Sunday, February 06, 2011

Prooftexting 2k

Here is how Darryl Hart responds to the following question:

“Can you ground 2K in scripture for us? Is this the teaching of the Bible?”

If it doesn’t sound too defensive, I’d start by saying that a 1 kingdom view has not been shown to be the teaching of Scripture. It is curious to me that lots of people who object to 2 kingdom views go ahead and live with a two-kingdom reality.  They are not insisting that the church rule over all things…

i) Why would we view the church as a “kingdom” in the first place? How does Hart define a “kingdom?”

And how does he define “the church”? Does he mean a local church? A set of local churches? The visible church? The invisible church?

It’s clearly equivocal to use “kingdom” both for church and state. For we don’t mean the same thing in each case.

ii) What would it mean to say “the church” rules over all things? If the church includes the laity, then the laity do have a civic role to play.

iii) Or is he using the “church” as a synonym for something like Christian social values? If that’s what he means, then I think Christian social values ought to norm social policy.

So when he talks about “the church” ruling over all things, does he mean an institution, church officers, laymen, or moral norms?

iv) Keep in mind that even the Mosaic theocracy distinguished between church and state. Only a Levite could be a priest. So does that make the Mosaic theocracy 2k? Yet 2k proponents typically treat the Mosaic theocracy as the antithesis of 2k.

But if the Mosaic theocracy is not 2k, then was God inconsistent?

…or that Christians must be elected to public office…

What does he mean by “must”? We don’t control who chooses to run for public office. And who’s elected depends on who gets the most votes.

However, I certainly think it’s preferable to have Christians in gov’t.

…or that every cultural expression must come from a regenerate artist.

How is that inconsistent with alternatives to 2k? Even theonomists have a doctrine of common grace. As well as Kuyperians. 

Critics of 2 kingdom theology like to protest against it, but it hardly ever involves a one-kingdom argument instead.  This may simply be an inconsistency.  I think it also an acknowledgement of the limits of church power…

i) How is acknowledging the limits of church power inconsistent with alternatives to 2k? Once again, Hart fails to define his terms. Church power would be exercised by church officers. But is that the issue? Is the issue who exercises power? Of is the issue what is exercised? Isn’t the real issue the source and standard of social ethics, which inform public policy? The question is not the enforcement-mechanism, which is secondary, but the code of conduct. Especially laws of morality (in distinction to laws of utility). What value-system norms the laws of the land? That’s the question.

ii) Some 2k proponents appeal to natural law. But, of course, there’s no social or philosophical consensus on value theory. Natural law is just one of several competing ethical paradigms.

Is he suggestion that all lawmakers be required to ground their legislation in natural law? If so, how would he enforce that mandate? 

…and the reality of living in societies where believers and non-believers cohabit and must get along in some fashion.

i) How does that distinguish 2k from, say, the Mosaic theocracy? Believers and unbelievers cohabited in ancient Israel. The populace of ancient Israel included resident aliens as well as covenant members. And the Mosaic law made provision for that diversity.

ii) Do unbelievers abide by peaceful nonexistence? In our own country, unbelievers are attempting to impose their values, by force of law, on Christians. Coercive equality. Speech codes. Food police. Thought police. Income redistribution. And so on and so forth. 

The specific passages I go to for support for a two-kingdom view are obvious ones like Christ’s instruction, “Render unto Caesar. . .”

i) To begin with, why assume Jesus is even stating his own position on statecraft? In context, he’s simply answering his opponents on their own terms. They tried to snare him in a dilemma, so he returned the favor by snaring them in their own dilemma.

ii) Even if (arguendo) it does state his own position, how does it teach “two kingdoms”? Clearly “God” and “Caesar” are asymmetrical. Everything belonging to Caesar also belongs to God, but the converse is hardly the case. God is over Caesar. There’s no parity between the two.

iii) Notice, too, that Hart is asserting an analogy: God is to the church as Caesar is to the state. But where’s the argument? Isn’t the analogy equivocal? Both church and state have human officers. So the church is not synonymous with “God.”

...along with his rebuke to Peter for using the sword against the ruling authorities.

i) Why should we treat that as a universal imperative? Isn’t the basic problem here that Peter is interfering with the plan of salvation?

ii) Does Hart take the position that civil disobedience is never justified? If so, that wouldn’t be 2k, that would be 1k. That would be totalitarianism.

By contrast, the Bible sanctions civil disobedience in some cases. Indeed, it goes well beyond that. In 2 Kgs 9-11, we have two cases of tyrannicide, back-to-back.

In fact, the gospels are replete with a recognition – it seems to me, of Christ submitting to earthly authorities, whether Jewish or Roman, all the while establishing his own kingdom.

How does that distinguish k2 from Roman Catholicism, or Lutheranism, or Anglican Erastianism, or Anabaptism, or the Kuyperian paradigm?

