Deconstructing R2K

I’m doing something with this that I don’t know of any other previous Reformed theologian has done exactly what I’m doing.”

Dr. David Van Drunen

This book is dedicated to the proposition that Radical Two Kingdom theology is not Reformed. There is little argument here with historic Reformed 2K theology. The argument here is pointed at Radical Two Kingdom theology of the type being produced now by nearly every brick and mortar “Reformed” Seminary in America, finding its real impetus from a Seminary in Southern California.

The goal in this humble volume is to do something akin to what both J. Gresham did in “Christianity and Liberalism,” and then later what Cornelius Van Til did in “Christianity and Barthianism.” As Dr. Machen said in his introduction;

The purpose of this book is not to decide the religious issue of the present day, but merely to present the issue as sharply and clearly as possible, in order that the reader may be aided in deciding it for himself.”

And this writer thinks the same way about R2K as Van Til spoke about Barth in his preface to his magnum opus;

“The present writer is of the opinion that, for all its verbal similarity to historic Protestantism, Barth’s theology is, in effect, a denial of it.”

I claim not to be the equal of Machen or Van Til. Not even close. The touchstone between myself and my betters is the desire to strangle the heresy du jour while it yet remains in the cradle. In my wildest most expansive dreams I would do to R2K what President Andrew Jackson’s recorded on his deathbed that he did to the the second National Bank when he was reputed to have said; “I killed the Bank.”

The word “radical” itself derives from the Latin radix meaning root. The radicals in Radical Two Kingdom land have birthed a theology that completely attacks the roots of traditional and historic Reformed theology. In this reformulation the R2K boys have completely rejected temperance and moderation in their push to redefine the Reformed faith. In attacking the roots of the Reformed faith the consequence is that the whole tree of the Reformed faith is changed into something that it heretofore has never previously been. Like any arch-heretic throughout history, Radical Two Kingdom theology is done in the context of the fierce insistence that they alone are preserving the faith once and forever delivered unto the saints. In all of this there is a disorienting push me, pull you between their simultaneous claims that they are both staying true to the tradition of the faith while at the same time insisting that they are indeed theological innovators.

The Jesuit trained chief guru of R2K explicitly does just this at the 37minute mark of the below linked interview.

Within just a few short seconds Dr. Van Drunen manages to invoke that he is on the side of the angels (Voss, Kuyper, Bavinck) while at the same time admitting that he is being innovative. Now add to this that you will see quotes in the subsequent chapters from the types the Van Drunen invokes that will testify that they would have never have recognized Van Drunen’s theology as related to their Reformed theology. If you follow at all the R2K debate within the Reformed church you will find this “push me – pull you” phenomenon repeatedly.

This push me-pull you argumentation has been identified by some as an informal fallacy called the Motte and Baily argument technique. R2K makes some outlandish claims that reveals their real out of bounds theology (the Bailey). However when they are called out on the transparently ridiculous claims they hightail it to safer ground (the Motte) insisting that they were merely advancing traditional historic 2K arguments. If the Bailey is more controversial territory, the Motte is a modest and easily defensible position. It all becomes very convenient as it becomes a device whereby legitimate charges of heresy can be easily snuffed out by insisting; “that all I was saying was ….” From there the R2K boys can claim that their original transparently ridiculous claims have not been refuted. Failing that the R2K boys will act all butt hurt because the R2K critic has been unreasonable for attacking an imagined Bailey when all they were championing was a long accepted Motte. You see the trick here is conflating the push me with the pull you / the Motte with the Bailey. It is as clever as Hades.

To repeat what was said earlier the problem that is being attacked in this book is not historic traditional 2K theology (the Motte). Instead what is being attacked is the Bastardized version of 2K known now popularly as R2K (the Bailey).

So as to be clear as to what is and is not under assault in this volume let us take a look, in this introduction of some of the differences between historic traditional 2K theology and R2K “theology.”

R2K desires to split the two kingdoms as between the grace realm (Institutional Church) and the common realm (everything else that does not pertain to the Church). The grace realm is to be ruled by God’s special revelation while the common realm is ruled by natural law. This bifurcation is the steroid application of “Law vs. Gospel” thinking to literally every area of life. The common realm is law. The grace realm is Gospel. Never shall the twain meet.

