Tuininga on Barnes … McAtee on Tuininga

Well, our favorite Ph.D. R2K wannabe is on the prowl again and this time he is putting Elders and Ministers in the dock over their failure to really understand R2K and their failure to represent it fairly.

Here is Matt Tuininga’s assault on Rev. Barnes,

Under Attack in the United Reformed Churches: Two Kingdoms Theology and its Critics
Posted by Matthew Tuininga

In the February 27 issue of Christian Renewal Doug Barnes, a pastor in the denomination of which I am a member, writes a column addressing readers’ concerns about two kingdoms theology. Barnes declares that the two kingdoms doctrine “currently making waves” is sometimes called the “Radical Two Kingdoms” doctrine because it is so “sweeping” and “vast” in its implications. Clearly this is pretty serious stuff.

Barnes goes on to describe the two kingdoms view as one that divides the world into two spheres, the redemptive kingdom containing the church, and the common kingdom containing “the state and all other social institutions” (there is no eschatological nuance recognized here). In this kingdom, he says, “God reveals his will not by Scripture, but by ‘natural law’” (emphasis added). To drive the “vast” implications home to his readers, he then affirms that two kingdoms theologians believe Scripture is intended for the church but not for “the life of the common kingdom.”

The church has neither the right nor the calling to preach about politics or other matters distinct to life in the common kingdom, according to Two Kingdoms proponents.

Yikes. If what Barnes is saying is true these two kingdoms people are arguing that God does not reveal his will about anything in the common kingdom in Scripture, and that pastors should therefore never say anything about marriage, the raising of children, relations between masters and slaves, or civil government, the sorts of matters discussed regularly in the New Testament. If what Barnes is saying is true, in other words, the theologians he has in view must be denying the authority of Scripture at best; they are outright heretical at worst. How many of Barnes’s readers come to just this conclusion?

Of course by writing, “If what Barnes is saying is true,” Tuininga is suggesting that what Barnes says isn’t true. According to Tuininga Rev. Barnes is either confused or he is lying.

Now why would Rev. Barnes write what he did? Could it be due to statements like this that come from Dr. Rev. David Van Drunen?

”For the historic Reformed two kingdoms doctrine (and mine as well), Scripture certainly has significant things to say about the common kingdom and its moral obligations before God, and of course what it says is true. So in that very important sense Scripture is authoritative for the common kingdom (as Scripture is authoritative for every subject it addresses). This is reflected in my recent book, Living in God’s Two Kingdoms, which explores Scripture extensively to identify many features of the common kingdom and their implications for how we should conduct ourselves within it. There is also no question for me (or for the historic two kingdoms doctrine) that as Christians appeal to the natural law in the common kingdom, either to appeal to unbelievers or to try to understand their own responsibilities in various areas of life, they should look to Scripture to correct and clarify their views on natural law.”

Now, get what is going on here. Van Drunen opens by saying that, “Scripture certainly has significant things to say about the common kingdom and its moral obligations before God,” but then he makes it clear at the end of this quote that the appeal in the common Kingdom is via Natural law. Christians might look to Scripture to correct and clarify their views on Natural Law but their appeal to “unbelievers” in the common realm is to Natural Law alone. Because this is true we can see that Rev. Barnes’ description of R2K was accurate in his Christian Renewal article.

And to underscore Rev. Barnes accuracy, Dr. Rev. Van Drunen comes to our aid again,

“But there are also certain senses in which Scripture cannot be taken in a simplistic manner as the moral standard of the common kingdom. For one thing, Scripture has always been delivered to God’s special covenant people, the Old Testament to Israel and the New Testament to the church. When Scripture gives its moral commands, it speaks to God’s covenant people and does not give them bare commands, but instructs them how to live as his redeemed covenant people. Even the 10 commandments begin with the introduction, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt….” Thus I think we need to be careful that we don’t simply take the commands meant as a response to God’s redemptive love and try to enforce them as such upon the world at large. This doesn’t mean that most of the commands of Scripture aren’t relevant for unbelievers too. But they’re relevant for different reasons. Unbelievers in the public square shouldn’t kill, commit adultery, or steal, but it’s because these things are prohibited in the natural law which binds all people as human beings, not because they’re in the 10 commandments which come to God’s special people he redeemed out of Egypt. Hence one of my concerns is that we be careful to make arguments and appeals in the common kingdom that are appropriate to the mixed crowds that populate the common kingdom, and not drop biblical proof-texts out of context.”

Note that Van Drunen here is explicitly speaking of R2K in the exact manner in which Rev. Barnes described R2K in his Christian Renewal article. Scripture is for God’s people and cannot be taken as the moral standard of the common Kingdom. We must not simply take the commands of God’s Word and try to enforce them upon the world at large. Unbelievers in the common realm are not ruled by God’s Word but by Natural Law.

Elsewhere we find support for Rev. Barnes Christian Renewal article from R2K’ers Dr. R. Scott Clark and Dr. D. G. Hart,

”They (i.e. – Christians) ought, however, not to enlist the visible church as an entity to accomplish anything other than that required by the Lord.”

What Machen’s example teaches is that Christians have no right to expect the church as a corporate body to seek the city’s welfare other than through the spiritual means of proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ.”

In both of these quotes what is being emphasized is exactly what Rev. Barnes noted in his Christian Renewal article and that is, quoting Tuininga from above, that “the church has neither the right nor the calling to preach about politics or other matters distinct to life in the common kingdom, according to Two Kingdoms proponents.”

So, from all this we see that what Rev. Barnes wrote in his Christian Renewal article was indeed true contrary to Mr. Tuininga’s suggestion. We would have to say that there is reason to believe, consistent with Mr. Tuininga’s words of sarcasm that some of the more egregious expressions of R2K are denying the authority of Scripture at best; and are outright heretical at worst.

Mr. Tuininga continues,

Labeling the doctrine “radical” doesn’t exactly set the stage for objective consideration.

Bret responds,

Telling the truth about the radical nature of R2K is the very essence of objective consideration.

Tuininga continues,

Who does Barnes identify as the leaders of this wave, this movement that is so sweeping in its implications? He mentions three names, Michael Horton, R. Scott Clark, and David VanDrunen. VanDrunen is the chief theorist, of course, but Barnes points his readers to the book Kingdoms Apart, which he assures them, has ably addressed VanDrunen’s troubling views (for evidence that this is not remotely the case, see my review of Kingdoms Apart here and here, and VanDrunen’s review here). The most redeeming thing about Barnes’s column is that he points his readers to VanDrunen’s book Living in God’s Two Kingdoms (although he immediately reminds his readers that they should quickly follow up this book by reading Cornel Venema’s critique of it).

Bret responds,

Well, we have quoted the venerable Dr. Rev. Van Drunen here so now we can see that what Rev. Barnes wrote in his Christian Renewal article was spot on. Tuininga then appeals to Van Drunen’s book but so many people have made hash of Van Drunen’s book that Tuininga’s appeal amounts to the “appeal to authority” fallacy.

Tuiniga then goes on to place Elder Mark Van der Molen in his R2K dock with accusations of “explicitly misrepresent(ing) the URC’s Confession of Faith,” and I would unravel the fallacy in that portion of his text except that Dr. Nelson Kloosterman has already done to Tuininga on his blog concerning his mishandling of Van der Molen what I have done here to Tuininga concerning Rev. Barnes.

To see Tuininga given a full Nelson by Dr. Kloosterman see,

To see the Bayly’s undressing of Tuininga see,

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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