Coming in for a Landing (VanDrunen Review X-end)

At long last, I am ready to bring this marathon review of VanDrunen towards its conclusion.  On the whole, these final sections left a rather more favorable impression than I would’ve expected them to, and a more favorable impression than I’d had for most of the previous chapters.  

Chapter 10 was devoted to a discussion of Van Til and his followers, and I had expected the crescendo of criticism against neo-Calvinism to reach its climax here.  However, VanDrunen was surprisingly reserved, having expended his critical energies in chapter 9’s sketch of the antithesis between the Dutch neo-Calvinists and Calvin.  Van Til himself, concedes VanDrunen, was essentially an apologist, not a social theorist, and so we must not attribute to him views things he did not actually say about the way believers and unbelievers live together in society.  Yes, his view of common grace is problematic, and reacts unnecessarily against an exclusively Catholic conception of natural law, but his ideas are not necessarily at odds with a kind of two kingdoms theory.  

We can see the diverse possibilities of Van Tillianism for social theory, says VanDrunen, by looking at the different routes taken by two of his disciples, Greg Bahnsen and Meredith Kline.  At the mention of Bahnsen, I thought that perhaps VanDrunen was showing his last cards–perhaps the whole book had been building toward a refutation of the hated theonomist, so adamntly opposed by the Westminster Seminary crowd.  After all, it was rather remarkable that in a book ostensibly aimed at a wide audience of ethicists and political theologians, such an obscure and peripheral figure as Bahnsen should receive focused attention.  But VanDrunen didn’t do this–the discussion was brief and the criticism measured.  Perhaps VanDrunen felt (understandably) that Bahnsen’s position was sufficiently marginal that forceful criticism was unnecessary.  And frankly, it is certainly true that, once you do much study at all in ethics and political theology, Bahnsen-esque theonomy seems like a pretty untenable position.  

I am not so sure what I think of the inclusion of Meredith Kline under the Van Tillian heading.  Merely because he was taught by Van Til, and perhaps claimed Van Til as a mentor does not make him genuinely a disciple of Van Til.  VanDrunen does very little to demonstrate any real continuity between the two, but simply asserts the connection.  Most modern Van Tillians, at least, have about as much respect for Kline as they do for Charles Darwin.  But by including Kline as a Van Tillian, VanDrunen is able to to give some respect to Van Tillianism as a standpoint capable of generating valuable social thought, so I guess I won’t complain.   

It is worth pausing to take note of just one of Kline’s comments, since I think it illustrates as well as anything the incoherence into which strong spirituality of the Church/two kingdoms doctrines seem to lead.  VanDrunen summarizes Kline, “Even as Christians follow this model and engage in common cultural activities, however, the church itself is to limit its work to the holy ministry entrusted to it in Scripture and not take up these common cultural activities as part of its own task,” and to this sentence, has a footnote attached: “E.g., see Kline’s opposition to providing medical care on the foriegn mission field for those outside of the church as an ecclesiastical ministry, as articulated in a minority report of his denomination’s Committee on Foreign Missions.” (416)

Are you serious?  In doing missionary work, the Church is only supposed to teach the gospel, not administer actual medical aid or other physical assistance?  But what is the Gospel?  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)  Or how about, “This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”  Imagine if we were to tell Christ that as part of his redemptive, spiritual ministry he must only preace the gospel and not heal those who were outside of the Church–we’d have to excise half the Gospels!  If someone’s political theology is leading them to this kind of reductio ad absurdum (as, I think, VanDrunen’s does lead), then I submit that something is wrong with that political theology.  

Having thus dealt quite briefly with chapter 10, let me turn to consider VanDrunen’s Conclusion: “The Survival and Revival of Reformed Natural Law and Two Kingdoms Doctrine.”  As I mentioned above, there were actually some good signs in this conclusion—VanDrunen finally shows that he is able to critically evaluate the position he has been advancing, and to identify its possible weak points, that will need to be defended if it is to stand.  I was surprised to see him being so candid and perceptive about these; my only objection is that I think these weaknesses are far more fatal to the position than VanDrunen seems to think.  Before turning to these, though, I can’t help but poke a bit of fun at the section just before this, where VanDrunen describes “The Survival of Reformed Natural Law and Two Kingdoms Doctrine.”

