Flash: Reformed Writer Uses Two Kingdoms

I’m working an essay on the history of covenant theology for a collection edited by Herman Selderhuis to be published by Brill in 2009. I just ran across something that I should have noticed, thought about or remembered years ago but didn’t.

The opening line of Caspar Olevianus’ Expositio Symboli (Exposition of the Apostles’ Creed, 1576) is:

Duo esse regna Spiritualia, etiam in hoc mundo, certum est: Regnum nimirum tenebrarum, & regnum lucis: atque omninó necesse est, ut quilibet hominū in alterutro horum sit dum hîc vivit.

[For it is certain that there are two Spiritual kingdoms in this world, to wit, a kingdom of darkness and and kingdom of light: and it is necessarily the case that every man lives in or the other of them.]

He goes on to say,

For so Christ the king himself speaks to his elect vessel:

Acts 26, For this cause have I appeared unto thee, that I might appoint thee a minister and witness of those things which you have seen: and a little afterwards, That you might open their eyes, that they might be turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, and might receive remission of sins, and a lot among the sanctified, through the faith which is in me. So to the Colossians the first: Giving thanks unto God the Father, who hath made us fit to be partakers of the lot of the Saints in the light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his dearly beloved son.

Hereby it is clear that there are two spiritual kingdoms, even in the world; the kingdom of Christ, in which in very deed are all they that truly repent and believe in Christ, and are also baptized into his name: as also their children, unless when they shall be grown and come to age, through unbelief they reject the benefit offered.

But the other, the kingdom of Satan and darkness, in which all they are, which do not repent, and believe not in Christ, these partly are not baptized, but open contemners of baptism: as the Turks and Jews: and partly again are baptized, but yet are impenitent and unbelievers: these albeit they be baptized and join themselves to the visible Church, remain notwithstanding in very deed so long in the kingdom and power of darkness, until they be converted and believe (Matt. 28:1, I Cor. 6:8-10, 12; 2 Cor. 12:21). Now forasmuch the Articles of the faith contain the sum of that doctrine delivered by Christ the king to his apostles: it is certain, that in them the kingdom of Christ and all the privileges thereof are offered and exhibited to all them that repent and believe: and again that we are taught by this confession, whence we may assure ourselves, that we are true Citizens of the kingdom of Christ, yea and that in this life, and that we have a partaking with Christ the king himself with all his benefits: to wit, if we believe with out heart, and confess with our mouth. For that saying of the Apostle is sure, in Romans 10: The word is near thee, in they mouth and in thy hearts. This is that word of faith which we preach, to wit, that if you will confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and will believe in thy heart, that God hath raised him up from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth man confesses to salvation, For the Scripture says, whosoever believes in him shall not be ashamed.

What the kingdom of Christ is, and that the new covenant is administered therein.

Let us then see what the kingdom of Christ is, which begins in the faithful in this world; which also in the same sense is named the kingdom of God, and the kingdom of heaven. [Matt. 3:2; Luke 4:43; 7:28 ] The kingdom of Christ in this world is the administration of salvation, whereby Jesus Christ the king himself, outwardly gathers to himself through the Gospel and the sacrament of baptism, a people or a visible Church, (in which many hypocrites are mingled,) and calls them to salvation, and administers and gives himself the same salvation to which he calls them, in those, whom he accounts for his elect in this congregation, whilst that he makes his outward vocation effectual, that is to say, calls them to repentance and faith, by which they answer to him that calls: and whom he thus calls, those also he justifies, not imputing their sins unto them: whom he justifies, those also he glorifies, purging them daily more and more from their sins, and so instructing, framing, and perfecting them to all godliness, righteousness, and that to life everlasting, that the glory of Christ their king may shine in them: using to that purpose, the dispensation of his word and sacraments by mere ministers, and that both public, domestic, and private, and therewithall also the diligent administration of his discipline, as well of repentance and ceremonies, as of mans whole life.

