Two-Kingdom Tuesday: How Can You Not Be 2K If You Are Spirituality of the Church?

Calvin makes it easy; you only have to get over the National Covenant, Kuyper, Bahnsen, and Wilson:

My kingdom is not of this world. By these words he acknowledges that he is a king, but, so far as was necessary to prove his innocence, he clears himself of the calumny; for he declares, that there is no disagreement between his kingdom and political government or order; as if he had said, “I am falsely accused, as if I had attempted to produce a disturbance, or to make a revolution in public affairs. I have preached about the kingdom of God; but that is spiritual, and, therefore, you have no right to suspect me of aspiring to kingly power.” This defense was made by Christ before Pilate, but the same doctrine is useful to believers to the end of the world; for if the kingdom of Christ were earthly, it would be frail and changeable, because the fashion of this world passeth away, (1 Corinthians 7:31;) but now, since it is pronounced to be heavenly, this assures us of its perpetuity. Thus, should it happen, that the whole world were overturned, provided that our consciences are always directed to the kingdom of Christ, they will, nevertheless, remain firm, not only amidst shakings and convulsions, but even amidst dreadful ruin and destruction. If we are cruelly treated by wicked men, still our salvation is secured by the kingdom of Christ, which is not subject to the caprice of men. In short, though there are innumerable storms by which the world is continually agitated, the kingdom of Christ, in which we ought to seek tranquillity, is separated from the world.

We are taught, also, what is the nature of this kingdom; for if it made us happy according to the flesh, and brought us riches, luxuries, and all that is desirable for the use of the present life, it would smell of the earth and of the world; but now, though our condition be apparently wretched, still our true happiness remains unimpaired. We learn from it, also, who they are that belong to this kingdom; those who, having been renewed by the Spirit of God, contemplate the heavenly life in holiness and righteousness. Yet it deserves our attention, likewise, that it is not said, that the kingdom of Christ is not in this world; for we know that it has its seat in our hearts, as also Christ says elsewhere, The kingdom of God is within you, (Luke 17:21.) But, strictly speaking, the kingdom of God, while it dwells in us, is a stranger to the world, because its condition is totally different.

My servants would strive. He proves that he did not aim at an earthly kingdom, because no one moves, no one takes arms in his support; for if a private individual lay claim to royal authority, he must gain power by means of seditious men. Nothing of this kind is seen in Christ; and, therefore, it follows that he is not an earthly king.

But here a question arises, Is it not lawful to defend the kingdom of Christ by arms? For when Kings and Princes are commanded to kiss the Son of God, (Psalm 2:10-12) not only are they enjoined to submit to his authority in their private capacity, but also to employ all the power that they possess, in defending the Church and maintaining godliness.

I answer, first, they who draw this conclusion, that the doctrine of the Gospel and the pure worship of God ought not to be defended by arms, are unskillful and ignorant reasoners; for Christ argues only from the facts of the case in hand, how frivolous were the calumnies which the Jews had brought against him.

Secondly, though godly kings defend the kingdom of Christ by the sword, still it is done in a different manner from that in which worldly kingdoms are wont to be defended; for the kingdom of Christ, being spiritual, must be founded on the doctrine and power of the Spirit. In the same manner, too, its edification is promoted; for neither the laws and edicts of men, nor the punishments inflicted by them, enter into the consciences. Yet this does not hinder princes from accidentally defending the kingdom of Christ; partly, by appointing external discipline, and partly, by lending their protection to the Church against wicked men. It results, however, from the depravity of the world, that the kingdom of Christ is strengthened more by the blood of the martyrs than by the aid of arms. (Calvin’s Commentary on John 18)

Important to notice is Calvin’s otherworldliness. The kingdom is not in this world, but it is in believers’ hearts. And it comes not through laws or enforcement of legislation, or clever policy, but by the word and Spirit. If magistrates assist the kingdom of Christ it not because of law or enforcement because Christ’s kingdom is spiritual, and therefore different from the rule of kings.

This would also mean that all those people who cite Calvin and his godly regime in Geneva, like the Baylys, Dr. Kloosterman, and Rabbi Bret are missing the point. Calvin even calls arguments like their “ignorant and unskillful. God’s kingdom is not earthly. And efforts to make this world heavenly are just one more example of immanentizing the eschaton.

I would have thought that differentiation of Christ’s rule from earthly regimes would appeal to the Vossian contingent. I wonder when will they ever come over to the 2k side. 2kers won’t bite, at least not physically.

19 thoughts on “Two-Kingdom Tuesday: How Can You Not Be 2K If You Are Spirituality of the Church?

  1. And Klineans should be on board, too. Can’t there be some version of “I’m rooting for whoever is playing Bahnsen’s team?”


  2. I’m not sure how you do not read of your own condemnation in that section: “I answer, first, they who draw this conclusion, that the doctrine of the Gospel and the pure worship of God ought not to be defended by arms, are unskillful and ignorant reasoners; for Christ argues only from the facts of the case in hand, how frivolous were the calumnies which the Jews had brought against him.”

    Q. How does 1 Corinthians 15:27 read in a 2K Bible?

    A. “For he hath put the church under his feet. But when he saith the church is put under him, it is manifest that everything else is excepted, including him which did put all things under him.”


  3. Old Light, it is by Calvin’s clear assertion that the kingdom exists in the conscience, a place where laws and the sword cannot go.

    And if your David Scott is correct about Christ’s mediatorial kingdom being as wide as creation itself, then what sense does it make for Christ in his work as redeemer, executing the office of King, to defend us from our enemies. If he is king over everyone, how do believers ever have enemies? Clearly, his rule over the church has to be distinct from his rule over creation.


