Two Kingdoms Smackdown

As promised, it has arrived.  In a two-part essay of gargantuan proportions, “John Calvin and the Two Kingdoms” (Part I and Part II), Peter and Steven have tackled the “Reformed two-kingdoms” partisans to the ground, bundled them into a coffin, and nailed it shut.  Or so it would appear, at any rate.  No doubt there will be plenty of debates yet to come, but this essay marks the most complete refutation to date of the Westminster West thesis that seeks to identify historic Reformed two kingdoms theology with de jure divino Presbyterianism and on this basis calls for an evacuation of Christian claims from the public square and a retreat into the rigidly-policed four walls of the Church.  Although there are certainly points calling for further clarification, and there is something in this mammoth essay that will trample on most everyone’s toes, it ought to provide a touchstone for any future discussions of the historical issues involved.  

Also worth seeing is Davey Henreckson’s round-up of the recent debates at Reforming Virtue, where he poses questions to all of the interlocutors, including, last and least, myself.

Two Kingdoms Extravaganza

If you’re tired of reading about two kingdoms stuff on this blog, I have good news from you—I won’t be posting any here for a spell.  But if you’re not, I also have good news for you—I’ve got a bundle of great links to share.  

First, Darryl Hart has recently changed his tune noticeably, by suggesting that instead of being a neat, clean-cut dualism, his Reformed two-kingdoms doctrine is in fact a messy, complicated paradox, and so we shouldn’t ask for perfect consistency in his and VanDrunen’s exposition of it.  But that, he says, is a good thing.

Peter Escalante has responded on The Calvinist International with a hard-hitting deconstruction, which at the same time offers the fullest exposition yet of his and Wedgeworth’s vision for a modern Christian liberal politics, and how one might get from Reformational two-kingdoms teaching to that point.

Meanwhile, Matt Tuininga, a Ph.D student at Emory, recently wrote a little article which, although arguing that modern R2K advocates may have the contemporary application wrong, essentially retells their same narrative of the historical form of Reformed two-kingdoms doctrine—viz., that it was about the liberty of the Church over against the State all along.

The Calvinist International kindly hosted my substantial critique of Tuininga’s piece, which has already elicited a response from Tuininga, pledging a forthcoming refutation (at least as far as Calvin is concerned), but graciously seeking constructive dialogue and debate.  I am hopeful that the coming discussion will finally provide some helpful historical and theological illumination to a debate that has generated more heat than light on Reformed blogdom over the past couple years.  So stay tuned to The Calvinist International for follow-up.

Hooker in the Bedroom

Since launching The Calvinist International just a month ago, Steven Wedgeworth and Peter Escalante have built it into a first-class site, with thoughtful articles on topics as diverse as Shakespeare, VanDrunen, and Von Mises, an invaluable “Resources” page, and a very exciting project of Evangelical Resourcement entitled “How Then Have We Lived?,” which I’m sure I’ll be returning to over and over.  

This paean, of course, is somewhat self-serving, as TCI has just been kind enough to host the paper I presented at the Society for the Study of Theology last month, “Indifference that Makes a Difference: Richard Hooker and the Conundrum of Christian Liberty”; only, thank goodness, Peter E. has dressed it up (or undressed it?) with a snazzy new title: Hooker in the Bedroom? Law, Liberty, and Things Indifferent.”  In it, I try to draw on some very old categories to provide some conceptual clarification to contemporary evangelical confusions recently highlighted by Mark Driscoll’s Real Marriage, which managed the impressive feat of scandalizing feminists and fundamentalists at the same time.  

Announcing The Calvinist International

It is with immense pleasure that I can announce the launch of The Calvinist International, “A Forum for Reformed Irenicism.”  Created and piloted by my friends Steven Wedgeworth and Peter Escalante promises to provide a much-needed bridge between the world of academic theology and the ordinary educated Reformed Christian, while avoiding the chaotic and ill-informed polemics that so often characterize Reformed blogdom.  It aims to be robustly Reformed, academically rigorous, and authentically irenic, a job description for which I can think of few people better suited than Steven and Peter.  

Their vision is ambitious and exciting:

Consistent with the original wisdom of the Reformers and their best heirs, the irenic way we follow here is wholeheartedly biblical and evangelical in theology, rigorously perennial in philosophy, catholic in scope, and pacific in spirit.
In this manner, we will consider the first things of religion, politics, philosophy, learning, and the arts.  In a time of crisis and confusion in commonwealth, churches, and academy, we aim to reexamine and renew for our day the archai, the first foundational elements, of the discarded image of Christendom.
Not only will we get to hear their own contributions on a regular basis, but they hope to provide a hub to help network the contributions of like-minded folks around the web.  So head on over there, subscribe to their feed, and start checking in regularly.  Their first post outlines the theological method and approach they intend to follow, one in which they seek to follow in the footsteps of great Reformed irenicists of previous centuries, and they have also posted, as their first in-depth essay, “A Compound Person,” a fantastic defense of the orthodoxy of Reformed Christology, against Bruce McCormack and other less responsible detractors.