Notice, too, that he keeps recasting the issue in terms of “kingdoms” rather than law.

 My own pastor has been preaching through Luke and it sounds like the distinction between what’s going on in the civil and national realm and what’s being inaugurated by Christ’s work and ministry is a theme from which one cannot escape in Luke, and that to try to turn Christ’s ministry into a program of social justice or political engagement really misses the point and grander significance of what he came to do.  I believe the gospels show that Christ’s kingdom was spiritual and many Israelites could not fathom that because they were looking for a one-kingdom world where religion and the state would be fused.

i) Well, there’s an obvious sense in which the Sanhedrin already “fused” church and state. It was both a political and a religious ruling body. Yet many Jews didn’t think very highly of the religious establishment.

ii) And notice how Hart caricatures the opposing position.

And then there are passages like Romans 13 where Paul tells Christians to submit to the magistrate – a heretical and persecuting magistrate at that.  It certainly suggests that Paul was not thinking the rule of the state was on redemptive grounds.  And when he says that the task of the magistrate is to punish evil, he is clarifying a function that is very different from the church’s which is to forgive sin.

i) How does Rom 13 support 2k? Does Rom 13 compartmentalize church and state? Wasn’t the Roman emperor the pontifex maximus? Does Hart think 1C Christians were duty-bound to submit to the imperial cult? Has he never read the Book of Revelation?

ii) What makes him think Nero was persecuting Christians at the time Romans was written? As a historian, I’d expect Hart to be more careful with his dates.

iii) What Christian position doesn’t accommodate Rom 13 on its own terms? How is that a problem for Kuyperians? Or Amish? Or Anglicans? Or Lutherans? And so on and so forth.

I’d also point to the Great Commission as supporting a two-kingdom view.  They way that the church disciplines the nations is not through political rule but through word (teach) and sacrament (baptize).

Well, it says the church should teach Christians whatever Jesus taught. And that includes Mt 5:17-18. Of course, that passage is open to interpretation. But it does complicate his simplistic dichotomy.

Some people object to the two-kingdom view for its dualism.  I find it hard to read 1 Cor. And Paul’s distinctions between temporal and eternal things and not see that some kind of dualism is entirely fitting with biblical teaching.

Well, that makes 2k a classic example of overrealized eschatology. And, indeed, some of the Corinthians may have been guilty of that. 

My pastor is also preaching in the evenings through Ecclesiastes.   He is by no means a committed two-kingdom guy.  He is simply trying to be a faithful minister and preach the text.  And throughout this book – all is vanity – I keep wondering if the transformationalists have ever read Ecclesiastes, if it is for them what James was for Luther, an “epistle” (wrong genre) of straw.

Of course, the Mosaic covenant, with its civil and criminal law code (laws of morality and utility), was still in force when Ecclesiastes was written. So does Hart think the Bible is self-contradictory?

Last, I have in A Secular Faith used the example of Daniel to suggest how pilgrims and exiles negotiate the two powers.  Daniel submitted to Chaldean rule and even excelled in their culture.  But he drew the line at worship.   His case suggests that Christians can engage with non-Christians in a host of common endeavors and that worship clarifies where such cooperation must cease.

i) If he can appeal to OT paradigms, why can’t opponents of 2k?

ii) Of course, Daniel was in no position to enact or enforce the Mosaic law in Babylon. How is that analogous to the situation of Christians who may find themselves in the majority? 


  1. It's not clear to me where this idea of an OT separation of 'church' and 'state' is coming from? It's not biblical.

    The English word 'church' is a Christian construct only, that falls out of the Greek word ἐκκλησία ekklēsia (G1577).

    This same word 'church' never once appeared in the OT. However, looking at the Septuagint, we can see what was translated to the Greek from Hebrew/Aramaic, and can see the underlying word that became ἐκκλησία ekklēsia.

    The idiom behind ἐκκλησία ekklēsia was the Hebrew word קהל qahal (H6951) [sometimes followed by עדה `edah H5712].

    The assembly of the congregation WAS all Israel. That meant that faithful and non-faithful were included in the sense of OT 'church'. The church WAS precisely the nation-state!

    The nation-state included believers and non-believers, and though this doesn't sync with the reformed sense of 'church' - it is biblical. The OT assembly (or 'church') was judged overall by the influence of non-believers, however God's wrath was still discriminately applied and spared the faithful.

    So, to talk about how only Levites could be priests as an example of separation of 'church' and 'state', is such an anachronistic perception, it's no argument at all; the church was not levites only, and the nation-state constituted the entire assembly of believers (from the bible's perspective).

    There was no separation between church and state in the OT, simply because the church was the state.

  2. Prooftexting 2k

    I prefer to identify Darryl Hart's deviant variant of 2K as Radical 2K or R2K.

