R2K Chronicles V — The Non-Religious Prince, The Non-Religious State

(Calvin) suggested that the Kingdom of God was already present but that it was not completely realized. ‘For spiritual government, indeed, is already initiating in us upon earth certain beginnings of the Heavenly Kingdom, and in this mortal and fleeting life affords a certain forecast of immortal and incorruptible blessedness.’ Calvin advised, ‘Let no man be disturbed that I now commit to civil government the duty of rightly establishing religion.’

And again, ‘All have confessed that no government can be happily established unless piety is the first concern.’ Calvin also stated that the civil magistrate should care for both tables of the law.

David W. Hall

The Genevan Reformation and the America Founding  — pg. 95

…what sort of religious commitment, if any, should be promoted or required within the social order? The answer, I suggest, is none. A crucial consideration is the fact that God made the Noahic covenant with “you [Noah and his sons] and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you” (9:9-10). The human race generally (along with the animal kingdom) is God’s covenant partner. Not a single distinction is made between believers and unbelievers, but God promises to preserve them in their common social life.”

~ Dr. David Van Drunen, 2012 lecture

“Generally speaking, believers are not to seek an objectively unique Christian way of pursuing cultural activities.”

David Van Drunen
God’s Two Kingdoms, pg. 168

“Scripture is not given as a common moral standard that provides ethical imperatives to all people regardless of their religious standing.”

David Van Drunen
“A Biblical Case for Natural Law” – p. 53

With the quotes above that could be repeated many times over we see that any notion that Radical Two Kingdom theology bears any resemblance at all to historic Calvinism cannot be sustained.

Indeed, David Van Drunen who is the Jesuit trained guru who has completely invented R2K along the lines handed down to him by Meredith Kline has bent over backwards to maintain his insistence for a religious-free public square;

“I asked David Van Drunen a question that I believe goes right to the heart of this issue. I asked him what God would think of a nation whose magistrate and people had become overwhelmingly (and sincerely) Christian, and who decided to confess Christ in the common realm, in the formerly secular realm. I asked if God would be displeased with that, and Van Drunen said yes, he thought God would be displeased with that. “

Doug Wilson 

So, clearly, what we are seeing here is that in the non-Reformed faith that is R2K what is being advocated as the very definition of the Reformed faith is that the Magistrate as well as the state is to be a-religious, non-religious, and even, we might say, anti-religious. Per R2K, only in such a manner can the Prince and the State provide the governmental boundaries for a social order that like the governing bodies are completely a-religious. In this manner and in this manner alone can the Magistrate and State be completely even-handed in dealing with the citizenry as seen in the same conversation with Doug Wilson cited above. When queried about why Van Drunen desired this kind of non-religious prince/state,

“(Van Drunen) said that it was because he wanted minorities (in this case, non-believers) to not be mistreated.”

The Bozo Over at Mablog

So, per David Van Drunen, it is only by the machinations of a non-religious state that non-Christians can find true justice in the public square. Per DVD if Christian Princes were ruling non-Christians wouldn’t get what non-Christians consider to be justice.

And, I suppose in a sense that is true. Non-Christians, as we are seeing in our own social order as run by Magistrates who believe they are R2K a-religious would not, in a social order run by Christian princes be allowed to, have men arbitrarily deciding they are women, would not allow for sodomite marriages, would not allow adultery to be a non-punishable crime, would not allow God’s name to be taken in vain in the public square.

All of the above is the result, in part, of R2K’s success (and the Anabaptist before them) in convincing us Reformed types that a-religious Magistrates creating a a-religious social order is something we Christians want.

Please understand dear reader, that what I have provided is not some extrapolation derivative of R2K thinking. This a-religious social order as governed by a-religious Magistrates is explicitly what they have stated as being desirous,

“Since membership in the civil kingdom is not limited to believers, the imperatives of Scripture do not bind members of that kingdom. These imperatives are not “directly applicable to non-Christians” (40).”

