Since the blossoming of Radical Two Kingdom theology many have seen theological and ideological strains in R2K that has found them concluding that R2K owes its origins to other sources besides Reformed thought. Some of those accusations over the course of time is that R2K is cross-pollinated with Lutheranism giving a kind of hybrid result. Others have accused R2K, with reason, of being a kind of “Reformed Dispensationalism.” A third accusation is that R2K has a good deal of Anabaptist feel about it. Others have noted that R2K reflects a classical Liberal impulse. Finally, there are also some interesting quotes that show a similarity in thought between the Marxists and R2K.
This chapter is devoted to teasing out some of these strange theological/ideological currents as existing in R2K. The purpose here is not to say that R2K is Lutheran, or Dispensational or Anabaptist or Libertarian, or Marxist but rather that there are elements in R2K that suggest that whatever R2K is, it is not Reformed.
When it comes to the accusation that R2K has been cross-bred with elements of Lutheranism we start with a couple quotes distinguishing Reformed thought from Lutheran thought and then examine how R2K does bear more reflection to Lutheranism then it does to Reformational thinking.
Dr. Robert Letham offers insight into a distinction between Lutheran and Reformed thought. We offer this here in order to contend that R2K “theology” aligns more with the Lutheran thought world than the Reformed world that Letham notes.
“Perhaps most striking is the difference in emphasis on justification between Luther and Lutheranism on the hand and Reformed theology on the other. For the former, justification is central to the whole of theology. It is the doctrine by which the church stands or falls. It functions as a kind of critical methodological tool by which any aspect of theology, or theology as a whole is to be judged….However, there is hardly an instance in Reformed theology placing justification in the center. Not that Reformed theology opposed justification by faith alone, or salvation by pure grace. On the contrary, they saw salvation in its entirety as a display of the sovereign and free mercy of God. The explanation lay in the fact that, for Reformed theology, everything took place to advance the glory of God. Thus the chief purpose of theology and of the whole of life was not the rescue of humanity but the glory of God. The focus was theocentric rather than soteriological. Even in the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), where soteriological concerns are more prominent (one of its authors, Zacharias Ursinus [1533-1587] was formerly a Lutheran) the famous first question ‘What is your only comfort in life and death?’ is answered w/ reference to the action of the Trinity, beginning, ‘I am not my own but belong… to my faithful savior Jesus Christ.
Following from this was an attempt by Reformed theology to grasp the unity of creation and redemption. The whole of life was seen in the embrace of God’s revelatory purpose. With the covenant at its heart, the whole of life was to display God’s glory. Naturally, that included at its heart the restoration of sinners to fellowship w/ God. It also entailed, however the reconstitution of both civil and ecclesiastical affairs. Lutheranism, in contrast, showed less developed interest in the application of the gospel to political life and focused more narrowly on soteriology. Possibly this stemmed from Luther enjoying the patronage of his Elector, which freed him from having to safeguard the Reformation in a political sense in quite the same way as his Reformed counterparts. The net result was that while for Lutheranism justification by faith was the heart of theology, for the Reformed theologians it was subordinate to an overarching sense of the centrality of God and his covenant. Yet, for both, the underlying concern for the gratuitous nature of salvation, its objective reality extra nos, was the same.”
The Work of Christ — pg. 189-190
Another way to put the differences between Lutheranism and Reformed worldviews is that for Lutheranism salvation is for man and terminates on man, individually considered while for Reformed thought salvation is for God and serves the terminating end of a renewed cosmos dripping and saturated with God’s glory. For Lutheranism the teleology is man atoned for, whereas for Reformed thought the teleology includes but doesn’t end with man atoned for. For Reformed thought the teleology is the atonement as well as all the totality of corresponding and inevitable consequences that the atonement brings upon men who have been atoned for. Atonement for individual men is not the end product of Christ’s work. Atonement is the beginning and creating point of enlisting men into the cause of cosmic renewal for the glory of God. Men are not atoned for and saved for the sake of being atoned for and saved. Men are atoned for and saved to be put on a mission to take captive every thought and take dominion over every crevice of the cosmos to make all thoughts and all crevices obedient to King Christ. In Reformed thought, classical Lutheran thought is provincial and anthropocentric and is far to horizontally circumscribed and vertically nugatory.
Straight thinking Reformed folk don’t doubt that real live honest to goodness Lutherans or R2K as Reformed Lutherans are part of God’s elect Church. We just think that their theology leaves them developmentally disabled — much like a child who has a rare disease that does not allow them to ever grow up.
