Volume 45 - Issue 2

The Resurgence of Two Kingdoms Doctrine: A Survey of the Literature

By Michael N. Jacobs


Two Kingdoms doctrine distinguishes between the common kingdom, the created order common to all life that will one day come to an end, and the redemptive kingdom, the church and those called to consummation into the world to come at the end of the current age. This article surveys the recent resurgence of scholarship on Two Kingdoms doctrine, focusing on work by David VanDrunen, Michael Horton, and D. G. Hart. The article concludes by reviewing neo-Calvinist criticisms of the doctrine and suggesting potential paths forward for future Two Kingdoms scholarship.

How should Christians participate in public life, either individually or collectively through the institutional church? The transformationalist perspective dominates the answer to this question, particularly in North America. The transformationalist end-goal is the same whether one sympathizes with the conservative right or the progressive left: Christians should play an active role in transforming all of society to better reflect Christ’s sacrificial love and kingship over all creation. In this sense, Christians are not just co-heirs with Christ; they are co-redeemers. This paper explains an alternative framework for Christian cultural engagement—the Two Kingdoms doctrine, which rejects the transformationalist’s mono-kingdom conception of Christ’s reign and the notion of Christians as co-redeemers.

Two Kingdoms doctrine recognizes Jesus Christ’s lordship over all, but contends that Christ reigns over different realms of creation in different ways. On the one hand, Jesus rules over the common kingdom—the created order common to all life that will one day come to an end—as creator and sustainer. On the other hand, Jesus rules over the redemptive kingdom—the church and those called to consummation into the world to come at the end of the current age—as redeemer and savior. Christ’s varied lordship in these two kingdoms has implications for both the rightly ordered life of the church and individual Christians’ engagement in public life and the common kingdom. This essay explores the Two Kingdoms perspective in these areas.

Two Kingdoms doctrine is nothing new. The perspective played an important role in rightly ordered Christian cultural engagement in the early church and through much of the reformed tradition.1 The doctrine only fell out of fashion in reformed theological circles in the 20th Century with the rise of transformationalist thinkers like Abraham Kuyper, Herman Dooyeweerd, and other thinkers in the neo-Calvinist vein.2

This essay explores the works of three prominent authors driving the recovery and resurgence of Two Kingdoms thinking: David VanDrunen, Michael Horton, and D. G. Hart. This paper is not meant to re-hash theological arguments or provide exegetical support for the Two Kingdoms perspective, but rather to provide a summary explanation of the Two Kingdoms perspective, focusing on cultural engagement and political applications.

The paper proceeds as follows: the first section overviews Covenant Theology. Covenants are a foundational way through which God interacts with humanity. This section explores the Creation Covenant, the Noahic Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant, and the Abrahamic Covenant, highlighting grace-based and works-based elements. These covenants are key to discerning rightly ordered life in each of God’s two kingdoms.

The second section explores the redemptive kingdom. Established through the grace woven through all of God’s covenants, Christ rules over the redemptive kingdom as savior and redeemer. Two Kingdoms doctrine connects Christ’s rule over this realm of life to the realm’s purpose. D. G. Hart’s and Michael Horton’s scholarship addresses the life of the church and its relationship to the wider society (the common kingdom). Hart and Horton make arguments for a minimalist public role for the church, limiting it to Christ’s witness rather than as redeemers of society. However, Hart and Horton do not suggest an alternative, positive program for proper Christian engagement in the common kingdom.

The third section explains the common kingdom, which is grounded in the creational order and God’s works-based Creation Covenant and sustained through grace via the Noahic Covenant. David VanDrunen’s research explores natural law as applied through the Noahic Covenant as the guiding standard by which Christians should engage public life. This section highlights VanDrunen’s Two Kingdom and natural law perspective applied to the role of government.

The fourth section reviews critiques of Two Kingdoms doctrine, focusing on scholarship from neo-Calvinist authors. In particular, the section focuses on articles published in Pro Rege, a neo-Calvinist journal that has published numerous pieces critical of the Two Kingdoms approach, and the edited volume Kingdoms Apart, a neo-Calvinist rebuttal to the Two Kingdoms argument. The final section contrasts the Two Kingdoms and neo-Calvinist approaches through an illustrative example and concludes by recognizing the need for the further development of a Two Kingdoms and natural law approach to cultural engagement.

1. Two Kingdoms Doctrine Overview Part I: Covenant Theology

Two Kingdoms doctrine utilizes the divine covenants recorded in scripture to make sense of the biblical story of creation, fall, preservation, redemption, and consummation.3 Viewing scripture through the covenants that God establishes with humanity is called covenant theology and is foundational to the Reformed tradition.4 These biblical covenants reflect the central way through which God interacts with his creation.5

Covenant theology recognizes two basic characteristics of covenants: conditional and unconditional.6 While conditional (works-based) covenantal elements require humanity to accomplish tasks pursuant to consequences and rewards administered by God, God fulfills unconditional (grace-based) covenantal aspects regardless of human efforts.

The Creation Covenant, Noahic Covenant, Mosaic Covenant, and Abrahamic Covenant are key to understanding Two Kingdoms doctrine’s two kingdoms—the redemptive kingdom and the common kingdom—and how Christians should participate in each kingdom as citizens of both. This section first investigates each of the previously mentioned covenants, setting the stage for exploring the Two Kingdoms approach to life in the redemptive kingdom and the common kingdom in the following two sections, respectively.

1.1. Creation Covenant

In the Creation Covenant, God implicitly made a covenant of works with Adam.7 Genesis records God’s creational work and then his judgements, declaring the goodness of his creation, and then entering into his well-earned rest. Being made in the image of God, Adam was created to follow a similar path.8 God tasked Adam with dominion over creation, a charge that included the cultural mandate (similar to God’s creational work) and keeping the garden as a royal priest (similar to God’s work in assessing the goodness of his creation). Even though he ultimately failed, Adam was capable of fulfilling his obligations as a being created in the image of God.9

God allowed Adam to be tempted by the serpent, testing Adam’s willingness to judge right from wrong, either recognizing God’s ways or rejecting them. Had Adam successfully passed the test, fulfilling his duties as the garden’s guard and righteous judge by rejecting the serpent, humanity would have followed in God’s footsteps and ascended into eschatological rest in the world to come, as Adam’s work in the garden was never meant to be an indefinite task or an unending period of testing.10 However, Adam failed, handing his dominion to the serpent in the process. Adam’s failure earned him God’s just wrath, eviction from the garden, and exclusion from God’s holy rest. After the fall, humanity can no longer earn righteousness before God.

