Two Kingdom Theology and God’s Covenantal Fiat

 

I want to once again reiterate my deep appreciation for the work done by 2K theologians. I believe their insights are important and essential for the church to hear today. In particular, in so far as they desire to highlight the spiritual nature of the church’s ministry, I am all on board. Furthermore, I am in general agreement and in sympathy with their critique of social transformationalism. I am also deeply indebted to their redemptive-historical hermeneutic for understanding the difference between what parts of God’s Word are applicable to the church or state today, and which are not.

However, where I disagree is on a fundamental, deep-structural level with regard to their covenant theology. And I disagree with them because of Geerhardus Vos, Cornelius Van Til, and above all M.G. Kline.

Now, what I am about to argue does not have universal agreement in the history of Reformed Theology. In fact, we might notice an important difference among the Reformed due to advancement and refinement. For example, one of the noticeable differences between Kline and the great Reformed Scholastic theologian Francis Turretin, is how each relate creation and covenant. What is the relation between creation and covenant? Is covenant something which is, as it were, laid on top of creation (i.e., coming subsequent to creation)? Or is it some thing coordinated, correlative to creation at every point? Francis Turretin seems to advocate the former perspective. First, there is creation and then – subsequent to the act of creation – there is the act of God establishing a covenant with Adam (IET, 8.3.II-III). While I am deeply indebted to Turretin for his doctrine of the Covenant of Works (among many other things!), I must here register a slight objection to his view. To answer the question why I object, I must go back to Vos.

Vos was instrumental in my understanding of how God’s acts in redemption are made known to us living today, thousands of years after the events. We can only know of God’s once and for all acts of redemption in history through his revelatory, inscripturated Word. Further, Vos provides us with a theological framework for understanding how we are to know not just the facts of redemption, but their meaning and significance as well. In this way he provided a faithful, biblical construction which answered the higher critical biblical theologians of his day. Whereas the critics separated fact from meaning (drawing from their post-Kantian German idealism which was founded upon a fundamental epistemological dualism), Vos said that the very God who gives the facts also – with those facts – gives the meaning of them as well. In other words, one can never place God’s redemptive deeds and his revelatory Word in a dualistic relation.

Fast forwarding to Van Til, the great apologist built on his professor’s work and showed how the Bible does not allow for any “brute facts.” That is to say, God does not give us uninterpreted facts. But Van Til went deeper than Vos. He applied the latter’s insights about God’s redemptive-historical events to God’s act of creation. So, not only does God interpret his acts in redemptive history, but he also interprets his act of creation. In his great article “Nature and Scripture,” Van Til pushed God’s covenantal, revelatory Work back before the fall. Even in the garden God did not leave man to interpret and understand nature quite independent of his covenantal, revealed Word. God interpreted the creation to Adam at every turn. So says, Van Til: “revelation in nature was never meant to function by itself. It was from the beginning insufficient without its supernatural concomitant.” (Wooley, The Infallible Word, 275).

That brings us to Kline. Kline dedicated his great work The Structure of Biblical Authority to his professor, Cornelius Van Til. That was appropriate as the work was thoroughly Vosian and Van Tilian. But while he hints at how God’s Word and creation relate in that book (thinking here of chapter 2), the full development of his thought would have to await his Kingdom Prologue. In that book, very early on (i.e., pp. 14-41 of the W&S edition), Kline introduces the concept of God’s “covenantal fiat” in the act of creation. This means, in short, that God’s act of creation IS covenantal. To create is to reveal himself in and to the very creature he calls into existence by the mere power of his Word. So, for Kline, he advances Van Til even further. Not only does God interpret nature through his special revelation, but for Kline creation is – by virtue of it being a product of God’s covenant Word – a Word revelation. Creation speaks (cf. Psalm 19:2). It is inherently covenant-Word-revelation. To put it another way, if God never spoke another Word, creation would be sufficient to testify to the creator. To cut to the chase then, this means that there is no place for Thomas’s nature/grace dualism, nor is there any place for German idealism’s dualisms as well. The very Word which God spoke at creation, testifies to God who spoke it through the things that have been made. At no place and at no time is creation silent. It always and everywhere speaks. This eliminates any and all notions of natural theology as understood by the Thomistic tradition, or as modernized by German idealism. Creation does not need to be perfected by grace. It is quite adequate for the knowledge of God, thank you very much.

