â€œTo him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nationsâ€¦just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning starâ€¦To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.â€ (Rev. 2:26,28; 3:21)
â€œI tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Fatherâ€¦It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of the world now stands condemned.â€ (John 14:12; 16:7-11)
â€œThe weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.â€ (2 Cor. 10:4-6)
To begin with, Iâ€™m going to request Darrylâ€™s forbearance for this budding â€œtheologian of gloryâ€ (2 Cor. 3:9-11, 18), especially for some of the excessive statements made about his version of Westminster Two Kingdoms (W2K) theology. Plainly, it is improper to claim W2K â€œpositively attributes evil to creation.â€ And so, I apologize for this uncharitable exaggeration. Darryl and other representatives of the W2K school repeatedly affirm the goodness of creation as originally created, whatever the unintended consequences of their views.
For the purpose of easily referencing all viewpoints broadly characterized as transformationalist or â€œtheocratic,â€ I designate the letter â€œT,â€ without meaning to imply all such views are adequately represented by my arguments. There are two objectives I hope to accomplish in this post and subsequent postings. First, I purpose to meet Darrylâ€™s challenge in a way that provides a general defense of all T views. Second, my specific agenda is to defend historic Christendom as a viable model for future T efforts. Once the majority view, Christendom has fallen out of favor even with most T proponents. Yet, Christendom is the only T program that has been tried. It lasted for over 1500 years, demonstrating significantâ€”even extraordinaryâ€”stability, and perhaps is not completely beyond resuscitation. I feel honored to advocate for the venerable tradition of Christendom on this forum.
W2K Critiques T
As far as I can ascertain, Darryl offers the following arguments against theologically motivated culture transformation (T): 1) T breaks down the providential division between cult & culture, thereby compromising the Church and undermining political order; 2) T is impossible because natural and Christian ethics are incommensurate; 3) T represents a premature effort to â€œimmanentizeâ€ the Kingdom of God; 4) T inadvertently subverts Justification in an attempt to save the world through works; 5) The NT nowhere indicates that Christianity is supposed to take over society, but precisely the opposite; 6) T implies persecution of other religions and has historically done so.
Darrylâ€™s first four points represent a chain of argumentation, first formulated this way by Meredith Kline, which goes like this: The economy of the original Covenant of Works (CoW) was the first theocracy. Theocracy (the full integration of cult & culture) was the social order through which humanity was to render â€œpersonal, perfect, and perpetual obedienceâ€ in order to merit consummated eternal life (beatitude) under the terms of the CoW.
This original theocracy was ended by the fall when humanity split into two groups, elect and reprobate. As a result, a new common grace order was established by God (point 1 above). This new order was established so that elect and reprobate could cooperate together to a certain extent in order to build a peaceful society. While the elect are motivated by an ethic of gratitude (for the anticipated redemption of Christ), the reprobate retain the old CoW ethic of merit (human works will earn the state of beatitude). These ethics are incommensurate with one another (point 2), though there is some overlap because natural law forms the basis for each.
Kline would argue that any attempt to restore theocracy (T) by the elect ipso facto involves a regression back under the CoW, a rejection of the Covenant of Grace (CoG), which is an unconditional covenant whereby God has undertaken the sole responsibility of establishing man in beatitude. All human activity is excluded from this enterprise. Therefore, for Kline (and W2K in general) the elect no longer have a cultural mandate (Gen. 1:28). Kline would hold to a common mandate (common to elect & reprobate), and therefore circumscribed in principle by natural law shorn of its original orientation toward consummated beatitude.
A revived theocracy would constitute an attempt to prematurely establish Godâ€™s Kingdom through natural effort (point 3). Justification is incompatible with T (point 4). Natural effort, comprised of human works, characterizes fallen manâ€™s pursuit of beatitude. Since the CoG is received and perpetuated by faith alone, human works represent â€œunlawfulâ€ impositions upon Godâ€™s prerogative to establish beatitude through his own provision. Sola Fide is here framed in a radically monergistic way, such that the faithful have no responsibility to advance godly culture. Any cooperation between Christ and his Church in the outworking of redemption is excluded.
Responding to Kline-W2K
Allow me to address a preliminary response to this Klinean-W2K critique. The whole line of argumentation depends on T being equivalent to the Adamic theocracy, complete with its works principle. I am unaware that Darryl or any other representatives of W2K have established this necessary connection. Why couldnâ€™t God have graciously perpetuated the cultural mandate as part of the duty gratitude enjoins? What evidence is there that Godâ€™s elect are absolved of the original command to produce offspring, subdue, and cultivate the earth?
As I have already argued fairly extensively (I apologize for the repetition), there doesnâ€™t seem to be a necessary conflict between carrying on with the construction of Megapolis (the cultivation of creation as a garden-city) in anticipation of Metapolis (the beatifying work only God is able to perform).
Theocracy doesnâ€™t necessitate conceiving the present order of things as ultimate. Rather, theocracy, if valid, would be Godâ€™s way of maintaining teleological continuity between the old and new creations. Present work would therefore be a profound expression of faith in Godâ€™s work of cosmic regeneration. Rather than despairing of the significance of his activity, the man of faith expects that the results of his labor will be gloriously transformed on the day of his Lordâ€™s reckoning. Ten minas will be transmuted into ten cities (Luke 19:17), and so forthâ€”so to speak. The regenerating fire of the final judgment will consume the wood, hay, and stubble, but leave behind (and reveal!) the gold, silver, and costly stones (1 Cor. 3:12).
In succeeding portions of this essay I intend to develop an argument that the original cultural mandate retains viability in the redemptive post-fall economy drawn from the following scriptural evidence: the promises made to Abraham and his seed, the OT prophetic anticipation of the new covenant era, the Melchizedekian ministry of Christ, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. I hope to show that the cultural mandate has been assimilated into the covenants of promise, and that creationâ€™s preservation and ultimate deliverance is inextricably linked to the Churchâ€™s own destiny. Indeed, there is an ontological relation between the worldâ€™s birthing pangs and the Churchâ€™s suffering (Rom. 8:22-25, Cf. John 16:20-25). Finally, there is eschatological continuity between the world and the Church. In the final pages of inscripturated revelation, St. John unveils the mystery of the world, its consummate identity. The new heaven and new earth are revealed as the New Jerusalem (= the glorified body of Christ) that descends out of heaven from God (Rev. 21:1-2).