Video: The Two Kingdoms

Today’s question: “Could you say more about the Two Kingdoms theology—especially how it need not fall back into a narrow pietism?”

Within the video, I reference Brad Littlejohn’s The Two Kingdoms: A Guide for the Perplexed.

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About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
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3 Responses to Video: The Two Kingdoms

  1. cal says:

    Rather disappointing expose on the issue. There’s an appeal to sapiential prudence, but it ignores the ability to decide these boundaries. For example, John Hooper’s protest over vestments and the requirement to wear the surplice. From the Elizabethan point of view, this piece of dress was ‘adiaphora’ and, under two-governments, belonged to the magistrate. But Hooper’s argument was the presence, let alone the requirement, of vestments was Judaizing, an attempt to bring back Old Testament forms. It was analogous to St. Paul and circumcision. I’m not saying Hooper was right, but the result was state pressure to conform, which he eventually buckled under. What, precisely, were the mechanisms of judgement? The queen’s fiat will? Privy councilors? Who gets to decide and what process facilitates this decision? This is where the Two-Kingdoms, as the Magisterial Reformers understood it, breaks down into the harsh reality and the high-flying ideas.

    And the idea that the governorship of the queen of the Church as prudential is somewhat silly in light of the long scope of English history, from wars of conquest, chattel slavery, empire, etc. It’s hard to see how this form of government did anything but hinder the church in many epochs. Every reform society ended up becoming an engine of state or commerce, fundamentally compromised. The story of the SPG, or the Non-Jurors, or the various missions to Africa, or even the meltdowns in the COE from the Laudians to the Methodists reflect this story. I could go on and on. The fact that good came out of them is a sign of God’s mercy and love despite cold-hearted treason.

    Which gets down to prudential application of presbyterian and episcopal forms of governments. The existence of these forms dates not to any exercise of prudence but from iure divino arguments or appeals to church as organ of state. The fact that we have them now is a consequence of it, and the claim that we decide, according to prudence, now seems like de factoist reasoning. The whole account seems like an exercise in post-hoc-propter-hoc self-referential reasoning.

    I don’t mean to sound harsh it’s just that while I’ve found theonomists frustrating, two-kingdoms arguments always sound like they’re doing acrobatics to avoid answering any questions of substance. I agree with the concern over a sacral state or a sacerdotal ministry, but I think the Swiss Anabaptists began to prove better answers to these questions than their Magisterial brother. The church, even in institutional forms, has a different end than every other social body outside of itself, and cannot operate as a mere institution, functioning to mere creational logic, but a creation proleptically envisioned in maturity.

  2. Pingback: Video: More on Two Kingdoms | Alastair's Adversaria

  3. Pingback: More on Two Kingdoms – Adversaria Videos and Podcasts

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