you believe the magistrate should enforce the first table, then in no way do you believe in freedom of conscience.

    If the magistrate is directly accountable to the church, because in a Theonomic world all the magistrates have to be members of the church….then certainly in some sense, the state is being run by the church.

    If the church is calling upon the state to enforce things the suppression of heresy etc… then in some sense the church is running the state.

    It’s pure medievalism….they’re just going to do it right this time around.

    John A.


  8. John A. not also to be missed is the Corinthian dimension. The church is a fairly insignificant entity without the glories of Rome and its empire. So if we get the state involved in religion, then religion will finally be important and potent. It is a classic difference between the theology of glory and the theology of the cross.


  9. Well played and amen, Dr. Hart. That’s exactly the issue. The weakness and folly of Christ crucified (i.e., the Gospel) over and against the glory and worldly-wisdom of a power-broking, butt-kicking, culture-transforming “church.” This stuff is the Corinthian error on steroids.


  10. So God’s providence in history has greater authority than Scripture in the 1k vs. 2k debate?


  11. Jed, I hear you brother although I think it is OK and healthy to be a bit feisty with those who are purposely picking a fight. I sense some deep hostility from those who think confessionalists are suppressing the work of the Spirit in the Church and often come across in very passive/aggressive like comments. The above response from Tim Enloe goes right for the jugular though. I think that is much more honest and forthright. Those who adhere to confessional statements of faith have always had problems with those who want to swallow the Holy Spirit feathers and all. Thomas Munzter (I might be spelling that wrong and may be thinking of Herman Munster) responded to Luther by saying Dr. Luther wants to send the Holy Spirit back to college. Some of the arguments coming from the charismatic and revivalistic camps are becoming more substansive theologically though. We may have to do a bit more homework to counter their arguments.


  12. TP, I’d say the councils may certainly have struggled with that, but the weight gain was not without benefits. Of course, we need no reminders that Christ is both Sacrifice and King, and both spiritual and corporeal. I think the title “King of kings” says a lot.


  13. I agree, in an Acts 2:29-36 and Ephesians 1:19-23 / 4:7-18 kind of way. Christ’s kingly rule is seen (with the eyes of faith) in the Church – and denied, ignored, and subverted in the world. There is a coming Day when the King will triumphantly crush all His enemies in an open, undeniable, and visible way for every eye to see – and every tongue will then confess Him as Lord (Phil 2:11). For many, it will be a self-condemning confession. Only those who participate in the resurrection unto life will praise the fully redemptive glory of His Lordship in a new heavens and a new earth. I’m all for redemption of my body as well as my soul – not to mention the renewal of the entire created order at the consummation!


  14. Hear here, TP! I can mostly “AMEN!” that. I might add, though, that I don’t believe in atheists, though it’s an issue I usually have to work through when talking with atheists. I view an atheistic kingdom as, well, a bit of a phantasm (for a self-condemning confessionalist, too), while I certainly believe sin is real enough (and kings also).


  15. It is apparent that in the ongoing debate, the A2Ker’s have never satisfactorily answered the plain teaching of Scripture distinguishing between the mediatorial and providential reign of the King of Kings, as it were. Until that concern is put to bed, they will never sleep well, and the debate may not move forward.

    Their over-realized eschatology simply fails to account for the programmatic nature of Christ’s building his church (not Christ building the whole creation and its institutions, which are temporal, impermanent, fading, and antithetical). It’s like an author once wrote concerning pre-tribulation dispensationalism: we believe in a rapture, its a question of when! So also, we believe in complete subjection; however, it is a question of when. So I think the A2ker’s need get with the program.


  16. I don’t find it’s so much an over-realisation or a lack of adequacy (there are plenty of satisfactory answers to go around), but perhaps more a perspective difference of defining God’s goodness in us, among us, and through us. Certainly the devil is in many details, but no more so than God. That my body may one day be transformed, and in Christ may already be in promise, does not mean I do not make good use of it now, elsewise I’ve brushed my teeth to no avail.


  17. Grit: The over-realization comes into play when the mediatorial reign and providential reign are confused. That is, confused in terms of misapplying or misinterpreting God’s hidden providence in the providential kingdom/reign via conflation with the mediatorial reign in what is revealed in Scripture, which is exactly what occurs in the schema/program indicated by Dr. Hart. Again, programmatically, the two kingdoms differ, both in terms of what is revealed and what is not revealed, and in terms of how they are mediated and ruled, and the institutions and relationship between the spiritual kingdom of the church andthe providentially ruled kingdom outside the church. The details only become a problem when we fail to acknowledge that there are indeed two kingdoms with two programs by one King. Once the macro-program elements are established, and they are, the details sift out without too many concerns in terms of what Dr. Hart has expressed.


  18. It’s not mediatorial reign and providential reign…….

    That paradigm confuses the nature of the Kingdom, it’s principle and expectation.

    It’s the mediatorial….realm which is holy.

    and the providential reign….which is universal and common.

    One King, but the relationship is hardly the same. His Kingship over the world is as Creator/Sustainer and ultimately Judge. For those in His Kingdom, His realm, they are the Holy….in fact His body.

    Not the same relationship.

    And like I ask every time…..where in the NT do we have any expectation the Common realm will be transformed into the Holy realm of God?

    Is the world…His body? Is America an arm? China a leg?

