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"Reforming Public Theology: Two Kingdoms, or Two Cities?" Calvin Theological Journal 47 (2012): 122-137.

"Reforming Public Theology: Two Kingdoms, or Two Cities?" Calvin Theological Journal 47 (2012): 122-137.

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Published by James K.A. Smith
Reprinted with permission of CTJ.
Reprinted with permission of CTJ.

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Published by: James K.A. Smith on May 10, 2012
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07/10/2013

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CTj47
(2012):122-137
ReformingPublicTheology:
TwoKingdoms,orTwo
Cities?'
JamesK.A.Smith
Introduction:TheTwo-KingdomCritiqueofNeo-Calvinism
BasedonvoicesemergingfromsomecornersoftheReformedtradition,youwouldthinkthefutureofCalvinismisLutheran.Atjustthemomentthatneo-Calvinismhasbeguntobeabsorbedbywiderevangelicalism''andhasbecomethe
de
facto
paradigmforChristianhighereducationinNorthAmerica,scholarssuchasD.G.Hart,MichaelHorton,andDavidVanDrunenarguethatneo-CalvinistsarenotreallyCalvinists.Curiously,thebasisforthisclaimistheneo-CalvinistrejectionoftheLutheranmodeloftwokingdomsthattheyseeinCalvinand"theearlierReformed
traditiorr."
Atstakearecentralissuesintheologyofculture.Atitsheart,theKuyperiantraditionhasemphasizedthelordshipofChristoverallthingsandhenceaffirmedcreationandcultureasrealmsofGod'sredemptive
J
An
earlierversionofthisarticlewaspresentedasakeynoteaddressfortheconference,"Calvinismforthe21stCentury"atDordtCollege(May2010).I'mgratefultotheorganizersfortheinvitationthatwasacatalystforafirstdraftofthisarticle.
2
ConsiderCharlesColsonandNancyPearcey,
HowNowShallWeLive?
(Wheaton:Tyndale,2004)andJamesBelcher,
DeepChurch
(DownersGrove:InterVarsity,2009)aspopularization'sofakindofKuyperianprojectbeyondtheusualconstituencyoftheDutchReformedtradition.
S
SeeMichaelHorton,"TheTimeBetween:Redefiningthe'Secular'inContemporaryDebate,"in
AfterModernity?Secularity,Globalization,andtheRe-enchantmentoftheWorld,
ed.James
K
A.
Smith(Waco,Tex.:BaylorUniversityPress,2008),45-66;D.G.Hart,
ASecularFaith:WhyChristianityFavorstheSeparationofChurchandState
(NewYork:Ivan
R.
Dee,2006);andmostrecently,DavidVanDrunen,
NaturalLawandtheTwoKingdoms:AStudyintheDevelopmentofReformedSocialThought
(GrandRapids:Eerdmans,2010).VanDrunenregularlypressesthequestionofwhetherneo-Calvinistsare"trulyReformed.""ThedifferencesbetweenCalvinandhisnee-Calvinistfollowerstoday...areoftenstriking"(Ibid.,4;
cf.
376,380,384).Hisargu-mentinthisregard,though,isanextendedcaseofbeggingthequestion.Thepremisesofhisargumentinthisrespectare:
(l)
HisexpositionofCalvinandKuyperarecorrect;and(2)anyonewhois"Reformed"hastoagreewithCalvinand"earlierReformedthought."Neo-Calvinists,however,willrejectbothofthesepremises.Thus,manyReformedfolks,whounder-standthetraditiontobe"alwaysreforming,"willnotbeafraidofVanDrunen'sconclusionthata"transformationist"perspective"wouldconstituteamajorbreakwiththeirheritageandadefactoadmissionthatCalvinandthemagisterialReformationweremistakenatafundamentalpoint"(11-12).We'reCalvinists:weexpectthemtobewrongonpoints!
122
 
