(Or, how to blow Dr. Ortlundâ€™s mind.)
The hits keep coming. The line grows of people wanting to take a swipe at the two kingdom doctrine (while the silence on Lillbackâ€™s strange fire of Sacred Fire is deafening).
A while back, Comment magazine published a piece by David Koyzis that critiques the 2k position, and is now available online. (Koyzis also refers to Wedgeworthâ€™s essay on VanDrunenâ€™s new book as â€œtrenchant.â€)
As Koyzis has it, the 2k position is not faithful because of its defective view of creation. He writes:
There are, finally, good reasons why we cannot join the cause of the two-kingdoms Calvinists. Most basically, creation is much more than a provisional, probationary order with no enduring significance, as they appear to believe. It is rather God’s good handiwork (Genesis 1), which has fallen into sin through man’s disobedience, but that God has promised not to abandon but to restore and redeem through Jesus Christ in the new heaven and new earth (Isaiah 65, Revelation 21). An implication of this creation is that God has shaped human beings to shape culture. With every breath we take and with everything we do, we cannot avoid fashioning culture, as Andy Crouch has perceptively recognized in his recent book Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling. Far from being extinguished at the Second Advent, the works of culture will eventually be redeemed and brought into the service of God (Isaiah 60).
Of course, this creation has been marred by the fall into sin of our first parents (Genesis 3), which inevitably affects the exercise even of human reason in the nonecclesiastical spheres. It is naÃ¯ve to assume that we are capable of reasoning in the various social and cultural fields free from the destructive impact of the fall. If the effects of the fall are complete, then in principle the whole of life, including the cultural pursuits for which we were created, are included in redemption as well. As Paul puts it, the whole creation groans in anticipation of what is to come, but it will one day “be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Romans 8:21-22). In the meantime, however, this groaning is accompanied by an awareness that the kingdom is, in some measure, a present reality, even if its final consummation lies ahead. Thus, as agents of this kingdom, we must continually test the spirits in every field of endeavour. How much simpler it would be if vigilance were required only in matters of church and liturgy and we could safely ignore everything else! But God has hard words for those who think that proper cultic observance alone will substitute for a lack of obedience in the rest of life (Isaiah 1:11-17, 10:1-4; Amos 5:21-4).
2k advocates fail, then, to manifest a â€œ whole-hearted devotion to God in Christ.â€ This devotion, according to Koyzis:
can be pursued only in the context of the church, understood as corpus Christi, the body of Christ. The corpus Christi certainly manifests itself in the institutional church, but also in marriages, families, schools, universities, labour unions and businesses, in so far as they are directed towards the glory of God and service of neighbour. In this respect, the body of Christ is not undertaking to bring heaven to earth, but is merely seeking to fulfill the central command to love God and neighbour in all of life’s activities. This is a vision worth giving up one’s life forâ€”as numerous martyrs have done through the agesâ€”but in the meantime, it is definitely worth living for as well. May God prosper the work of our hands and use it for his glory (Psalm 90:17).
Then comes Rabbi Bretâ€™s response to the recent post here about the collision of worldviews at the worldview weary Christian Reformed Church Synod. According to Bret:
It is only Darrylâ€™s strange worldview that is pushing him to say that â€œworldviewismâ€ cost the church its heritage of Reformed confessionalism. . . . By Darrylâ€™s own words it is not worldviewism that is costing the CRC its heritage. By his own admission it is the worldview of progressivism that is costing it, its heritage. This progressivism will not be turned back by a worldview (R2Kt) that canâ€™t authoritatively say that progressivism is un-biblical. This worldview progressivism can only be turned back by a Christian worldview that recognizes the progressivism for what it is and offers Biblical answers. Darryl wants to damn the night but refuse to light a candle.
Look â€¦ in the end you can ride the rails to destruction on the train of progressivism or you can ride the rails to destruction on the train of R2Kt Gnosticism / Dualism. No matter which ride you choose youâ€™re going to have to eventually pay the conductor. There is, after all, a thousand different ways to achieve destruction.