David Van Drunen
“A Biblical Case for Natural Law,” p.40.

“Scripture is not given as a common moral standard that provides ethical imperatives to all people regardless of their religious standing.”

David Van Drunen
“A Biblical Case for Natural Law,” p. 53

Of course, as we have labored over and over to point out over the years, for someone to insist that a Magistrate or a Government should be a-religious, non-religious, or even anti-religious is itself taking a religious stance. To opt for a non-religious Magistrate and Government is eliminate all religious competition from the public square leaving only the religion (the ultimate convictions/concerns) of the Magistrate to be the guiding religious impulse for the Magistrate and Government.

What David Van Drunen and R2K has not come to grips with is that religion is an inescapable category. There is no way to hit a delete button when it comes to religion. Every Magistrate has a religion and every government rules in keeping with its religion.

Now, at this point R2K wants to retreat to its Natural Law haven but as we have pointed out earlier in the book Natural Law is merely a mask to hide the religion for which it is standing in. Any morality that Natural Law finds and legislates into existence is going to be the morality that is a reflection of some religion and some God-concept.

Understand that when R2K makes this move to insist upon a religion-less Magistrate and a religion-less government that they are revealing themselves to be keeping some very interesting company.  Herman Bavinck insisted that it was only Liberals (read Libertarians) who desired to denude the Christian faith from walking in the public square,

“Therefore Christ has also a message for home and society, for art and science. Liberalism chose to limit its power and message to the heart and the inner chamber, declaring that its kingdom was not of this world.” 

Herman Bavinck
Dutch Neocalvinism and the Roots For Transformation

So, if Bavinck is correct what R2K offers us is not a Christian theology but it offers us instead a return to Enlightenment, Anabaptist and Pietistic politics where the religion that is Christianity is relegated to some private space where only Jesus and the individual occupies.

So, given this definition of Liberalism by Bavinck we are in the right when we insist that R2K is Liberalism as R2K limits the power and message of Christ to the heart and the inner chamber while insisting that God’s Kingdom is not of this world. It’s interesting that in the heart of White Hat Reformed Christianity we are fighting Liberalism again. Only this time it is of the R2K Escondido Liberalism variety.

But maybe R2K isn’t classical liberalism? Maybe instead R2K is a political form of neo-orthodoxy (Barthianism);

“Christian Parties? Christian Newspapers? Christian Philosophy? Christian Universities? The question must be very seriously asked whether such undertakings are in this sense necessary and legitimate.”

Karl Barth
Credo – pg. 144

R2K loves accusing Christians who dismiss Natural Law as being a legitimate tool for organizing social orders as “Barthian,” since Barth was not a big fan of Natural Law. However, here we must turn the tables and ask, “Who now is the Barthian?”

R2K, with its a-religious Magistrate and non-religious governments certainly would not disagree with the quote by Barth above. R2K insists loudly that it is not possible to have Christian Parties, Christian Newspapers, Christian Philosophy or Christian Universities and that Christians should be forever done with using Christian in an adjectival sense for any institution or discipline that isn’t the Church.

But it is not only Liberals and Barthians that R2K shares a pedigree with. The Puritan Richard Vines insisted the very doctrine that R2K advances that the Magistrate and Government should be a-religious has historical ties to the wicked heresy called Socinianism;

“For the blasphemous and seditious Heretics, both Lutherans and others of the Reformed Churches do agree that they may be punished capitally, that is for their blasphemy of sedition; but the Socinian stands out here also, and denies it; alleging that the punishment of false Prophets in the Old Testament was speciali jure but by special law granted to the Israelites, and therefore you must not look (saith the Socinian) into the Old Testament for a rule proceeding against false Prophets and blasphemers: Nor (saith Calvin and Catharinus) can you find in the New Testament any precept for punishment of Thieves, Traitors, Adulterers, Witches, Murderers and the like, and yet they may, or at least some of them be capitally punished: for the Gospel destroys not the just laws of civil policy or Commonwealths.”

