24 June 2010

Two kingdoms, revisited

Some months ago Comment published my essay, Two Kingdoms and Cultural Obedience, in which I undertook to critique the two kingdoms theology emanating from Westminster Seminary California, as exemplified in the writings of especially Darryl G. Hart and David Van Drunen. Although I had appreciative words to say about some of their emphases, especially liturgy and the institutional church, I found their overall perspective wanting. Now Van Drunen has published a new book, Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms: A Study in the Development of Reformed Social Thought. Steven Wedgeworth has read it and has published a trenchant review in Credenda Agenda: Two Kingdoms Critique. Here's Wedgeworth:
There is much to be commended in VanDrunen’s book, and insofar as it merely seeks to defend the position that the Reformation stands in continuity with concepts of natural law, and that it taught the two kingdoms, he is certainly correct. The book repeatedly makes two fundamental confusions, however, and since these are guiding assumptions throughout, the contemporary two kingdoms theory eventually finds itself at considerable distance from the basic social vision of earlier thinkers like Luther and Calvin. These two confusions are 1) identifying the two kingdoms with the modern institutions of “Church” and “State” and 2) setting the contrast between the two kingdoms as one between “redemptive” rule on the one hand and “creational” rule on the other. Both confusions seem to stem from equivocation, allowing for the possibility of closing the gap between “neo-Calvinist” views and modern two kingdom views with regard to the contrast of rule. The first confusion is more serious though, effectively rendering VanDrunen’s larger project incompatible with the older Reformed doctrine.

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