“First, it is important to understand that Augustineâ€™s two cities do not correspond to State and Church. They are two mystical communities or societies which are mixed in the ‘age that is passing away.'”
It seems to me that if Dr VanDrunen skips over this issue entirely, assuming that the church and the city of God are coextensive.
As helpful as it is that both institutions exist in an age that is passing away, what about the fact that the Church has two expressions: visible/militant and invisible/triumphant? It seems that one city both passes and endures (the Church) while the other only passes and will coalesce with the former in the new aeon. I wonder if “State” bothers because it is too specific; it really seems like a piece within a KoM whole, like family. It seems as unhelpful to correspond the city of man with family as it does with State.
Thanks Charles. I listened to Dr. VanDrunen today. I thought it was excellent. BTW VanDrunen recognizes that Augustine’s doctrine of the Two Cities and the Reformed doctrine of the Two Kingdoms are not the same thing.
It was good. You could tell why he was being inaugurated as a systematics professor. I loved the clarity he brought to the subject matter. His answer to the question of the dual ethic was timely and practical.
That is what I was noting when asking the questions.
Chellis indicates that DVD does not make the correspondance. I guess I wouldn’t have expected him to. So, the quote from Jape seems to assume that someone somewhere makes it. Who might that be and how, I am wondering?
Dualism is good, certainly. But what about a healthy does of triadalism to offset any tendencies toward the dualisms gone south in Fundamentalism (i.e. radical separation of the spheres) or Liberalism (i.e. radical collapsing of them)?
stevez, I’d be interested to hear what you have in mind by “triadalism”.
A lot of the difficulty in these discussion, I think, is due to the ambiguous use of the term “dualism”. I have suggested a more adequate and clear terminology. There is the (religious) antithesis (discussed in several places on this blog), and then there are societal communities, such as church and state and family and marriage and business, etc. These are not a duality or dualism of two kingdoms (there are clearly more than two), but the two kingdom language (when properly conceived) refers to plurality of kinds of community in society, viz. in this case, the distinction between church and state.
Again, Augustine’s two cities refer to the antithesis (which cuts through every action, individual, and community), not to any multiplicity of societal communities.
Why do I get the feeling that I’ll be wrong? Well, here goes.
In “God of Promise,” after briefly sketching out the narrative of Cain in his â€œstay of execution that allows Cain to build a city,â€ Horton explains that â€œ…we begin the story with one creation, one covenant, one people, one mandate, one city. Then after the fall, there is a covenant of creation (with its cultural mandate still in effect for all people, with the law of that covenant universally inscribed on the conscience) and a covenant of grace (with its gospel publicly announced to transgressors), a City of Man (secular but even in its rejection of God, upheld by God’s gracious hand for the time being) and a City of God (holy but even in its acceptance by God, sharing in the common curse of a fallen world). Just as the failure to distinguish law covenant from promise covenant leads to manifold confusions in our understanding of salvation, tremendous problems arise when we fail to distinguish adequately between God’s general care for the secular order and his special concern for the redemption of his people.
â€œReligious fundamentalism tends to see the world simply divided up into believers and unbelievers. The former are blessed, loved by God, holy, and doers of the right, while the latter are cursed, hated by God, unholy, and doers of evil. Sometimes this is taken to quite an extreme: believers are good people, and their moral, political, and doctrinal causes are always right, always justified, and can never be questioned. Unless the culture is controlled by their agenda, it is simply godless and unworthy of the believers’ support. This perspective ignores the fact that according to Scripture, all of usâ€”believers and unbelievers alikeâ€”are simultaneously under a common curse and common grace.
â€œReligious liberalism tends to see the world simply as one blessed community. Ignoring biblical distinctions between those inside and those outside of the covenant community, this approach cannot take the common curse seriously because it cannot take sin seriously…everything is holy.
â€œ…[But] the human race is not divided at the present time between those who are blessed and those who are cursed. That time is coming, of course, but in this present age, believers and unbelievers alike share in the pains of childbirth, the burdens of labor, the temporal effects of their own sins, and the eventual surrender of their decaying bodies to death…there is in this present age a category for that which is neither holy nor unholy but simply common.â€
I have no idea if your math skills are as bottom-of-the-barrel awful as mine, but in my line of work, the Venn Diagram has been something with which I recently had to grapple. As I soon discovered, it really isn’t all that complicated, even for a supreme dolt like me who didn’t have the fortune of inheriting the mathematical-spatial gene like my brother.