He begins this by noting how remarkable it is that the year 2006 alone “saw the publication of three books by Reformed authors designed to retrieve their tradition’s natural law and/or two kingdom’s doctrines”–those by Stephen Grabill, by Darryl Hart, and by VanDrunen himself.  Now, given that this amounts to a “me and my buddies” trio, it is hardly an impressive coincidence and hardly suggests that some wide and deep revival of these doctrines is underway.  The rest of the “survival” sketch is not particularly impressive, consisting of a handful of monographs (most of them article length) by historians or theologians in the past century who were retrieving or employing some kind of Reformed natural law and/or two kingdoms paradigms, some of whom (e.g., J. Gresham Machen) do not bear quite as much resemblance to VanDrunen’s understanding of these paradigms as he thinks. 

Having said this, let us turn to look at what VanDrunen has to say about “The Revival of Reformed Natural Law and Two Kingdoms Doctrine,” which is rather more interesting.  He first describes two attractions that this doctrine offers.  First, it helps us draw the kind of clear dichotomy between the violence of the state and the peacefulness of the Church that many contemporary theologians and ethicists, preeminent among them Stanley Hauerwas, have tried to point out.  This seems, I confess, a rather disingenous point to make, because VanDrunen’s doctrine achieves this feat by destroying what for Hauerwas and most contemporary ethicists is the whole point–namely, that the Church’s peacefulness stands as a challenge, condemnation, and call to repentance toward the state’s violence, not as a ratification of it.  However, inasmuch as this is simply a critique of the tendency in neo-Calvinism and theonomy to baptize the violence of the state and co-opt it to the Church’s purposes, I am at sympathy with VanDrunen.  

The other attraction, he says, is that it “also gives theological rationale for affirming the genuine, God-ordained legitimacy of the state and other cultural institutions”; it provides a way for Christians to function comfortably within the state and to work for justice through it.  For many, of course, this hardly comprises an “attraction,” especially as, for VanDrunen, such positive Christian involvement in the state is bought only at the price of having Christians leave their Christianity entirely out of such involvement. 

Now VanDrunen moves to list the challenges facing the Reformed two kingdoms doctrine.  The first concerns the doctrine of the two mediatorships of Christ: “Can future proponents of the two kingdoms doctrine make a compelling defense of this older Reformed doctrine?”  The answer, I would suggest, is no; or rather, certainly they cannot defend it in the form that VanDrunen wants to advance it, not without abandoning Trinitarian orthodoxy.  Second, it must offer a coherent account of common grace as an organizing category for social thought, something that has thus far remained vague.  Ok, very well.  Third, “assertion of the two kingdoms doctrine raises the question as to what, if anything, has changed about the state and its authority and legitimacy with the death and resurrection of Christ.”  At this point, he says, Reformed two kingdoms doctrine parts ways with a Oliver O’Donovan, who VanDrunen incredibly describes as “one important contemporary moral theologian whose thought is in many ways very congenial to a two kingdoms perspective.”  Um, excuse me?  As VanDrunen goes on to sketch the divergence, it is hard to see where exactly this congeniality lies.  Needless to say, I am on the side of O’Donovan on this issue–the resurrection of Christ does make a difference, and it is hard for me to see how it couldn’t.  

Fourth, says VanDrunen, “the two kingdoms doctrine raises some very difficult questions regarding the holistic character of the Chrisitan life.  For example, what exactly does it mean for Christians to live non-violent lives as citizens of the kingdom of Christ and simultaneously participate in the activities of the state that rest upon the threat of coercion.  How can Christians live both of these very different ways of life with integrity and without slipping into a de facto confinement of their Christianity to certain narrow aspects of their lives?”  I’m glad to see that VanDrunen admits these to be “very difficult questions”–indeed, in my view, they are insurmountable from the standpoint of the paradigm VanDrunen has advanced in this book.  

Finally, the Reformed two kingdoms doctrine needs to resolve the point of unclarity about how exactly we are to distinguish between “spiritual” and “temporal” things, and whether this distinction is the same as “internal” and “external,” which VanDrunen isn’t sure that it is.  Of course, I happen to think that this is no minor problem; rather, until R2K doctrine can offer some coherent account of what it intends by this distinction, it has no claim to be taken seriously as ecclesiology or political theology.  