    This is a superb post, and I would love to see Darryl Hart engage you in formal debate, Steve.

  3. I somehow doubt King Uzziah would find the church/state distinction all that anachronistic (2 Chron 26:16-21).

  4. Steve said: " .... 2 Chron 26:16-21"

    Steve, the priesthood IS NOT the church [Exo 12:3,6].

    Moreover, Jesus as the chief cornerstone is not even of the Levitical priesthood.

    The verses you cite merely show that the Levitical priesthood (as part of the assembly) jealously guarded their particular function, rightly or wrongly.

    They do not show, what I believe you are trying to make them show.

  5. PMT (Post Modern Theonomy) is dualistic. It employs a fundementalist hermeneutic to demand Christians to give undying fealty to Caesar. It places Caesar on the same level as God instead of recognizing that Caesar's authority is derived from God such that the exercise of that authority still needs to meet the moral law. Underlying all of that, it fails to recognize that the law's function is to promote liberty.

  6. But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, - Rom. 9:6

    Evidently God thinks there's a distinction to be made within "Israel".

    A better translation of ekklēsia is "called out ones". God has always called His elect people both individually (believers) and corporately (the church) out of the nations to the praise of His glory.

    And so He will continue to do until His kingdom comes, and His will is done on earth, even as it is in heaven.

    Marantha, Lord Jesus!

    In Christ,


    "Steve, the priesthood IS NOT the church [Exo 12:3,6]."

    It's an integral, and distinctive component of the Mosaic cultus, which was the frame of reference.

    "Moreover, Jesus as the chief cornerstone is not even of the Levitical priesthood."

    Which is germane to the Davidic covenant (Ps 110). I'm discussing the Mosaic covenant.

    "The verses you cite merely show that the Levitical priesthood (as part of the assembly) jealously guarded their particular function, rightly or wrongly."

    Well that's a very slippery statement. And, no, it's not just the jealous Levites. Uzziah is punished by God for overreaching.

    "They do not show, what I believe you are trying to make them show."

    What you believe I believe is beside the point.

  8. Steve said "It's an integral, and distinctive component of the Mosaic cultus, which was the frame of reference."

    And ultimately what do you believe was at the heart of the Mosaic covenant?

    At the heart of the Mosaic covenant was the pascal lamb, the embodiment of the Jubilee year, and a prophet like moses who would come from among the Israelites (and who spoke with God face-to-face).

    When Jesus indicated that all the prophets had spoken about him, he meant - ALL [Luke 24:25-27][John 5:39-40].

    It was this same Messianic Hope which was embodied in all the prophecies, all of the covenants, including the Mosaic. Before you disagree, look at how Peter puts the Noahide covenant in terms of its Messianic Hope in [1 Peter 3:18-22].

    Truly, the Davidic covenant is the clearest expression of the Messianic Hope, but the Mosaic hope is still no different. This shows that the Levitical priesthood cannot be seen as anything like the 'OT church'.

    I agree that the Levitical priesthood was a distinctive component (of the Mosaic cultus, and nothing more), but that still does not make the priesthood the church, just as it does not make the king the state.

  9. Coram Deo said "Evidently God thinks there's a distinction to be made within Israel."

    Well of course; John Hyrcanus forcibly converted all Edomites to Judaism in about 125 B.C. (many had converted already according to Esther and Ezra) This is one of the reasons Edomites are not known today.

    However if we assume that the nation of Esau (Edomites) was as large as the nation of Jacob (Israel), than roughly half of all Jews were Edomites. We know King Herod and those who followed him were).

    Not only, but the House of Israel were never known as Jews (not being of the House of Judah) and in fact waged war against the Jews [2 Kings 16:6].

    From the warnings in [Rev 2:9][Rev 3:9], from the prophecies of [Obadiah] as well as [Eze 35:1 - 36:15] we know that Esau's perpetual enmity [Eze 35:5], Esau's effort [Oba 11] to take back the birthright blessing (that which was sold to Israel) is also fundamentally eschatological.

    (See also [Amos 1:11] and [Amos 9:12], as well as an articled entitled "The Edomites in Southern Judah by C. C. Torrey on how the Babylonian captivity all but moved the Edomites into the regions of the regions of the House of Judah when pressed by the Nabataeans)

    So there were Israelites not known as "Jews" and Jews who were not Israelites. The point is, that this obvious distinction from [Rom 9:6] is no mystery, unless one ignores one's biblical history.

  10. Unfortunately, you still don't know the difference between words and concepts.

  11. Steve that's an assertion without supporting argumentation.

    You could help by clarifying how that's true (in your opinion), by showing us how you arrive at that conclusion.

  12. It's a semantic fallacy to think popular usage/theological jargon like "Jew" must map onto Biblical usage. What's important is not that we're using synonymous words, but isometric concepts.

