Second Thoughts about Two-Kingdom Theology

I am reading (and reviewing) a book about religion and politics in the United States and came across a quotation from Lyman Beecher — who put novelty into New School — about the influence clergy had on Connecticut politics:

I remember that while at New Haven we had a meeting to consult about organizing a society for the promotion of reform. We met in Judgje Baldwin’s office; and a number of the leading lawyers were invited to meet us, some seven or eight perhaps. We took up the subject, and discussed it thoroughly, Dr. Dwight being the chairman of the meeting, and such men as David Daggett, Judge Baldwin, Rog^ Minot Sherman participating.

That was a new thing in that day for the clergy and laymen to meet on the same level and co-operate. It was the first time there had ever been such a consultation between them in Connecticut in our day. The ministers had always managed things themselves, for in those days the ministers were all politicians. They had always been used to it from the beginning.

On election day they had a festival. All the clergy used to go, walk in procession, smoke pipes, and drink. And, fact is, when they got together, they would talk over who should be governor, and who lieutenant governor, and who in the Upper House, and their counsels would prevail.

That sounds amazingly civilized. So if we can add elders to the consultations between clergy and civil magistrates and maintain the festivities, I’m willing to reconsider distinctions between the temporal and eternal realms.


5 thoughts on “Second Thoughts about Two-Kingdom Theology

  1. I am curious as to what they were drinking. Port? Brandy? American Ale? Hopefully Bourbon though. I am wondering if this was before of after the Whiskey Rebellion, but odds are on sometime after. All I am sure of is that if they were proto-transformationalists they weren’t swilling moonshine.


  2. Jed, I think Darryl was imbibing while he wrote this. It goes contrary to what he and Zrim have been advocating for as long as I have known them both. I met Zrim over at the Riddleblog, probably 5 or 6 years ago. He was picking a fight with someone about Adam and Steve. I think I am a little giddy myself after this holiday. Too much Turkey and holiday indulgence.


  3. I finally finished Darryl’s book, FROM BILLY GRAHAM TO SARAH PALIN, and he concludes the book with the following thoughts: “The need for a different understanding of faith and politics is the cry of the hour if James Davison Hunter’s new book is any indication. In TO CHANGE THE WORLD: THE IRONY, TRAGEDY, AND POSSIBILITY OF CHRISTIANITY IN THE LATE MODERN WORLD (2010), the university of Virginia sociologist took evangelicals to task for thinking that they can make the world a better place through politics….Hunter believed such political motivation is completely “mistaken” because cultures do not change through politics, lobbying, or elections; changes in culture actually depend much more on institutions outside the political maelstrom….Culture is far more profound at the level of the imagination than at the level of argument….changes in the climate of culture involve convoluted, contested and contingent dynamics.”

    If one wants to read how someone changed the culture, one should read Steve Jobs new biography. I am about 100 pages into the 500 page book and it is fascinating reading. He was adopted at birth, brought up by a blue collar family whose adopted father was a mechanic and tinkerer in his garage, he got into electronics, dropped out of college and got into eastern mysticism, listened to alot of Dylan and was enthralled and collected his bootleg tapes, dropped lots of acid with his almost hippy like friends, wemt to India for 8 months almost dying and trying to reach higher levels of consciousness and enlightenment, was a strick vegetarian and food nut, was allowed by the faculty at Reed College to take the classes he wanted and avoided lots of required classes which he disdained and then made a computer with his shy engineering buddy which they started Apple computer with. And I was told by someone that he was brought up Lutheran and the Apple logo had something to do with Adam and Eve and his theological beliefs. There is no evidence in the biography that this was in fact the case. Steve Jobs was far away from Christianity and swears that his acid using days were an integral part of his psyche that helped him forge Apple Computer and make him the marketing guru that he was, and enabled him to make excellent products that would be a part of his enduring legacy (which he explains in the conclusion of the book- which I skipped to and read). So, Christianity had nothing to do with his transformation of the culture. At least that is what I have found in the book so far.

    He does talk a lot about intuition and how his trek to India and eastern mysticism made clear to him that intuition is a much more powerful transformative tool than Western logic. He was a big meditator and into Zen Buddhism too. He was a new age man and a bit bizarre for even my taste. But he and his companions did transform the culture, there is no doubt about that. And he used an institution outside politics and the church. So, I would heartily agree with Darryl and James Davison Hunter that changes that occur in the culture involve ‘convaluted, contested and contingent dynamics.


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