In light of the recent dust-up that Darrell Todd (“Scoop”) Maurina’s hit piece has created (again, again, again, and again.But wait, there’s more), an Outhouse correspondent has reached back into the archives and requested something get re-posted. As if Old Life didn’t already cover it. And as if some of us haven’t been yawning for some years at Scoop’s cyber tirades. But far be it from us not to honor a request. There are many hyperventilating charges that get leveled at two-kingdom theology and its proponents. One of the most popular is dubbed public square antinomianism or some variation thereof. The idea, evidently, is that 2kers are Reformed Dispensationalists who are reluctant to break out the polish for the rails of the sinking ship, which tends to simply be code for, “So you take a pass on protesting abortion clinics? Well, take this.”
Immediate name recognition can be telling. Everyone knows William Wilberforce, the champion of abolition. But Stuart Robinson might be a bit more obscure. Robinson was a Kentucky Presbyterian minister in a border-state during the Civil War. Where Wilberforce moved at relative ease throughout England throughout his life, Robinson actually had to find refuge in Canada because his views were not conducive to either side in trying to figure out the problem of human slavery in America. It would seem that carefully distinguishing between the sacred and the secular is a more dangerous enterprise than abolition, popular sentiments notwithstanding. (Can Outhouse readers think of any contemporary socio-political issues many think are at least equally important as, or maybe, gulp, more than, Robinsonian concern? I can.)
The following the first is part of the conclusion of Preston Graham’s survey A Kingdom Not of This World, which takes up the phenomenon of Stuart Robinson’s effort to distinguish the sacred from the secular in the midst of a socio-political controversy not too unlike some in our day. I have italicized what I especially like about this quote, that is, as individuals we may very well come to very different conclusions as to how proximate justice may be realized even as we balance what it means to crane our necks for a better country. I post this for various reasons, but one is that two-kingdom views often get mistaken for being apathetic, pietistic (even antinomian) when it comes to the concerns of earth. But two-kingdom theology is arguably more concerned for the things of earth than any abolitionist, theonomist or transformationalist. It just doesn’t look the way any of these fine folks would presume.
Whereas individuals are encouraged to invest themselves in ‘things civil,’ the church, as a visible and constitutional organization, ought to be exclusively concerned for ‘things spiritual.’ This apolitical church resists the marginalization of theology and its subsequent realignment around a cultural agenda. The modern apolitical church serves to proclaim a gospel that transcends social restructuring, macroeconomics and political theory…even by Robinson’s own admission and practice, the line distinguishing things sacred from things secular is not always easy to discern, especially in the messiness associated with congregational life in general, especially when her people are called to participate in the world without being of the world. And yet this didn’t eliminate the responsibility of the church to draw the line all the same as from where scripture speaks and where it is left to human wisdom…His polemic was against the church confusing a political agenda after a reading of one or another political or social theory rather than agenda that still holds to things pertaining to God and faith as important in their own right. For example, such a church might preach justice, albeit to congregates who perhaps endorse opposing theories for the accomplishment of justice as derived from the social, economic, legal, and political sciences. Such a church may foster in its people works of mercy directed toward those who are needy, as an expression of true Christian love and witness, and yet be silent as to which particular program for accomplishing mercy is necessarily preferable given one or another reading of city planning….Robinson’s Scoto-American idea of the church would be distinguished as the ‘mediatorial body of Christ’ acting as an agent of special grace for God the Redeemer, in contrast with acting as an agent of common grace along with the state for God as creator.
And talk about “messy.” Robinson’s church contained not only those who had both non/abolitionist views but also slaves themselves. Now there is a communion rail I’d love to frequent.