The problem with this is when Calvin talked about the Two Kingdoms this is not what the man had in mind. The reality of the Two Kingdoms is not as simplistic as the R2K fanboys desire to make it. Calvin’s vision of the Two Kingdoms can not be reduced to a common realm that is ruled by natural law and a grace realm ruled by gospel. First of all in this arrangement one wonders where the Kingdom is that Paul says we were delivered from (Colossian 1:13)? Perhaps R2K should become R3K?

Calvin was far more nuanced in his explanation of two kingdom theology. Consider:

In 4.20, Calvin writes:

Still the distinction does not go so far as to justify us in supposing that the whole scheme of civil government is matter of pollution, with which Christian men have nothing to do. Fanatics, indeed, delighting in unbridled license, insist and vociferate that, after we are dead by Christ to the elements of this world, and being translated into the kingdom of God sit among the celestials, it is unworthy of us, and far beneath our dignity, to be occupied with those profane and impure cares which relate to matters alien from a Christian man. To what end, they say, are laws without courts and tribunals?

But what has a Christian man to do with courts? Nay, if it is unlawful to kill, what have we to do with laws and courts? But as we lately taught that that kind of government is distinct from the spiritual and internal kingdom of Christ, so we ought to know that they are not adverse to each other. The former, in some measure, begins the heavenly kingdom in us, even now upon earth, and in this mortal and evanescent life commences immortal and incorruptible blessedness, while to the latter it is assigned, so long as we live among men, to foster and maintain the external worship of God, to defend sound doctrine and the condition of the Church, to adapt our conduct to human society, to form our manners to civil justice, to conciliate us to each other, to cherish common peace and tranquillity.

All these I confess to be superfluous, if the kingdom of God, as it now exists within us, extinguishes the present life. But if it is the will of God that while we aspire to true piety we are pilgrims upon the earth, and if such pilgrimage stands in need of such aids, those who take them away from man rob him of his humanity.

(Institutes 4.20.2)

Here we see where R2K departs from Calvin on two kingdom theology. Per Calvin the spiritual kingdom touches on the eternal life that is begun in us; and “it is not to this kingdom” that the external worship of God belongs, but rather the external worship of God belongs to the kingdom of courts and tribunals “so long as we live among men” (having the purpose of) “maintaining the external worship of God, to defend sound doctrine and the condition of the Church…”

Calvin is unmistakably clear here: “the external worship of God belongs to the civil or temporal kingdom.” This statement stands in shark contrast to the claims of the R2K fanboys. For Calvin the worship of God and the condition of the Church are matters of public concern that belong, in R2K language, to the common kingdom. Tell it not in Gath. Publish it not in the streets of Askelon. Proclaim it not in the citadels of Escondido.

Clearly there is a distinction between the two kingdoms but the distinction is not the divorce that R2K envisions.

The purpose of this book is not to wade into the the various nuances of two Kingdom theology throughout history. A subject that probably is fitting for some doctoral dissertation. The purpose is to show that R2K’s insistence that their understanding of 2K theology is the traditional historic Reformed 2K is completely bunk. Further, the purpose is to examine what R2K “theology” does to the various theological categories of Reformed theology.

Perhaps the most grievous injury to the Reformed church that R2K inflicts is to mute the prophetic voice of the pulpit. Because R2K insists that the pulpit must be silent about all that lies in R2K’s “common realm” the minister therefore has his tongue cut out from him in inveighing against the moral meltdown of our broader culture. Because of the “theology” of R2K God’s people have no compass … “have no thus saith the Lord” echoing from the pulpit and so are left blind and dumb as to how to lean into the pagan culture we are now living in. A mist in the pulpit leads to a fog in the pew. And R2K loves it so.

R2K theology also guarantees that no future Calvin, or Knox will ever be ordained to Reformed pulpits. Can you imagine a young John Calvin trying to defend these statements before a R2K infested Presbytery?

The Lord does not give Kings the right to use their power to subject the people to tyranny. Indeed when Liberty to resist tyranny seems to be taken away by princes who have taken over, one can justly ask this question; since kings and princes are bound by covenant to the people, to administer law in truest equality, sincerity and integrity; if they break faith and usurp tyrannical power by which they allow themselves everything they want: is it not possible for the people to consider together taking measures in order to remedy the evil?”