Letham, says that the focus of Lutherans is soteriological while the focus of Reformed is theocentric. I think Letham is being diplomatic and kind there. In point of fact both theologies are focused on soteriology. The difference is that that Lutheranism and Radical Two Kingdom theology focuses on a soteriology that has a anthropological terminal point whereas Reformed thought focuses on a soteriology that has a theological terminal point.
Clearly, in light of what Letham writes, the Reformed church is being invaded by Lutheran theology body snatchers. Clearly, there has been some cross breeding and pollination that is giving some flavors of the Reformed church a hybrid feel about it.
Let the Reformed church be the Reformed church!
Decades prior to Letham’s insight, the Reformed giant Dr. B. B. Warfield noted the same distinction between Lutheran and Reformed thought writing;
Lutheranism, the product of a poignant sense of sin, born from the throes of a guilt-burdened soul which can not be stilled until it finds peace in God’s decree of justification, is apt to rest in this peace; while Calvinism, the product of an overwhelming vision of God, born from the reflection in the heart of man of the majesty of a God who will not give His glory to another, can not pause until it places the scheme of salvation itself in relation to a complete world-view, in which it becomes subsidiary to the glory of the Lord God Almighty. Calvinism asks with Lutheranism, indeed, that most poignant of all questions, What shall I do to be saved? and answers it as Lutheranism answers it. But the great question which presses upon it is, How shall God be glorified?
B. B. Warfield
Oiginally appeared in The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, edited by Samuel Macauley Jackson, D.D., LL.D., ii. pp. 359-364
With these two quotes from Reformed theologians the failure of R2K as a distinctly Reformed theology comes blaring through. Whatever R2K is, it most certainly is not historically Reformed. R2K, like classical Lutheranism terminates upon man’s salvation and only answers the question of “How shall God be glorified,” by insisting that God can not be glorified in common realm areas since the common realm does not exist for God’s glorification but only for the glory of Natural law. Further, R2K by wrongly interpreting Jesus claim that “My Kingdom is not of this world.” they cut off the inherent connection between that which has been the trademark of Calvinism; an understanding of personal salvation and the bringing all things underneath the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The R2K fan boys, learning from their mentor Dr. Meredith Kline treat the Mosaic covenant and God’s ten words as existing only to convict of sin, following the idea of the law being a mirror to show men their sin so men might be flee to Christ for refuge from sin’s penalty. Nobody Reformed denies this usage of the law however classical Reformed theology goes on to speak of how the law also serves as a guide to life for the converted. R2K following Lutheran thought has a very low view of the third use of the law and so they are confused by the Reformed mindset laid out by Letham an Warfield above. R2K, like the Lutheranism that is has been cross-bred with changes the third use of the law to be another way to exalt the work of Christ outside of us to the negligence of the good works wrought by the Holy Spirit in us as we are in Christ. Whatever this is, it is not, historically speaking, very Protestant nor is it Reformed in the least.
When we come to the issue of the accusations against R2K that it is just another form of Anabaptist theology in evening clothes we pause to compare comments of one of the chief R2K theologians, Dr. Mike Horton with comments from one of the greatest American Anabaptist’s Roger Williams.
Throughout the Middle Ages, the national covenant that Israel made with God at Sinai was regularly invoked as an allegory for Christendom. Crusades against “the infidel” (often Muslims) were declared by popes with the promise of immediate entrance into paradise for martyrs. Kings fancied themselves as king David, leading the armies of the Lord in cleansing the Holy Land. The very idea of a Christian empire or a Christian nation was a serious confusion of these two cities. It was against this confusion of Christ’s kingdom with Israel’s theocracy that Luther and Calvin launched their retrieval of Augustine’s “two kingdoms.”
A Tale of Two Kingdoms
Consider now the words of Roger Williams’ (he of Anabaptist fame) to the reformed Westminster Assembly:
Since the Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ…We Querie, where you now find one footstep, print or pattern in this doctrine of the Son of God for a national holy covenant… If you repaire to Moses… we ask, are you Moses or Christ’s followers? Or do you yet expect the coming of the Son of God to set up the Christian Israel, the holy nation, the particular congregation of Christian worshippers, in all parts of the world? (1 Pet 2. Heb 12, etc) (Querie VII)
“‘Queries of Highest Consideration,’ presented to the Dissenting Brethren, and the Westminster Assembly“
1.) I have been insisting for quite some time that R2K is a return to Anabaptist thought. This symbiosis between Horton and Williams aids in demonstrating my contention.