Nevertheless, I do appreciate VanDrunen’s honesty in acknowledging and justly summarizing these potential objections.  It would have been better if he had not merely relegated them to an epilogue, but late is better than never.

Where’s the Resurrection? (VanDrunen Review IX.2)

Let me then come back to my bold claim that VanDrunen’s gospel doesn’t seem to include the Resurrection.  Toward the end, analyzing Bartholomew and Goheen, he says (I’ve quoted a bit of this already): “[They] describe God’s redemptive work as comprehensive and fundamentally restorative: in Christ human beings work to restore the creation that was marred and work again toward the positive cultural development of this world.  After the fall, God set out on a ‘salvage mission.’  They write: ‘We stress the comprehensive scope of God’s redemptive work in creation.  The biblical story does not move toward the destruction of the world and our own ‘rescue’ to heaven.  Instead, it culminates in the restoration of the entire creation to its original goodness.’”  

 Now, basically, this sounds like exactly what the resurrection was about.  Of course, I want to also make sure we insist that the resurrection is not merely a restoration, but gets us ultimately much further than the first Adam ever got.  But, if the purpose of Christ’s work was to be obedient unto death, and thus to purchase for himself a people who could join him in his spiritual kingdom in heaven, until such time as he should choose to chuck the old creation in the bin, then it seems like his work was done at the cross.  The resurrection, it would seem, served only an epistemic purpose–sorta a divine, “See, I told you so, he really was God.”  But of course, if that was the point, it seems like something better could’ve been managed, since we still have to accept the resurrection on faith.  

However, if the resurrection is what I understand it to have been, the destruction of death and Christ’s taking on a body that was the glorified form of creation–not a mere spirit, but his same body from earth, brought to perfection–as a firstfruits of all mankind and all creation, which from that Easter morning is set on course to receiving that same glorification, then we are in this age charged with the task, and strengthened by the Spirit, to participate in Christ’s making all things new.  Again, N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope says all this much more clearly than I can.  


Now, having stated rather forcefully my disagreement with VanDrunen here, let me acknowledge a couple points where I am in sympathy with his concern.  He speaks repeatedly of the problem with the neo-Calvinists’ “eschatological burdening of the cultural task”–they so connect the redemption and perfection of the world with our work of culturally embodying the Gospel that they run the risk of making the consummation dependent on our work.  This is a sort of cosmological Pelagianism: Christ set us back on the right track, and charged us to bring his world to perfection.  No doubt these thinkers would insist that this is not what they mean–they are Calvinists after all–they would insist that we are dependent on Christ for everything, and the victory is his alone.  Nevertheless, but insisting too forcefully on a correlation between the triumph of the kingdom and the visible evidence of that triumph, they risk two errors, common to all Pelagianism.  On the one hand, there is a risk of a triumphalistic pride, confident that we will simply move from victory to victory till we reach perfection, refusing to look at evidence of our failures; on the other hand, a temptation to despair when we cast ourselves on the wheel of history and it refuses to turn, when the powers of this world do not seem to be collapsing before the onslaught of the kingdom as we would expect them to.  

Moreover, this attitude creates an urgency to go out there in the world and start making the Kingdom visible, and this impatience leads to a tendency to favor those pursuits that will produce the quickest, most visible results.  Hence, there is a tremendous push to Christianize the political realm, to capture positions of power and make them bastions of the Gospel.  But of course, the true progress of the Kingdom is in the Church, and it is humble and lowly in the eyes of the world; it comes through repudiating the positions of power in which the world puts so much stock.  It is no coincidence that neo-Calvinists tend to have low ecclesiologies, because the growth of the Church to maturity is a painfully slow process, and so does not present to our eyes the sense of glorious accomplishment that the short-lived cultural and political conquests of the Gospel might.  VanDrunen’s concern for the marginalization of the Church in these thinkers comes out repeatedly, and here, I am in great sympathy with him.  