John Calvin

Sermon I Samuel Chapter 8

I have read a volume of sermons by Calvin from Deuteronomy 27 & 28. The volume is entitled “The Covenant Enforced.” Upon finishing it I pushed away and said to my imaginary R2K Seminary Professor, paraphrasing Lloyd Benson to Dan Quayle; “I’ve read John Calvin. Sir, you’re no John Calvin.

Go ahead and read Calvin’s sermons Deuteronomy 27 & 28. Upon reading it I sincerely don’t understand how R2K can even begin to argue that it is an expression of Calvinist theology. The theology of John Calvin as exhibited in this volume (and this is not the first Calvin I’ve read) screams at David Van Drunnen, mocks R. Scott Clark, laughs at Mike Horton and sticks its tongue out at J. V. Fesko. Whatever these men are, they are in no way partakers of Calvin’s Calvinism. Based on these sermons alone John Calvin could not be ordained in many Presbyterian Presbytery today because he would be accused of not having a proper understanding of the distinctions between law and grace.

Calvin does see much of the OT civil law as applicable today. Calvin does see the law coming to people groups and nations and not just to individuals. Calvin does believe that the Magistrate has a responsibility to enforce God’s Law — and that from both Tables. Calvin does not put law and grace in absolute antithesis. God’s Law-Word has a place as a guide to life in the Christian’s life and that Law-Word should resound from the pulpit just as much as the Law-Word in the role of a street lamp to expose sin.

Like it or not Calvin was the worst of all things.. Calvin was a pioneer Theonomist who believed that cultures of all nations needed to be Reconstructed in the direction of God’s revealed Law-Word. Calvin did not hold to a “Law Gospel” hermeneutic as that is currently defined. Calvin was neither Lutheran nor Anabaptist.

If Calvin were alive today he’d make me look like a wimp in this book with his thunderings against the modern antinomian R2K Reformed Church.

The book before you begins by looking at the implications of R2K for several standard Reformed theological categories. In Chapter 1 we take a look at the Epistemological problems of R2K. In chapter 2 we consider the inherent dualism in R2K. Chapter 3 finds us looking at R2K soteriology vis-a-vis Reformed soteriology. In chapter 4 it is on to considering R2K covenantal malfeasance. In chapter 5 we map out R2K’s belief that religion is an escapable category for magistrate and state. In chapter 6 we are on to matters eschatological. Chapter 7 finds us exploring R2K from the mouth of the R2K fan boys. In Chapter 8 we look at R2K and its views of family life. In chapter 9 we take a peek at R2K’s theocratic fears. In chapter 10 we briefly consider some of the “proof” texts R2K appeals to in order to support their cause. In Chapter 11 we consider R2K’s transformation-phobia. In chapter 12 we spend a little bit of time looking at the history of ideas mapping out the strange ideological bedfellows of R2K. These chapters are followed by several appendixes where I provide some of my apologetic encounters with some of the R2K “theologians.”

Pull up a chair, pull out your highlighter, and let’s have a go.

Thomas Jefferson … A Deist More Righteous Than Your R2K “Minister”

A long time ago, a government enacted a law that fined citizens for “breaking the Sabbath,” and it used language for exceptions (“work of necessity or charity”) echoing Westminster Shorter Catechism Q&A 60 (“works of necessity and mercy”).

“A Bill for Punishing Disturbers of Religious Worship and Sabbath Breakers”—”If any person on Sunday shall himself be found labouring at his own or any other trade or calling, or shall employ his apprentices, servants or slaves in labour, or other business, except it be in the ordinary houshold offices of daily necessity, or other work of necessity or charity, he shall forfeit the sum of ten shillings for every such offence.”

This was surely authored by 17th-century Puritans, right?

Nope. It was the 1786 Virginia legislature, and the bill’s author was Thomas Jefferson—that Unitarian Founding Father the Supreme Court likes to appeal to for striking down such religious laws. Keep in mind that this is the same Thomas Jefferson who in the election of 1800 was pilloried and vilified by the New England clergy who warned during that election cycle that if elected Jefferson would seize people’s bibles. Keep in mind that this is the same Thomas Jefferson who gave us “the Jefferson Bible.” This bible found old Tom cutting out every supernatural account. Keep in mind that TJ was a Unitarian at best and a raving Deist at worst. Then after you keep all that in mind, remember that Thomas Jefferson acted more biblically than your R2K minister.