    The conflation is on the part of 1K adherents….failing to distinguish holy from common.

    John A.


  19. “the mediatorial reign and providential reign… confused”
    “…..where in the NT do we have any expectation the Common realm will be transformed into the Holy realm of God?

    Is the world…His body? Is America an arm? China a leg?”

    As long as we remember the world is still His magisterial footstool, and nations and people and even toothpaste are used by Him to fulfill His holy purpose. After our Lord’s ascension, that Lazarus would still die again and live again does not in any way dampen the spiritual significance or worthy mediatorial/providential/relational and holy value of his having been previously (though perhaps uncommonly) raised from the dead, called from the tomb, and doing whatever he worthily did with his life.

    Again, to me, mediatorial/providential/relational connotes perspective differences (as would paradigm models), limited, as always, by human quality and perspective (which, true, may carry some innate confusion, whether, handy though they be, 1K or 2K, 3K or 4, or something in-between or altogether different). Separation is always qualified by the “in” of “in but not of”, and transformation (this side of heaven) is always qualified by temporal expectant of eternal.


  20. grit, why can’t transformation also be qualified by common sense? How much sense does it make to talk of transforming Manhattan or redeeming television? Why are so many saints deluded by ad copy? You’d think that real transformation, as in sanctification, would make believers wary of such pitches.


  21. “How much sense does it make…?”
    Why, all five senses of course (and naturally or supernaturally many more).
    “why can’t transformation also be qualified by common sense?”
    I find it can and is, both common and uncommon, both profane and sacred. I still drink in remembrance from a communion cup, but I’ll frankly admit that any veneration of image may be problematic in a Reformed context, and that variety of perspective, indeed, even proficiency of charismata, rarely comes humanly down to the sure absolutes of right and wrong, eternal and temporal, 2K and 1K. Christ gives us clarity, God is certainly omniscient, and the Church is not without her keys; but a delusion of saints is not reserved for any particular paradigm, and, as I hear it, perfect pitch does not negate the beauty of harmony.

    I don’t believe Manhattan is completely devoid of holy influence or significance, though certainly folk have differing spiritual criteria regarding the Trade Center (both before and after it’s destruction) or the Statue of Liberty.


  22. John: I think you just negated your own contradiction of my statement regarding the need to differential between the mediatorial reign and providential reign of the church and the common,- – the two kingdoms respectively (in lines 3-4), unless you quibble with the term “reign” vs. “realm.” But then to further that particular nuance, one would have to deny the proper relationship between reign and realm – in either kingdom. Also, to assert that what defines mediatorial is mutually exclusive to principle or expectation is a queer concept, I would think. These terms are even confessional, and have been long recognized, and continue to be apropos, as used by some of the most gifted exegete writing on the subject today. And, in fact, it this use has been a key factor in debates with the late G. Bahnsen and 2k proponents, effectively defining the proper nature of the kingdom. While principle and expectation are relevant, useful, apropos in their own right, they, in their respective definitions, do not preclude the reality of the nature of the mediatorial aspect and the providential aspect in terms of the distinguishing nature of the two kingdoms and Christ’s government and “prospect” for them, or how he rules in time and space history, or how he may determine to bring about the eschatalogical nature in his program.

    I’ll check back to see what responses pop up, but I cannot respond or spend any further time on the subject; I have study priorities for next semester. Thanks for the opportunity to dialog. Blessings.


  23. bkelley,

    I do quibble over the terms reign and realm. They are distinct.

    Just because Christ may be spoken of as King over both….it is not the same. The Kingship as Creator/Sustainer is not the same as His relationship as Redeemer. I ask again, because Grit says the same thing….are you trying to suggest Common grace cultural elements (like nations) full of un-redeemed are part of the body of Christ? If so, then the divide, the gulf is much wider than I would have imagined.

    Again just to be sure we’re clear…I agree Providence ‘reigns’ over the world. Christ is King in that sense, but the Common Grace earthly order is not part of the Holy Realm, a spiritual eschatological kingdom not of this world, yet manifested here by a pilgrim people, aliens and strangers.

    It would seem you view the Providential reign as temporary….all will become his realm. It would seem your mediatorial language indicates the 2K distinction in your language at least is artificial…not a permanent arrangement leading up to the Parousia.

    In a sense, yes in the end, will become the Holy Realm, but only at the Parousia. And, rather than the Common Grace nations and culture being transformed, they will be burned.

    How can you say Christ is mediator for the Common Grace realm? He is mediator for the Church. I guess we have to define the body of Christ?

    I’m not sure I agree with you on the confessional issue. I don’t think you can argue the WCF teaches chiliasm which is what you seem to be advocating. Regardless, the Confession is hardly important in the end. A guide yes, but nothing more. As far as Bahnsen….well, a brilliant man to be sure, but I would point to him as a prime example of a person who completely misunderstood the nature of the Kingdom of God. His hermeneutics led him to read the NT Kingdom principle through the lens of prophetic idiom and typology rather than the other way around.

    Principle and expectation are not merely relevant but critical. When you say ‘preclude the reality of the nature’…….I include nature under the idea of Principle. Its means of operation and advancement are directly related to what type of Kingdom it is, its nature.

    So what is the nature of the Kingdom? Spiritual or chiliastic?

    Thanks for your comments. I appreciate the thought and the interesting take on the issue.

    John A.


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