It’s the Church, Stupid

In an uphill battle against a President associated with The Persian Gulf War, Clinton campaign strategist James Carville didn’t want the campaign to be about foreign policy.  He wanted to take the campaign to a different venue and on a different theme.   Needless to say, he wanted it to be a winning theme.  His strategy, which was famously summarized as  “it’s the economy, stupid” was the right move at the right time and Bill Clinton was elected President in 1992.

If the current two kingdom discussion can be likened to two political campaigns, it’s the anti-2k group that has the superior rhetoric.  While two kingdom advocates have yet to even come up with a clever name for anti-2ks, the anti-2ks have never met a 2k who wasn’t a r2k.  Its pretty similar to the way our national media overuses “far right Republican,” and it seems that both use their terminology to  marginalize and stigmatize.  But the rhetorical strategies don’t stop there.  The anti-2ks – who usually don’t understand two kingdom thought – portray two kingdom advocates as soft on abortion and homosexuality, two hot button issues.  It’s no surprise that the faction with the most interest in promoting mandatory political issues would use essentially political-type rhetoric to gain the upper hand.  Clearly two kingdom advocates are losing the rhetorical war.

As an aside, two kingdom advocates are rarely liberals; they aren’t secret agents of the Obama administration asserting a theological theme as a pretense to liberalize conservative American Protestantism.  They are largely (but not uniformly) conservative; they just don’t want their politics or anyone else’s politics to be, as it were, stapled to the back of the church’s confessions.

They don’t want any confession-apocrypha for a number of reasons.  Liberty of conscience is one important reason, but, unfortunately most conservative Protestants think liberty of conscience was once-for-all achieved in the Protestant break from Rome.  The second reason is actually more central: it’s about the church.

The church, simply put, is not a means for the greater ends of political and social progress.  Her task is greater: to preach the gospel and the way of sanctification.  The “world” will be better off because of what happens in the church, but the world does not set her agenda.  When the world sets the church’s agenda in the form of the “correct” candidates, constitutional amendments, and legislation, the church’s mission is impaired.  When the church is identified with partisan politics, those who don’t share those politics will see the church as their enemy and stay away from the gospel.  When the church is filled with politics, there will be either political dissension within her doors or an artificial concord achieved by shunning naysayers.

So, while a catchy name for the anti-2ks wouldn’t hurt, it’s more important to emphasize the heart of the two kingdom perspective: it’s the church, stupid.

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12 Responses to It’s the Church, Stupid

  1. Zrim says:

    Since the most visceral anti-2k rhetoric comes from within the Reformed camp, and since that seems to suggest that theonomists are Calvinism’s version of Methodists, maybe the Calodists (the ecclesiastical version of the Calminian)? But when I see r2k I read R(eformed)2k.

  2. dr p says:

    @Zrim: it’s that functional postmillenialism again, using political activism to amke up for perceived deficiencies in Word and Sacrament.

  3. Pooka says:

    Whenever there’s a problem, we have to do something. Hence Theonomic Reaction Forces (r), Xtreme Pietism ™ and Emergency Romish Evacutation Procedures (pat. pending). Why just depend on the Word and Sacrament when we have tons of eisegetical examples of what to do in case of X religious or cultural problem?

    Seriously, for you guys, here’s a quote. I have my thoughts on a proper response for it, but I’d like to hear your thoughts.

    “No-one has been able to refute Bahnsen’s work on the level that he deals out theonomy. Not even close.” (paraphrased from a slightly longer conversation).

    I ain’t no militant 2k guy, but I’m fairly certain I could be a militant anti-theonomy guy. Except it’s fairly not worth the effort, I’m guessing.

  4. RubeRad says:

    I would ask whether that quotee has read Vern Poythress’ Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses.

  5. Pooka says:

    I wonder if he has…

  6. Nice post! Being a 2K guy, I can say that, as one, I still think it is OK to be involved in politics as a Christian. Many anti-2Kers believe that 2Kers believe they CANNOT be involved. They of course misunderstand. It is the church that cannot be. It is precisely because we are dual citizens that we can be so as a Christian, not in spite of our being Christian.

  7. justsinner99 says:

    I’m fairly new to the whole 2K discussion & never even realized that there was a controversy over it. I’m a WSCA grad (2001), but Dr. Hart was not teaching there at the time (or I simply never had him as a professor).

    I guess I just thought it was basically the same as Augustine’s idea in the City of God. I have never read anything by Horton, et al that has so much caused me to raise an eyebrow. (Maybe I am not a discerning enough reader?)

    Are there any particular posts on this blog (or elsewhere) that you all would recommend for one like myself who needs a primer of sorts on what the whole hubbub is about? Thanks.

  8. Let’s see, where does one start? You could check out the VanDrunen / Kloosterman dialogue found in various places on the web. Certainly this blog has explored Two Kingdom quite a bit, as has Darryl Hart’s Old Life blog.

  9. Zrim says:

    Andy, a good 2k blog is Stellman’s old one.

  10. RubeRad says:

    2K is not really totally like Augustine’s Cities of God & Man, which were to an extent opposed to each other. You can’t go wrong with Van Drunen’s Natural Law and Two Kingdoms, he goes into detail on the development of the theology through history.

  11. Listening to the White Horse Inn is very helpful in developing a 2K mind as well. Excellent stuff here. Also I have a few 2K interviews at reformedcast.com.

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