Now keep in mind here that your local R2K minister insists that the kind of political action that finds legislators passing laws that are born of the Christian faith is a great sin. Legislators, per R2K, are to appeal to Natural law and not Biblical law for their attempted legislating. Can you imagine the heart attack that R2K political super-hero Sen. Ben Sasse would have over this proposed legislation?

R2K as Monolatry with a Spatial Twist?

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, monolatry (also called monolatrism) is the worship of only one god without denying the existence of other gods. Henotheism is related in that it recognizes many gods yet chooses to focus exclusively on one—usually considered the god of one’s family or clan. A monolater or a henotheist is committed to one god, but he leaves room for other deities as well. Many cultures in ancient times believed in more than one god, but some of those cultures still paid homage to one god above the others. This would often work itself out in the belief that as one traveled from one geographic area to another one would be leaving the god of the previous geographic area and entering into the domain of a different god over the different geographic area.

The accusation in this entry is that R2K is a twist on monolatry inasmuch as while it worships the one true God in the church realm it advocates the henotheistic idea that when one leaves the church realm for the common realm one leaves the explicit God of the bible and his authority in favor of the implicit god of Natural law and its authority. Now, we are quite aware that R2K would be appalled by this characterization but that does not make the observation and accusation any less true. Usually the lady doth protest too much the closer one gets to the truth about the lady protesting.

If an aspect of henotheism/monolatry is that there are different gods over different geographic areas then how much of a stretch is it to see R2K with its “God rules by His right hand in the grace realm but rules by his left hand in the common realm,” as just a dodgy way of saying, “When we are operating in the realm of grace we deal with God and His word but when we operate in the common realm we are dealing with another god (we could call him ‘Lefty’ since he rules by his left hand) and his unique natural law but in order to cover this up we will argue that the god of this realm (Lefty) is really the same god as God even though he isn’t because if we explicitly said he isn’t then we would be obviously guilty of spatial (as opposed to geographic) henotheism/monolatry.”

Certainly, this observation is not a stretch in the slightest. If God’s character is defined by His law, the changing out of God’s law in the common realm for a Natural law as existing in the common realm that is distinct from God’s law in the realm of grace what other conclusion can we come to that we have a different god and so an example of spatial henotheism/monolatry?

Spatial henotheists/monolatrists would never expressly admit that they affirm the existence of another god but at least it strikes me that in a defacto sense that is precisely what they are doing.  If I am restricted while in the grace realm from speaking as a minister from the pulpit the will of the God of the church/grace realm for the common realm because by doing so I would be violating both the law of God of the church/grace realm as well as the natural law of god of the common realm what else can this be except a type of spatial henotheism/monolatry?

One has to wonder if the spatial (as opposed to geographic) henotheists/monolatrists are in violation of the second commandment?

“You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).

Have the spatial henotheists/monolatrists in the Reformed Church created a pantheon of gods that are to be respected depending upon which spatial realm one finds one’s self in?

A Flurry of Rapid & Brief Observations on R2K

1.) David Van Drunen, the malevolent genius behind R2K was trained at a Jesuit Educational Institution where he learned the classical Roman Catholic philosophical divide between nature and grace. He then, quite obviously took that Thomist divide learned at his Jesuit Roman Catholic school and created a Reformed expression of it in his creation of R2K.

Personally, I am of the conviction that one cannot be Christian and R2K even if their Reformed soteriology is perfect.

2.) R2K teaches that Education, Law, Politics, Art, etc. are all common realm phenomena that are ruled by Natural law. However, if one pauses to think about this just a moment one realizes that these (Education, Law, Politics, Art, Family, etc.) are abstractions. These things do not exist concretely apart from people as Educators, Lawyers/Judges, Politicians/legislators, Artists. So, R2K, concretely speaking is teaching that men as lawyers/judges, men as Educators, men as Artists, etc. are not to be governed by God’s revealed Word. These flesh and blood people are not to be guided in their respective fields by God’s special revelation but instead are, in agreement and consultation with concrete Hindu Educators, Jew Judges, Atheist Artists, and Satanist Legislators to come to a consensus on natural law ao that they as Christians can be governed by in these respective fields.