The universal administration of this kingdom of Christ, is that same new covenant, that God hath promised in the last times to make with us by Jeremiah the prophet, not according to that same covenant he made with our fathers, when he brought them out of the land of Egypt, because they had made that covenant void: but that this should be the covenant, that he would give his law in the midst of us; and that he would write it in our hearts, and that he would be our God, and we should be his people, and that we should know him, because he would be merciful unto our iniquity, and would not remember our sins anymore (Jer. 31) And by Hosea the prophet, Chapter two, I will marry thee in faith, and you will know the Lord. This covenant Christ the king and priest of his Church hath ratified forever by his merit, between God and us, and everyday works in us through his efficacy (Daniel 9). Verily by his merit, seeing that Christ by his priesthood, that is, by his intercession and sacrifice, laying an everlasting foundation unto his kingdom, hath satisfied the righteousness of God, and so delivers us from sin and the curse of the law, and from the kingdom and power of the devil, and obtains the spirit of sanctification, through which he may reign in us: and through his efficacy or operation, whereby, as the king of his Church he first brings our hearts to the knowledge of their evil, and to the consideration of the divine righteousness, and creates in them the study of reconciling themselves to God, and converting them to his will. Now afterwards, things this set in order, he offers the word of reconciliation, and engenders faith in them, through which he communicates himself (after whom they thirst) unto them ; to this end, that having obtained through his merit, justification, they may use it to the everlasting peace of their conscience, and may daily also through his spirit be restored and built up. Lastly he exhorts those that are reconciled, and thus endowed with his spirit, to bring forth works, worthy those that repent, to the end, that the glory of their king may shine in them (Rom. 8:29,30).

These degrees, in the administration of the kingdom of Christ, and of his new covenant, the Lord comprehends in that same speech to Paul, when he says that thou mayest open their eyes: that is done, when through the working of that king Christ, their conscience is illuminated through the Holy Ghost. (For it is he that makes his ministry effectual) so as they know both themselves and their sins, and again God, his holiness and righteousness, to which they must be conformable, that through faith turning unto him, they may receive in Christ a double benefit, forgiveness of their sins and a lot amongst the sanctified, who daily study (Christ exhorting them) to bring forth the worthy fruits of repentance. For whom hath he chosen, those also he hath called: whom he hath called, those also he justified: whom he hath justified, those also he hath glorified. First therefore let us see how Christ our king by calling into his kingdom, doth engender in men a desire of being reconciled to God; then how he offers unto them the forgiveness of their sins, or rather the free grace of reconciliation and justification, and there withall how he begins, their restoring to everlasting life and glory: how daily he sets it forward, and at length in the world to come doth fully finish the same.

I’m not claiming that this is a fully developed “two-kingdoms” ethic, indeed, it may be that this way of using the categories has as much in common with Luther as with Calvin. It’s interesting, however, to observe that he uses the categories (which I’m told never happened) and also that when he describes and defines the kingdom of God, he doesn’t speak of the civil kingdom or the culture but the visible, institutional church and of the means of grace.

A third thing to notice is how he relates faith and union. For Olevianus, when he wants to assure folk that they have the benefits of Christ, to what does he appeal? To the fact that they believe and are thereby united to Christ by the Spirit through the gospel.

Fourth, notice how he includes unbelievers in the visible church but excludes them from the kingdom of God. This is the visible/invisible distinction or the internal/external distinction.

Fifth, notice how he identifies the covenant of grace with the kingdom of God. He uses them as parallel categories.

©R. Scott Clark. All Rights Reserved.


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  1. So then the “other” kingdom is “the kingdom of Satan and darkness?”

    If so, then as Nelson Kloosterman asks of Van Drunen’s two-kingdom “construction,” “[t]o which of the two kingdoms, worldly or spiritual, must we assign marriage and the family?”

    Olevianus’ view sounds far less “neutral” than current theories being advocated.

  2. Dr. Clark, the Latin quote at the head of this post seems to be quite distinct from the two-kingdom view that you advocate. In the two-kingdom view that you promulgate, a Christian is a member of both kingdoms (the spiritual kingdom and the civil kingdom). They are not opposed to each other, they are distinct areas of life in which a believer participates in.

    Whereas, in the quote above (as in Augustine’s two cities and the Westminster Standards two kingdoms; see SC 102), one is only a member of one kingdom (darkness or light) because they are dead set against one another. One has Christ as head the other has Satan as head. Surely you don’t believe Satan is the head of what you call the “civil kingdom,” and so, these are different doctrines.

    You say that this is not a “fully developed ‘two-kingdoms’ ethic.” Seems fully developed to me (unless you believe Westminster wasn’t “fully developed”? Again, see SC 102). His distinction is quite different from the two-kingdom distinction you make. And so I don’t see his view (or Augustine’s or Westminster’s) to be a precursor to your understanding of the two kingdoms.