As you may or may not know, the classic Venn is two intersecting circles. One circle contains things only proper to one group, the other only proper to another; in the middle, where they converge, is common ground. For example, a directive might present a student with a list of words that are a mix of verbs and nouns. The direction would be to place all nouns in the left hand circle and all the verbs in the right. Then it would ask the student to place in the middle all words that contain the letter â€œeâ€ or even â€œall the English words.â€
Similarly, I have come to understand what Horton traces out as triadalism to work the same way. In the left circle, we could say exists unbelievers and all the things proper to them eternally speaking is contained therein (e.g. judgment, and all the related properties) and in the right circle the same for believers (e.g. redemption and all the related properties); but in the middle is where we all exist under natural law and its related properties, which takes absolutely no account of our previous status as either blessed or condemned.
In my understanding of Reformed confessionalism there seems a delicate balance is struck to make sure to radically separate the spheres so as to make no mistake that there are indeed two people that are diametrically opposed to one another. So much so that when He Who is the Head of those who are children of the Light came into the world that it was he who does the bidding of his father the devil put the former upon a tree and bruised His head. At the same time, however, it is careful not to make the same error of Fundamentalism which stops here and orchestrates a model of piety that creates a simplistic world of black and white, us and them, etc. This is the Fundamentalism with which I am fairly personally familiar. It is a piety that has no category for common ground and tends very heavily to have very simplistic views of just how the world should shake out. In the world of Fundamentalism, the world is an easy place to figure out as the good guys and bad guys are easily discerned and their agendas simple to demarcate as being either righteous or evil. Thankfully enough, many people who labor under this paradigm don’t often behave as poorly as their system seems to imply; at times they actually speak and behave more like triadalists since it is, after all, inevitable.
Nevertheless, my confessionalism is ill at ease with this Fundamentalist approach, as I find the world not only a messy and complicated place but one I like to be in even in the midst of its messiness. An obvious implication of Fundamentalism is that there are certain worldly quarters in which a believer just shouldn’t be. While that may be true, I have always found that the litany of â€œoff limitsâ€ quarters tends to be too, well, liberal.
But neither does confessional Reformed orthodoxy seem to slip into the collapsing of the spheres one experiences within Liberalism and its correlatives, everything from universalism to notions that every American effort to effect one form of righteousness or another is an interest and work of God. This is another phenomenon with which I have personal experience insofar as I was reared in it to a greater or lesser extent. It is ironic how most households of Fundamentalism anymore also flirt heavily with the more Liberal assumptions that one social or moral agenda or another has the divine sanction of God. Thus, anymore one senses a sort of hybrid in broad Evangelicalism in which there are undercurrents of grandpa’s Fundamentalism churning and roiling beneath Liberal-esque notions that the kingdoms must necessarily collapse into one another, causing the big bad world to be swallowed up by the children of the Light via their various and sundry agendas. Some have even called Evangelicals the â€œnew Liberalsâ€ as they are often aligned with a social gospel of the Right. Just as much children of Modernity as the descendants of Schleiermacher, the point still seems to be the improvement of the world by the lights of cultural rightists. Nevertheless, the problem with the blue or red fires of men is that neither burns as hot as the white heat of God.
Indeed, what the apparent model of tridalism does in its set of assumptions is to actually maximize that middle sphere so that there is an expanse of territory within which Christians may work liberally with other believers as well as non-Christians to do the work of the Left-Hand kingdom. Contra the liberal litany of â€œoff limitsâ€ that Fundamentalism engenders, triadalism constricts the â€œoff limitsâ€ and emphasizes, in a manner of speaking, the former part of being â€œin the world but not of it.â€ Moreover, this also seems to imply that such work may be done within the experience of relative disagreement, even amongst believers themselves. Nobody need be straddled by any version of political correctness or group-think, that is, if he has the wherewithal to resist either the radical dualism of Fundamentalism or the siren song of kingdom-collapse seen in Liberalism, theonomy or transformationalism.
(Part of what be helpful is to perhaps understand the duality as being just as institutional as it is organic, which is to say, the seat of the kingdoms is the human heart. Every human heart is naturally of the KoM, but it is only the regenerate heart that contains *both*. This is why rhetoric which is only focused on institutional language [e.g. “Church and State”] does seem fairly wanting. At the same time, this shouldn’t, I think, suggest that the kingdoms don’t necessarily have institutional manifestations. Of course they do, since we are both fully organic and fully institutional creatures. It seems to me that the best of Two-Kingdom theorizing grasps the both/and dimension.)
It still seems to me that there is a great deal of problematic ambiguity in the terms/conceptions here.
Are the ‘kingdom of man’ and the ‘city of man’ and ‘right-hand kingdom’ supposed to be identical? Are the ‘kingdom of God’ and ‘city of God’ and ‘left-hand kingdom’ identical? Is the kingdom and/or city of God/right supposed to refer to the institutional church, or to one side of the anithesis? Is the kingdom and/or city of man/left supposed to refer to the state, or to another side of the antithesis?