REFORMINGPUBLICTHEOLOGY:TWOKINGDOMS,ORTWOCITIES?
in-breakinggrace(Col.
1:15-20).
RejectingthefunctionalGnosticismsoffundamentalismandotherworldlypietism,neo-Calvinistshaveemphasizeda"transformative"project-oratleasttheimportanceofculturallaborthatisrestorativeandredemptive-undertakenbyapeoplefueledbygraceandinformedbyrevelation'sclaimsabouthowthingsoughttobe.Redemption,then,isaboutbodiesasmuchassoulsandisaboutsocialbodiesasmuchasindividuals.InChrist,ourcreatingandredeemingGodeffectsaredemp-tionthatisnothingshortofcosmicandnothinglessthancultural.Thewonderworkingpowerreleasedbytheresurrectionredeemsusfrompun-ishmentbutalsoretoolstheartstothegloryofGod;theascendedChristgrantshisSpirittoempowerustoovercomesin,butthesameSpiritalsoequipsustoprobeintothenooksandcranniesofcellbiology,tryingtoundothecurseofdisease.Inshort,theGreatCommissionistheannounce-mentoftheGoodNewsthatChristhasmadeitpossibleforustotakeuponceagainhumanity'Sculturalmandate.God'sgraceisaswideashisgoodcreation,andhegathersusasapeopletotakeupourcreationaltaskofformingandtransformingcreationforhisglory.
It
isjustthis"transformationist"project,however,thatiscriticizedbytwo-kingdomtheorists.Fortwo-kingdomtheorists,God'sgraceismorecircum-scribed.Thegospelofgraceisannouncedandenactedwithinthespiritualrealmofthechurch,butinthetemporal,civicrealmofourculturelife-theworkofbuildingschoolsandfamiliesandlibraries-wearegovernedbynaturallaw.WemeetChristasRedeemerintheWordandsacraments,whobirthsinusalongingforhiscomingkingdom;but,intherestofourmun-danelives,wedealwithGodtheCreator,giverofnaturallaw.WhileSundaysgiveusatasteofthespiritualkingdomofheaven,therestoftheweekweinhabittheearthlykingdomofthepresent.Whileinthechurch,wefeastontheWordofGod'srevelation,inourculturallivesinthistemporalworldwelivebythe"universallyaccessible"dictatesofnaturallaw.
4
Thetwo-kingdomtheorists,then,admonishustonotconfusethese
two
realms,thesetwokingdoms.Aboveall,theycautionthatwenotconfusetheordersofredemptionandcreation.Onthelevelofculturallife,thebestwecanhopeforisanorderingthatisnatural,notChristian.Assumingthatthechurchistheonlyearthlyinstitutiontouchedbytheorderofredemption,two-kingdomtheoristsalmostmockKuyperianvisionsofChristianculturallabor."RatherthanencouragingaChristianapproachtopoliticsortheartsoragriculture,thetwo-kingdomtheoristadmonishesustoreduceourexpectations,toloweroursights,andsimplyobservethemoreminimal,
"Vanfrrunen,
NaturalLawandtheTwoKingdoms,
1,14."VanDrunenpointstothe"Christiangoatbreeders'society"asanexampleofKuyperiantransfonnationismrunamok,andinthesamecontextcallsintoquestionDordtCollege'Sprojectofbuildingafootballprogram"consistentwiththe'ReformedChristianworldview'"
(NaturalLawandtheTwoKingdoms,
4n5).
123
 
CALVINTHEOLOGICALJOURNAL
penultimateprinciplesofnaturallaw.Whatisgoodforthechurchisnotwhatisgoodfortheschool,thestate,orthesoccerstadium.
As
DavidVanDrunenputsit,thisentails"asharpdistinctionbetweenthechurchasthenon-violentkingdomofChristandthesword-bearing,coercive
state."?
Theproblem,however,isthatitwouldseemthatChristiansinhabitboth.Whatdoesitlooklike,then,toinhabitthesetwokingdoms?
It
ishardnottohearhisdescriptionofthisdualcitizenshipasatadschizo-phrenic":"IntheircapacityascitizensofthespiritualkingdomofChrist,Christiansinsistuponnon-violenceandthewaysofpeace,refusingtobeararmsonbehalfofhiskingdom;[but]intheircapacityascitizensofthecivilkingdom,theyparticipateasnecessaryinthecoerciveworkofthestate,bearingarmsonitsbehalfwhenoccasion
warrants."?
Thus,helatercom-mendsLuther'sencouragementforChristiansarathercounter-intuitivevocation:"Ifyouseethatthereisalackofhangmen...,andyoufindthatyouarequalified,youshouldofferyourservicesandseekthe
position,"?
and,ofcourse,"whateveryoudo,doitasuntotheLord!"WewillreturntoLuther'shangmanlater.VanDrunen'spointisnotthatthereisaChristianwaytobeahangman;rather,histwo-kingdompointisthatthespecificityofChristianfaithdoesnotapplytosuchcivil,cultural,temporallabors.Hangmenandhairdress-ers,soldiersandsous-chefsareallmerelytemporalvocationsforwhichChristianrevelationisirrelevant.Whilewehopesoldiersandsous-chefsareattendingtotheireternaldestinyinthechurch,duringtherestoftheweek,wesimplyhopethattheyoperateaccordingtothedictatesofnaturallaw.Thekingdomofthisworldisnottobetransformedbutratherrespectedasitsownautonomoussphere.Thereismuchtobesaidincriticismofthistwo-kingdomproposal,
10
butacomprehensivereplyisnotmytaskhere.Instead,Iwanttofocusmyresponseonacontestedfigureinthisconversation:SaintAugustine.Forwhiletwo-kingdomtheoristsseemtothinkthefutureofCalvinismisLutheran,IwanttosuggestthatthefutureofCalvinismisevenolder:itisAugustinian.
If
theReformationcanbebestunderstoodasanAugustinian
"Vanfrrunen,
NaturalLawandtheTwoKingdoms,13.
7
Laterheappearstoconcedeasmuch,in
NaturalLawandtheTwoKingdoms,
431.
"Vanljrunen,
NaturalLawandtheTwoKingdoms,13.
"Vanljrunen,
NaturalLawandtheTwoKingdoms,
58,citingLutheron"TemporalAuthority."
10
Forinstance:IsnotthisjustChristendombyothermeans?Whydoesnaturallawalwaysseemtodictatethepetconcernsoftheright?Inaddition,thereareseriousquestionsofepis-temologyassumedinVanDrunen'snotionofnaturallawas"universallyaccessible."Hecol-lapsestheontologicalclaimofcreationalnormsintoaseparableepistemologicalclaimaboutuniversalaccesstosuchnorms.ThisiswhyhepersistentlymisreadshintsofwhathethinksisnaturallawinfiguresrangingfromKuypertoNealPlantinga.
124

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