In conclusion, if we are to remain faithful to Kline, we must say that God’s creation is covenantal. It is formed by divine, covenantal fiat. And because of this, nature reveals the triune God at every point. And our call as Christians is to point the unbeliever to that reality and call him to repentance. Indeed, God’s common grace allows the unbeliever to function and even thrive in cultural endeavors, and we praise God for that fact. But such grace is only a restrainer. It is never to be confused with common ground. There is no safe territory upon which the unbeliever can stand and do right by one kingdom, but not right by another. In every kingdom he is wrong. Even his own cultural endeavors testify against him. And if we, as Christians, do not (lovingly!) point that out to him, who will? I am afraid that the 2KT may in fact cause Christians to lose their greatest apologetic and witnessing opportunities. This is because while the unbeliever and the believer may not have any epistemological or ethical common ground, Christians do have a point of contact with him at every point. And that is because we all live in the arena of God’s covenantal fiat. And thus, we dare not be silenced: neither in the church nor in the public square. In fact, the latter is arguably the best place to bring both Law and Gospel to bear upon the consciences of fallen men.

 
 
 

26 Responses to “Two Kingdom Theology and God’s Covenantal Fiat”

  1. Baus says:

    Jim, I really like what you say here, and it’s an important insight.
    I’m skeptical that 2k guys will get it, but we’ll see.

    And there’s a point worth adding to what you’ve said.
    You say:
    “And our call as Christians is to point the unbeliever to that reality and call him to repentance”

    Although VanTil and Kline don’t elaborate on this in particular detail, we should also say that our call as Christians is to respond ourselves to this reality in repentance, and the fruit of that repentance is to, in various ways, work out the implications for how that reality should reform our perspective and practice of doing culture. This is what doing culture Christianly involves.

    I’m sending you an email with an attached essay in which I say more about what I think that means.

      • David R. says:

        Baus,

        Very interesting. Do I correctly understand your critique of 2K to be essentially that, in its zeal for the structural sense of the holy/common distinction, 2K fails to do justice to the directional sense of that distinction? Or more specifically, would you say that the failure of 2K is in a lack of cognizance of the operation of directional holiness within the sphere of that which is structurally common (i.e., culture)?

        (I notice that Kline also invokes the structure/direction distinction with reference to these issues.)

      • Baus says:

        David R., more or less, you got it, yes.
        The structural distinction is holy/common (ecclesial/non-ecclesial). The directional distinction is holy/profane (normative/antinormative).
        2K almost entirely misses the ‘larger’ structure/direction distinction, and this is precisely why they can’t understand what doing culture Christianly could mean. And this blindness to structure/direction is deeply rooted.
        They *do* implicitly acknowledge that within the structurally holy ecclesial sphere (visible church) that there can be directional ‘profanation’ (eg, unbiblical worship)… but they don’t see that, by virtue of redemption, the directional also cuts through the structurally common (culture).

        In any case, it is the structure/direction distinction that accounts for how doing cultural activities in a Christian way does not violate the spirituality of the church (sphere sovereignty), nor biblical heavenly-mindedness; it shows that genuine neocalvinism isn’t liable to any of the strawman objections/complaints the 2K’ers have put forward (supposedly) against it. And it explains what we mean by doing culture Christianly.

      • David R. says:

        Very thought-provoking. In Kingdom Prologue, Kline critiques the “Neo-Dooyeweerdians” (transformationists?) for obliterating structural dualism in their zeal for ethical dualism. If you are correct, then 2K is the opposite error, correctly maintaining the structural but losing sight of the ethical (at least in the non-ecclesial sphere).

      • David R. says:

        Jim and Baus,

        I’m continuing to ponder the ramifications of Baus’s essay. I would be interested in your thoughts on Calvin’s view of the sanctification of culture (as expressed in his exposition of 1 Timothy 4:3-5) versus that of Clouser in “A Christian View of Everything.” It seems to me that what Calvin is suggesting is far more modest. The Clouser essay is intriguing, and it does seem that in some sense there would have to be a Christian view of everything, but on the other hand, an attempt to determine what that view is beyond very general principles (e.g., those suggested by Calvin) would have to be speculative at best. Thoughts?

      • Baus says:

        David, btw, can you send me an email? I’d like to know more about what you do.
        ideolog-at-gmail

        Yes, I think what Calvin exegetes from that one passage is more modest than the implications Clouser infers from several passages. That said, Clouser is clear that Scripture doesn’t give us more than general principles on this point (viz, that knowledge of God in Christ affects every sort of knowledge).

