Who's the Radical?

Darryl replies to his Royal Dougness on allegedly “radical” two-kingdoms ethics. I particularly like most of the comment by Father Taciturn:

There’s nothing radical about it, no new direction that it’s being pushed. It’s actually as old as the 1536 Institutes, which I happened to read the other day just for kicks. Amazing stuff.

This was THE big split between Geneva and Zurich/Strasbourg at the time of the Reformation. The Erastians had Zurich by the #$lls and Zwingli and Bullinger were all on board with the civil magistrate playing the strong-man in the church (these churchmen agreed hoping that tides would turn and they’d have influence on society, imagining it might one day be a two-way street. Thus Bucer, Zwingli and Bullinger were sometimes theocratic, or what became Erastianism. This was the tradition that led to the first WCF. Fortunately, Thomas Erastes was more or less silenced in Heidelberg, and so had little effect on the Heidelberg Catechism, of which he was a co-committee member.

So in sum, there’s nothing particularly “neo” about either trajectory, the 2k tradition or the Erastian/theocratic/moral crusader tradition. 2 kingdoms goes back to the early days of the Reformed Reformation, and thankfully Geneva and later Heidelberg set a non-Erastian tone for the confessional tradition on the continent.

DG is right . . .what’s “neo” is neo-Calvinism….

I dissent from the last few words, which I omitted, identifying Kuyper with the neo-Kuyperians. That’s another question but I doubt that the neo-K’s have been entirely faithful to Kuyper on distinguishing the spheres.

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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