  4. Dr. Hart, I still read here that Calvin called you an unskillful and ignorant reasoner. The fact that you quoted Calvin against yourself seems only to confirm this judgment. No one against whom you argue believes that laws and the sword can go to the conscience.

    I would recommend that you answer Rev. Scott’s examination of the teaching of Scripture, rather than merely attempting to sidestep it by making an argument from reason alone. As he said, Scripture’s assertion of Christ’s headship over the church is not very extensive, compared to its assertion of His headship over all things, and particularly the nations.

    And I would return to you, How can Christ restrain and conquer His and our enemies if He does not rule over them? If His reign is exclusively over the church, there is no way that He can execute that Mediatorial dominion over things outside the church which plague us.

    And to suggest that God rules over all things absolutely, without having committed them to Christ’s headship, is not all that far off from Deism.


  5. Mr. Covenanter, I may very well be ignorant, but I’m still scratching my head how if Christ’s kingdom is in the conscience that kingdom extends to laws and swords. It may also be a problem with Calvin’s reasoning. But you still haven’t explained how Christ is Lord of someone who has not trusted in him. You may want still to say that Christ as redeemer is Lord over everyone and everything. But talk about Lordship controversy — I don’t see how Christ is Lord of Osama bin Laden as redeemer. Mind you, 2k does affirm Christ’s kingship over all things, but not as redeemer.

    And you are aware, aren’t you, that David McKay argues in the festschrift for Wayne Spear that the Covenanter idea of Christ’s kingship, without distinguishing between the redemptive and providential aspects, is popish, at least according to Rutherford.


  6. Random 2K question here – is the OPC mostly 2K? If I visited an OPC church is there a good chance the pastor would be 2k and believe in the spirituality of the church? Thanks


  7. DJ, many OP pastors would affirm the spirituality of the church (75 percent?). Many OP pastors would consider 2k to be Lutheran and not Reformed (60 percent?).


  8. I’m posting a series of five lectures on The Natural Law by Dr. David VanDrunen on my blog

    Session 1 – Natural Law: What is it, and What’s the Point? [Last Friday]
    Session 2 – Natural Law and the Creation Order: Genesis 1, 2 and 9 [Today]
    Session 3 – next Friday
    Session 4 – 05-20-11
    Session 5 – 05-27-11

    For anyone interested, you can listen on-line or download the mp3


  9. I have another kind of random question like DJ. How is your 2K different from Anabaptist 2K or is it different? This CNN blog post seems to mirror the 2K position in some ways.

    Do 2K people reject pledges of allegiance or singing the national anthem? Not in worship I mean but in other normal venues? I’m assuming they may not but then that puts their thinking at odds with Anabaptist 2K? Any idea how these two different versions of 2K arrive at their conclusions? I’m still trying to figure all this out.


  10. Mark, it seems to me that Protestant 2k makes plenty of room for temporal citizenship, whereas Anabaptism is another form of 1k that wants redemption to swallow up creation. Protestant 2k is actually all about civil obedience and knows nothing of civil disobedience; see WCF 23.4 and Belgic 36 which expressly states that “…on this matter we denounce the Anabaptists, other anarchists, and in general all those who want to reject the authorities and civil officers and to subvert justice by introducing common ownership of goods and corrupting the moral order that God has established among human beings.”

    So to the extent that Protestant 2k distinguishes between allegiance and worship, it can pledge allegiance to earthly kings and pagan states because Romans 13:1-7 makes it pretty clear that even these are servants of God himself.


  11. Mark, I’d add to Zrim’s helpful response that 2kers aren’t pacifists. That is how 1k Anabaptists are. They think the only legitimate form of authority is one that does not use the sword or war. 2kers make room for two kinds of swords, one physical and one spiritual.


  12. True enough. But, oddly, it still doesn’t semm to keep some from suggesting that others who take a pass on culture war or are slow to reach for the physical sword to combat spiritual encroachments are “pacifists.”


  13. In their hearts, godly magistrates are ready for us all to be martyrs rather than to overcome evil by evil, but in their “outside shells” they punish by killing our enemies according to the laws of men not the law of Christ the creator and redeemer.

    By saying that one kingdom is heaven in our hearts, they are left free to say that they also live in a second kingdom, which is not Satan’s kingdom but then again not exactly Christ’s kingdom either (except in the sense that Christ is creator but not in the sense that Christ is redeemer ???)

    Since Jesus Christ is the creator of everybody, this means that Jesus Christ is not the Lord over those who have not yet trusted in Him for redemption. Sure, he is Lord over them as creator but not Lord over them as Redeemer, so we need to be realistic and work together with unbelievers in not looking to Christ to get order in Geneva? Because even for Christians, Christ is Lord over us when it comes to our redemption but not the other stuff, which the Bible has nothing to say about anyway?

    If we were to agree that Jesus Christ is Lord over Christians even as Creator, that would mean that we are anarchists who want “redemption to swallow up creation”

    “Swallow up creation”. What does that mean? Would that make us universalists who think that all human creatures will be redeemed? Would that make us worship with the charitable assumption that all who are visible are “us” redeemed? Would that make us communists, with wives in common?

    Or does it mean that Christ’s kingdom is only in our individual consciences (and our ecclesial sacramental conscience) , but not in our “creatures together” conscience so we don’t have to be pacifists but are free to kill Christians from other nation-states?

    When Jesus said that His kingdom is from another place , this is not Jesus saying that His kingdom is not on earth. But that’s the way you have to keep reading John 18 if you want to say that the kingdom from heaven is in your heart (or the sky) but not yet on earth in any way which would call treason fighting for another kingdom .


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