Adam’s failure to comply with the works-based covenant during this probational period wrought deep repercussions, including the end of the so-called cultural mandate in Genesis 1:28. On the sixth day of the creation narrative, God created humans and commanded them to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” Transformationalists argue that the cultural mandate was never rescinded. Thus, humanity’s central task, transformationalists argue, remains the exploration and unfolding of creation through the arts and sciences and the development of human culture more broadly. Transformationalists further argue, to varying degrees, that Christians can contribute to the restoration of creation through their cultural practices. Two Kingdoms doctrine disagrees, arguing instead that the cultural mandate, as part of the works-based creation covenant, was failed and forfeited as part of the fall. Humanity can continue to develop culture, but cultural development is no longer capable of earning eschatological rest, and cultural engagement by Christians does not contribute to a fundamental transformation and restoration of creation. The Genesis account of creation and Adam’s failure does contain a glimmer of hope, however, with Genesis 3:15 stating that the seed of Eve would crush the serpent and be bruised in the process, pointing to Christ’s sacrificial victory over sin.

1.2. Noahic Covenant

The Noahic Covenant is God’s re-establishment of the Creation Covenant but refracted through the reality of a fallen creation in order to preserve the entire created order.11 It is God’s promise to preserve the fallen creation, for a time, and delay his righteous final judgment.12

Like the Creation Covenant, the Noahic Covenant obligates humanity to certain cultural tasks, such as the re-establishment of the cultural mandate and the obligation to exercise retributive justice. Through this covenant, God also reaffirms humanity’s ability to carry out these tasks as his image-bearers. However, while the Creation Covenant provides a path to earned eschatological rest through Adam’s fulfillment of various works and trials, these tasks no longer carry eschatological significance under the Noahic Covenant because fallen humanity cannot earn its way into God’s favor.13 Instead, God re-equips humanity to minimize the injustices prevalent in the fallen world and delays his final judgement to allow time for his redemptive plan to take place through Christ. Grace pervades the Noahic Covenant because through it God unilaterally preserves the fallen creation, regardless of human efforts and actions.14 The Noahic Covenant is an example of common grace because it is applied to all of humanity, not just the redeemed.

1.3. Mosaic Covenant

The Mosaic Covenant (also called the Sinai Covenant) and Israel’s historical experience represent a recapitulation of Adam’s trials in the garden of Eden.15 Just like the creation story records how Adam was created, put under a works-based probation, failed, and was expelled from the garden, God placed Israel under a law-based system that if they followed, God would bless them and allow them to stay in the land. But like Adam, Israel was unable to keep God’s holy commands and was eventually expelled. Thus, the Mosaic Covenant contains echoes of Eden.

However, the Mosaic Covenant is not exclusively a works-based covenant; it also displays elements of God’s grace and points toward work God would do on humanity’s behalf, regardless of humanity’s merit.16 God delivered Israel, as his chosen nation, out of Egyptian bondage and to the promised land, foreshadowing God’s deliverance of the church, as his elect, out of the fallen world and to the coming kingdom. Further, the law and the sacrificial system God established in the Mosaic Covenant make clear humanity’s inability to achieve righteousness before God, and its need for a holy sacrifice and savior.

1.4. Abrahamic Covenant

God’s covenant with Abraham formally establishes God’s redemptive kingdom by promising to bring about the Messiah through Abraham’s descendants.17 The Abrahamic Covenant bears important differences from previous covenants that are key for understanding Two Kingdoms doctrine. Foremost, the Abrahamic Covenant differs from the works-based Creation Covenant and the works-based aspects of the Mosaic Covenant as a covenant of promise. In the Abrahamic Covenant, God promises to succeed through Jesus Christ as the second Adam where the first Adam failed (the Creation Covenant), and where no system of laws could possibly succeed (the Mosaic Covenant). This is a work of grace to which humanity cannot add.

The Abrahamic Covenant differs from the Noahic Covenant in four important respects.18 First, the Noahic Covenant applies to ordinary cultural activities, while the Abrahamic Covenant’s saving grace applies to religious faith and worship. Second, whereas the Noahic Covenant provides sustaining grace to all of humanity, the Abrahamic Covenant’s redemptive grace applies only to God’s elect. Third, the Noahic Covenant preserves the fallen creation’s natural and social order, while the Abrahamic Covenant makes possible the world to come. And fourth, while the Noahic Covenant is a temporary preservation of the fallen creation, the Abrahamic Covenant ushers in a kingdom that will last forever.

2. Two Kingdoms Doctrine Overview Part II: The Redemptive Kingdom

Christ’s church is the penultimate fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant and the representative of the redemptive kingdom in the present age.19 Through his work on the cross, Christ’s redemptive rule broke into the fallen creation, establishing the church as a beachhead for the coming kingdom. In due time, Jesus Christ will return again to usher in a new heaven and earth where Christ will rule over all as redeemer. In the meantime, Christ’s redemptive rule is represented in the church, not the entirety of creation. The institutional church should reflect this reality in its internal activities and external cultural engagements.

The primary role of the church is to preach the Word, administer the sacraments, and lead believers in the worship of God.20 While these important roles are ends in and of themselves, this work also edifies the body of believers so they can pursue loving service for neighbors as they engage the world through their common kingdom vocations and everyday lives. The church is not called to be a redeeming agent of the broader creation;21 it is witness to the gospel—the good news of God’s work through Christ to save fallen humanity from God’s just wrath. Christ will bring about the ultimate fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant through his own efforts at God’s predetermined time.

Church members should interact with one another through the redemptive ethic explained in Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount.22 In general, when wronged by another church member, Christians should realize justice already fulfilled through Christ’s atoning sacrifice and not seek retributive justice against other believers. This redemptive ethic is primarily required within the church. Christians are not obligated to engage in their common kingdom activities with neighbors and community members, whether at work or through civil associations, with Christ’s sacrificial ethic. However, some nuance and exceptions do exist, such as when Christians are persecuted for their faith.23 Overall, common kingdom activities like the administration of justice through government should pursue retributive justice as established in the Noahic Covenant.

2.1. Hart and Horton on the Church in America

D. G. Hart and Michael Horton have written extensively on topics related to the role of the church from a Two Kingdoms perspective. Their scholarship is reviewed in this sub-section. Hart’s work is primarily historical and focuses on Protestant American church history. Hart takes a hard line on the role of the church in politics, arguing that the two should stay completely separate. Horton’s work looks more so at the contemporary church in America and offers guidance for the church’s proper internal function, but with implications for wider societal engagement. Both authors argue that the church should be the church, which means maintaining a clear distinction between the church as the representative of the redemptive kingdom, and the broader public life of the common kingdom. In particular, Hart and Horton argue that the church is not mandated to redeem politics and other common kingdom activities and its core mandate suffers when it attempts such redemptive activities.

D. G. Hart’s The Lost Soul of American Protestantism recognizes pietism and confessionalism as the key divide for explaining the history Protestantism in America.24 Much of Hart’s book recaps debates between pietists and confessionalists across multiple denominations and throughout U.S. history.

