Is Christ King or is He only Kind of King? — McAtee vs. Duncan & Hart

In the biblical worldview, the believer’s redemption in Christ is not limited to personal salvation from sin guaranteeing him entry into heaven at death. It must also include a universal perspective. Otherwise redemption reduces to anthropology, nullifying the material order created by God. Such reductionist theology truncates Christ’s saving work accomplished in the cross-resurrection-ascension event, which undermines the ultimate new creation age to come.

Ken Gentry

We are one day removed from Palm Sunday 2024 with its ringing endorsement of the fact that Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. However, 24 hours later we are left asking many of those who insist they are Reformed  what they think the Kingship of Jesus Christ concretely means.

There is a large branch out there in the Reformed world who want to recite that Christ is King right up to the point where the idea of Kingship has any teeth. At that point the idea of “Kingship” is suddenly redefined in a very Gnostic direction. “Christ is King,” they say, “just so long as He is not intent on actually ruling as the alone King.” “Christ is King,” they chant “just so long as King Christ has no legislative Law-Word that we have to pay any attention to in our family order, social orders, and law orders.” “Christ is King,” they dutifully recite, “just as long as Christ has no territorial claims over any nation or over any footage on planet earth.” The Kingship of Jesus Christ for this group is esoteric, abstract, and invisible. The best that they offer for the impact of Christ’s Kingship is the insistence that Christians should demonstrate their belief in Christ’s Kingship by being nice and making room for a pluriform of competing gods in the public square.  “Christ is King” for these crypto-Gnostics means a pluralistic social order where Christ as King as to compete for the table scraps of recognition from the God-State, along with the demon gods of Islam, Molech worship, Talmudism, and Salt Lake city fantasies. The Gnostic Reformed insist with us that “Christ is King,” but then turn around and define Kingship to mean “not Kingship.”

We are seeing this all over the Reformed world today. Most recently it came out in spades with an interview of Establishment figures Dr. J. Ligon Duncan, and a podcast including Dr. Darryl G. Hart. If you  listen to these back to back it will take your breath away in turns of the animated hostility for traditional and historic Reformed views. Duncan goes especially after Theonomy and Reconstructionism. Hart has a wild hair growing over the possibility of Christian Nationalism, though he manages to make clear his loathing for theonomy type movements.

Duncan’s approach to the issue is almost comical.

He opens by insisting that mocking and slander are not Christian ways to deal with issues and then proceeds to slander fellow Christians who take Christ’s Kingship seriously all the way through the section he speaks on that subject.

Next Duncan tell us that King Christ was not a mocker and yet in His ministry Jesus mocks Herod by calling him a “she-fox.” The Pulpit Commentary offers here;

“The epithet “she-fox” is perhaps the bitterest and most contemptuous name ever given by the pitiful Master to any of the sons of men.”

Ellicott’s commentary reveals,

The word was eminently descriptive of the character both of the Tetrarch individually, and of the whole Herodian house. The fact that the Greek word for “fox” is always used as a feminine, gives, perhaps, a special touch of indignant force to the original.

We learn thus, that a Chancellor of a flagship seminary does not know what he is talking about on this particular mocking issue as it relates to the life of Jesus, and we haven’t even bothered to consider the treatment Jesus gave to the Pharisees. If all that is too complex for Dr. Duncan as it touches the issue of the appropriateness of mocking, perhaps he might consider Who is speaking in Proverbs 1:26; “I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;”

Duncan goes out of his ways that the bible teaches that there are different ways to be faithful, and that is true. However, Duncan doesn’t mention that the Bible also teaches that there are different ways to be unfaithful. It is my opinion that Duncan’s work in this interview is one example of how to be unfaithful.

As one continues to listen to Duncan boast of his creating a Christ, Culture, and Contextualization course that he taught one realizes that Duncan has embraced the contextualization model of Christ with culture. This paradigm can be understood by accessing Niebuhr’s book on “Christ and Culture” where Niebuhr gives different paradigms for Christians engaging culture. Niebuhr’s five views are: 1. Christ Against Culture, 2. Christ of Culture, 3. Christ Above Culture, 4. Christ and Culture in Paradox, 5. Christ the Transformer of Culture.” Clearly Duncan’s “Christ of Culture,” paradigm is one that liberals have embraced for quite some time. Duncan’s offense at the Reconstructionist paradigm indicates that Duncan is for appeasement. This is diametrically opposed to Scripture which finds Jesus teaching, “He who does not gather with me, scatters.”  We know that Duncan is for appeasement given the tongue lashing and the slander he visits upon theonomy and reconstructionism.

Duncan insists that those who disagree with him are doing what they are doing because “a lot of it is ego and envy,” and a lot of unimportant people trying to be important. Yet, in my estimation Duncan’s ego and self-importance is just dripping off the interview. Honestly, I don’t mind being critiqued but the mean-spiritedness of Duncan in his words against those who take God’s Law-Word seriously was palpable.

Something else here that doesn’t ring true. Duncan says he gave up on critiquing Theonomy in 1996 or so because it was dead. However, in the archives on Iron Ink you can find a piece from 2009 where Duncan was again slamming theonomy. In this interview Duncan says that theonomy has risen from the grave like a zombie. Yet another slander from Duncan comparing a Reformed movement with the living dead.