    Rather, I see you confusing things by using the same language and equivocating on the terms when it’s obvious (at least to me) that the distinction is of a different nature.

  3. Casey,

    1. I’m only trying to make the point that the two-kingdoms wasn’t foreign to Reformed theology as I’ve been told repeatedly.

    2. Yes, this is more Augustinian or perhaps Lutheran than Calvin’s use of the 2 kingdoms but I wouldn’t judge the entire work on this brief passage.

    3. There are a variety of ways of speaking of two kingdoms. Olevianus isn’t setting forth a civil ethic. The book is to set for a theology and particularly a soteriology. It’s just interesting that he uses the 2 Kingdoms category along the way.

    4. Casey, this isn’t war. It’s historical theology. Relax.

    5. Stephen, I think these points answer your question. This use of the 2K is no exclusive of the sort of use of the 2K that VanDrunen finds in Calvin.

    6. I’m reading Olevian’s commentary on Romans and his De substantia and natural law is all over the place! It’s a natural law-a-palooza! Those folks who don’t think that the Reformed taught natural law just don’t know the sources.

  4. My brother,

    I don’t know who has claimed that “two kingdoms” language was “foreign” to Reformed theology, so I don’t know who you’re “sparring” with. The language of two kingdoms, that of light and darkness, just seems to drip off the pages of the New Testament. But the Reformed view of “the” two-kingdoms, as least according to the Westminster Standards, seems to go along the line of Olevianus’ quotes above (which you seemed to suggest isn’t “fully developed” for some reason).

    But why, if you want to make the point that your view of “the” two-kingdoms isn’t foreign to Reformed theology, do you offer a quote from a Reformed theologian who’s two-kingdom doctrine is of an entirely different nature than yours? The language of “two kingdoms” is just accidental, obviously it’s the essence of the distinction that matters.

    I’m really not convinced that Calvin follows your understanding of the two kingdoms either, but that’s a bit of a tangent. And I understand this isn’t a war, Dr. Clark (I don’t recall suggesting that it was?). I just don’t see how Olevianus (in this instance, based on what you quoted of his work in your post) has anything to do with your two kingdom doctrine. If it’s just a lesson in historical theology, then thank you for taking the time to post it. 🙂

  5. Casey,

    You didn’t know that the so-called “2K” or “W2K” is a “virus”? Man, you’re behind the times!

    The Olevianus passage is interesting for the reasons I mentioned but also because it’s so similar to Luther’s construction of the two kingdoms. I thought Lutheran and Reformed theology were hermetically sealed? I’m sure I’ve read that on the internet too and if it’s on the internet, then it must be true, right?

  6. R2Kt theology is a virus.

    But I have gone out of my way, time and time again, to make it clear that I understand that Reformed people in history have indeed used Two Kingdom nomenclature. I’ve never ever denied that. Never! Why do you mis- characterize people this way?

    Second, if you want a quote from Gerhardus Vos marking the distinctions between Lutheran theology and Reformed Theology I’ll be glad to provide it. More than glad. Futher, I’ll be glad to provide my own little conversations with Lutherans where it is clearly articulated that Reformed is a different theology than Lutheran. VERY Different.


  7. Bret,

    So, all those orthodox Calvinist writers who’ve taught that the church IS the kingdom of God (as Olevianus does here) and who go on to distinguish, as Calvin and many others did, between a common civil sphere and a sacred ecclesiastical sphere are communicating a virus?

    This strikes me as the worst sort of right-wing, QIRC-y, transformationalist arrogance. Thanks for illustrating the need for the book. I appreciate that.

    If you would pay attention you would see that I’ve written a good bit about how Lutheran and Reformed theology differ. It’s one of the major themes in the Olevianus book. Have you bothered to read it?

    I’m well aware of how Lutherans regard us. I have an essay coming out on that very topic this academic year, Dv.

    None of that changes the fact that there there profound agreements between confessional Lutherans and confessional Reformed folks on some basic issues, even if Lutherans can’t acknowledge it (for reasons I explain in the essay) and even if some “Reformed” folks are bound and determine to ignore them.

  8. Dr. Clark,

    Well, I think I’m going to dig out the dialog I had in the past year with a well placed Lutheran in the Miss. Synod in order to demonstrate that the differences are more than casual. Secondly, Dr. Clark, there are more books to read on the differences between Lutherans and Calvinists that one can read. One doesn’t need to line your pockets with profits in order to be up to speed on the subject. I look forward to reading your essay if it is on line of if it can be borrowed from somebody.