Richard Vines — English Puritan
The Authors, Nature, and Danger of Heresy
Laid open in a sermon preached before the honorable house of Commons…March – 1646 – pp. 64

Liberalism, Barthianism, and Socinianism has not been the history of thinking in the Reformed Church. Especially when it comes to magistrates and governments. The historic Calvinists always believed that the Magistrate was responsible to wield and enforce God’s Law;

“For it cannot be shown that any part of that power which magistrates had under the Old Testament is repealed under the new, neither can any convincing reason be brought, why should it be of narrower extent now or then. Are not blasphemies, heresies and errors dishonorable to God, and destructive unto souls as well now as of old?”

George Hutcheson — 17th Century Reformed Theologian
The Gospel of John — pp. 158

” 1.) If there be no bodily punishment to be inflicted on false teachers and blasphemers, then must Christ by his blood repeal all those laws in the Old Testament; but the Scripture shows us all our parts of Christian liberty in these places of Scripture, Ti.2:14; Rom. 14:4; I Thess. 1:10; Gal. 3:13; Gal. 1:4; Col. 1:13; I Joh. 4:18; Acts 15:10-11; Heb. 4:14, 16; Heb. 10:19,21,22; Col. 2:15-16; 2 Cor. 3:13, 17, 19; Jam. 4:12; Rom. 14:4; Act. 4:9; Act.5:29; 1 Cor. 7:23; Matt. 23:8,9,10; Matt. 15:9; and elsewhere; in all which places nothing is hinted of the false teachers patent under the seal of the blood of the eternal Covenant, that he is freed from the Magistrates sword, though he destroy millions of souls.”

Samuel Rutherford
A Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty of Conscience etc. — pp. 233-234

“Though we have clear and full scriptures in the New Testament of the abolishing the ceremonial law, yet we no where read in all the New Testament of the abolishing of the judicial law, so far as it did concern the punishing of sins against the moral law, of which heresy and seducing of souls is one, and a great one. Once God did reveal his will for punishing those sins by such and such punishments. He who will hold that the Christian Magistrate is not bound to inflict such punishments for such sins, is bound to prove that those former laws of God are abolished, and show some Scripture for it.”

George Gillespie — Westminster Divine
Wholesome Severity Reconciled With Christian Liberty

One wonders how many Calvinists I have to quote before someone besides me pipes up and says, “R2K cannot be an expression of Calvinism.” Believe me, I could go on for pages and pages citing quotations from the Calvinists through the centuries to demonstrate that Calvinism has consistently advocated that Magistrates and Governments are responsible to be Christian Magistrates running Christian Governments.

And why is this? Why do Calvinists desire that God’s law be upheld by Magistrates and Governments? Why do historic Calvinists desire that their Magistrates and their Governments be uniquely Christian? The answer to that is found in the Calvinist desire to walk in obedience to God and to be a blessing to the nations. The Calvinist understands that nearness to God when it comes to their intimacy with God is impossible to see. However, the Calvinist understood that what the nations could see is a nearness to God as communicated by a social-order, family-order, and church-order that was built on God’s beautiful and enlivening law order. The Calvinist has always embraced the idea that there is linkage between their invisible religious claims that God is their God for the sake of Jesus Christ and the instantiation of those claims made visible in the building of beautiful and enlivening social order. Unlike Radical Two Kingdom Theology, Calvinist theology understood that the non-Christian would only take the claim of the beauty of God in the life of the individual seriously as that claim manifested itself in a law-keeping social order that was the envy of the nations.

It was because of this that the Calvinists expected their Magistrates to be Christians piloting governments that were Christian. R2K tears all that down and embraces the silly notion that to have true Christian Magistrates means to have Magistrates who are not Christian.

If that makes sense to you, go worship at a R2K Church.



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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