        However, to say that our knowledge of creation goes beyond what we understand from Scripture is not to say that therefore our knowledge of creation is speculative. Why would knowledge of general revelation in light of special revelation be a matter of speculation? I think Dooyeweerd and Clouser go on to show how (at least in one significant respect) knowledge of God in Christ affects philosophical and scientific knowledge, viz. in terms of non-reductionism.

  2. Jim Cassidy says:

    Greg,

    Well, if you mean by “this reality” the covenantal nature of creation, then I am somewhat more cautious than you have been here. For instance, the covenant fiat which brought creation into being is not sufficient in itself – especially now after the fall – to instruct us on how to “do culture” Christianly. For that we need special revelation. And even then, the details given to us are of a most general sort. So, while we should do economics Christianly, I am somewhat skeptical of what some call “Christian economics.” I am generally on board with the 2K guys when they want to caution against the idea of redeeming culture. But what I am all for is engaging apologetically and evangelistically in the public square. Not to redeem it, but to show the unbeliever how that arena is covenantally conditioned at every turn and speaks of the God they reject. My concern, above all, is that the 2K perspective encourages the silence of Christians in their testimony in the public square.

    Let me get at this again from another perspective. I want to distinguish between a theology of the cross and a theology of glory in the public square. If we seek to serve the public square with the Gospel, and speak to unbelievers in it, showing them the folly of their unbelieving pre-committments and calling them to faith in Jesus Christ, we are exercising a theology of the cross. However, if we think that our Christian worldview is the answer and solution to bringing the public square to rights (out-fighting the secularists in the culture wars), and transforming it, getting it ready for the palingenesis, then that is more a manifestation of a theology of glory. It is a human attempt at building the city of Babel.

    • Baus says:

      Jim, let me know what you think of my post (linked above). I’d like your feedback.
      VanTil thought a Christian approach to culture (and philosophy, and the sciences) was possible. Perhaps you’ll find you don’t have a reason to disagree, and rather a strong reason to affirm it.

  3. Phil says:

    It would be helpful if you could identify some of the 2K theologians you are discussing, because I’m having a difficult time locating which 2K camp is contra Kline and encourages the believer to keep the gospel from the public square. Not “christianizing” the common kingdom in order to usher in the kingdom is much different than keeping one’s christianity and witness limited to the redemptive kingdom. I know the former belongs to 2K, but it is inaccurate, if I’m understanding you right, to credit the latter to the 2Kers—that is if you’re talking about the 2K coming out of Wscal, but I’m not sure if you’re talking about them or other schools of 2K.

    • Jim Cassidy says:

      Phil,

      You are correct that that would be helpful. I hope to interact some more on the primary sources written by 2Kers. Right now, however, I am limited to simply asking the question whether the 2K position is being as faithful to Kline as they could be. Some things are still sitting uneasy with me, and I am struggling to put my finger on it. Though, to be fair, I am perhaps reacting against a more radical form of 2KT than that found at WSCal. They seem more balanced than others. a more extensive survey of their writing, however, is in order – as you said. Maybe some day I will get around to doing that . . .

  4. Tim Black says:

    Jim, thank you for this post. I’m only beginning to attempt to understand the two kingdom theology(ies) being promoted today.

    Could the proponents of the two kingdom theology you oppose–perhaps Van Drunen–draw you back into their fold if they specify that they believe the nature of the covenant expressed in God’s covenantal fiat is the same as the nature of the Covenant of Works, under which (they then could grant to you that) all men outside of Christ (and the Covenant of Grace) are bound? It seems to me that the two kingdom theology coming out of Westminster West is rooted in Kline’s view of the nature of the Covenant of Works, and his distinction between the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace. Is this not the case?

    • Jim Cassidy says:

      Tim,

      I actually don’t think they need to bring me back into their fold, I am already there in many respects. This is more of an internal critique.

      My argument is that Kline does not equate the covenantal fiat with the covenant of works. For Kline, the CoW is a subsequent, special, Word-revelation of God to man. My point is that according to Kline creation, even before God makes the CoW with Adam, is already inherently covenantal. In other words, the unbeliever is always and everywhere being spoken to by God. Even and especially in his secular calling.

