At this link,
We see the most recent effort of the ever moving target that we have affectionately called “R2K.”
Mr. Tuininga has commented on this subject elsewhere recently,
In my view the two kingdoms doctrine is a doctrine in development, and VanDrunen, like myself, is still working through the best formulations.
It may be just me, but it is amazing to me that we have a whole Seminary (Westminster, Ca.) committed to a Theology that is in flux, not to mention several other Seminary’s that have been significantly influenced by this “theology.” Now, keep in mind, that Two Kingdom theology has been embraced by Reformed Christians since the Reformation, so obviously whatever is in “development” (flux) here is a theology that isn’t standard 2K theology.
The reader can access the Mr. Tuininga’s work at the link. I want to list the problems that remain with his latest greatest version of R2K. I imagine that eventually somebody else will step forward with yet another version of R2K once the problems here are seen as problematic as the problems found in Dr. VanDrunen’s 1.0 version of R2K.
1.) Mr. Tuininga notes at the beginning of his piece that “people think of the two kingdoms doctrine as being about two different airtight realms.” Well, let me testify that the reason people have thought that way is because that is precisely the way that the R2K acolytes have been putting forth the R2K flux theology. It is not as if those who have interacted with them have misunderstood them. Quite to the contrary we have understood them precisely. Hence, the current brouhaha.
2.) Mr. Tuininga notes that people have been focusing on the nitty-gritty questions of application as if by doing so such people have missed the forest that is R2K because of the R2K trees. However, as the saying goes, “the devil is in the details,” and it has been because of the details of application that R2K has been found and still remains wanting.
3.) Mr. Tuininga offers a understanding that the two Kingdoms should be understood as “the age to come,” and this present age,” as opposed to two airtight realms of Nature (common) and Grace (Church). However the problem I see here is that the work of the “age to come,” is to advance and overcome this present wicked age. The age to come is leavening this present age so that as the leavening work continues the kingdoms of this world shall increasingly be, what they already are in principle, and that is the kingdoms of our Lord. Mr. Tuininga is admirably seeking to get the two Kingdoms in contact with one another, which is certainly an advance on the R2K 1.0 version that has the airtight compartments. However, I wonder if behind Mr. Tuininga’s “two kingdoms as the two ages” lies a amillennial eschatology that refuses to allow the current “age to come” now-ness to go from now-ness unto ever increasing now-ness, such as one finds in postmillennial eschatology. I wonder about this because Mr. Tuininga offers a dichotomy between this created (and cursed) world and the kingdom of God, thus suggesting that this created world will not experience incremental reverse of the curse due to the expansion of the present “age to come” kingdom in space and time.
The point here is that Mr. Tuininga’s offerings don’t really significantly advance the discussion because he seems to retain both an amillennial eschatology and a conviction that the kingdom of God is restricted to the Church. These are two doctrines that are central to the controversy and as long as these aren’t addressed it is difficult to see how a resolution can be found.
4.) Note also in the article that Mr. Tuininga is insisting, along with R2K 1.0, that the “age to come” Kingdom of God breaks into this age without immediately (interesting word) destroying or transforming this age. Mr. Tuininga leaves us wondering whether the Kingdom of God, since it does not “immediately transform this age”, if the kingdom of God will ever eventually incrementally transform this present age prior to Christ’s return?
5.) Mr. Tuininga confesses that “there is an eschatological tension that somehow needs to be sorted out.” Yet, this tension has been spoken to before and spoken to my none less then one of the most pre-eminent amillennialists who has ever lived. I am very comfortable with the way this amillennialist worked out the eschatological tension.
“The kingdom means the renewal of the world through the introduction of supernatural forces.” (page 192)
“The thought of the kingdom of God implies the subjection of the entire range of human life in all its forms and spheres to the ends of religion. The kingdom reminds us of the absoluteness, the pervasiveness, the unrestricted dominion, which of right belong to all true religion. It proclaims that religion, and religion alone, can act as the supreme unifying, centralizing factor in the life of man, as that which binds all together and perfects all by leading it to its final goal in the service of God.” (page 194)
The Teaching of Jesus Concerning the Kingdom of God and the Church
Dr. Vos obviously believed that the Kingdom of God transforms this present age and I desperately wish we could come to a version of R2K that would take us back to Vos on this matter. Maybe flux R2K 7.0 might finally get us there.
