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Ars Politica - Stephen Wolfe 3rd December 2020
Ars Politica - Ep9: Two Kingdom Theology, A Primer
00:00:00 01:24:24

Ars Politica - Ep9: Two Kingdom Theology, A Primer

What is R2K?

  • Classical Reformed Two-Kingdom Theology:
  • The two kingdoms are the visible and invisible, earthly and heavenly
  • Christ’s rule is over both. The church is in both. So, the church participates in both, but its participation is according to the sphere it is in.
  • Visible: both ministry and magistrates, both visible church and earthly civic life
  • Invisible: heavenly life, eternal church
  • Alternate 2K view:
  • The two kingdoms are the civil society and the church.
  • Christ’s rule is only over the church
  • Civil: civil sphere is left to the “god of this world”, civil society is always assumed hostile, pagan, or secular
  • Church: earthly church is separate, apart from civil society altogether with its own life, its own transient, “just passing through” society on earth, stands in opposition to earthly society in “prophetic denunciation” or “moral witness”, persecution complex (Evangelical view somewhat?)
  • Flattened One Kingdom View:
  • Christ rules over all in the same way, all (should or ought to) belong to the same one kingdom, share in same ways, life, laws, means, authorities 
  • church or civil holds superior authority? (Leithart’s “theopolis”) (Catholic Church?)
  • Natural Law - God runs the world through consistent ways, principles, reason, laws
  • These laws are discoverable by all peoples through reason. Protestant Reformers attested this over and over. 

How did R2K develop?

  • Augustine - two cities
  • Gelasius - duo sunt
  • Luther - spiritual and temporal governments, conscience and conduct 
  • Calvin - spiritual and temporal governments, the soul and conduct
  • Hooker
  • Locke
  • Contemporary people? 

Why is R2K important?

  • Theonomists - presuppositionalism, OT laws as blueprint for society
  • Neo-Calvinists - “take every thought captive”
  • Evangelical - a bible verse for everything
  • Proper role of the church in the Christian life
  • over-reaching claims for biblical authority
  • Blurring religion and politics, salvation and progress, heaven and the nation, discipleship and social justice

Importance for political thought/theory


"Regarding our eternal salvation it is true that one must not distinguish between man and woman, or between king and a shepherd, or between a German and a Frenchman. Regarding policy however, we have what St. Paul declares here; for our Lord Jesus Christ did not come to mix up nature, or to abolish what belongs to the preservation of decency and peace among us....Regarding the kingdom of God (which is spiritual) there is no distinction or difference between man and woman, servant and master, poor and rich, great and small. Nevertheless, there does have to be some order among us, and Jesus Christ did not mean to eliminate it, as some flighty and scatterbrained dreamers believe." Calvin, sermon on 1 Cor. 11:2-3

"Difference of nations [gentium] or condition or sex is indeed taken away by the unity of faith, but it remains in the conduct (or manner) of mortal life, and this order must be preserved in the journey of this life." Augustine, Epistle to the Galatians (on 3:28,29)

Calvin on Christ's spiritual kingdom belonging to the inner man:

"The nature of [Christ's] kingdom...is not external, but belongs to the inner man; for it consists of a good conscience and uprightness of life, not what is so reckoned before men, but what is so reckoned before God." on Isaiah 42:1

"We must observe the analogy between the kingdom of Christ and its qualities; for, being spiritual, it is established by the power of the Holy Spirit. In a word, all these things must be viewed as referring to the inner man, that is, when we are regenerated by God to true righteousness." on Isaiah 9:7

"Having shown above that there is a twofold government in man, and having fully considered the one which, placed in the soul or inward man, relates to eternal life, we are here called to say something of the other, which pertains only to civil institutions and the external regulation of manners." Institutes....[the civil] government is distinct from the spiritual and internal kingdom of Christ, [which] begins the heavenly kingdom in us." Institutes 4.20.1,2

"This metaphor of 'tabernacles' relates rather to the outward aspect of the Church than to its spiritual and (what, may be called) its internal condition." on Isaiah 54:2

"We may call the one the spiritual, the other the civil kingdom. Now, these two, as we have divided them, are always to be viewed apart from each other. When the one is considered, we should call off our minds, and not allow them to think of the other....By attending to this distinction, we will not erroneously transfer the doctrine of the gospel concerning spiritual liberty to civil order." Calvin, Institutes III.19.15