  5. David says:

    Jim,

    I’m probably not completely understanding you, but just a thought in response to your fear that “the 2KT may in fact cause Christians to lose their greatest apologetic and witnessing opportunities”: It seems to me that, rather than undermining the apologetic enterprise in the public square, VanDrunen is seeking to demonstrate that natural law provides additional resources for the pursuit of the proximate goal of a peaceful and well-ordered society. Forgive the longish citation, but I would be interested in your response to the following, which comes from VanDrunen’s answer to Kloosterman’s critique:

    “Van Til’s apologetics involves exposing the rotten foundations of non-Christian thought, showing how unbelievers must borrow truths that Christianity teaches in order to make whatever sense of the world that they have, driving those who reject the triune God to greater epistemological self-consciousness of what they are doing. This is a necessary endeavor for Christians in the world, especially for those like Van Til who are called to be professors of apologetics. But apologetic confrontation with unbelieving thought is not the only kind of interaction that Christians have with unbelievers. Christians are called not only to break down every pretension that sets itself up against Christ (2 Cor. 10:5) but also to live lives in common with unbelievers in a range of cultural activities. Christians may and even should make music, build bridges, do medical research, and play baseball with unbelievers. Believers are called to live in peace with all men as far as it lies with them (Rom. 12:18), to pray for the peace of the (mostly pagan) city in which they live (Jer. 29:7; 1 Tim. 2:1-2), and to interact in the world with people whom they would not admit to membership in the church (1 Cor. 5:9-11). There is a place for a believing musician to explain to an unbelieving musician that music is meaningless unless the triune God exists, but when they are rehearsing together in the community orchestra such a Van Tillian apologetic confrontation would be highly inappropriate—the task at that time is cooperation at a common cultural task. The same thing is true in regard to working on a construction site with non-Christians or grilling burgers with an unbelieving friend at a neighborhood cook-out or thousands of other ordinary endeavors. To try to put it briefly, we have different sorts of encounters with unbelievers at different times. Sometimes we have opportunity to engage in apologetic discussions, in which our modus operandi is confrontation and exposure of the futility of unbelief (though always in love). Other times (and probably most of the time for the ordinary Christian who is not a professional apologist) we have common tasks in which to engage alongside unbelievers, in which our modus operandi is trying to find agreement and consensus so that shared cultural tasks can be accomplished as well as possible in a sinful world.

    “What I was doing in this article [in Modern Reformation] was trying to help ordinary Christians think about how to interact with unbelievers in their common, daily, mundane tasks in which moral concerns are raised (not instructing people how to engage in Van Tillian apologetical confrontation). What if I am having a friendly conversation with my neighbor across the fence and she tells me that she is thinking about having an abortion, or that she wants to support a bill before the state legislature that would make abortions easier to secure? And what if (and is the case for most of us) my neighbor is not a Christian and does not accept Scripture as a moral authority? Do I tell her that if she does not submit to the Scriptures then she has no right to participate in the political process? That would be neither factually true nor biblically sound. Do I tell her that if she does not believe in Scripture then she might as well go and have an abortion because there is no other moral reason for her not to do so? I would first of all wish my neighbor to put faith in Christ and believe the Scriptures. But even if she does not, I still would rather she be pro-life in her voting and personal behavior, not because in doing so she understands the “inner essence of things” or “all truth, in every area and in every respect, especially in its essential interrelatedness” (to borrow Kloosterman’s phrases), but for the sake of a relative social peace and justice. And thus in my Modern Reformation article I offered a few suggestions for how one might deal with such a neighbor. In capitalizing on the fact that she is probably opposed to infanticide I am hardly saying, as Kloosterman unbelievably claims about me, that if most people think infanticide is wrong then it is. I am simply recognizing that she has “a certain regard for righteousness, justice, and love” (again, to borrow Kloosterman’s own description of unbelievers), and trying to use her regard for justice concerning infanticide to prick her conscience concerning abortion. I envisioned dealing with a particular person or people in a particular cultural setting and suggested a few ways of making moral appeals in a civil way even if they have resisted apologetical and evangelistic appeals.”

  6. Bob says:

    I enjoyed reading the post. It may also be worthwhile to point out the dangers of an excessive focus on Kuyperianism at the expense of natural-law reasoning.

    I was reminded of this again while perusing the website of World Magazine, which is probably the best illustration of Kuyperian cultural engagement in action. In a recent editorial, the folks at World were pointing to the recent Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC case as evidence of the President’s alleged hostility to religion and religious people. Of course, there was one glaring problem with the argument. The legal action was commenced by the government in September 2007, 16 months before the current President took office.