2.) Horton is just wrong — seriously wrong — in his reading of Augustine’s Two Cities (kingdoms). It is amazing that a “scholar” like Horton could make this kind of mistake. He is also in error to say that Calvin and Luther were reviving his (Horton’s) misreading of Augustine’s Two Kingdoms. Another humongous error on his part.
Augustine’s two Kingdom certainly were not equal to Horton’s notions of the realm of grace and the realm of the world. Augustine’s two Kingdoms included the idea of a realm consisting of those who are animated by the spirit of Anti-Christ as that realm was juxtaposed with those, living cheek by jowl with Christ’s enemies, who instead were animated by the Spirit of Christ. Those were Augustine’s two cities, not some R2K novelty that one kingdom was a church realm and the other kingdom was the non-church realm where everyone (christian and non-Christian) lived in Natural law harmony.
As we consider how R2K has been cross-pollinated with Anabaptist theology we pause to consider Willem Balke’s on Calvin and The Anabaptist Radicals;
“Calvin opposed the Roman concept of “perfectio” as well as that of the Anabaptists. He contended for an ethos that bound both the Christian and the world by the same set of requirements, so that the way of the Reformation did not result in a church segregated from the world. Although Calvin also recognized a two-kingdom doctrine, his exegesis of the Sermon on the Mount revealed that he did not let this antithesis lead him to a basic dualism.”
Calvin & The Anabaptist Radicals
Unlike Calvin, R2K contends for a different ethos for the Christian and the world. The Christian is to be ruled by the ethos of Scripture in the Church realm and Natural law in the common realm, while the ethos for the world in the common realm is Natural law. Unlike Calvin the R2K “Divines” give a different ethos to the world and to the Christian. Now, there might be overlap between those two different ethoi but they are different ethoi. It is also true the R2K segregates the Church from the world though it does not segregate the Christian from the world like the Anabaptists did and do. R2K, like the Anabaptists of old do not allow the Church as the Church to be concerned with what happens in the non Church realm. (For R2K that realm is called “common,” while for the Anabaptists that realm was evil. Still, regardless of what each call that realm, the Church as the Church is segregated from it considering it “the world.”)
R2K “theology” is a tweaking of a historic theology but it is a tweaking of Anabaptist theology and not a tweaking of Historic Calvinist theology. R2K’s tweaking, as that tweaking is happening in the Reformed community, is a tweaking that pulls contemporary Calvinism more towards Anabaptist categories. Consider the R2K tweak of Anabaptist theology in its nomenclature. Historically Anabaptist theology called the non-Church realm evil. R2K doesn’t do that. Instead, R2K tweaks Anabaptist nomenclature and calls the evil realm “common,” but all the while insists that it is impossible for the R2K “common” realm to be Christian, insisting on calling it “common.” Now, one might observe that if it is impossible for the “common” realm to be “Christian” (per R2k) then all that is left is for the common realm to be not Christian. If the common realm is not Christian then how is it also (using Anabaptist nomenclature) not a evil realm? The R2K acolytes reply that the common realm is neither Christian nor evil but in doing so they have given up their Reformed credentials by creating a realm where the antithesis does not apply and they have completely given up on Van Til’s denial of neutrality. The R2K lads can say till they’re blue in the face that common does not equal neutral but saying that it is not so, does not make it not so.
We turn now to find echos Marxism in Radical Two Kingdom theology.
R2K insists that there can be no such thing as a Christian state. We hear that in this quote from the main driving force of R2K theology, Dr. David Van Drunen,
“We should acknowledge that our governments are to be common and serve all people, to serve the cause of justice for all, to protect all people from harm.”
When DVD insists that we should acknowledge that our governments are to be common he is saying that they are not to be distinctly Christian. Instead they are to serve the God of pluralism who rules by Natural law over Muslims, Jews, Christians, Humanists, and Satanist. DVD’s State as ruled by the God of pluralism, informed by Natural Law, thus distributes justice to all. However, this model fails if only because with each competing religion in the pluralistic realm of the pluralistic God-State Natural Law yields up a different conclusion on the matter of what is and what is not “justice.”
In this Van Drunen model, R2K believes that Christians who labor to “christianize the State” are involved in folly since a Christian state, per the thinking of R2K is not possible. It is a confusion of categories to strive to have a Christian state.