 Finally, I should very briefly note a fundamental problem with the way he repeatedly tries to contrast these thinkers with the Reformers–it is again a failure to reckon with history.  All thought is developed in a context, and geared toward answering a set of questions and problems posed by that context–it may be adaptable in some way to later situations, but such adaptation will have to be done carefully, and with a willingness to recognize some major shifts.  These neo-Calvinists are working in the context of post-Enlightenment secularism: to assert that Christ is king over all, and his Gospel needs to affect everything, is a way of resisting the claim that there are supposed to be large tracts of life completely insulated from the claims of Scripture or of any religion, the claim of a secular realm.  For the Reformers, there was no concept of secular in the same way.  There was a temporal realm, but even this was deeply shaped by religion, and deeply concerned with religion.  Of course, we have already noted that VanDrunen tries to marginalize this–he tries to minimize the Reformers’ concern for a Protestant magistracy and a Protestant society–but there is simply no way to make the historical case that the early Reformed tradition had anything like our modern concept of sacred vs. secular realms.  However, VanDrunen seems to think they did: “This rejection of a sacred-secular realm distinction in which only the former is redeemed is certainly consistent with Plantinga’s kingdom theology, though this distinction is arguably exactly what the earlier Reformed two kingdoms doctrine was meant to uphold.”  That statement manifests a serious historical anachronism, and suggests a serious methodological flaw in VanDrunen’s attempt, throughout this chapter, to simply line up what the neo-Calvinists say, on one hand, and what the Calvinists say on the other hand.  Two people can say very different things in different contexts, without necessarily having fundamentally different goals.  I’m not sure what Calvin would’ve said if he’d been writing in the 20th or 21st century; to be sure, it wouldn’t have been the same as Cornelius Plantinga, but I’m quite sure it wouldn’t have been anything close to David VanDrunen either.  

Different Gospels? (VanDrunen Review IX.1)

(for previous posts on VanDrunen, see here)

In chapter 9, VanDrunen turns to consider another form of the rejection of the “classical Reformed position”–that of Herman Dooyeweerd and his “Neo-Calvinist” heirs.  As with the previous chapter, I will not try to engage in any detail with VanDrunen’s reconstruction of his interlocutors here.  I know almost nothing about Dooyeweerd, nor have I read any of his five popularizers that VanDrunen considers: Henry Stob, Craig Bartholomew, Michael Goneen, Al Wolters, and Cornelius Plantinga.  I have known a number of people working in that general milieu and influenced by its ideas, and VanDrunen’s portrayal is roughly accurate–indeed, some of his concerns are very legitimate ones. 

This chapter is very interesting, because here VanDrunen starts becoming much more explicit about his polemical target, the target that has been lurking in the shadows all along.  The latter four figures that VanDrunen considers are contemporaries of his, and you can sense the concealed urgency in his tone when he starts trying to show us just how wrong they are.  Not, of course, that he says it quite like that; he has consistently maintained that he is making historical, rather than theological arguments.  However, it is clear that when he starts showing all the ways in which they differ from the classical Reformed standpoint (which he does quite a lot in this chapter), he intends us to agree with him that this is a kind of apostasy, not an advance.  Of course, these sketches are plagued by the fact that he never established an adequate historical case that the “classical Reformed position” was anything like he said it was, and so in his summaries of it in this chapter, he waffles between making defensible historical generalizations that are in tension with his claims from earlier in the book, or making indefensible generalizations along the lines of those he has made earlier.

However, my interest here is not in revisiting more than necessary his questionable historical claims–I have already beaten that dead horse more than enough.  I am intrigued because VanDrunen finally sets out in clear opposition what he sees as the two basic alternatives of Reformed political theology today, and thus reveals to us much more clearly the theological engine that has been driving this study of his.  Whether or not it is Calvin’s theology is beside the point; clearly there are those today who think it is, and who want to promote it themselves, and this chapter helps us understand just what they’re trying to say and why.  And what they are trying to say, it seems to me, is a different gospel than the one I have understood that we are called to follow.  Now, don’t freak out there–I know that schismatic Reformed people love to throw around the phrase “a different gospel,” along with such choice epithets as “heretic” and “Papist.”  I don’t mean anything like that; I don’t even mean to prejudge the question of who’s got the right gospel (though, clearly, I hope that the balance of truth is with mine).  I simply mean it as a sober judgment of the chasm between our assumptions.  If VanDrunen were to say, “God Jesus Christ is Lord and he has come to redeem the world”  he would not mean anything remotely close to what I would mean by that same statement–in fact, I’m not even sure if he would be willing to accept that as an accurate summary of the Gospel, since he prefers to think, it seems, that Jesus came to redeem us out of the world.  