Not to be missed at Bretâ€™s site is the comment from one Mark Chambers â€“ women hide the children; you may want to hide yourselves while you’re at it. In response to Bretâ€™s point that Hart’s problem with the CRC is â€œthe disagreement that occurs between those who will transform culture actively in a liberal direction and those who will transform culture passively in a liberal direction by allowing the anti-Christ theology that informs the culture to go unaddressed,â€ Chambers writes:
Well I’d rather describe it a bit more graphically. Both the agressive and passive methods end in cultural rape. The liberal is an agressive rapist. The passive R2Kers on the other hand, like Hart and his ilk, strip naked, lay on their backs and say “take me”.
Kowabunga, dude! I’m assuming if Bret’s earthly kingdom will not do movie ratings.
Let me see if I can briefly identify the major difference between the 2kers and the anti-2kers, and why the anti-2k theonomic leaning position distorts the gospel of Jesus Christ. The bone of contention is the kingdom of heaven. What Prof. Koyzis and Pastor Bret fail to recognize is a teaching that they themselves profess when the subscribe the Heidelberg Catechism. According to Heidelberg, the keys of the kingdom are preaching and discipline:
83. Q. What are the keys of the kingdom of heaven?
A. The preaching of the holy gospel and church discipline. By these two the kingdom of heaven is opened to believers and closed to unbelievers.
84. Q. How is the kingdom of heaven opened and closed by the preaching of the gospel?
A. According to the command of Christ, the kingdom of heaven is opened when it is proclaimed and publicly testified to each and every believer that God has really forgiven all their sins for the sake of Christ’s merits, as often as they by true faith accept the promise of the gospel. The kingdom of heaven is closed when it is proclaimed and testified to all unbelievers and hypocrites that the wrath of God and eternal condemnation rest on them as long as they do not repent. According to this testimony of the gospel, God will judge both in this life and in the life to come.
85 Q. How is the kingdom of heaven closed and opened by church discipline?
A. According to the command of Christ, people who call themselves Christians but show themselves to be unchristian in doctrine or life are first repeatedly admonished in a brotherly manner. If they do not give up their errors or wickedness, they are reported to the church, that is, to the elders. If they do not heed also their admonitions, they are forbidden the use of the sacraments, and they are excluded by the elders from the Christian congregation, and by God Himself from the kingdom of Christ. They are again received as members of Christ and of the church when they promise and show real amendment.
Since Koyzis likes to talk about implications of biblical teaching, the implication of this doctrine is that the church has the keys of the kingdom, and it is the work of the church, not schools, hospitals, economic associations, labor unions, or political parties, to open and close the kingdom of heaven because the church alone has the keys.
A further implication is what possible redemption do schools, hospitals, economic associations, labor unions, or political parties minister? Yes, I understand that they are fruitful for loving God and neighbor. But the last I checked, loving God and neighbor are the law, not the gospel. (Is it just me, or does the phrase, “cultural obedience” connote law more than gospel?) And it is only the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christâ€™s righteousness, freely given to those who trust on him, that gets anything or anyone into the kingdom of heaven or heaven itself. What exactly am I missing here?
At the same time, to suggest that the work of schools, hospitals, economic associations, labor unions, or political parties is kingdom work is to distort the gospel of Jesus Christ. The reason, as Koyzis well explains it, is that the works of the law (love of God and neighbor) become synonymous with redemption. In other words, to expand the heavenly kingdom by blurring the two kingdoms is to add a works righteousness to Christâ€™s righteousness.
So, to respond to Rabbi Bret, my beef with the CRC and its worldview is not only that it is progressive. I also object to worldviews like Rabbi Bretâ€™s that are politically or culturally conservative because opposing abortion, if done for the wrong reasons, is as much a form of works righteousness as is adopting a mandate on global warming. If Rabbi Bret wants evidence of the way that a right-wing worldviewitis leads to churches fudging the gospel, he only needs to say, â€œFederal Vision.â€ Can he do that? Sure he can.