Most scholars frame U.S. religious history by comparing evangelicals (or conservative Christians) and mainline Protestants (or liberal Christians).25 Hart argues that evangelicals and mainline Protestants actually share much in common: both groups tend to downplay doctrine and are motivated by their faith to transform American society.26 The main difference, according to Hart, “is that each side has a different program for defining America, the evangelical one relying more on the efforts of individual, families, and churches (i.e., mediating structures), the mainline version stressing legislation and government programs. But neither side wants to limit religion to the private worlds of family devotions or worship services.”27

Hart argues that confessionalism represents a stark contrast to pietism and is a truer application of the Christian faith. Confessionalism focuses on doctrine and liturgy and is associated with a sense of otherworldliness.28 This otherworldliness is the Christian realization, according to Hart, “that this life is not the highest reality, and that ultimately the sort of social transformation either by politicians or believers is trivial compared to the work of the church in establishing a holy society of believers and preparing them for the world to come.”29 Hart urges American Protestantism to return to confessionalism because the pietist desire to transform society trivializes and politicizes the Christian faith.30

In A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State, Hart continues his argument for keeping Christianity out of politics.31 According to Hart, bringing the Christian faith into the political sphere makes the secular sacred, elevating political tensions, and causes the church to lose focus on its core mission as witness to Christ’s work on our behalf, and God’s purpose for government.32 Hart states, “the Achilles heel of many Christian politicians, American or not, has been the failure to recognize the impermanence of secular politics, that it is a temporary arrangement to restrain evil and promote justice until the dawn of a new period in the history of salvation.”33

In this book, Hart employs numerous examples spanning American history to demonstrate how integrating Christianity into politics politicizes and misrepresents the faith. Hart covers topics such as John Winthrop’s “City on a Hill” speech, Walter Rauschenbusch’s Social Gospel, efforts to keep prayer in public schools, Woodrow Wilson’s Christian argument for democracy, and the demand for candidates to comment publicly on their faith in modern presidential politics.34 With each example, Hart explains how this form of political engagement has misrepresented the role of the church and corrupted the faith.35

Hart argues that Christianity is primarily an otherworldly faith that does not have much to say in terms of solving contemporary societal problems.36 Whether the efforts to bring Christianity into the public square are coming from the right of the left, Hart claims, “appeals to religion in politics invariably solve little and function as a divine benediction to one’s own political ideals or preferences.”37

Hart takes aim at contemporary evangelicalism’s leftward pull on U.S. politics in From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin: Evangelicals and the Betrayal of American Conservatism. 38 Many have assumed a natural and enduring fit between evangelicals and conservatives. Hart disagrees, arguing that “evangelicalism has always espoused a form of religious and moral idealism that is profoundly at odds with political conservatism.”39

Political conservatism rightly understood, which Hart identifies with traditionalists such as Richard Weaver and Russell Kirk as well as classical liberals like Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, leads to an appreciation of limited government, the separation of powers, federalism, constitutionalism, and a robust civil society with the family and churches being foundational mediating institutions between the individual and the government.40 Evangelical political engagement in the post-WWII era, Hart explains, started with conservative aims such as free markets, anti-communism, a strong national defense, and family values, but it evolved towards progressive, social justice goals that require a large and powerful centralized state to provide an expanded view of individual rights and administer a wide-ranging welfare state.41

In Hart’s review of evangelical political engagement, compassionate conservatives like Michael Gerson and Marvin Olasky have more in common with social justice progressives like Ron Sider and Tony Campolo than they do with conservative icons such as Russel Kirk and Milton Friedman—Gerson, Olasky, Sider, and Campolo all recognize a biblical call for the promotion of justice that can only be accomplished with the aid of a powerful state.42 Hart notes that this progressive perspective is the dominant trend among evangelical thought leaders:

The evangelical intelligentsia is tracking toward the political Left and away from conservative politics and the Republican Party. These left-leaning Protestants are the ones writing books, teaching at Christian colleges, and training future evangelical pastors at seminaries. Their understanding of United States politics and biblical teaching on a good society (they will invariably speak of such goodness in terms of “doing justice”) is leading them farther and farther away from the arguments, assumptions, and dispositions of conservative writers and thinkers.43

Hart concludes by briefly sketching-out a conservative path forward for American evangelicals.44 His tips include looking toward conservative philosophical arguments for guiding frameworks for government instead of the Sermon on the Mount, since the bible is not meant to be a guide for modern political engagement. He brings the book to a close by encouraging evangelicals to approach political life as pilgrims, not crusaders.

In Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church, Horton describes how American Christianity has become “Christless,” a faith that has lost its focus on the truly good news of the gospel—what Christ has done for us in making possible our eternal rest with God.45 Instead, Horton characterizes American Christianity as a moralistic, therapeutic deism that improperly views the faith as a set of rules to be followed as a path to personal or societal advancement in the present age.46 This brand of Christianity is Christless, Horton argues, because it loses “the uniqueness of Christ’s once-and-for-all work for us, apart from us, outside of us, in the past, and the work that only he can do when he returns in glory.”47

In The Gospel-Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World, the follow-up to Christless Christianity, Horton explains how Christians should put Christ back into Christianity.48 Foremost, Horton implores readers to re-focus on the gospel message as “an announcement of something that has already been fully, finally, and objectively accomplished for us by God in Jesus Christ.”49 It is received, not earned. It is a completed work to which we cannot add.

A gospel focus makes the biblical drama rightly centered on Christ and not us, argues Horton.50 Horton explains that as heirs of the Creation Covenant, humans are hardwired to prove themselves by works and susceptible to reading themselves into the biblical narrative as staring actors with important roles in completing the gospel’s work.51 However, as Horton points out, Jesus’ disciples “were not co-redeemers. They did not help Jesus to bring in the kingdom. Eventually, they would become witnesses to Christ’s triumph, but they could not point to any contribution of their own along the way for its fulfillment.”52

Here is the paradox that Horton points out: by focusing on Christ’s accomplished work, Christians are sanctified and better equipped to love their neighbors.53 He argues, “only when we know that we are condemned in ourselves but righteous in Christ are we free for the first time to love God and our neighbors.”54 Recognizing Christ’s finished work frees us to love our neighbors, not as part of expanding Christ’s kingdom, but as a proper response to what Christ has done for us, argues Horton.55

2.2. What’s Still Missing?

Hart and Horton see a distinct role for the church and its redemptive kingdom activities, and argue that the church—either as individual Christians or as an institution—should not seek to Christianize or redeem common kingdom activities such as economics and government.56 Hart argues for a confessionalist church that is focused on doctrine and liturgy.57 Horton promotes a gospel-centered church, arguing: “the central message of Christianity is not a worldview, a way of life, or a program for personal and society change; it is a gospel.”58

However, Two Kingdoms doctrine does not promote the Benedict option of Christian social withdrawal or social quietism on issues of justice, and neither Hart nor Horton encourage Christians to withdraw from their common kingdom responsibilities. Even though Hart argues that Christians should not bring Christian language into the public square, he does not discourage Christians from participating in politics.59 And although Horton discourages Christians from attempting to find a Christian way of conducting common kingdom activities, he argues that Christians should serve neighbors through activities such as business and government.60

What is missing from Hart and Horton’s arguments is a positive explanation for how Christians should engage in common kingdom activities as Christians. Most certainly, the institutional church does not have the technical expertise to promote specific public polices and scripture does not provide guidance on complex technical issues. However, the Christian faith most likely does provide a degree of guidance, or at least framing, for Christian engagement in common kingdom activities. Furthermore, without some grounding in scripture, Christians will be unwittingly influenced by the cultural trends of the age, some of which might be antithetical to the Christian tradition. David VanDrunen’s work on natural law provides a scriptural mooring for the Christian’s work in the common kingdom and is covered in the next section.