    In my experience, Kuyperians are prone to arrive at conclusions without feeling the need to test those conclusions against the facts. I suggest that this is due, at least in part, to their belief that one cannot make sense of nature without the aid of special revelation. But come on! Do we really believe that general revelation is so unreliable that we can’t assess the filing date of a lawsuit without the aid of special revelation?

    I fear that excessive zeal for cultural engagement, coupled with a disregard for general revelation, leads Christians to give the gospel a black eye. And those who have a high regard for general revelation may even conclude that Christ’s covenant people are prone to dishonesty.

  7. Anar says:

    In Andy Cronch’s book Culturemaking, he brings up the idea based on how “the kings of the earth” shall bring into the city “the glory and honor of the nations” (Rev 21.23-36). He calls culture the “furniture of heaven.”

    Would this be 2k, Kuyperian, in line with Vos, Van til, or Kline? In general I’m having a little trouble figuring out the differing views and their implications and application to issues of culture engagement, politics, art, mission, etc. Is there a good summary somewhere, or a Reformed Forum show?

  8. David says:

    Jim,

    I don’t know if you’re still reading comments, but here’s another thought. You say, “There is no safe territory upon which the unbeliever can stand and do right by one kingdom, but not right by another. In every kingdom he is wrong.”

    But doesn’t this way of stating things confuse the holy with the common (and the Covenant of Works with the Noahic Covenant)? After all, the common realm is temporary, non-holy and provisional. It is empowered by common grace and designed to operate according to natural law (i.e., God’s moral law inscribed in the conscience) and reason (what the WCF calls “the light of nature”). (I’m not intentionally saying anything here inconsistent with Kline’s elaboration of these themes.) Civil justice (unlike eschatological justice) is not brought to bear on all sins, but only those that directly threaten the external peace and order of society. So what can it mean to say that the unbeliever can’t do “right” by the non-holy standards of a provisional temporal kingdom? The unbeliever’s problem, it seems to me, is not that he fails in the common grace arena established in the Noahic Covenant, but that he has failed under the terms of the Covenant of Works and is therefore in need of a Mediator to fulfill those terms on his behalf. In other words, his problem is not civil justice (which will bless him if he is law abiding), but eschatological justice (which will curse him unless he repents). So I’m just not sure it’s intelligible to say that one can’t “do right” according to the terms of a covenant designed to simply preserve the created order—unless you think the Noahic Covenant can be broken. Or perhaps you disagree with Kline’s elaboration of the Noahic Covenant?

    • Jonathan Brack says:

      David,
      I think I am tracking with you…
      Can you flesh out what you mean by “reason” and “light of nature.” Is that common sense realism, or is it Thomistic metaphysics? The reason I ask is becasue the word “reason” can be used in different ways, with different definitions.

      I think you are right about Kline and the Noahic covenant, but I believe what Jim is getting at is something deeper. I think he is trying to say that although the unbeliever might very well “do right” (as you put it), he is ultimately always “doing wrong”. It is a way of cutting the pie deeper…

      Titus 2:15 “To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.”

      Hope that helps…

      • David says:

        Hi Jonathan,

        I referenced the WCF terminology as an attempt to indicate that by “reason,” I didn’t mean anything inconsistent with vanilla Reformed theology. If we’re speaking simply of right and wrong, then I think we all would agree that the standard for both believers and unbelievers is God’s moral law, period. But it seemed to me that the way Jim put it was liable to confusion: “There is no safe territory upon which the unbeliever can stand and do right by one kingdom, but not right by another. In every kingdom he is wrong.” Does he mean “wrong” in terms of the moral law? If so, fine—but no one I think disagrees with that.

        But the problem for me is that Jim claims to disagree with VanDrunen. Yet it’s not clear from his post where the disagreement is. At the beginning, he says: “However, where I disagree is on a fundamental, deep-structural level with regard to their covenant theology. And I disagree with them because of Geerhardus Vos, Cornelius Van Til, and above all M.G. Kline.” So one expects that somewhere in the essay, there will be an account of where the disagreement is. But there isn’t. All we get is simply a summary (indeed a nice helpful one) of the contributions of Vos, Van Til and Kline.

