The Covid crisis and lockdowns did a lot of damage physically, spiritually, and emotionally. One effect of the lockdowns is that it has given credibility to some who opposed the lockdowns. Christians who would have never countenanced the errors of theonomy, Christian Reconstructionism, or postmillennialism are now embracing them. Some brief definitions:
- Theonomy holds that the civil magistrate should enforce the Mosaic judicial laws, that they did not expire with the Israelite state.
- Christian Reconstructionism expects a coming collapse of civilization and a new, Christian civilization to be reconstructed along theonomic lines.
- Postmillennialism looks forward to the conversion of all the nations and an earthly glory age of considerable length (one writer suggested 40,000 years) before the return of Christ.
Some are now also entertaining the heresy of Kinism, which is a feature of the darker corners of the Reconstructionist/theonomic/postmillennialist sub-cultures. The central tenets of Kinism, as given by one of its proponents are these:
- That sin is a universal deformity in human nature, and that no perfect society is possible this side of Heaven. That Christians should work to limit human error by seeking those conditions which are inherently productive of a harmony of interests, both in marriage and in society at large. That a harmony of interests naturally exists between people who are similar.
- That the God of the Old Testament, who forbade interracial, interreligious marriages to His covenant nation, is the same as the God of the New Testament. That marriage between parties who are not naturally congenial is unequal yoking. That unequal yoking in marriage or in society at large is destructive of Christian harmony, association, and growth.
By “congenial” the author means “of the same race” and the “yoking” to which he refers is marriage. This was previously known as segregationism. Anyone old enough to remember or able to read a history text knows who George Wallace, Orval Faubus, or Hendrik Verwoerd were and what they did.
This is not to suggest that all Christian Reconstructionists, theonomists, or postmillennialists are Kinists. That is not true. Indeed, Joseph Morecraft, a leading theonomic Reconstructionist, and postmillennialist, has publicly denounced Kinism. It is also true that outside of those sub-cultures, one is not very likely to encounter Kinism, however, inside those sub-cultures, it is more common. I learned about the existence of Kinism while researching the doctrine and practice of Doug Wilson, who has engaged in dialogue over the years with Kinists. The Anti-Defamation League has a helpful who’s who of the Kinism movement. Bizarrely, the Wikipedia entry on Kinism associates it with Thomism but links only to the ADL information page, which makes no reference to Thomism. This is another reminder of the virtual uselessness of Wikipedia.
The first I remember seeing anything about Kinism was on the website Little Geneva, which published a 2003 correspondence between Harry Seabrook and Wilson on slavery, racism, and Kinism. The former was an advocate of Kinism, and the latter has criticized aspects of Kinism. He has also engaged another notorious advocate of Kinism, who was removed from the Christian Reformed Church in 2019 for teaching this heresy. Charlotte Greco writes in the Lansing State Journal that this minister was dismissed from the Christian Reformed Church in 2019 for impenitently teaching Kinism. The CRC became aware that he was teaching Kinism in 2016 and finally declared it heresy, at Synod, in 2019. Rod Dreher has recently documented other examples of Kinism in connection to certain so-called Christian Nationalists.
This issue was put before me in recent months as a couple of friends contacted me to ask about it or topics related to it. There is a self-published paperback volume that is being shared, in some small circles, devoted to attacking any sort of two kingdoms or (as I would rather say) twofold kingdom approach to Christ and culture and Christian ethics. Never mind that the phrase “twofold kingdom” is a direct translation of Calvin’s expression, duplex regimen.
Confusing Nature and Grace
The distinction between nature and grace is a Christian basic. It is, however, one of the many distinctions that we seem to have lost during the theological chaos of the twentieth century. Christians have distinguished between nature and grace since the beginning of the post-apostolic age and the Apostle Paul assumes it through the book of Romans as a basic, evident truth. There are some things we know by nature, e.g., that God is (Rom 1:19–20) and his moral, natural law (Rom 2:12–15).
From nature, we learn the arts (e.g., grammar), arithmetic, and science. We learn the doctrines of the Trinity, Christology, salvation, and the church from grace (i.e., Holy Scripture). When we fail to acknowledge this basic distinction, confusion follows.
One of the reasons the church taught this distinction was to combat the Pelagian heresy. Pelagius was a British monk who appears on the historical radar, in Rome, in the AD 380s. He was worried about the state of Christian morality. He was offended by Augustine’s emphasis on divine grace. In reaction, he denied that Paul taught a federal theology (wherein Adam and Christ are the heads of humanity). He held that we are not born sinners, but we become sinners when we sin. When we sin we imitate Adam. Pelagius denied the necessity of grace and he taught the possibility of perfection before death. Perhaps his most fundamental error was confusing nature and grace. Arminius and the Remonstrants did the same. Thus, the Reformed were traditionally quite clear about this distinction.
The Kinists seek to leverage grace with nature. They claim that people naturally congregate in ethnic/racial people groups, and they seek to use their analysis of nature to leverage grace. This is flatly contrary to the plain teaching of God’s Word.
Under the Mosaic law, there was a clear distinction between Jew and Gentile. The latter were to be regarded as ritually unclean. For Christians, however, that “dividing wall” (Eph 2:14) has been broken down by the death of Christ. Paul writes:
Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility (Eph 2:11–16; ESV).
According to Paul, the Gentiles (that’s everyone but the Jews), who have trusted Christ are no longer separated from Jews who have trusted Christ. The old ethnic and religious barriers that had separated them are done away with in the body of Christ. This is true in two senses. The church of the body of Christ no longer observes such distinctions but second and more profoundly, Christ literally broke down those barriers when his body was, as he said at the institution of the Holy Supper, “broken for” us. He abolished the ceremonial laws that separated Christian Jews and Gentiles. The old enmity is gone—it must be. Our enmity with God is abolished in and by the crucified body of Christ.
Paul is not done with us, however. To the Galatians, responding to the Judaizers, he wrote:
But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise (Gal 3:25–29; ESV).
Again, the Mosaic ceremonial and judicial laws, the pedagogue, the harsh schoolmaster who beats disobedient students, are said to have been abolished. The moral law, unlike the judicial and ceremonial laws, cannot be abolished because they are grounded in the very nature of God. They were revealed long before the Mosaic judicial and ceremonial laws were given. The law to love God with all one’s faculties, and one’s neighbor as oneself shall never be abolished (Matt 5:17).
As a consequence of Christ’s death for us, all believers have the status of firstborn sons. All we Christians, Jew and Gentile alike, are identified with Christ in our baptism (Rom 6:1–4). Among us, who profess Christ, there can be no longer any distinction between Jew or Greek. He elaborated on this point to the Colossians: “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all” (Col 3:11; ESV). In context, Paul was teaching the doctrine of sanctification. His point was that, in Christ, the things that people, by nature, think are important, are no longer important. Paul was not wiping out nature. He appealed to nature contra homosexuality (Rom 1:24–27). Grace does not wipe out actual ethnic differences, but they no longer divide us. The sort of ethnic and racial divisions being promoted by the Kinists are the very sorts of things that that “you must put away” (Col 3:8). They belong to the “old self” (Col 3:9). They do not belong to the “new self, which is being renewed in the image of its Creator” (Col 3:10). To introduce such divisions into the body of Christ is ungodly and forbidden by God’s Word. It seeks to rebuild what God, in the literal body of Christ on the cross, has torn down.
©R. Scott Clark. All Rights Reserved.
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