    Second, despite your first paragraph, I have constantly said that I’ve little problem with typical 2k theology though I prefer the Sphere Sovereignty paradigm. My problem, is when 2k goes R2Kt virus. As Casey well pointed out historic 2k theology is a completely different creature then what Escondido is pushing.

    Finally, this all may be just Historical theology, but in light of the reality that ideas have consequences, it still may be something worthy to going to war (metaphorically speaking of course) over.

    Maybe our daughters can hook up for a duet someday. My Anna is pretty proficient on the flute, though her playing of it happens in the Kingdom of Satan.


  9. Oh, and by the way… Anybody who says that Reformed people didn’t use Natural law categories must have a brain cramp. Now, the question is how did they use it and does it work in any other of context than a Christendom context. Trying to refashion Natural law after the wreckage done by existentialism and logical positivism is like trying to refashion Eden after the fall.

  10. Bret,

    When did I ever say that the differences were CASUAL? We have HUGE Christological differences. Read the book. Really.

    Of course, as I’ve said many times, the two kingdoms theology was worked out in a theocratic context and yes, some of us are trying to put that theology to use in a post-theocratic context. Why is that wrong?

    I don’t see why it’s a “terminological” problem that there were multiple formulations of the “two kingdoms.”

    If we’re using it relative to soteriology (didn’t I say this already?) we can easily speak the way Augustine, Luther, and Olevianus did.

    Stay with me here, if, however, we’re the two-kingdoms analysis relative to civil ethics in the post-canonical, post-theocratic, sense, we can speak rather differently. There’s overlap but distinction. In that case, the “civil kingdom” isn’t co-extensive with the kingdom of darkness.

    Olevianus was a humanist. He recognized the value and reality of non-Christian thought, art etc. As I said, the Expositio was not a civil ethic. It’s a treatise primarily on soteriology.

  11. Send me the book and I’ll read it … promise.

    Charlotte Christian Reformed Church
    421 State Street
    Charlotte Michigan 48813

    You asked,

    “Of course, as I’ve said many times, the two kingdoms theology was worked out in a theocratic context and yes, some of us are trying to put that theology to use in a post-theocratic context. Why is that wrong?”

    The answer is because we don’t live in a post-theocratic context and that it is impossible to live in a post-theocratic context. All cultures or peoples or socieities are organized theocratically, whether in a dejure or defacto sense. Theocracy is an inescapable category and all that.

    Lutheran Theology and Reformed Theology are similar only in the sense that Lutheranism partakes of felicitous inconsistency. We may use the same words or phrases but because the systems are different we are using them equivocally when the systems are compared as a whole. This is no different than the similarity one finds between Reformed theology and any other branch you’d like to name. In all branches you can find surface similarities but when you burrow down you realize that you’re not saying the same thing at all.

    Thanks for being gentlemanly,


  12. Bret,

    You can buy the book here or check it out at no cost from virtually any academic or public library via inter-library loan.

    You’ve rigged the game!

    You’ve set up a definition that is inherently circular. It’s one thing to do this with ultimate questions. It’s another to do it with penultimate questions.

  13. Dr. Clark,

    I haven’t called your view a virus, though that’s an amusing pun. I used to do Y2K mainframe programming fixes.

    Regarding the “terminological” problem, maybe if you read the post you’ll see what I’m talking about. Your post and comments on this thread illustrate the problem.

    Understandably you’re busy, but I’d still appreciate a more articulate response to my comment that begins “My brother, etc.” Thanks.

  14. “So then the ‘other’ kingdom is ‘the kingdom of Satan and darkness’?

    “If so, then as Nelson Kloosterman asks of Van Drunen’s two-kingdom ‘construction,’ ‘[t]o which of the two kingdoms, worldly or spiritual, must we assign marriage and the family?'”

    That’s easy: marriage and family are grounded in creation. But while we are commanded to honor our parents and not exasperate our children we are also told to hate them. After all, even marriages will be dissolved in the next age. But if marriage and family are co-extensive with the “realm of darkness” then why do we keep getting married and having kids along with the pagans? Kloosterman is simply trying to hard in his critiques against DVD.

    Part of the problem, it seems to me, is that those who take so much issue with the constructions of W2K seem to have something of a blind spot for the fact that these things are nothing if not fluid, something perhaps a healthy dose of Reformed triadalism might help to quell…


  15. Zrim, this might be a bit premature of a judgment (since I don’t know you), but it seems to me that you don’t understand the thrust of Dr. Kloosterman’s critique (based on what you said in your above comment).