3. Two Kingdoms Doctrine Overview Part III: The Common Kingdom

The common kingdom encompasses social life that is common to all people. Like God’s call for the Jewish exiles in Babylon to seek the welfare of the city in Jeremiah 29, Christians are called to participate in common kingdom activities for the common good. However, even though Christians live as residents of the coming (redemptive) kingdom in the life of the church and pursue Christ’s redemptive ethics within that context, God calls Christians—and all people—to participate in common life through the standard established in the Noahic Covenant.61 The Noahic Covenant standard is a part of the natural law and is written on the hearts of all people, and is therefore universally known. An explanation of the natural law and its relevance for the Christian’s participation in common kingdom is explored in VanDrunen’s work.

3.1. VanDrunen’s Explanation of the Natural Law

VanDrunen’s book Divine Covenants and Moral Order: A Biblical Theology of Natural Law uses covenant theology to show that natural law is a key theme throughout scripture and of vital importance for understanding how Christians should engage the common kingdom. VanDrunen offers the following definition of natural law: “natural law consists of the obligations and consequences incumbent upon and known by human beings as image bearers of God and participants in the protological moral order.”62 This definition requires unpacking.

Recall the Creation Covenant explained above. God created the heavens and earth, declared them good, and entered into his well-earned rest. Humans were made to follow God’s example because we are created in God’s image. As image-bearers, humanity’s ontological nature cannot be separated from its telos. In other words, what humanity is cannot be separated from what it does or its ultimate aim. Humans were meant to reflect God by being generous and creative (mirroring God’s work of creation), righteous judges (emulating God’s righteous judgments of creation), and enter eschatological rest after successfully fulfilling these tasks (following in the father’s footsteps). In a sense, humans are hard-wired with a desire to prove themselves before God.

Not only did God create humanity to fulfill these tasks, he created humanity with the capabilities to successfully complete them. These characteristics are inseparable from what it means to be created in God’s image. God equipped humanity with the moral compass necessary to perfectly fulfill its task to be generous and judge righteously and achieve its destiny, eternal rest with God. For VanDrunen, this innate sense of morality, duty, and eschatological hope is the natural law.63 Humans were created to work their way to eternal rest with God through the creation covenant.

Natural law is a comprehensive moral order rather than just a series of rules, but it is conveniently summarized in the decalogue (Ten Commandments) and summarized even further in Christ’s command to love God and one another.64 However, the entire natural law is not applicable to the common kingdom, since elements of the natural law include proper faith and worship, which are only suitable for the redemptive kingdom. The aspects of the natural law that are relevant for the common kingdom reflect the tasks that God gave all of humanity through the Noahic Covenant.

After the great flood, God re-issued three obligations through the Noahic Covenant: to be fruitful and multiply, instructions for treating animals humanely, and to exercise proportionate, retributive justice.65 As image-bearers, humanity is equipped with an innate understanding of how to carry-out these tasks. God imbued all of humanity with an innate understanding of life related to procreation and family life, the proper treatment of animals, and retributive justice, and humanity’s proper exercise of these activities restrains evil behavior in the fallen age.

In particular, VanDrunen emphasizes the lex talionis, or the principle of proportionate, retributive justice, as a foundational natural law principle for the current era’s moral order.66 After Adam’s failure, God expelled him from the garden, condemning him to death. This was proportionate since God required perfect obedience to enter his rest. The Noahic Covenant re-established the lex talionis, but included the notion of forbearance. God promised to preserve and sustain creation until Christ’s second coming and the consummation of redeemed creation. Likewise, humans should prudently exercise forbearance in their application the lex talionis. It is through this basic standard that Christians should engage in public life, political life in particular.

3.2. VanDrunen on Government

VanDrunen’s approach to government is rooted in the Noahic Covenant and runs through Romans 13:1–7. VanDrunen argues that the Apostle Paul, as an expert in the Jewish tradition, was intimately familiar with Genesis and wrote Romans 13:1–7 with the Noahic Covenant in mind.67 Overall, VanDrunen argues for a limited government that focuses on retributive justice.

In “Power to the People: Revisiting Civil Resistance in Romans 13:1–7 in Light of the Noahic Covenant,” VanDrunen addresses the issue of whether or not citizens are required to submit to unjust civil authorities and he concludes that Paul’s command to obey magistrates is limited.68 VanDrunen refers back to the Noahic Covenant to reach this conclusion.

Through the Noahic Covenant God re-tasked humanity to pursue justice in the fallen age: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:6). The phrase “for God made man in his own image” applies to the human capability and moral requirement to administer justice: God is a just judge. God made man in his image. Therefore, humans are equipped and required to judge justly as beings created in God’s image. The Noahic Covenant holds all of humanity responsible for retributive justice. This foundational requirement was never rescinded by God and Paul’s exhortation to submit to civil authority did not seek to overturn it.69 Consequently, VanDrunen argues that individuals may resist an unjust civil magistrate under the authority of the Noahic Covenant and the human responsibility to promote retributive justice.70 However, the historical context of Paul’s letter to the Romans with Rome’s persecution of the first century church sets a high standard for the justification of civil resistance.71

In “The Protectionist Purpose of Law: A Moral Case from the Biblical Covenant with Noah,” VanDrunen makes the case that government should pursue protectionist ends as opposed to perfectionist ones.72 Protectionists view protecting citizens from being wronged by others as the core function of law and government. The state primarily achieves this mandate coercively through the proportionate punishment of wrongdoing and the threat of punishment to discourage potential wrongdoing. Perfectionists add to this task the responsibility to promote virtue among the citizenry.

VanDrunen argues that The Noahic Covenant provides three reasons why government is not authorized to pursue Perfectionist ends: First, the Noahic Covenant recognizes the inherently corrupt nature of humans and thus does not allow them the power and authority to attempt Perfectionism.73 Second, the Noahic Covenant promises to preserve all of creation, including fallen human society, not to perfect or redeem it, thus ruling out a Perfectionist mandate.74 Third, the Noahic Covenant applies to all people (the common kingdom), not just those called to Christ (the redemptive kingdom), it promotes a pluralistic society.75 Perfectionist goals to promote virtue would naturally elevate one perspective of virtue above others, coercing all citizens to acquiesce to a single vision. Finally, VanDrunen supplements his case for a Protectionist role of government by demonstrating the commonalities between the Noahic Covenant and Paul’s view of civil authority in Romans 13, noting that both legitimize the role of civil authority to bring retributive justice through coercion and that neither promise salvation or a restoration of society.76

In “The Market Economy and Christian Ethics: Refocusing Debate through the Two-Kingdoms Doctrine,” VanDrunen argues that a market-based economy is an appropriate economic system for the current age.77 VanDrunen begins by noting that Christian economic perspectives are often rooted in eschatology.78 Christians holding an anti-market view often start from an eschatological perspective that is ultimate in focus.79 They seek to “conform economic life to the eschatological standards of the kingdom” of God by basing economic life on grace and Christ’s sacrificial love.80 From this perspective, the ethics envisioned in Christ’s sermon should be applied to modern economic life and by doing so Christ’s kingdom is realized in the current age.

