On Friday we posted a brief response to Kevin DeYoung’s concerns about the two-kingdoms doctrine. Today, we’re following up with another of our regular Modern Reformation contributors, Dr. Darryl Hart.
Having Your Cake and Eating it Too
Kevin DeYoung seems to see a tension between the two-kingdom and neo-Calvinist approaches to Christ and culture. He sees positives and negatives on both sides. An important concern missing from DeYoung’s analysis is the Protestant doctrine of vocation, the idea that God has given to believers distinct duties through which they serve and glorify him and care for their neighbors. The Reformation doctrine of vocation was a huge breakthrough for the church because it took tasks (baking, banking, and farming) previously considered irreligious and gave them religious significance. Because creation is good, and because God providentially cares for his creation through the secondary means of work, people engaged in tasks previously considered worldly or secular could now serve God and glorify him in their daily duties.
The two-kingdom approach to Christ and culture is superior to neo-Calvinism because it is based on the doctrine of vocation. For the Kuyperian, Christians have a holy duty to take captive every square inch. In the current political climate, the neo-Calvinist position has inspired many believers to engage in politics and change the nation. It has also meant that those who have different ideas about politics or who do not sense a call to engage the political process are guilty of not following their Christian duty to transform society.
The two-kingdom approach recognizes the diversity of callings both among Christians and institutions. Not every Christian is called to be a banker or a Republican. Not every Christian is called to oppose national health care. Not every Christian is called to a holy vocation (the Christian ministry). A “secular” calling is not inherently sinful and is actually good in the sight of God. Not every institution is called to administer justice. In fact, the church’s calling is to minister forgiveness – not exactly what the Bible says is the work of the magistrate.
If DeYoung knew the two-kingdom view better, he might recognize that he could have the best of both positions because the two-kingdom approach to Christ and culture yields it.
Darryl Hart is an elder in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and is currently writing a global history of Calvinism for Yale University Press. Dr. Hart blogs at the Old Life Theological Society.