This idea of a State that is completely cordoned off from the influence of Christianity as public religion is not unique to the thinking of the R2K fanboy club. There have been those who have been historically prior to R2K who believed that the State should be a religion-less entity.
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin) was one chap who likewise championed the same kind of thinking as R2K. Ulyanov offered,
“Complete separation of Church and State is what the socialist proletariat demands of the modern state and the modern church. … religion must be declared a private affair.”
“Complete Separation of Church and State and of School and Church”
The idea that religion (Christianity) must be a private affair is the cornerstone of R2K. This is seen in their constant insistence that there is no such thing as Christian culture, Christian family, Christian education, Christians arts, or a Christian state.
Again, see the consistency with Ulyanov (Lenin)
“We demand that religion be held a private affair so far as the state is concerned…. We demand complete disestablishment of the Church so as to be able to combat the religious fog.”
“Complete Separation of Church and State and of School and Church”
Lenin wasn’t finished. In a quote that could’ve been echoed by David Van Drunen, R. Scott Clark, or Mike Horton speaking of the R2K Professoriat instead of Lenin’s Revolutionary proletariat he offered,
“The revolutionary proletariat will succeed in making religion a really private affair, so far is the state is concerned.”
“Complete Separation of Church and State and of School and Church”
We turn now to the accusations against R2K that it shares from the classical liberalism born of the Enlightenment mindest.
The argument from the R2K mutual admiration society is that Dr. David VanDrunen has at one and the same time reached back to Reformed history to repristinate two kingdom theology while at the same time being a theological innovator who has corrected the “inconsistency” of centuries of Reformed political theology with the wonderfully coincidental result that we have been bequeathed a theology falling from Van Drunen’s pen that just happens to be a mirror reflection of the Post-World War II zeitgeist of classical Liberalism’s cosmopolitanism with its anti-nationalism and multiculturalism, as combined with atomistic religious liberty and social order “secularism.” How much different is Van Drunnenian R2K theology from the anti-liberal mindset of Herman Bavinck?
“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. But if the kingdom is not of, it is certainly in this world, and is intended for it. The word of God, which comes to us in Christ, is a word of liberation and restoration for the whole man, for his understanding of his will, for his body and his soul.”
Cited in Dutch Neocalvinism and the Roots For Transformation
Given this definition of Liberalism by Bavinck we are in the right when we insist that R2K is classical 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.
Finally, for this chapter we turn to the accusation against R2K that is should be called “Reformed Dispensationalism” since it shares common ground with Dispensationalism. We start with a quote from Radical Two Kingdom “theologian” Dr. R. Scott Clark;
“Read on its own terms, the teaching of the New Testament about the Kingdom of God is remarkably silent about the pressing social concerns of the day.”
R. Scott Clark
Escondido R2K Theologian
Here the dispensational tendency of R2K is seen. Scott wants to consider the Kingdom of God as only in its New Testament reality. But all Reformed scholars realize that the Kingdom of God in the New Testament was a concept that had long been anticipated from the Old Testament. The Kingdom of God in the New Testament is fulfillment of the Old Testament anticipations. As such we have to go to the Old Testament to view what was expected of this Kingdom of God and there in the OT we find a promised coming Kingdom that is replete with social order concerns. So concerned with the social order is the Kingdom of God that we are even told that the lion will lay down with the lamb.
In Isaiah 65 we read of this present and future Kingdom,
17 “ For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create;
For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing,
And her people a joy.
19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
And joy in My people;
The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her,
Nor the voice of crying.
20 “ No more shall an infant from there live but a few days,
Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days;
For the child shall die one hundred years old,
But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.
21 They shall build houses and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 They shall not build and another inhabit;
They shall not plant and another eat;
For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people,
And My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labor in vain,
Nor bring forth children for trouble;
For they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the LORD,
And their offspring with them.
24 “ It shall come to pass
That before they call, I will answer;
And while they are still speaking, I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
The lion shall eat straw like the ox,
And dust shall be the serpent’s food.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,”
Says the LORD.
This passage has been surrounded by a great deal of debate as to when we can anticipate such blessedness. Pre-millennialist insists that this description comes to pass in the Kingdom of God that Christ establishes once He returns. A-millennialists insist that this description comes to pass in the eschaton. Post-millenialist insist that all that Isaiah speaks of has been inaugurated by and in Christ, and so will come progressively in Christ as His Kingdom, (His new creation of heaven and earth) like the Mustard seed, increasingly reflects what it has already established in an inaugurative fashion, with the consummation being the fulfillment of what has been inaugurated and all that is becoming true progressively regarding this present and future Kingdom of God. Clearly the Old Testament teaches that the Kingdom of God has social order impact.