VanDrunen starts with a protological focus and concludes with a penultimate assessment of the economy.81 VanDrunen agrees with various anti-market Christians that the norms and practices of a market-based economy do not meet the standards of the coming kingdom; however, from the Two Kingdoms perspective, this should not be the standard.82 Instead, VanDrunen assesses the market system by the needs of the current, fallen era and the standard of the Noahic Covenant.83 Overall, VanDrunen concludes that a market-based economic system, while not mandated by scripture, is compatible with Christianity and the Two Kingdoms perspective in particular and is an economic system capable of creating economic prosperity in the current era.84

3.3. Two Kingdoms and Natural Law Approach in the Reformed Tradition

In Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms: A Study in the Development of Reformed Social Thought, VanDrunen dons the role of historian and traces conceptions of natural law and the two kingdoms across the history of Reformed theologians, starting with precursors of the Reformed tradition like Augustine and Martin Luther, continuing with John Calvin, and running through Abraham Kuyper and Neo-Calvinists such as Herman Dooyeweerd and Albert Wolters.85 Overall, VanDrunen demonstrates that the doctrines of natural law and two kingdoms played a prominent role in reformed social thinking throughout the bulk of the tradition’s history.86 With some variation, Reformed theologians rooted common kingdom activities in a creational, natural law ethic governed by Jesus as creator and sustainer and they viewed the church as rooted in an eschatological ethic governed by Christ as savior and redeemer. It was not until the 20th-century neo-Calvinists, Dooyeweerd in particular, did these doctrines fall out of fashion.87

Neo-Calvinists perceive only one kingdom, where all of creation is ruled by Christ as savior and redeemer and within which Christians participate in Christ’s redemptive activities.88 For Neo-Calvinists then, the Christian’s work is Adam’s cultural mandate reestablished.89 VanDrunen concludes that neo-Calvinists, “in their grounding of culture in creation as it is being redeemed, have placed an eschatological burden upon the cultural task that was not present in earlier Reformed thought and that further distinguishes their thought from earlier ideas of natural law and the two kingdoms.”90

4. Criticisms of the Two Kingdoms Perspective

The overarching neo-Calvinist criticism of the Two Kingdoms doctrine is the mirror image of VanDrunen’s critique of the neo-Calvinists: while VanDrunen and company reject the neo-Calvinist mono-kingdom view of Christ’s lordship, neo-Calvinists reject the Two Kingdoms understanding of God’s varied lordship, calling it an unwarranted dualism.91 Neo-Calvinists employ a realized eschatology where Christ rules over the entirety of creation as savior and redeemer.92 Whereas Two Kingdoms authors apply Jesus’ “turn the other cheek” and Sermon the Mount ethic to life within the church as Christ’s representative of his coming kingdom, neo-Calvinist contend that this ethic should be realized now and applied to all of creation as Christ’s current kingdom, though “particularized for living within various spheres, such as family, state, and church.”93

Swanson claims that the Two Kingdoms approach treats the common kingdom as a morally neutral realm.94 Ouweneel echoes that criticism, labeling the Two Kingdoms doctrine a type of scholasticism, the approach that “placed only the spiritual (sacred) domain under the authority of Scripture and under the kingship of Christ, whereas the natural (secular) domain was placed under the authority of pagan thinking, especially Aristotle.”95

The dualism charge is occasionally accompanied by slippery-slope rhetoric framing history’s vilest evils as permitted by the same Two Kingdoms mentality covered in this essay. In his forward to an address by S. G. de Graaf criticizing the European church’s silence on the Nazi movement, Kloosterman connects Graff’s criticism to the modern Two Kingdoms movement, claiming that Two Kingdoms proponents encourage the de-coupling of moral issues from political ones: “separating “x” as a moral issue from “x” as a concrete political policy issue constitutes precisely the kind of surreal religious secularizing dualism that permitted numerous German and Dutch citizens to cooperate with German National Socialism.”96 Carl E. Zylstra uses a similar logic in his criticism of VanDrunen.97 VanDrunen used Dordt College’s effort to develop a “Christian” football program to exemplify a vain attempt to squeeze what should be common kingdom principles from the redemptive kingdom’s logic.98 Zylstra, Dordt’s former president, connected VanDrunen’s position to the refusal of Christians to oppose slavery in Antebellum South.99

Christian neglect of moral aspects of policy issues is a problem, but it is not a practice promoted by the Two Kingdoms scholars covered here, despite the charges of Ouweneel, Kloosterman, Swanson, Zylstra, and others.100 Chattel slavery and European totalitarianism present clear violations of God’s created moral order as established through natural law and re-established by God in the Noahic Covenant. Southern slave states and the Nazi government clearly failed the God-ordained task of punishing and deterring injustice. From the Two Kingdoms perspective, in both contexts, church officers should have preached about the value of all image bearers and the importance of retributive civil justice. Individual Christians should have applied those principles to their public life and opposed slavery and totalitarianism. Consequently, while it is true that Two Kingdoms scholars take a dual track approach to ethics, with, for instance, government activities under the lex talionis standard and intra-church relationships reflecting Christ’s sacrificial love, it is simply inaccurate to claim that the Two Kingdoms scholars covered here conceive of the common kingdom as “morally neutral.”

4.1. Natural Law Critique

The neo-Calvinist critics claiming that Two Kingdoms scholars view common kingdom activities as morally neutral are clearly wrong. Two Kingdoms scholars apply to common kingdom activities a natural law ethic grounded in God’s created order and re-established through the Noahic Covenant. More nuanced neo-Calvinist criticisms question the Two Kingdom’s use of natural law.