(Before I go any further, I should perhaps make clear again that I am not in great sympathy with the neo-Calvinists on many of these issues–VanDrunen is right to call them on their carelessness at many points and their weak ecclesiology.  But, if there are only two sides, I would rather be on their side.)

If we were to define the fundamental difference in traditional categories, it might come down to saying that VanDrunen is an amillenialist and I (and most neo-Calvinists) are post-millenialists.  But that doesn’t really get to the root of it.  A better way of summarizing the difference would be that in my understanding, the resurrection is fundamental to the Gospel, whereas in VanDrunen’s it seems to play little or no role.  An even simpler way of summarizing it, and one that doesn’t seem to unduly prejudice the matter against VanDrunen, would be to say, I think N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope is spot-on, and I’m sure VanDrunen does not…in fact, I doubt he’s read it.  


I will try to flesh all this out, by looking at how he puts things in this chapter, but it will take a little while. 

The first thing that caught my attention was how VanDrunen kept saying that Dooyeweerd and his disciples all manifested a tendency to use a “creation-fall-redemption motif” in their theology.  Now, forgive me if this is a dumb question, but what other kind of motif is there?  I’m sure that by asking that, I’m showing that I’m hopelessly provincial and ignorant of key streams of Christian theology, but I really thought that a creation-fall-redemption pattern was the basic narrative of the Bible, and the basic pattern of Christian theology.  VanDrunen, however, seems to prefer a pattern something like “creation | fall-redemption” or perhaps “creation-fall | redemption”–I’m not entirely sure.  What VanDrunen resists is the idea that somehow, redemption means a restoration of humanity to be able to fulfill again its created potential, indeed, to fulfill it better than it could have in the first place.  He explains Dooyeweerd’s position on this: “Dooyeweerd…saw the natural, creational laws as the universally governing laws that, thanks to redemption in Christ, Christians are now once again enabled to pursue rightly.  Redemption restores human beings in accomplishing the task that they were meant to accomplish from the beginning, prior to the fall into sin: to obey the creational laws and thereby to develop the potentialities of creation in the unfolding of human culture.”  Now, all this rings rather true for me–why does it not for VanDrunen?  

We could summarize the difference thus: for the “neo-Calvinist” narrative, creation is Plan A, and once sin enters the picture, God introduces some new elements into the plan to put it back on track and to reach the endpoint intended in Plan A by a different route.  In VanDrunen’s narrative, however, God created the world, man fell and ruined His plans, and so he devised a Plan B–to bring mankind to a very different kind of fulfillment on a spiritual plane–while the rest of creation limped along somewhat pointlessly, unable to fulfill its original destiny, but still able to do some temporarily worthwhile things.  VanDrunen sketches out the difference thus:

“For Dooyeweerd, human beings from the beginning were to develop the creational laws toward the full flowering of the cultural potentialities that God had placed within them.  This same eschatologically oriented task is restored in redemption and thus constitues the Christian program of the present day.  For the earlier tradition…the original creation was given an eschatological destiny, a conviction expressed through the doctrine of the covenant of works.  It also ascribed a role to natural law in this covenant, for this law written on the heart constituted part of the original obedience that Adam was to render to God.  Upon the breaking of this covenant, human beings became unable to achieve their eschatological destiny, but Christ has achieved it for them.  That eschatological destiny–the spiritual kingdom of Christ–is reserved in heaven for believers, and present participation in this kingdom occurs only in the (visible) church.  Heeding the laws of nature is still required of every person and is decisive for the health of the civil kingdom, but it does not manifest the spiritual kingdom of Chirst and therefore it has no eschatological goal.”

So the original creation originally had an eschatological destiny, but it lost it because of sin and God has never given it back (I’m not quite sure how Rom. 8:18-23 fits into this), and now the only eschatological destiny is in the “spiritual kingdom of Christ” which is up in heaven, not here on earth.  Will it ever be here on earth?  It is hard to say, because if so, how could it still be “spiritual”? What does a “spiritual kingdom” mean anyway, in VanDrunen’s sense?  Later, VanDrunen quotes neo-Calvinists.  Bartholomew and Goheen as saying “The biblical story does not move toward the destruction of the world and our own ‘rescue’ to heaven.  Instead, it culminates in the restoration of the entire creation to its original goodness.”  VanDrunen, however, seems to think that the gospel is just that–a cosmic rescue plan to whisk us away to another place.  