Such Princeton Tower Club “thinking” is shocking and yet our pulpits are filled today with morons who are touting this god-forsaken theory as truth.

3.) R2K is a theology perfectly cast to avoid confrontation with Idolatry and false religions. Whereas earlier Missionaries would challenge the false gods in public demonstrations R2K says, “The idols in the common realm are not to be addressed and defied by the Institutional Church since that would be to get clergy out of their lanes.”


R2K is heresy. When is some denomination going to stand up and say “R2K is heresy?”

4.) R2K teaches that the Jurisdiction of King Jesus and His revealed word is limited to the Church realm. Any Jurisdiction that King Jesus has in the common realm is present by a common grace, a common providence, and a common (Natural) law. R2K thus is teaching that in the common realm Jesus has delegated His rule to an abstraction called Natural law.

5.) R2K teaches that there exists a statist orthodoxy as taught in Government schools that the Church Institutional should not raise its voice against even when the statist orthodoxy is contrary to Christian orthodoxy.

6.) R2K loves to talk about a common kingdom where people of all faiths meet and have social intercourse around a common set of shared values as all based on Natural law.

However, the problem here is increasingly clear. As sodomites are now marrying and adopting children, as queers show up for Drag Queen story hour to read to our children, as women have to compete against biological men in women’s sports, where is this so-called common realm where Christians can enter into a common kingdom?

Clearly, the R2K project has never existed in a time where its fruit is seen to be more absent. Natural law as defined by R2K as a governing mechanism upon which law orders for whole peoples has never more gloriously failed than the failure it is undergoing now and yet there is David Van Drunen, Mike Horton, D. G. Hart, and R. Scott Clark still thumping for it like they have concrete examples where R2K has worked as positioned in Christ-hating social orders. There they are all thumping for R2K like adolescents for the first time having a young pretty thing speak pretty things in their ears.

If this is true (and it is) why are R2K churches and ministers still being supported?

Get out, before you experience a Sodom and Gomorrah type of visitation from God.

7.) In the way that R2K treats the Bible, the Bible becomes ecclesiasticized — trapped inside the four walls of the Church — and even there the Bible is not allowed to speak to public square issues outside the Church.

8.) Because R2K insists that the Institutional Church is not allowed to speak to civil Institutions such as education, family, law, arts, international relations, etc. the consequence is that Christians attending R2K churches become bipolar in their thinking. In the Church realm, they are Christian but in the so-called secular realm (a realm created and sustained by R2K type thinking) the Christian can be a humanist in education, a Sharia fan in law, or even a polygamist in family life. If God’s word does not speak to the common realm as stated from the pulpit then the laity may come to any conclusion they like in these realms as long as they can in some creative way attach their positions to Natural law.

9.) When God’s word is ecclesiasticized so that it cannot be applied to all of life (per R2K) the Church immediately becomes politicized as the laity become vectors for various humanist thinking diseases that descend from theologies and gods that are not Christian.

So, R2K’s attempt to cordon God’s special Revelation from every area of life finally leads to a politicized church where each member votes and advocates and does in the public square what is best in his own eyes.

10.) R2K excels at thumping the formal authority of the bible. This is the authority that teaches the infallible, verbal plenary inspiration of the Bible. However, R2K fails in embracing the material authority of the Bible. This is the authority of the Bible wherein its applicability to all of life is embraced. Another way of saying this is that R2K holds the Bible as abstractly authoritative but it is horrid in concrete application.

11.) Whenever R2K starts up with the idea that there is no such thing as “Christian stir-fry,” or “Christian plumbing,” or “Christian diaper-changing,” they are at that point advocating, contrary to Christian thinking, that there is indeed such a thing as neutrality. R2K when it argues this way is saying in essence, “See, all of the common square is neutral and so we should not insist on Christian law, or Christian Education, or Christian family, seeing those matters as just as neutral as stir-fry, diaper changing, and plumbing.

First, we should note that suggesting that Christian law does not exist because Christian diaper changing does not exist is a leap of magnificent proportions that only a very stupid person could make.