Scheuers and Parler claim that VanDrunen misinterprets Romans 2:14–16, causing his inaccurate understanding and application of natural law.101 Scheuers and Parler argue that, because of the fall, only God’s redeemed people have his law written on their hearts.102 Thus, the natural law is not embedded in the conscience of every human and capable of being the foundation for ethical behavior in the common kingdom, as claimed by VanDrunen.103

Lief connects VanDrunen’s alleged misuse of natural law to the dualist critique described earlier and argues for interpreting Christian moral responsibility through a Christological moral order for all of creation instead of a natural law morality grounded in the creational order.104 Lief explains, “this Christological interpretation of creation, which provides the telos and direction of creation, then, is the ground from which the Christian community, as the body of Christ, participates in the broader cultural life of the temporal sphere.”105 In other words, Lief argues, Christians should participate in cultural activities according to the logic of Christ’s sacrificial lordship over the entirety of creation, not an irrelevant creational order.106 Lief adds that VanDrunen’s perspective starts with inaccurate precepts due to his literalistic interpretation of the creation account in Genesis, essentially disagreeing with VanDrunen’s use of Covenant Theology.107

4.2. The Historical Critique

As explained above, VanDrunen claims the title of reformed orthodoxy for his approach, tracing a natural law and Two Kingdoms thread through Augustine, Luther and throughout the reformed tradition until it was snapped by Dooyeweerd and the neo-Calvinists.108 Much ink has been spilt trying to properly interpret Calvin and other key reformed thinkers. It is no surprise then that the battle for Calvin continued with the Two-Kingdoms-neo-Calvinist debate. Neo-Calvinists refute VanDrunen’s claim to orthodoxy, particularly regarding Calvin’s thought.109 Whereas VanDrunen claims that Luther and Calvin share many Two Kingdoms principles in common, Palmer disagrees, arguing that Calvin did not share Luther’s law-gospel dualism.110 Venema argues that VanDrunen inaccurately downplays Calvin’s prioritization of special revelation over natural law and general revelation.111 And Haas notes that Calvin thought scripture could guide magistrates to a God-ordained functioning of the state.112 However, other neo-Calvinist scholars admit that Calvin does indeed utilize a Two Kingdoms framework.113

One disappointing feature of the Two Kingdoms—neo-Calvinist debate is what has received less attention—VanDrunen’s primary exegetical defense of his argument in Divine Divine Covenants and Moral Order: A Biblical Theology of Natural Law. This is partially the product of timing. Divine Covenants and Moral Order was published in 2014, two years after Kingdoms Apart, the primary neo-Calvinist response to VanDrunen and company’s perspective. The exegetical criticisms throughout Kingdoms Apart are largely directed at VanDrunen’s Living in God’s Two Kingdoms, which is a lighter read designed for a wider audience. Understandably, neo-Calvinists are more comfortable confronting the Two Kingdoms and natural law approach from the strength of their philosophical tradition and employing their familiar terminology. That said, a robust neo-Calvinist exegetical engagement with Divine Covenants and Moral Order would further the conversation.114

5. Conclusion, Application, and Future Two Kingdoms Scholarship

This article presented the theological underpinnings and a few applications of the Two Kingdoms and natural law perspective as articulated by three prominent scholars with some connection to Westminster Theological Seminary in Escondido, California—David VanDrunen, Michael Horton, and D. G. Hart. In an attempt to provide additional clarity on this perspective, the paper concludes with an application to illustrate the different processes through which Two Kingdoms and neo-Calvinist scholars would approach discerning God-honoring behavior in a common kingdom activity. As such, the paper will return to the college football example mentioned above and attempt to answer the question: how should a Christian participate in college football?

Neo-Calvinists would attempt to discern a distinctly Christian way of participating in college football by developing a Christian philosophy of football. The neo-Calvinists would argue that the Bible does not speak directly to football, its rules, or its strategy. Thus, there is no such thing as a Christian theology of football. However, starting with the creation, fall, redemption ground motive, neo-Calvinists would examine the core assumptions and operating principles of college football through the logic of Christ’s redemptive (eschatological) ethic and lordship over this particular sphere of athletics, discerning appropriate Christian principles and applications. These principles and applications would be morally binding not just on Christians, but all those who participate in football because of Christ’s lordship over every square-yard of the football field. Even more, Christians will testify to Christ’s lordship by altering the rules and practices of college football to conform to those eschatological principles. And finally, for neo-Calvinists, college football will continue into the eschaton as a redeemed cultural product.115

Two Kingdoms proponents would agree that as a common kingdom activity, there is not a Christian way of, say, executing a run-pass-option play or 4-2-5 defense. The Bible clearly does not speak to a “Christian” football play or strategy. Yet they would go further than the neo-Calvinists, claiming that there is no such thing as a Christian (read “redeemed”) version of college football. Therefore, Christians should not attempt to develop a “Christian standard” of playing football and then seek to bind the believer’s conscience to that standard. College football is a common kingdom activity that will likely come to an end at the coming of Christ’s kingdom.

This does not mean that Two Kingdoms proponents view college football as a secular activity devoid of moral implications. Two Kingdoms scholars would not consider college football, or any common kingdom activity, to be a “morally neutral” realm, as generally alleged by their neo-Calvinist critics. All people, whether Christians are not, should apply a basic natural law standard to the game. This appropriate standard is embedded in the created (protological) order and is discernable by all people. All people testify to God’s protological moral order and his command to retributive justice by bringing this standard to bear in common kingdom activities. Furthermore, Christians can love and serve their neighbors by discerning and applying this standard to all common kingdom activities, whether in government and politics, economics and business, or even college football.

What does a Two Kingdoms approach to college football look like? Two Kingdoms scholars would promote basic understandings of fairness as an application of the protological order’s justice, where both teams and all players would be treated equally as understood in the context of the game. Any changes to rules (like prohibitions on striking with the crown of one’s helmet to avoid head injuries) or the creation or adherence to various norms (like celebrating after a touchdown) would be the realm of wisdom, not that of a Christian ethical mandate. Wisdom recognizes context, nuance, tradeoffs, and the possibility of unintended consequences. It is possible for two God-fearing Christians to come to different conclusions on wisdom issues, since wisdom also stems from experience and issue-specific knowledge.

However, while Christians would be held to the same standard as non-Christians on the football field, it should be noted that an individual Christian’s motivation to honor God in all activities will color his approach to football and his interactions with coaches, teammates, officials, and opponents. This motivation, though, will not produce a standard or ethic above the natural law standard to which other people should be bound. A Christian football player may choose to shake hands with opponents after the game and invite them to a public prayer at the fifty-yard-line, as frequently occurs. However, Christians are not required by their faith to participate in these handshakes or prayers.

To conclude, the Two Kingdoms perspective is clear: Christians should not attempt to transform the broader culture into the redemptive kingdom. Christians receive Christ’s kingdom; they do not build it. However, while the parameters outlined by D. G. Hart and Michael Horton highlight biblically unwarranted forms of cultural engagement, they do not provide much guidance for how appropriate Christian engagement with the common kingdom should occur. David VanDrunen’s work begins to sketch-out a positive program for common kingdom engagement from the Two Kingdoms and natural law perspective. Two Kingdoms scholarship should continue to develop this line of thinking.

[1] David VanDrunen, Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms: A Study in the Development of Reformed Social Thought, Emory University Studies in Law and Religion (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), 1–2.

[2] VanDrunen, Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms, 348–50.

[3] David VanDrunen, Divine Covenants and Moral Order: A Biblical Theology of Natural Law, Emory University Studies in Law and Religion (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014), 1–2; Michael Horton, Introducing Covenant Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2006), 11.

[4] VanDrunen, Divine Covenants and Moral Order, 1–2.

[5] As explained by Horton, “we are not related to God by virtue of a common aspect of our being, but by virtue of a pact that he himself makes with us to be our God” (Introducing Covenant Theology, 29).