  16. Dr. Clark,

    Someone can. But then that would be two distinct understandings of “two kingdoms.” And this isn’t necessarily a problem as long as the nature of the distinction is understood based on the context in which it’s used.

    What you call the “soteriological” two kingdoms is quite a different idea/distinction from what you’re calling the “social-ethical” two kingdoms. They’re not really related. If you haven’t already, please see the post linked to above on “terminology” where I spin this idea out and find three distinct “two kingdoms” (maybe there are more).

    Part of the confusion comes when you talk about “the” two kingdoms as if there was only one view. Precision in language is important to me. In primary sources, terms like “civil kingdom,” etc., must be adequately defined/understood before we move forward to make connections with contemporary views.

    I’ll ask you again: If you want to make the point that your view of “the” two-kingdoms isn’t foreign to Reformed theology, why do you offer a quote from a Reformed theologian who’s two-kingdom doctrine is of an entirely different nature than yours? The language of “two kingdoms” is just accidental, obviously it’s the essence of the distinction that matters.

    Thanks for being willing to dialogue with me. 😉 We have our disagreements, sure, but we’re united by one Spirit and I continue to pray our Lord to bless your labors in his Church.

  17. Casey,

    Don’t fret. Plenty who actually know me still think I understand very little, including me.

    But I have read Kloosterman’s critique and wonder just how much he understands of DVD; understanding and agreement are two different projects, as you know. And since we are all naturally more one-kindgomites than two-, I like to think I understand something of the former. And however much various religious traditions diverge from each other, it sure seems clear that they are all closer to one-kingdom than two-.

    Unfortunately for Kloosterman, he seems to finally judge the merits of DVD’s case by how well it holds up to what some may consider the politically correct doctrines of political-moralism, e.g., if we end up with divergent views on the freighted legislative issue called “abortion,” then it must be a failure (and unfortunately for DVD he seems to entertain this all-too-fraught issue to make his case). But those of us who would champion natural law as DVD understands it must be ready and willing for certain arguments to be lost, up to and including the cause of the pro-life movement, a movement with which I still have yet to understand what an orthodox Calvinism has in common.

  18. Zrim,

    Where to start? 🙂 Yes, I agree that understanding and agreement are two different things. But understanding comes first. I bet we agree on that. Hopefully we’ll come to understand each other’s views better during our interactions.

    To say that we are “all naturally more one-kindgomites than two-” is to presuppose your view of two kingdoms, and if you follow the WSC view, then I disagree because I take issue with the way these “kingdoms” have been defined. And I’m not really sure I understand why you bring this up, except maybe to suggest that Kloosterman is a “one-kingdomite”? (Whatever a “one-kingdomite” is.) I don’t know, maybe you could clarify.

    Regarding Kloosterman’s critiques of DVD about abortion or any other moral issue, it seems to me they’re reductio ad absurdum arguments. They aren’t the foundation of his critique. There’s something more fundamental going on there than just an appeal to your emotions. He’s using these moral questions as a testing ground for DVD’s view.

    I find Kloosterman’s question about marriage is an important one (although I wasn’t the one who brought it up here). And your answer, as I suggested above, seems to me inadequate simply because you may not be understanding the point of his critique. (Then again, quite possibly I’m not understanding the point of your response!). Of course marriage has its roots in creation. No one’s arguing against that.

    To be honest, though, I think our discussion has gone far off field as it pertains to Dr. Clark’s post!

  19. Zrim,

    “But those of us who would champion natural law as DVD understands it must be ready and willing for certain arguments to be lost…”

    Would you include the argument from Rom. 2:15 that asserts that the natural law is written on the hearts of all men as a loss?

  20. Casey,

    I consider a one-kingdomite to be he who agrees in the general principle that “true religion has a direct or indirect bearing on and obvious implications for the cares of this world.” Just as we are natural-born Pelagians we are natural-born one-kingdomites. And I brought it up only to help make the point about “understanding.” I understand Pelagianism because, in this sense, I am one just like you and RSC and John Calvin and any other human being. One-kingdomizing, just like Pelagianism, is rather easy to understand because they are intutitive. The Gospel, two-kingdoms, etc. are counter-intuitive.