Second, we would argue that there is such a thing as a Christian diaper changer. Imagine if non-Christian parents changing out dirty diapers didn’t apply diaper rash medicine with the result that the child in the diaper is miserable having a severely burned bottom. Would that baby complain, if he could, about his parents not practicing Christian diaper changing? Would not failing to apply diaper rash medicine in the context of changing the diaper not be a violation of the 6th commandment?

Neutrality is a myth and that is as true about diaper changing, plumbing, and stir-fry as it is about Law, Education, and Business.

12.) R2K cuts off the story of Redemption with Christ crucified. They fail to see that the resurrection, ascension, and session of the Lord Christ continue the Redemption narrative in terms of absolute Kingship. Jesus Christ is not only our Great High Priest but He is also a Great High Priest who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords over every principality and power. To give a Gospel that so wrongly centers on the Crucifixion so that it only tells the story of a dis-empowered Great High Priest who is not ruling as the Mediatorial King as very God of God is to do a great disservice to both our soteriology and our doctrine of Jesus Mediatorial Kingship.

R2K gives us a Jesus who is a Gnostic King. In R2K thinking Jesus rules over our spiritual lives but Jesus dare not flex His authority in culture, family, education, law, politics, etc. R2K has divorced Jesus’s office of Priest from His office as King. That is a grave sin when pointed out and still continued in.

13.) In our sins we seek to alienate God’s creation from Him. R2K “theology” supports our work of alienating God’s creation from Him as R2K refuses to allow Christians to be Christ’s Kingdom people joining in the work, under Christ’s Kingship, of taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. In R2K every thought is not brought captive because many thoughts are never intended to be brought captive and as such, all of creation remains alienated from God. R2K turns Christ’s Kingship into the Kingship wherein His people don’t live and move and have their being in light of Christ’s ascension and session and as such God’s creation remains alienated from Him except in some Gnostic sense.

Wherein We See How Horton & McDurmon Leave Us Shipwrecked

“… it’s a good thing that we no longer live in an era where Christianity is a culture.”

Dr. Michael Horton — Reformed Seminary Professor
One of R2k’s Architects

Keep in mind that Mike, if he was consistent, would say that mankind has never lived in an era where Christianity was a culture. This is the case because Mike Horton, like all R2K mobsters, does not believe it is possible for any culture to be Christian since culture by definition, like Education, Law, Family life, Arts, etc. cannot be “Christian.” Per R2K, only Churches and individuals can be Christian. So, per R2K, all those centuries of Christendom were not really Christendom. Per R2K, those cultures in the era of Cromwell, or in the era of the Puritans in the “New World,” or in the era of Alfred the Great when his Kingdom was ruled by excerpts taken right out of God’s Law, or the era of Charlemagne, etc. were never Christian in any sense in their culture. Per R2K culture can only be common and of course, if a culture is not Christian but is only common then the only category left for that R2K common culture is “non-Christian.” Unless, of course, the R2K lads are arguing that common culture is a neutral culture. However, given the fact that the bastion of R2Kism is Westminster Seminary – Cal. where all the papers of Cornelius Van Til are held, I know the R2K lads could not be arguing that the common realm is a neutral realm. Or could they be arguing that?

There is some irony here for those with eyes to see. The Reformed world is not caught between the hammer of R2K and the anvil of Alienist Cultural Marxist “theonomy” as promoted by the likes of Joel McDurmon (he of “the oldest law student in America” fame) and his hacks over at “The Lamb’s Reign.” On the one hand, the uber Amillennial R2K teaches, as seen by Mike’s quote above, “... it’s a good thing that we no longer live in an era where Christianity is a culture,” while the uber postmillennial Alienist Cultural Marxist “theonomy” teaches CRT, WOKE, and Intersectionality. Indeed for the Alienist Cultural Marxist “theonomists,” any cultural era preceding the CRT era was not Christian. So, boiling it down the amil R2K hammer lads are telling us that “it’s good Christian culture is gone,” while the postmil Cultural Marxist theonomists anvil lads are telling us that “only Cultural Marxist culture is Christian.” Not surprisingly Biblical Christians respond with, “a pox upon both your houses.”