Of course, this quote gives us some interesting insight into VanDrunen’s concern: “Upon the breaking of this covenant, human beings became unable to achieve their eschatological destiny, but Christ has achieved it for them.”  He is concerned that, in the neo-Calvinist paradigm, Christ’s work simply sets us back on our feet to carry out the work of creating the kingdom, and makes us co-redeemers with Christ.  This kind of anthropocentrism and triumphalism is a real problem, and we must insist that all that we do is utterly dependent on Christ and is simply a realization of what he has already accomplished.  But if we live in Christ, and Christ in us, if He is the head that animates the body, then his work is carried out by his members; we are called to participate in the inbreaking of his kingdom, and are given now, already, a foretaste of the restored humanity that will be fully ours at the resurrection.  In any case, there is a gaping hole in VanDrunen’s narrative.  According to the covenant of works, Adam was supposed to be the king over a perfect creation.  Adam failed and we cannot accomplish his end anymore–only Christ can. So Christ comes and fulfills the covenant of works in place of Adam, and then receives the promised reward of kingship over a perfect creation, in which we participate by union with Him.  No, wait, stop, that isn’t right!  No, Christ fulfills the covenant of works in place of Adam and then receives something totally different than that which was promised to Adam; he does not receive creation, but rather, a spiritual kingdom up in heaven.  Gosh, that’s a raw deal!  

I’m serious though–why is it that in VanDrunen’s paradigm, Christ fulfills the covenant that Adam failed to keep toward God, but then God does not reciprocate in the way he had promised to for Adam? 

VanDrunen returns to the same points later, in discussing Cornelius Plantinga, and I’ll go back over it with him briefly, to make sure we get as clear a picture as possible:

“Plantinga, resembling Dooyeweerd, speaks of cultural work as the task of developing the potentialities imparted to human beings in creation.  Cultural work now, after the fall, is a project of restoration, in that redemption re-enables people to do the cultural tasks to which they were called before the entrance into sin.  This cultural work, furthermore, not only builds the kingdom of God here and now but also builds the new earth.  In fact, ‘we may think of the holy city as the garden of Eden plus the fullness of the centuries.’”

Now, what exactly is wrong with this, I want to ask?  Let me try putting this into natural law categories, which VanDrunen would be happier with.  At creation, we are designed to live in a certain way, to fulfill our true calling, glorify the world that God has made, and glorify God Himself; what we were designed to do could be described as natural law.  When we fell, we lost proper sight of this true calling, of exactly what natural law was, and of how to obey it.  We could not live in the world the way we were supposed to.  When Christ redeems us and gives us new hearts and minds, makes us participators in His perfect humanity, we are able again (not perfectly, but to an important extent) to see again what we were made for, to understand the “natural law” and to live in accord with it.  We are thus able to start building the world again as God intended it, though all our works will be imperfect until perfected by Christ the true man.  In other words, something like what Plantinga’s saying seems to me to actually be the most coherent form of natural law thinking, unlike whatever VanDrunen thinks he’s doing with the concept.

For VanDrunen, it again seems to come down to the uniqueness of Christ’s work, but I think he forces false dichotomies:

“Whereas the earlier Reformed tradition taught, in its doctrine of the covenant of works at creation, that human obedience in its cultural mandate would have resulted in eschatological consummation, but that after the fall into sin only the obedience of Jesus Christ could bring such a result, Plantinga speaks as though the original eschatologically-driven cultural task is reestablished in redemption for all believers.  Whereas much of the earlier Reformed tradition placed post-fall cultural work within the civil kingdom, a temporal and provisional realm originating in creation, preserved by God but not redeemed by Christ, Plantinga places it within the one, redemptive kigndom of God such that Christians are called to produce things that will carry over into the age to come.” 

Leaving the historical issues aside for the time being, I must ask as a theological point why there is a contradiction between insisting that only the obedience of Jesus Christ himself can bring eschatological consummation, and claiming that we are to be caught up in that task, and participate with Christ in its realization?  The New Testament, I would argue, while it is insistent on the uniqueness of Christ, is equally insistent on the unity of the Head with the Body, and our calling as the Body to live out what we already are through our communion with the Head.  VanDrunen seems to envision a passive Body that just sits there, content that the Head has already done and will do all the work.  It’s hard to see how that paradigm leaves much room for a concept of Christian ethics.