Pastor Jim Cassidy contemplates two kingdom theology and concludes with a worry that it
…may in fact cause Christians to lose their greatest apologetic and witnessing opportunities. This is because while the unbeliever and the believer may not have any epistemological or ethical common ground, Christians do have a point of contact with him at every point. And that is because we all live in the arena of God’s covenantal fiat. And thus, we dare not be silenced: neither in the church nor in the public square. In fact, the latter is arguably the best place to bring both Law and Gospel to bear upon the consciences of fallen men.
It isn’t entirely clear to me how anything he says previously would lead one to conclude that two kingdom theology would be a culprit in rendering believers inept or silent in the public square. It also doesn’t seem clear to one commenter who does us all a great benefit by providing at length David Van Drunen’s response to Nelson Kloosterman:
But apologetic confrontation with unbelieving thought is not the only kind of interaction that Christians have with unbelievers. Christians are called not only to break down every pretension that sets itself up against Christ (2 Cor. 10:5) but also to live lives in common with unbelievers in a range of cultural activities. Christians may and even should make music, build bridges, do medical research, and play baseball with unbelievers. Believers are called to live in peace with all men as far as it lies with them (Rom. 12:18), to pray for the peace of the (mostly pagan) city in which they live (Jer. 29:7; 1 Tim. 2:1-2), and to interact in the world with people whom they would not admit to membership in the church (1 Cor. 5:9-11). There is a place for a believing musician to explain to an unbelieving musician that music is meaningless unless the triune God exists, but when they are rehearsing together in the community orchestra such a Van Tillian apologetic confrontation would be highly inappropriate—the task at that time is cooperation at a common cultural task. The same thing is true in regard to working on a construction site with non-Christians or grilling burgers with an unbelieving friend at a neighborhood cook-out or thousands of other ordinary endeavors. To try to put it briefly, we have different sorts of encounters with unbelievers at different times. Sometimes we have opportunity to engage in apologetic discussions, in which our modus operandi is confrontation and exposure of the futility of unbelief (though always in love). Other times (and probably most of the time for the ordinary Christian who is not a professional apologist) we have common tasks in which to engage alongside unbelievers, in which our modus operandi is trying to find agreement and consensus so that shared cultural tasks can be accomplished as well as possible in a sinful world.
And so with wise and measured words like this, I continue to wonder what is so “radical” about two kingdom theology that it deserves the scary moniker. Advocates are trying to give a theory for how we all, from neo-Calvinist to Catholic to Methodist to old school Reformed, actually seem to be living our Christian lives in the common sphere. One has yet to hear a critic come up with anything better. There certainly are those of us called to the very unique and specialized domain of apologetic engagement.
But one wonders if a sort of every member ministry underlies the notion that the rest of us in common vocations must behave and speak as if we’re all doing this specialized work. Do we really have to bring to bear on daily life covenantal fiat as we work together with unbelievers? I, for one, have never done this as I have mixed and mingled in various common environs. I don’t even think I would know how to do this. Sorry to wax personal, but in point of fact, it was precisely the sort of two kingdom theology expressed here by Van Drunen that drew me out of a wider evangelicalism to narrow Reformed confessionalism so many years ago. The very idea that believers are to be full-on participants alongside those with whom we are also as at odds as light is to darkness is what was so revolutionary. And to be quite frank, the critics of two kingdom theology—and even those who are mainly affirmative and yet hold out these sorts of concerns—sound disturbingly akin to the evangelicals who wanted redemption to swallow up creation (or at least toss it around between the cheek and gum) and who had no theory to explain the way they actually lived as rank and file believers. It was almost as if there was no distinction between those called to do specific forms of ministry and those not so called. The upshot was that common vocations had to be baptized and believers had to don the evangelical spacesuit before they could participate in the larger world. And once they got there, evangelizing everything from paperclips to bosses was really the point. The problem is that this just isn’t the way believers really live. Neither does it give anything but short shrift to the point of vocations. Is it really so radical and dangerous to suggest that the point of baking bread all day is to feed people and make a living? And does anybody really want to give the impression that because it isn’t enough to feed people and make a living that cupcakes should contain within them little notes that declare that said cupcake exists within God’s covenantal fiat and is best enjoyed with that knowledge? Critics may laugh at these questions, but speaking of theories to explain practices, I am not sure how else anybody ends up placing Bible tracts on the restaurant table in lieu of a tip without first thinking an unbeliever is always wrong and believers dare not be silenced in the public square. And when one matures and realizes tracts in lieu of tips is silly, how does he explain his conclusion that his meal was good, his service relatively adequate, and that it was sufficient to pay his provider and be done with it?