6.) Mr. Tuininga then quotes Calvin.
“We must first attend to the definition of the kingdom of God. He is said to reign among men, when they voluntarily devote and submit themselves to be governed by him, placing their flesh under the yoke, and renouncing their desires. Such is the corruption of the nature, that all our affections are so many soldiers of Satan, who oppose the justice of God, and consequently obstruct or disturb his reign. By this prayer we ask, that he may remove all hindrances, and may bring all men under his dominion, and may lead them to meditate on the heavenly life.
I like quoting Calvin as well,
“But it is questioned whether the law pertains to the kingdom of Christ, which is spiritual and distinct from all earthly dominion; and there are some men, not otherwise ill-disposed, to whom it appears that our condition under the Gospel is different from that of the ancient people under the law; not only because the Kingdom of Christ is not of this world, but because Christ was unwilling that the beginning of His Kingdom should be aided by the sword. But, when human judges consecrate their work to the promotion of Christ’s Kingdom, I deny that on that account its nature is changed. For, although, it was Christ’s will that His Gospel should be proclaimed by His disciples in opposition to the power of the whole world, and He exposed them armed w/ the Word alone like sheep among wolves, He did not impose on Himself an eternal law that He should never bring Kings under his subjection, nor tame their violence, nor change them from being cruel persecutors into the patrons and guardians of His Church.”
Commentaries on the Last four Books of Moses.
Clearly, Calvin here has no problem with human judges consecrating their work to the promotion of Christ’s kingdom, thus revealing that Calvin did not restrict the Kingdom of God to the Church, nor it would seem that he would allow the notion that the Gospel doesn’t transform this present age. Calvin does seem to be teaching that once Kingdoms are won for Christ to the point that the Magistrate is ruling in such a way to promote Christ’s Kingdom then the redemptive work of the Kingdom can be advanced by those Magistrates who are patrons and guardians of His Church. If you read Mr. Tuininga’s article you will see that is a different thrust then what Mr. Tuininga puts on Calvin. Church and State (this present age and this present age as transformed by the “age to come” so that it partakes in the “age to come,”) co-operate together for the Kingdom of Christ.
7.) Mr. Tuininga then does some good work giving his vision of how God’s providential reign interacts with God’s Redemptive reign, though I would still contend that when God is pleased to give people Godly rulers, who rule by God’s revealed Word, that such ruling, while remaining distinct from God’s Redemptive reign, is far more complimentary to that Redemptive reign, as an expression of His providential reign, then when God’s providential reign is exercised by Christ hating magistrates. I cannot accept that the reign of Godly magistrates, in God’s providence, is as unrelated to Christ’s redemptive reign as Mr. Tuininga teaches when he says, referring to the coercive work of the Magistrate, “It does not build up the kingdom of God. Such a statement is born of the conviction that the Kingdom of God is restricted to the Church. Certainly the coercive work of a Christian Magistrate, ruling in subjection to Christ, is not a Redemptive action properly speaking, though we can say that by restoring and maintaining order, the coercive work of the Magistrate creates space where the Kingdom’s redemptive work can go forward. As such, we may say that, God’s providential reign in this scenario is more visibly furthering His redemptive reign.
8.) Mr. Tuininga tips his eschatological hand when he refers to this age as the “age of suffering service.” This idea is a key component of amillennial R2K thinking and in all this flux theology is consistent with R2K 1.0. It is important to note, because in the amillennial mindset, since this is the age of suffering service, we are not to expect such a transformation power by the “age to come” on this “age of suffering,” that this “age of suffering,” might ever become anything other than “an age of suffering.” Amillennial eschatology is self-fulfilling eschatology. It expects suffering and it will not be satisfied unless it develops a theology that guarantees suffering.
9.) After all that Mr. Tuining writes he finishes by saying (paraphrase) since the two kingdoms are jumbled up we can not expect Christians to agree on exactly how application of Natural law (another point of disagreement) goes forth. So, it seems that this flux theology will, in the end, not get us any closer to agreement on the details of application then we already are.