Actually, the title should be plural since in one of his first reviews of VanDrunen’s Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms Nelson Kloosterman decided to insert a [sic] after VanDrunen’s phrase, “the Reformed tradition of natural law and the two kingdoms.” Kloosterman explained, “Because we are in danger of annoying our readers, we shall now desist from using ‘[sic]’ [which abbreviates the Latin sicut, which means ‘thus’ or ‘such’] as our way of identifying the authorâ€™s repeated, persistent, and unqualified use of the definite article to identify his construal as ‘the’ Reformed natural law and two kingdoms doctrine.”
Aside from the small-mindedness among the Dutch-American Reformed when they hear of a “Reformed” tradition that does not follow their way of doing and thinking, this is a petty remark and reveals the lengths to which Kloosterman will go in condemning 2k. I wonder when he will mention the typos in the book (if there are any). To younger writers out there, these are the sort of criticisms that should be left on the editing floor and any good editor would have it deleted it on grounds of impropriety and triviality â€“ improper because the level of disagreement is already high and this detracts from the main point; trivial because the use of a definite article is not essential to Kloostermanâ€™s argument.
But the pettiness continues in Kloosterman’s most recent part of his review — I guess he is really going to go through VanDrunen chapter by chapter. (Kloosterman better be hoping that Harold Camping is wrong about the date of Christ’s return and that a significant theological controversy does not prompt the editors of Christian Renewal to reserve inches for more important business.) In this stage of his response to VanDrunen â€“ specifically, the chapter on Calvin â€“ Kloosterman faults the Westminster professor for poor scholarship. VanDrunen uses John Bolt’s discussion of Calvin’s Christology to make a point about the difference between Christ’s rule as mediator and as creator. But because Bolt uses Calvin’s Christology to affirm Kuyper and because VanDrunen — who hasn’t tipped his hand on his own use of Calvin — uses Calvin’s Christology to understand Calvin’s views of the two kingdoms (views for which Kloosterman cannot account), Kloosterman judges VanDrunen to be a poor academic. He writes:
Boltâ€™s own application of the Christological distinction is the very opposite of the use to which VanDrunen puts it in his NL2K discussion of Calvin! Surely readers deserve better scholarship than this!
Since Bolt’s application of Calvin was not the point of VanDrunen’s argument, I don’t see what is shoddy about this scholarship. It surely seems that Bolt takes the extra Calvinisticum in one direction — the Kuyperian one — and VanDrunen and Calvin take it in another direction, namely, to distinguish between the temporal and spiritual realms. VanDrunen is simply using Bolt’s language to explain the extra Calvinisticum, not to claim Bolt as a proponent of 2k. But since Kloosterman cannot tell the difference between a work of description — which is what VanDrunen’s book is — and one of prescription, he can’t see the different purposes to which an author may use a quotation. Talk about overexcited.
The problem for Kloosterman is that he exhibits the very impoverished academic work of which he accuses VanDrunen. This comes in his complaints against VanDrunenâ€™s conception of the kingdom of God. Kloosterman believes that VanDrunen should have consulted creedal and catechetical material, and if he had, he would have found in the Heidelberg Catechism, for instance, no such distinction between the redemptive and creational rule of Christ. Mind you, the logic here is unclear since Kloosterman affirms the Kuyperian distinction between the church as organism and church as institute. This dualism, though, is a good one that disallows distinguishing between the rule of Christ inside and outside the church. Apparently, for Kloosterman, Christ rules everywhere and everything through the church, both as institute and as organism. He goes on to quote John Bolt to show that the purpose of the church is to restore the world to its creational, God-intended course â€“ as if that could happen short of judgment day. This is another way in which the church is part of the means by which Christ rules all things.
But the point that needs to be underscored is Kloostermanâ€™s poor reading of Heidelberg:
. . . the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), Q/A 50, deals with the session of Jesus Christ: â€œWhy is it added, And sitteth at the right hand of God? Because Christ ascended into heaven for this end, that He might there appear as Head of His Church, by whom the Father governs all things.â€ Surely in the history of interpretation, the church has understood this answer to acknowledge that God the Father rules all things through Jesus Christ, the incarnate, risen, and ascended Savior of the church! Especially the Scripture references undergirding this answer, Ephesians 1.20-23, Colossians 1.18, Matthew 28.18, and John 5.22, teach us that this confession of Jesus as Lord of all is eminently biblical.