    Sorry, but given the almost ablsoute sway the pro-life movement has even in conservative Reformed circles, I’m not quite persuaded yet that Kloosterman’s appeal to issues surrounding abortion are quite that clean.

    Re the marriage query, I answered the question. What have I misunderstood exactly? Marriage and family are grounded in creation. Maybe I should add that while this is true they both exist in the “wordly and spiritual” realms. Does that help? I guess I need to you help me understand what I am not understanding.

  21. Stephen,

    By “certain arguments” I mean temporal ones like whether one section of the population may have sway over the life and death of another (women over their unborn) or one section of the population may have absolute legal protection at virtually all costs against the injuries of life up to and including death itself that the rest of us don’t (those in vitro versus those ex vitro) or whether both morally-controlled arguments pale in comparison to those of jurisdiction, or even less fraught issues like whether a milage hike is in order, or even less fraught issues like whether cell phones should be turned off in the cinema. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. That’s the deal when everyone appeals to natural law.

    So, no, I don’t mean that Paul loses anything. Not only do my Protestant-evangelical views of holy writ prevent me from that generally speaking, but I do perceive Paul as making the case for NL anyway.

  22. Zrim,

    Do you use this term “one-kingdomite” disparagingly? You seemed to compare it to Pelagianism in your post, as though it were something we ought to abhor. Did you make up this term, or have you read it somewhere as you have it defined above? I would prefer to understand where you’re coming from with it before I interact with it.

    Re: marriage and Dr Kloosterman, I still don’t think you understand the nature of his critique. But I don’t want to speak for him; I do recommend you reread his writings. An answer to his critique cannot simply be “marriage is a part of creation.” He knows that already.

    I don’t want to throw all my cards on the table, but I’m convinced there are some very serious issues brewing here. And I’m not sure that commenting on RSC’s blog post is the place to discuss them.

  23. Casey,

    My general point—which seems to have served to perhaps distract—was that certain systems seem quite natural to us. But, specifically, I do consider both Pelagianism and the confusion and blurring of the kingdoms to be functions of natural religion and to be rejected. If you consider that disparaging, ok. I have not read the explicit term “one-kingdomite” anywhere; it’s just sort of evolved as I have worked through my understanding of W2K (I guess that means it’s made-up, sorry). I think W2K seems more in keeping with the implications of the Creator-creature distinction, whereas any other formulation seems to want to find some way for heaven and earth to find a natural point of contact. But Jesus said his kingdom was not of this world. Were his fingers crossed when he said that?

    Re the rest of your comment, you’ll have to excuse my muddle-headedness again, but I don’t understand: isn’t that the point in these sorts of exchanges, to help make clear where one is coming from, etc.? I’m not sure why you can’t help me understand Kloosterman here on RSC’s blog. Here’s what I have done to help myself:

    I have read DVD’s “Case for NL.”

    Then I read Kloosterman’s review: http://opc.org/os.html?article_id=77

    Then I read DVD’s response: http://opc.org/os.html?article_id=78

  24. Casey,

    What are you talking about? When did the historic Reformed doctrine of “two kingdoms” become a “very serious” issue?

    The doctrine of the covenant, justification, and the like, those are “very serious” issues. Disagreements over ethics and exactly how divine revelation is to applied to post-canonical life, those are important but I don’t how they warrant the sort of foreboding and mystery implied in your comments.

    You want us to read Dr Kloosterman. Well, I’ve read his interaction Dr VanDrunen and I found it quite disappointing. It does not appear to me that he understands Dr VanDrunen well at all. It’s not clear that many of the critics of Dr VanDrunen have taken the time to understand what he’s doing. Indeed, I don’t see a lot of evidence that they’ve really read his historical research very carefully.

    I think Zrim’s “one-kingdomite” comment is a rhetorical zinger in light of the way the idea of two kingdoms has been treated by various transformationalist types. According to one of Dr VanDrunen’s latest essays, at least part of his project is to recover what Abraham Kuyper actually taught, as distinct from the way he has been appropriated by his followers –yes, it’s sort of a Kuyper v the Kuyperians approach!

    One of my great concerns in all this to recover the old Reformed view of nature and grace which has been lost among most transformationalists. I’ve been impressed by how often the older Reformed writers appealed to nature as “pure” and “good” before the fall (e.g. Rollock and Polanus) and how strongly they distinguished between creation and redemption. Just as we’ve been confused over covenant and justification in the modern period I suspect we’ve also become confused over nature and grace.