[6] Horton, Introducing Covenant Theology, 36.

[7] VanDrunen, Divine Covenants and Moral Order, 39–94.

[8] VanDrunen, Divine Covenants and Moral Order, 39–94.

[9] VanDrunen, Divine Covenants and Moral Order, 39–94.

[10] David VanDrunen, Living in God’s Two Kingdoms: A Biblical Vision for Christianity and Culture (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 40.

[11] VanDrunen, Divine Covenants and Moral Order, 95–132.

[12] Horton, Introducing Covenantal Theology, 114; VanDrunen, Divine Covenants and Moral Order, 95–96.

[13] Horton, Introducing Covenantal Theology, 114; VanDrunen, Divine Covenants and Moral Order, 95–96.

[14] Horton, Introducing Covenantal Theology, 113–17; VanDrunen considers the Noahic Covenant a covenant of grace in a certain sense but distinguishes it from the Abrahamic Covenant of grace because it does not include a promise of salvation (Divine Covenants and Moral Order, 282–85).

[15] VanDrunen, Divine Covenants and Moral Order, 282–83.

[16] VanDrunen, Divine Covenants and Moral Order, 282–85.

[17] VanDrunen, Living in God’s Two Kingdoms, 82–88; The Abrahamic Covenant is God’s formal establishment of the redemptive kingdom. The redemptive kingdom was foreshadowed in Genesis 3:15, which points towards Christ’s work on the cross (VanDrunen, Living in God’s Two Kingdoms, 82–88).

[18] VanDrunen, Living in God’s Two Kingdoms, 82–83.

[19] VanDrunen, Living in God’s Two Kingdoms, 101–3.

[20] VanDrunen, Living in God’s Two Kingdoms, 131–45. Additional important roles for the church are exercising church discipline and providing charity to its members.

[21] Michael Horton, The Gospel-Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2009), 164–86; VanDrunen, Living in God’s Two Kingdoms, 151–59.

[22] VanDrunen, Living in God’s Two Kingdoms, 112–15.

[23] Persecuted Christians are discouraged from seeking retribution when their faith is the cause of their persecution. This does not mean that the Two Kingdoms perspective discourages a church from appealing to the magistrate to, for instance, maintain their freedom to assemble for worship. Likewise, it does not mean that the Two Kingdoms perspective discourages a Christian from seeking retribution for, for instance, suing over property dames caused by a drunk driver. It does mean, however, that a Christian should not seek to balance the scales of justice when their faith causes them to be the subject of another’s wrongdoing.

[24] D. G. Hart, The Lost Soul of American Protestantism (Lanham: Roman and Littlefield, 2002).

[25] Hart, The Lost Soul of American Protestantism, xxii–xxiv.

[26] Hart, The Lost Soul of American Protestantism, xxiv–xxxi.

[27] Hart, The Lost Soul of American Protestantism, 59.

[28] Hart, The Lost Soul of American Protestantism, 59–60, 172.

[29] Hart, The Lost Soul of American Protestantism, 59–60.

[30] Hart, The Lost Soul of American Protestantism, xxvii.

[31] Darryl Hart, A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2006).

[32] Hart, A Secular Faith, 12.

[33] Hart, A Secular Faith, 41.

[34] Hart, A Secular Faith.

[35] Hart, A Secular Faith.

[36] Hart, A Secular Faith, 12.

[37] Hart, A Secular Faith, 122.

[38] D. G. Hart, From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin: Evangelicals and the Betrayal of American Conservatism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011).

[39] Hart, From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin, 152.

[40] Hart, From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin, 179–91.

[41] Hart, From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin, 176.

[42] Hart, From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin, 179–84.

[43] Hart, From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin, 16.

[44] Hart, From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin, 207–26.

[45] Michael Horton, Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2008).

[46] Horton, Christless Christianity, 41–43; The term “moralistic, therapeutic deism” was coined and defined by sociologist Christian Smith. Moralistic, therapeutic deism has five characteristics: (1) God created the world; (2) God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other; (3) The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself; (4) God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when needed to resolve a problem; and (5) Good people go to heaven when they die (Horton, Christless Christianity, 43).

[47] Horton, Christless Christianity, 114.

[48] Horton, The Gospel-Driven Life.

[49] Horton, The Gospel-Driven Life, 73.

[50] Horton, The Gospel-Driven Life, 17–23.

[51] Horton, The Gospel-Driven Life, 17–23.

[52] Horton, The Gospel-Driven Life, 88–89.

[53] Horton, The Gospel-Driven Life, 79.

[54] Horton, The Gospel-Driven Life, 79.

[55] Horton, The Gospel-Driven Life, 79.

[56] D. G. Hart, The Lost Soul of American Protestantism, xvii, 100–1; Darryl Hart, A Secular Faith, 12; Hart, From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin, 8; Horton, Christless Christianity, 206–35; Horton, The Gospel-Driven Life, 249.

[57] Hart, A Secular Faith, 242–57.

[58] Horton, The Gospel-Driven Life, 105.

[59] Hart, A Secular Faith, 257.

[60] Horton, The Gospel-Driven Life, 246–49.

[61] VanDrunen, Living in God’s Two Kingdoms, 118–19.

[62] VanDrunen, Divine Covenants and Moral Order, 15.

[63] VanDrunen, Divine Covenants and Moral Order, 86, 91–94.

[64] VanDrunen, Divine Covenants and Moral Order, 14–15.

[65] VanDrunen, Divine Covenants and Moral Order, 104–7.

[66] David VanDrunen, “Natural Law, the Lex Talionis, and the Power of the Sword” Liberty University Law Review 2 (2008), 945–67. VanDrunen, Divine Covenants and Moral Order, 116–17.

[67] David VanDrunen, “Power to the People: Revisiting Civil Resistance in Romans 13:1–7 in Light of the Noahic Covenant,” Journal of Law and Religion 31 (2016): 4–18. VanDrunen notes seven similarities between the two passages: (1) God delegates judicial authority to human servants in both, (2) both authorize coercion in pursuit of justice, (3) both address justice in retributive terms, (4) both speak in terms of protectionist rather than protectionist ends, (5) neither provide much detail in terms of a moral structure that must be applied, (6) both are directed to all of humanity, and (7) neither contain a redemptive element (“Power to the People,” 8–12).

[68] VanDrunen, “Power to the People.”

[69] VanDrunen, “Power to the People,” 16.

[70] VanDrunen, “Power to the People,” 15–17.

[71] VanDrunen, “Power to the People,” 17.

[72] David VanDrunen, “The Protectionist Purpose of Law: A Moral Case from the Biblical Covenant with Noah,” Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics, 35 (2015): 101–17.

[73] VanDrunen argues: “for the Noahic covenant to constrain human violence effectively, its first concern had to be to limit political power. It is therefore compelling to read Genesis 9:6 not as illustrating one among many possible uses of political power but as prescribing boundaries for its exercise: that is, political power may be wielded to defend against those who violate others’ rights, and for this purpose only” (“The Protectionist Purpose of Law,” 108).

