I think that Darryl has a doctrine that makes Christianity applicable to politics. Darryl Hart is no heretic. He is no anabaptist. He affirms the soverign Kingship of Christ over both Kingdoms (one common and one holy). I am waiting to hear how, in his mind (and Scottâ€™s) Christâ€™s rules the nations and how the nations should respond? What is the role of the moral law and what is the nationâ€™s duty toward it?
I do fundamentally agree with Darryl, and I probably agree with him more now than when I wrote the review, though I stand by my comments in the review.
Darryl isn’t making Christianity apolitical. He doesn’t have to make it apolitical, since it is so in its very nature. That’s one of the great differences between the temporary, typological, national covenant, which expired with the death of Christ, and the New Covenant.
I’m a big fan of 17th-century Reformed theology, but there are three areas where we made significant mistakes as a group: 1) eschatology (the rise of chiliasm in the 17th century among Reformed folks says something about us); 2) science (many of us were geocentrists far too long; 3) politics. On one hand we set the framework for overcoming theocracy, on the other hand most of were theocrats and make reckless use of the Mosaic theocracy as it suited our needs in the 16th and 17th centuries. The 1729 American adoption of the Standards and 1789 revisions of the Standards were good and necessary consequences from our hermeneutic and theology.
No theocrat or theonomist can make a compelling case from the NT for theocracy or theonomy. Not one of the apostles made theonomic (calling for the imposition of Mosaic penalties) or theocratic (calling for the civil enforcement of the first table) arguments or overtures to any civil figure or in any civil context.
What evidence is there from the apostolic church or even from the very earliest post-apostolic church that the Christians had any political interests as Christians? As citizens they had political interests (personal and corporate security, freedom to worship etc) but one of the principal arguments by the early post-apostolic or at least early non-canonical apologists the pseudonymous “Mathetes” (The Disciple) to the secular/civil/pagan authorities was: “we’re no threat to existing order. We simply want to be left alone to worship the risen Savior Jesus peacefully. We have no civil/political/cultural intentions.” The reason that Pliny the Younger either spied or sent spies to the Christians and reported to Trajan was precisely because they suspected the early Christians of being subversive of the existing civil order. He found no such subversive activity, because there wasn’t any to be found.
To take a stab at your question concerning how Christ rules the nations, I’ll give the same answer I give to the Dispensationalists (not that you are anyone here is a dispensationalist):
Christ rules the nations in the very same way he’s been doing when he created all that is, when he installed and drowned Pharaoh and his hosts, when he installed and refused to answer Pilate, when he was being crucified, when he ascended into heaven as the true, greater-than-David King, when Stephen was stoned, and when Paul was beheaded: by his providence.
Jesus sovereignly rules over all civil realms, ordaining all that comes to pass and sustaining all civil orders in all times and in all places.
Of course that fact tells us very little about how Christians ought to theorize about the civil magistrate or how they ought to function as members of civil society.
It seems that the question assumes the premise that I’ve seen reflected in other posts, i.e., that Christians (as Christians) have special insights into the nature of things (we do, sola gratia) and therefore are specially gifted for politics. This is a non sequitur. I don’t see how we have any special insights into how to do politics any more than we have them as to how to maths. We know why politics are as they are (sin and the providence of God), and we know why maths work (providence), but those are two different questions.
We have revealed truth about ultimate matters (the Trinity, anthropology, Christology, salvation, church, sacraments and eschatological life) and they surely inform our civil conduct and speech, but apart from the general equity of the Mosaic civil code, I don’t know that we have anything to say to penultimate matters beyond that which we can learn from the natural law (i.e., the second table of the decalogue) as it applies to civil life. According to Paul in Rom 1 and 2 everyone knows this law.
As a recipients of special revelation, we do think of other citizens differently than they do and our treatment of them should reflect our understanding of the grace of God in Christ, but in matters of policy, the doctrine of predestination isn’t really relevant.
Relegating Christians to the status of mere citizens diminishes Christ’s Lordship not one iota. It does diminish our pretensions to special insights into civil life and it diminishes the sometimes accompanying lust for power and that’s a good thing. The sooner we can communicate to our fellow citizens that 1) we’re not after their money either by chicanery or through power politics; 2) that we’re not out to use the levers of power to impose the faith on them, the better off the church as an institution will be and the better off both we and our pagan neighbors will be as we come to talk with them about that which is genuinely transcendent of civil politics.