  25. Zrim,

    I don’t hold the W2K view, so I take issue with your “one-kingdomite” terminology. But thank you for explaining it to me. And I’d like for you to explain to me how I’ve blurred the Creator-creature distinction, and why you think I see Christ crossing his fingers when he talks about his kingdom, merely because I disagree with your “two kingdoms” theology.

    Concerning your understanding of Dr Kloosterman’s critique, I’ll have to go back and reread it all. It’s been some time before I’ve read them. Until then, I suppose I should hold off on answering you so as to be more precise.

    Dr Kloosterman is one of my professors so I think I have a general understanding of where he’s coming from (though I don’t presume to speak for him). I’ve also come to understand DVD’s book as I’ve read it a couple of times, and other resources available on the web, etc., regarding his (and RSC’s) perspective. I’d be willing to be corrected if I’ve misunderstood him (or RSC) at any point. But I do find his biblical and historical arguments unconvincing.

  26. Dr. Clark,

    I don’t believe your view of “the two kingdoms” is historically Reformed. I’ve seen you make appeals to historic Reformed theologians to support your doctrine, but I find them all wanting — same with your appeals to the Westminster Standards. I’ve already explained this in my comments on this page, which you still haven’t answered for some reason.

    Sure, the doctrine of the covenant and justification are serious, but these aren’t the only doctrines covered in the Reformed confessions. I think our understanding of sanctification is a pretty serious issue, too. Is antinomianism “very serious”? Hypothetically, you could have an orthodox understanding of justification and still be an antinomian (I read a Lutheran author not too long ago that seemed to fit this description).

    Anyway, I’m not trying to be mysterious, I’m just trying to stay on topic — I obviously can’t cover everything in my comments here, it’s just not the medium to be doing that. And if you could, what about VanDrunen does Kloosterman not understand? Perhaps you think there is something I don’t understand about VanDrunen, too? By all means, I invite your correction if I’ve misrepresented/misunderstood him or you in any way. Thanks.

  27. Casey,

    Whoa, whoa, whoa. I’m not accusing *you* of blurring anything or crossing anyone’s fingers–I’m really talking about other folks doing that. I have yet to understand just where you are coming from. So far all I know is that you are not as convinced of any W2K theory. You have said I don’t understand Kloosterman. That must mean, to your mind, you do. I’d like you to break it open for me. Somehow I don’t think it’s enough to say that just because you don’t agree with DVD that someone who does simply “doesn’t understand Kloosterman.” Maybe it’s just that you don’t agree with DVD?

    Maybe it would help to not worry about speaking for someone else and just try speaking for yourself? The perspectives coming out of WSC just make sense to me. I’ll admit, I haven’t waded through all the historical data. But that’s because I’m not an historian. Nor am I a theogian, or an exegete or even a student of such, but for the same reasons. I just like listening to them, especially the ones with whom I agree(!).

  28. Zrim,

    I appreciate this last comment you made. Sorry for misreading you! :/

    It seems you disagree with Kloosterman, but that’s not why I think you don’t understand him. It’s the nature of your response to his question that brings me to that conclusion. And as much as I’m itching to jump into this with a full and lengthy response, I think it’d be better to wait. I’ll go ahead and work on a detailed post for my blog on this. I want to go and reread the interactions between DVD and Kloosterman before doing so. I’d rather wait and do a good job with it than throw something at you that doesn’t get to the heart of the matter with clarity. I hope you’ll understand.

    The Lord be with you, friend!

  29. Casey,

    Well, we just disagree. I’ve read the Kloosterman/VanDrunen exchange and I side with VanDrunen. It’s not clear to me that Klooserman understands what VanDrunnen is saying.

    Even if I’m wrong about Kloosterman, and I may be (it’s been a while since I read the exchange) why does this disagreement become a “serious” matter? That’s what I don’t understand.

    When I appeal to the history of Reformed thought on this, I’m not saying that pre-modern writers put it exactly as VanDrunen has. That would be anachronistic. I do think, however, there are trajectories of thought and basic ideas, e.g. natural law, on which we can capitalize in the post-theocratic era.

    There’s no question in my mind that natural law was a fundamental Reformed idea. The question is what should we do with it in a post-theocratic period?