[74] VanDrunen, “The Protectionist Purpose of Law,” 104–8.

[75] VanDrunen, “The Protectionist Purpose of Law,” 104–8.

[76] According to VanDrunen, the Noahic Covenant and Romans 13 “both present their instruction as universally obligatory, neither associates civil authority with promises of salvation, both recognize authority to bring justice through coercion, both characterize justice in retributive terms, and both describe civil authority as delegated by God” (“The Protectionist Purpose of Law,” 109).

[77] David VanDrunen, “The Market Economy and Christian Ethics: Refocusing Debate through the Two Kingdoms Doctrine,” Journal of Markets & Morality 17 (2014): 11–45.

[78] VanDrunen, “The Market Economy and Christian Ethics,” 12.

[79] VanDrunen, “The Market Economy and Christian Ethics,” 12.

[80] VanDrunen, “The Market Economy and Christian Ethics,” 12.

[81] VanDrunen, “The Market Economy and Christian Ethics,” 22–29.

[82] VanDrunen, “The Market Economy and Christian Ethics,” 22–29.

[83] VanDrunen, “The Market Economy and Christian Ethics,” 22–29.

[84] VanDrunen, “The Market Economy and Christian Ethics,” 33–35.

[85] VanDrunen, Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms.

[86] VanDrunen, Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms.

[87] VanDrunen, Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms, 348–50.

[88] VanDrunen, Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms, 3–5.

[89] VanDrunen, Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms, 3–5.

[90] VanDrunen, Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms, 349.

[91] S. G. de Graaf, “‘Christ and the Magistrate’ and ‘Church and State’: Two Addresses by S G. de Graaf,” trans. Nelson Kloosterman, in Kingdoms Apart: Engaging the Two Kingdoms Perspective, ed. Ryan C. McIlhenny (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2012), 85–124, esp. 89–91. Scott A. Swanson, “How Does “Thy Kingdom Come” before the End? Theology of the Present and Future Kingdom in the Book of Revelation,” in Kingdoms Apart: Engaging the Two Kingdoms Perspective, ed. Ryan C. McIlhenny (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2012), 201–26, esp. 206–26.

[92] Swanson, “How Does ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ before the End,” 206.

[93] Kloosterman, “‘Christ and the Magistrate,’” 89.

[94] Swanson, “How Does ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ before the End,” 207–8.

[95] Willem J. Ouweneel, The World is Christ’s: A Critique of Two Kingdoms Theology (Toronto: Ezra Press, 2018), 5.

[96] Kloosterman, “‘Christ and the Magistrate,’” 91.

[97] Carl E. Zylstra, “Serious Education for Serious Christians,” Pro Rege 39 (2011): 39–42; VanDrunen, Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms.

[98] Zylstra, “Serious Education for Serious Christians,” 39–42.

[99] Zylstra, “Serious Education for Serious Christians,” 40.

[100] Ouweneel, The World is Christ’s; Kloosterman, “‘Christ and the Magistrate;’” Swanson, “How Does ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ before the End; Zylstra, “Serious Education for Serious Christians.”

[101] Timothy R. Scheuers, “Dual Citizenship, Dual Ethic? Evaluating the Two Kingdoms Perspective on the Christian Culture,” in Kingdoms Apart: Engaging the Two Kingdoms Perspective, ed. Ryan C. McIlhenny (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2012), 125–54; Branson Parler, “Two Cities or Two Kingdoms? The Importance of the Ultimate in Reformed Social Thought,” in Kingdoms Apart: Engaging the Two Kingdoms Perspective, ed. Ryan C. McIlhenny (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2012), 173–97; VanDrunen, Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms.

[102] Schuers, “Dual Citizenship, Dual Ethic,” 135–38; Parler, “Two Cities or Two Kingdoms,” 175–76.

[103] VanDrunen, Living in God’s Two Kingdoms; VanDrunen, “The Market Economy and Christian Ethics.”

[104] Jason Lief, “Eschatology, Creation, and Practical Reason: A Reformational Interpretation of the Two Kingdoms Perspective,” in Kingdoms Apart: Engaging the Two Kingdoms Perspective, ed. Ryan C. McIlhenny. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2012), 227–50, 236.

[105] Lief, “Eschatology, Creation, and Practical Reason,” 236.

[106] Lief, “Eschatology, Creation, and Practical Reason,” 236.

[107] Jason Lief, “Two Kingdoms Perspective and Theological Method: Why I Still Disagree with David Van Drunen,” Pro Rege 41 (2012): 1–5.

[108] VanDrunen, Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms, 348–50.

[109] Nelson Kloosterman (“Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms in the Thiought of Herman Bavinch,” in Kingdoms Apart: Engaging the Two Kingdoms Perspective, ed. Ryan C. McIlhenny [Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2012], 65–81) disputes VanDrunen’s (Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms) natural law and Two Kingdoms interpretation of Herman Bavinck. John Halsey Wood Jr. (“Theologian of the Revolution: Abraham Kuyper’s Radical Proposal for Church and State,” in Kingdoms Apart: Engaging the Two Kingdoms Perspective, ed. Ryan C. McIlhenny [Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2012], 155–72) and Timothy Palmer (“Two-Kingdom Doctrine: A Comparative Study of Martin Luther and Abraham Kuyper, Pro Rege 37 [2009]: 13–25) dispute VanDrunen’s (Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms) Two Kingdoms interpretation of Abraham Kuyper.

[110] VanDrunen, Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms, 67–118; Palmer, “Two-Kingdom Doctrine.”

[111] Cornel Venema, “The Restoration of All Things to Proper Order: An Assessment of the ‘Two Kingdoms/Natural Law’ Interpretation of Calvin’s Public Theology,” in Kingdoms Apart: Engaging the Two Kingdoms Perspective, ed. Ryan C. McIlhenny (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2012), 3–32; VanDrunen, Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms, 67–118.

[112] Gene Haas, “Calvin, Natural Law, and the Two Kingdoms.” in Kingdoms Apart: Engaging the Two Kingdoms Perspective, ed. Ryan C. McIlhenny (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2012), 33–64.

[113] For example, see Lief, “Two Kingdoms Perspective and Theological Method.”

[114] Ouweneel (The World is Christ’s) provides a step in this direction. However, Ouweneel (The World is Christ’s) does not cite Divine Covenants and Moral Order in his criticism of natural law and instead relies on VanDrunen’s Living in God’s Two Kingdoms.

[115] Neo-Calvinist scholars recognize potential problems associated with their transformationalist perspective. For instance, in Awaiting the King: Reforming Public Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017), author James K. A. Smith writes, “under the banner of ‘transforming’ culture, we marched straight into our own assimilation” (xi). Smith attempts to develop a Christian posture for cultural engagement that faithfully works to bend society toward the heavenly kingdom and avoid triumphalism by recognizing the limits of human efforts and by understanding the extent to which our worldviews are shaped by cultural practices (17–18).

Michael N. Jacobs

Michael N. Jacobs is associate professor of political science at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts.

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