    You're a bright guy, so I don't have to do your research for you.

  13. Steve said: "It's a semantic fallacy to think popular usage/theological jargon like "Jew" must map onto Biblical usage."

    This comment seems out of character for this thread, but it does speak to previous comments I've made, so I'll address it:

    In fact, Steve, I've argued precisely that popular theological jargon terms must map exactly onto Biblical usage, for the very reason that if the jargon theology used does NOT map exactly on to biblical usage, it has been detached from biblical meaning and therefore justification.

    The example you give is a perfect one. To say "Jews" are the chosen people (instead of Israelites or Hebrews for example), is not only meaningless biblically (if many Jews were Edomites rather than Israelites), but untrue.

    [Consider the "Jews" in [John 8:33] for example, they claimed to have been Abraham's children, but never enslaved to anyone: No Israelite Judean would have ever claimed this, as historically Judah had been enslaved in Egypt, enslaved in Babylon, and deemed themselves to have been enslaved to Rome (from Daniel). Only Edom had never been enslaved to anyone, including Rome [Oba 10-11].

    For theology to build off concepts about 'chosen people', they must be biblically precise. Abraham had two children, one inherited the blessing the other did not. Likewise Isaac had two children, one inherited the blessing, the other did not. The verses [Romans 9:10-13] makes this clear.

    So to use the theological term "Jew" to mean biblical Israelites would be to use it against it's biblical meaning because its biblical meaning included non-Israelites. Likewise, there were many Israelites who were not "Jews", namely the entire House of Israel. So to use the theological term "Jew" as an isometric concept for Israel or Hebrew, knowing that Jews were also Edomites who were not 'chosen', and not all Israel were Jews, is to build a false theology.

    To use a word theologically is meaningless if it abandons its biblical constraints; and thus also its truth basis. How can a theological meaning have any value if it does not map exactly onto the biblical one? If the biblical meaning is meant, say so precisely.

    We either hold a high view of the bible or we don't, and to fail to hold our theological jargon accountable is building off of man-centred theology rather than the word of God (from what you write, I'd say you must hold a high view of the bible).

    Steve said: "What's important is not that we're using synonymous words, but isometric concepts.

    I don't disagree with using isometric concepts, but again, how can we do this if we do not hold our theological jargon accountable?

    The race of Israelites were Hebrews. From Babylon on, within Israel, only Judeans, Benjamites, and Levites (from the House of Judah) were Jews, but so were Edomites (especially Amalekites). Prophetically Jews [excluding those who say they are Jews but are not [Rev 2:9][Rev 3:9] (i.e. Edomites)], were Judeans of the "House of Judah".

    The Israelites, the House of Israel who were not Jews were "not my people" [Hos 1:9-10][Hos 2:23], and were called by a new name [Isa 62:2] and scattered amongst the Greeks [John 7:35] (from the Assyrian expansion westward into Asia minor) into Pontus, Galatia ('galah' (H1540) being the Hebrew word for exile גלה ), Cappadocia, Asia, Bithynia [1 Peter 1:1] and other places [James 1:1].

    I'm not sure if you're simply probing my position, but I find it perplexing you've even bothered to make this argument.

  14. No, dogmatic terminology doesn't have to match Biblical usage. Biblical usage is generally nontechnical, whereas dogmatic terminology is generally technical. Technical terms have more precise denotations, expansive denotations. It may be employ to denote an elaborate theological construct. A theological construct, the meaning of which is derived, not from the usage of the word, but larger passages, and inferences.

    Take "baptism." Whatever "baptism" means in NT usage, it's basically a cipher in dogmatic usage, the meaning of which is supplied by the respective theological tradition.

    Or take "justification." Both Catholics and Calvinists use the same verbal designator, but they use it to designate very different ideas.

    Again, though, the usage of the word needn't match NT usage as long as there is conceptual correspondence.

    That's just the way language works. It's only a problem when people lack the linguistic sophistication to distinguish the too.

  15. Steve, I see your point.

    But if 'theological jargon' is more precise based upon a tradition's larger body of inferences, what keeps a term's meaning biblical? (What if some of the inferences that give that word meaning within theology, are biblically incorrect?)

    In your example, for example, about 'justification' being a word used by both Catholics and Calvinists, four possibilities exist (that I can see):

    *Calvinist are correct in their use of the word (but not Catholics)
    *Catholics are correct in their use of the word (but not Calvinists)
    *Neither are correct
    *Both are partially correct

    Isn't the deciding factor about which tradition's use of 'justification' the body of inferences held by the author of the biblical text, however consistent the word's usage is within its particular tradition?

    So whichever tradition most closely approximates biblical meaning, wins?

    Or are you saying that the theological usage of words only needs to be consistent with the inferences of the traditions that apply them, and their proximity to biblical meaning is a non-issue?