Moreover, such royal activity accords with what we confess in Lordâ€™s Day 12, Q/A 31, that Jesus Christ is our eternal King, who governs and defends us. To my knowledge, no interpreter of the Heidelberg has argued that the incarnate, risen, and ascended Jesus Christ is eternal King 9 of 11 of the church only. Rather, this incarnate, risen, and ascended Jesus Christ is eternal King of the universe!
Well, VanDrunen (nor does any 2k advocate) say that Christ is lord ONLY of the church. What kind of reading skills do Christian day schools teach (and do they give refunds)? What 2k advocates argue is a distinction between Christâ€™s lordship over those who do not confess him as lord, who do not bend the knee in worship, and those who do trust in Christ and are members of his church. That would appear to be an important difference â€“ for instance, how Christ is lord of both Tim Keller and Tiger Woods. 2k teaches that Christ is lord of each man, but not in the same way. And the different rule is apparently what the very author of the Heidelberg Catechism had in mind when he explained the second petition of the Lordâ€™s prayer in his commentary:
A kingdom in general is a form of civil government in which some one person possesses the chief power and authority, who, being possessed of greater and more excellent gifts and virtues than others, rules over all according to just, wholesome and certain laws by defending the good and punishing the wicked. The kingdom of God is that in which God alone rules and exercises dominion over all creatures; but especially does he govern and preserve the church. This kingdom is universal. The special kingdom of God that which he exercises in his church consists in sending the Son from the Father, from the very beginning of the world, that he might institute and preserve the ministry of the church, and accomplish his purposes by it that he might gather a church from the whole human race by his word and Spirit rule, preserve and defend it against all enemies raise it from death, and at length, having cast all enemies into everlasting condemnation, adorn it with heavenly glory, that God may be all in all, and be praised eternally by the church. (Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, pp. 632-33) [emphasis added for the reading impaired]
So contrary to Kloostermanâ€™s claim that â€œweâ€ know of no interpreter of Heidelberg who says that Christ is lord only of the church, I know of one author and interpreter of Heidelberg who does something very comparable to what Calvin does and what VanDrunen observes in Calvin. Surely, we could expect better theological scholarship than this.
And we find better theological scholarship in another Dutch-American Reformed theologian. Louis Berkhof follows Calvin and Ursinus in making a distinction between the universal lordship of Christ (Tiger Woods) and the special rule that he extends over his church (Tim Keller).
The Kingship of Christ over the universe is subservient to His spiritual kingship. It is incumbent on Christ, as the anointed King, to establish the spiritual kingdom of God, to govern it, and to protect it against all hostile forces. He must do this in a world which is under the power of sin and is bent onthwarting all spiritual endeavors. If that world were beyond His control, it might easily fustrate all His efforts. Therefore God invested Him with authority over it, so that he is able to control all powers and forces and movements in the world, and can thus secure a safe footing for His people in the world, and protect His own against all the powers of darkness. These cannot defeat His purposes, but are even constrained to serve them. Under the beneficent rule of Christ even the wrath of man is made to praise God. (Systematic Theology, pp. 410-11) [more emphasis added for neo-Calvinists]
Unless I missed something, Berkhof is talking about a rule by Christ that governs the works of all men outside the church (Tiger Woods) in such a way that nothing will ultimately harm those whom he governs as redeemer (Tim Keller). That sure sounds like a rule as creator that is universal rather than a rule as redeemer that is particular. After all, Tiger Woods does not know Christ as lord and redeemer (such as we can tell from the media). But Christ is still lord of him, the PGA, and Woodsâ€™ sponsors. That lordship is substantially different from Christâ€™s rule over Redeemer Presbyterian Church NYC (even if I wish that rule were a little more on the order of Reformed governance).
I donâ€™t know why that is so hard to see. Calvin saw it. Ursinus saw it. Berkhof saw it. Kloosterman misses it. And that means that he is digging a deeper hole for himself the more he digs in against VanDrunen and 2k.