Here is the fact of the matter. As much as he might like to, Duncan cannot kill the Theonomy/Reconstructionist movement. (Though Moscow aberration of it might kill it.) The Theonomy/Reconstruction movement may be dead for the Boomers and those over 50 even. At 64 I am a relic and a Dinosaur … one of the elder statesmen of the movement. However, I am seeing the rise of a 20-40 somethings who are never going to accept Reformed-Surrender theology. They are not going to be taken off to the gulag camps without a fight. They are no longer going to salute the post-WWII consensus that Duncan and Hart (and most of those reputed to be pillars in the Church) cherish with their whole beings. The Enlightenment version of the Reformed faith with its bastardized version of the Westminster Confession of Faith is in a nursing home and the prognosis is not good for its long term health.

Ducan, Hart and their ilk are wedded to pluralism but let’s consider what pluralism has done. I’m old enough to remember the residuals of Christian America. I’m old enough to remember the theonomic blue laws that found every business, park, and amusement shut down on Sundays. I’m old enough to remember how on good Friday every year all the businesses would close at 12noon in order to attend noon good Friday services. I’m old enough to remember distinct male and female roles that were premised upon Christianity. I’m old enough to remember the necessity to refer to your elders as “Mr.” and “Mrs.” I’m old enough to remember Sunday being enforced as a day of rest. And remember, these were only the residuals of a Christian American that was already in its death throes. Darryl Gnostic Hart in his conversation asks, “what could it possibly mean for a nation to be Christian” and I offer the above as a partial answer.

At appx. the 49:40 point of the interview with Duncan he begins to mock fellow Christians. Irony much Lig? From there Duncan goes on to say that the Reconstructionist understanding of Christ’s Kingship has no possibility of being implemented in any possible world. First of all we would ask, “Lig, not being God how could you possibly know that?” Second we would ask, “Even if you could somehow know that is true would that mean therefore that Christians should cease to continue to advocate for the crown rights of Jesus Christ?” Third we would ask, “If it is possible for Sharia to be the law of nations why is it impossible to think that God’s better law could not be the law of nations? Is the Allah stronger than King Jesus Lig?”

Next Duncan trots out the old canard that Reconstructionism/Theonomy is not a Reformed view. These chaps have been trying to sell that nonsense ever since this ker started to fuffle. A book that came out early in this debate was “Theonomy; An Reformed Critique,” and in that book the authors try to sell the bilge that Theonomy/Reconstructionism was not Reformed. The fact of the matter is, is that it is the surrender monkeys found among the Reformed Establishment who are the ones holding to a Reformed faith that isn’t particularly historically or traditionally Reformed. Can anyone look at the original Westminster Confession on the Civil Magistrate or the original Belgic Confession of Faith on the Civil Magistrate, and tell me with a straight face that either the Westminster Divines or Guido de Bres would have recognized the pablum that Duncan and Hart are trying to sell as “historic Reformed Christianity?” To suggest that the Divines or de Bres would have agreed with Duncan and Hart is just gaslighting at its best.

Much more could be said but others have probably already said it. I come to this, as I said earlier, as an Elder Statesman to this debate. I’m a year older than Duncan. I wasn’t following the debates at ground zero but I was pretty close to ground zero. I know the players. I have read around all sides. I know Duncan and Hart are peeing on us and trying to tell us it is just rain. Don’t you believe them.

My fellow believers in Jesus Christ, either Christ is King with all that Kingship means or He is a the Gnostic King of Duncan and Hart and most of those reputed to be pillars in the Church.

Palm Sunday tells me that Jesus Christ is King and that His  Kingship is tangible.

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.

5 thoughts on “Is Christ King or is He only Kind of King? — McAtee vs. Duncan & Hart”

  1. Men at all times operate in all four of the “Kuyperian spheres” simultaneously. All are to be sanctified to the glory of God. EVERY thought captive. That means Christians should know the will of God for self gov’t, family gov’t, church gov’t and civic gov’t. A Christian cannot be sanctified in his private devotional life and have his family a mess. He cannot be holy in his personal life and his family and neglect church or be a random attender. And he cannot be holy in his personal devotions, family and ecclesiastical life and neglect civic order, equity and justice. Just ask the Prophet Amos about that. H
    The Christian MUST excel in knowledge of civic duty because God is the One obligating him to such a duty. God demands that Christians glorify Him in all four spheres and not one of them is to be neglected. Like it or not, civics are a part of life that God has ordained and we cannot neglect it or delegate it “to the experts” any more than we can entrust child rearing to the schools, even Christian schools. One can delegate the task but the responsibility is still upon the parent. If the school is faithless or lacking, the parent is still responsible before God for raising the child. If the local church is weak, the father is still responsible for the spiritual care of his household. Our job is to “think God’s thoughts after Him” in everything… including political theory because God is to be glorified, even in civic order.

    “The Bible is authoritative on everything of which it speaks.
    Moreover, it speaks of everything.”
    ― Cornelius Van Til

  2. Any book recommendations that cover this issue in more historical detail? Especially the original Westminster references and specific Reformed leaders writings advocating the application of theonomic perspective within culture?

    1. Hello Hector

      If you can find a copy of “Theonomy and the Westminster Confession,” by Martin Foulner that would be a good place to start.

      Also if you can find,

      Lee, F.N. 2000. King Alfred the Great and our Common Law, Brisbane, Australia: Lulu, p. 6.

      Bremer, F.J. 2013. The Puritan Experiment: New England Society from Bradford to Edwards. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, p. 61-62.

      Here is a brief article that begins to point the way forward.

      Also consider the Westminster larger catechism’s treatment of the ten commandments and the original WCF on the role of the Magistrate.

    2. Hector (and any who may be interested),

      If you’ll send me an email at I would be happy to send you a PDF copy of the Foulner book Rev. McAtee suggested. It is such a hidden gem, one too often ignored by both sides of this debate. A great resource for sure.


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