Is the “common” supposed to be neutral or indifferent with regard to regeneration or a combination (synthesis vs. antithesis) of some sort? Is the “common” supposed to be an overlap of either kingdoms/cities or church & state?
Is the triadalism view of the “common” different from the neocalvinist view of “common grace”?
How is neocalvinist transformationalism supposed to “collapse” the kingdoms?
I have a hard time finding your explanation wrong or right because it just seems confused. But as I said, this confused and ambiguous terminology is used somewhat frequently around here. Perhaps we can clear things up in further discussion.
“Are the â€˜kingdom of manâ€™ and the â€˜city of manâ€™ and â€˜right-hand kingdomâ€™ supposed to be identical?…Are the â€˜kingdom of Godâ€™ and â€˜city of Godâ€™ and â€˜left-hand kingdomâ€™ identical?””
That *would* be confusing. No, I understand the former two to be left-hand and the Church to be right-hand.
“Is the kingdom and/or city of God/right supposed to refer to the institutional church, or to one side of the anithesis? Is the kingdom and/or city of man/left supposed to refer to the state, or to another side of the antithesis?”
This has been relative to how I understand some neo-Calvinist views, so I am glad you ask. I suppose my understanding is that the KoG has both an in/visible reality. It is that which resides in the regenerate heart which necessarily becomes manifest in the institutional church. My perception of the KoM, as I said above, is not that it is found within the state, though it is located there as well. The koM is actually found in everything but the KoG, so the family, the state and all such things as are passing away. Even the visible church seems to have some overlap here insofar as it will eventually give way to the triumphant and invisible church.
“Is the â€œcommonâ€ supposed to be neutral or indifferent with regard to regeneration or a combination (synthesis vs. antithesis) of some sort? Is the â€œcommonâ€ supposed to be an overlap of either kingdoms/cities or church & state?’
It seems to me that this conflation of “natural/common” with “neutral” is, for the lack of a better phrase, common(!). The short answer seems to be no, and I must admit I have a hard time understanding it; if God is sovereign over all things how can there really be neutrality or indifference? I think there can be diversity and plurality in the common, but the idea that there is neutrality or indifference seems really wide of the mark to understand this view of triadalism. With regard to overlap, I would say that it isn’t so much that the “common overlaps the kingdoms” so much as the individual believer finds himself to have a lot in common with those who are not, yet at the same time is quite distinct.
“Is the triadalism view of the â€œcommonâ€ different from the neocalvinist view of â€œcommon graceâ€?’
Horton seems to have no trouble with the latter term, but Hart does (preferring “providence”). For my part, I have always been more sympathetic to Horton here and seeing Hart’s problem perhaps a bit overdone. My hunch is that Hart smells the makings for kingdom-collapse. I can see that, and maybe we do need to be more careful about the terms. I guess when I use “common grace” I don’t mean what my self-procaliming transformationalist friends do at all. I simply mean that God is sovereign over every square inch (I can work with Kuyperian “sphere sovreignty” much better than I can with notions about transforming things). But how that implies a Christian view of anything in creation I don’t understand. What’s the virgin birth or the resurrection have to do with statecraft? It just isn’t at all obvious to me.
“How is neocalvinist transformationalism supposed to â€œcollapseâ€ the kingdoms?”
When the principle seems to be that the “gospel has a direct bearing on and obvious implication for the temporal world” I don’t know how it doesn’t. You may have another version of neo-Calvinism, but every other self-proclaiming neo-Calvinist I know (and my neck of the woods is teeming with them) seems never to refute that principle. I must say, I follow their version of neo-Calvinism much better than I do yours.
stevez, OK, correction on the ‘man-left’, ‘God-right’ noted. Typo on my part.
You want to say the ‘kingdom of man,’ the ‘city of man,’ the ‘left hand kingdom’ is found in everything other than the kingdom of God. You say that non-church communities are not themselves the kingdom of man. So you would agree that these terms do refer to one side of the antithesis.
You also agree that there is no religious neutrality or indifference in the common. You say religious neutrality is impossible because God is sovereign over all.
So, then, is the kingdom of God ever in the family, state, or other non-church communities? If not, then how exactly are you distinguishing ‘kingdom of God’ and ‘God’s sovereignty’?
If you are not identifying non-church communities with the kingdom of man, what then is the kingdom of man that can be in them?
You didn’t seem to answer the question:
â€œHow is neocalvinist transformationalism supposed to ‘collapse’ the kingdoms?â€
Is your answer that it collapses the kingdoms by holding that “gospel has a direct bearing on and obvious implication for the temporal world” ?