Tuininga And The Development Of R2K

At this link,

Why it’s so important to affirm two kingdoms: Calvin on the Lord’s Prayer

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)

Geerhardus Vos
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.”

John Calvin
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.

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.

7 thoughts on “Tuininga And The Development Of R2K”

  1. You wrote,

    ***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.***

    Bingo. that’s because the original protestant tradition was both Two-Kingdom and Theo-cratic. Here’s the death-knell to themodern two kingdom view: how come the most 2k of all theologies, Lutheranism, had **state churches** in Scandinavia!!!!???

  2. Dear sir,

    Thank you for your gracious interaction with my article. A few points of feedback. First, of course the two kingdoms doctrine is in flux, and it was in Calvin’s day too. Even Calvin introduces the doctrine by referring to “what is commonly called” the spiritual and temporal jurisdictions. He saw his political theology as in line with an older medieval tradition. There is no such thing as a Christian political theology that is not in flux. There is no such thing as a Christian political theology that is not difficult to apply. I’m sure you know that.

    As I have argued elsewhere, this does not mean that there isn’t a core to Reformed two kingdoms doctrines from Calvin to VanDrunen. This core has to do with the identification of Christ’s spiritual government of his kingdom with the Word and Spirit (as it works out in preaching, sacraments, discipline). Of course the kingdom’s power extends to all of life, as Calvin clearly shows. Of course the magistrate can promote Christ’s kingdom for Calvin (I never said it didn’t). But even as your quote from the Commentary on the Torah shows, magistrates promote Christ’s kingdom indirectly, by establishing and protecting the church and its ministers. See Calvin’s letters to Somerset and Edward and you see this theology worked out very carefully. Bucer’s position is the same in De Regno Christi. See also T.F. Torrance’s Kingdom and Church, specifically his chapter on Calvin, where he shows that for Calvin the kingdom is the church in this age.

    I have worked out some of these thoughts more fully in my most recent post. I’d encourage you to look at that, and I’d be curious as to what your thoughts would be. See

    Finally, you place a lot of stress on the amillennial vs postmillennial character of the debate. There is certainly something to that, although it is interesting to note that amillennial and postmillennial views were once indistinguishable. I would actually argue that my version of the 2k is consistent with postmillennialism, as long as that postmillennialism recognizes that at best the institutions of this realm can offer a relative obedience to the kingdom, such that they do not actually become that kingdom until Christ’s second coming. That’s the whole point of the two kingdoms doctrine, and that’s why although he was a theocrat, Calvin did not hold the view you set forth here. He never believed the civil government became the kingdom of Christ. He only thought it could obey and promote it.

    1. 1.) If it was only political theology that was in flux I MIGHT be more understanding Matt. But the R2K lads are pushing the envelope and suggesting not only political theology, but social order theology as a whole, Ecclesiology, Eschatology, Pneumatology, and you get the whiff from some of them that they want to move the issue to the point of soteriology. I should think a Seminary should have something this important nailed down before they teach it as a Standard. Something like this that touches so many Christian disciplines should not be taught as the Gospel truth if it is knowingly in Flux.

      2.) I disagree w/ your second paragraph in-as-much as “the church of this age,” needs to be defined. We need to make distinctions between the organic church as it exists in this age and the Institutional church as it exists in this age and as it gathers itself for worship proper. When there is a christian social order the organic Church informs all societal institutions while embracing the idea that the Institutional Church has a distinct role in the handling of the Keys and in the ministering of grace. Still, it is the same organic Church that comprises both the specific Institutional Church and what we might call the “leavening Church” as that organic Church is salt and light for the Christian social order. As such while the Church is a Kingdom of its own in the Institutional sense as it handles the keys and ministers graces it also is involved in the Kingdom of God’s left hand as it requires all things in the social order to be done decent and in order according to God’s revealed word. Some such relationship must be conceded if only because not only Pastors are referred to as “God’s ministers,” but Magistrates as well.

      When the Church doesn’t exist as the “Leavening Church,” in this organic sense then the outcome is increasing tension between Church and Social order as the Social order is cut free of any expectation to conform to God’s authoritative word. When such a thing happens the Godless State will seek to organize a new Church that can provide for it the religious functions it needs. (In our current situation here that organized new Church are the public schools. Could it be that Calvin understood this and so set up public schools so that he is commonly referred to as the Great grandfather of the public school idea?)

      In terms of your postmillennialism insight … well, I will have to wait and see a postmillennialist embrace this and tease it out before I pass judgment on that possibility.

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