  30. I think that is an important point, Scott. Actually, I might call it serious. Kidding.

    Seriously this time, maybe it’s our sometimes misguided and collective disdain for the doctrines of “relevancy,” but one of the things I don’t think taken into account often times is the fact that we live in the here and now. There is a fair bit of expanse between time and place. 2K/NL simply has to mean something different, or at least nuanced, for 21st century Americans than it did for 16th century Swiss. I never understand why that is such a problem. But, then again, I have always had problems understanding things.

  31. Dr. Clark,

    The “very serious issues” that I mentioned above are not directly tied to the Kloosterman/VanDrunen exchange. I believe the problems to be broader than that. And as I said, I don’t think this is the place or time to discuss these issues in depth.

    But now I’m a bit confused. One moment you equate your view as being “the historic Reformed doctrine,” and the next moment you say historic Reformed writers give us a “trajectory of thought.” So which is it? Is your view *the* historic Reformed view, or is it a (possibly legitimate, possibly illegitimate) development on a historic trajectory?

    You keep making posts on your blog along the lines of, “See, there’s a historic example of this teaching!” And then when the question is put to you about it, you seem to admit that it’d be anachronistic to make such a link. So I guess I don’t understand the purpose of some of your posts then.

    I’ll ask you for the third and last time: If you want to make the point that your view of “the” two-kingdoms isn’t foreign to Reformed theology, why do you offer a quote from a Reformed theologian who’s two-kingdom doctrine is of an entirely different nature than yours? The language of “two kingdoms” is just accidental, obviously it’s the essence of the distinction that matters.

  32. Dr. Clark,

    “There’s no question in my mind that natural law was a fundamental Reformed idea. The question is what should we do with it in a post-theocratic period?”

    What about the question as to whether there is any ontological reality to the concept of natural law theory? If exegetical and theological arguments challenge natural law theories on all fronts, then as protestants that mouth the words “s-o-l-a-s-c-r-i-p-t-u-r-a,” shouldn’t there be less of a blind assumption of its existence, and take into consideration what the Bible has to say about a postlapsarian anthropology, namely, man’s ability to reason or do good?

    I see all natural law theories as nebulous when scrutinized against what has been revealed by God in Scripture. And I think it is unethical and immoral for NL proponents to misquote Scripture outright in order to make their theory appear biblical, like they (RSC, DVD, et al) do with Rom. 2:14-16.

    A cursory look at the historical evidence of a natural law theory (beyond the Reformers – back to the pagan origins) should leave one with the undeniable impression that there is no such thing as *a* natural law theory. At best, there are many, many competing NL theories thought up by humanists throughout the ages.

    To make it appear that there is or ever was a monolithic natural law concept floating around out there somewhere, whether it be the Stoics, Aristotle, Thomas, the Reformers, Jean Porter, et al, seems to be either a seriously uninformed venture – or an intentional outright deception.

  33. Stephen,

    Go read Barth’s Nein and then come back. Read my little essay on Calvin (available as a PDF at my WSC site) and natural law. The position you articulated above is Barth’s or not far from it.

  34. The Reformers, including Calvin, took “into consideration what the Bible ha[d] to say about a postlapsarian anthropology, namely, man’s ability to reason or do good?” Surely they weren’t Barthian, were they?

    Certain extremes “within this framework,” as VanTil shows, become distinctively Barthian, but I have not asserted KB’s position thus far (to my knowledge at least).

    And surely Barth didn’t exclusively “think it is unethical and immoral for NL proponents to misquote Scripture outright in order to make their theory appear biblical, like they (RSC, DVD, et al) do with Rom. 2:14-16.”

    John Murray, Haldane, Meyer, et al, agree with me here. Are they Barthian too?

    And I can’t think of one scholar that denies that “there are many, many competing NL theories thought up by humanists throughout the ages.”

    I’ve read your paper on Calvin and the Lex Naturalis. I am not arguing that some Reformers taught positive use of “NL.” Because they taught something does not make it true. As Morey pointed out, they also held the perpetual virginity of Mary and other strange ideas.

    But to go as far as to say that the natural law and the contents of the decalogue are identical, when compared with Scripture, seems an unbiblical doctrine – one that should be discarded.

    The psalmist breaks out in doxology as he praises God saying,

    “He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
    they do not know his rules.
    praise the LORD!” (Ps. 147:20)

    Dr. Clark, was David a Barthian too?

  35. Stephen,

    If you prefer the learned Morey to Calvin, Luther, Bucer, Melanchthon, and the entire Reformed tradition, go away and leave me in peace. There’s nothing I can do for you.

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