In the ministry of the Lord Christ, He impacts the social order by refuting and correcting the cultural gatekeepers at every turn. Indeed, in his healing ministry the Lord Christ is demonstrating that the Kingdom of God has impact in the lives of people that they, now being clean, may return to participation in the social order. Clearly the life and ministry of Christ in the New Testament has social order impact.
When St. Paul brings the Gospel of the Kingdom (Resurrection and the Kingdom of God are the two main preaching themes in Acts) to Ephesus (Acts 19) the consequence is that the social order of Ephesus experiences a major shake up in its economic, and political social order. The Kingdom was pressing in on the wicked social order of Ephesus and it made for the threat of change in Ephesus. Earlier in Acts 17 St. Paul again brings the Gospel of the Kingdom message to Athens and again threatens to overturn the social order of Athens. Clearly the Apostolic ministry in Acts demonstrated the Kingdom of God has social order impact.
That the New Testament doesn’t articulate again what the Old Testament taught about the impact of the Kingdom on social concerns is no reason to toss the Old Testament teaching on the Kingdom of God. Scott should know better.
When we move on from this evidence of Dispensationalism in R2K “thought” we next consider the common ground between Radical Two Kingdom theology as found in their harmonious view of how the law is only for God’s people and not to be applied to those who are not Christians. Among the Dispensationalists we can find this mindset;
Here we must enumerate again several forgotten facts which need to be held in mind in the study of Hebrews:
1. The Law (meaning the Ten Commandments, with all the ordinances…) was never given to the human race.
2. The law was given to Israel at Sinai, and to no other nation…
William Newell´s Hebrew´s commentary; Hebrews, Verse by Verse — p. 232
Commenting on Hebrews 7:18
We find the same mindset in Radical Two Kingdom theology when it teaches that;
“Biblical morality is characterized by an indicative-imperative structure. That is, all of its imperatives (moral commands) are proceeded (sic) by and grounded in indicatives (statements of fact), either explicitly or implicitly. The most important indicative that grounds the imperatives in Scripture is that the recipients of Scripture are the covenant people, that is, members of the community of the covenant of grace. (39)
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
The Biblical Case For Natural Law
We see then that both Newell (Dispensationalist) and Van Drunen (Reformed Dispensationalist) both agree that God’s law (DVD’s “imperatives) is not directly applicable to non Christians. Other R2K “theologians” have expressly said that the Magistrate should only be concerned with the 2nd table of God’s law.
The problem here for both Dispies as well as R2K Dispies is first we have numerous examples from all of Scripture that God’s law was applied to all all men – believers and unbelievers.
For example, the Canaanites were wiped out because of their disobedience to God’s law. Jonah indicted the citizens of Nineveh for flouting God’s law. In the book by his name Amos indicts the surrounding nations for ignoring God’s law. In the New Testament John the Baptist calls the Edomite Herod to repentance for having his brother’s wife. Repeatedly in the Scripture we see that the dispensationalizing of God’s law is foresworn.
Second, unbelievers don’t get a pass from obeying God’s law simply because they are unbelievers. Just as God commands all men everywhere to repent so God’s law is a standard that all men are obliged to keep. Indeed Paul ask Timothy to;
“understand this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 0for the sexually immoral, for homosexuals, for slave traders and liars and perjurers, and for anyone else who is averse to sound teaching… “
The whole of Scripture, per Scripture, is God’s unremitting standard for all men regardless of their redemptive status. Scripture nowhere teaches that God allows the Christ-hater and pagan to not be responsible to God’s law as a standard for civil order righteousness.
Keep in mind dear reader the point of this chapter has not been to prove that R2K is really classical liberalism, or Anabaptist, or Lutheran, or Dispensational, or Marxist. I do not believe that R2K falls exclusively into any of these categories just as I have demonstrated that R2K does not fall into the category of being particularly Reformed. The purpose of the chapter has been to show the strange company R2K keeps in some of its more pungent beliefs. The point has been to demonstrate again that R2K is a hot mess – a bastardization of Reformed theology characterized by ubiquitous contradictions that lend to it a unstable hyphenated existence.