        Then at the end Jim says: “I am afraid that the 2KT may in fact cause Christians to lose their greatest apologetic and witnessing opportunities.” But how so? This has not been explained anywhere in the post. Which is why I thought that some interaction with the VanDrunen quote I cited might help to clarify where the disagreement lies and where Jim sees VanDrunen transgressing.

  9. Jim Cassidy says:

    Hi David,

    Concerning your above citations, I am unsure how exactly that is helpful. That I can engage in common tasks with unbelievers, like cooking burgers on the grill, seems a no-brainer to me. Now, I understand that Reformed Christians in general and Van Tillian Christians in particular often exude a kind of disfunctional disposition when engaging with unbelievers. That needs to be dealt with pastorally, as there are other issues involved which are of the heart – pride, self-righteousness, etc. However, I am not sure that believers cooking burgers with unbelievers, or that a believer is supposed play an instrument in a concert with unbelievers while reserving his apologetic encounter for a better time, really are arguments in support of a “common realm.” Gosh, let’s just come out and say it: there is no common realm! Are there activities which believers and unbelievers do in common? Yes. But that is hardly a new insight. What seems to be a new-old problem is the notion of a common realm. Do believers and unbeliever live in the same creation? Yes, of course. But the word “common” is misleading, at best. The creation is anything but common (it is holy, even if it is not cultic), and as such can never be properly understood or lived in without the aid of special revelation. Now, I don’t think that DVD would disagree with that. In which case, I don’t think this debate is one between Van Tillians and DVD. It may, in fact, be a disagreement between Klineans/Van Tillians and a Lutheranizing tendency within Reformed circles.

    • David R. says:

      Jim,

      I’m confused. I was under the impression that you had posted your essay to take issue with DVD in some measure. (After all, he is one of the “2K theologians.”) Was that a misperception on my part?

  10. David R. says:

    Kline spoke in terms of a holy/common distinction:

    A further facet of the commonness that is in view when we speak of common grace calls for attention. This sphere is common not only in the sense that its benefits are shared by the generality of mankind, the just and the unjust alike, but in the sense that it is nonsacred. Particular emphasis needs to be given to the fact that the political, institutional aspect of common grace culture is not holy, but profane.

    Significantly, when the Lord republished the cultural ordinances within the historical framework of his common grace for the generality of fallen mankind, he did not attach his Sabbath promise to this common cultural order. The ordinance of the Sabbath was not reissued in the revelation of the common grace order either in Genesis 3:16-19 or in the covenantal promulgation of it in Genesis 9. This withholding of the Sabbath sign from common grace culture is a clear indication of the secular, nonholy character of that culture. For to place the stamp of the Sabbath on a cultural program is to set it apart as holy to God, as a bearer of the divine name and of the promise of being crowned with consummation glory. Accordingly, in the postlapsarian context the Scriptures relate the Sabbath sign of sanctification and consummation to the redemptive program exclusively. The only culture on which the sabbatical sign is explicitly impressed is the theocratic kingdom-culture of Israel under the old covenant. (That does not mean that the Sabbath sign is not present in any form at all in the life of the covenant people when they are organized as a simple cultic community, as in patriarchal times or in the present church age.) By appointing the Sabbath as the sign of his covenant with the Israelite kingdom, the product of his redemptive grace, the Lord sharply distinguished Israel as a cultural-political entity from the common kingdom-cultures of the common grace world. The Sabbath given to Israel signified that God was sanctifying this redeemed nation to be peculiarly his own, uniquely identified by his holy name (Exod 31:13). And to separate and differentiate Israel from the common grace kingdoms of the earth as distinctively and uniquely the holy theocratic kingdom sanctified by and unto the Lord God was, of course, to identify those common grace kingdoms as nonholy, profane.

    (KP, 155-156)

  11. David R. says:

    The creation is anything but common (it is holy, even if it is not cultic), and as such can never be properly understood or lived in without the aid of special revelation.

    The thing is, I agree with this, but I think even the most Lutheranized Reformed folks would agree too….

  12. Jim Cassidy says:

    David and Greg,

    Thank you for your on going discussion here. Two quick thoughts. First, I am not sure all 2K advocates would deny the directional holy in the common sphere. DVD for instance does have a notion of how a Christian should act Christianly in culture. Second, Kline would be weary of, I think, of going one step further and equating doing culture Christianly with “kingdom work” or redeeming the culture (or some such other neo-Kuyperian category.

    OK, just one other thing. David, your language about my position toward 2KT is too strong. I do not believe 2KT “fails.” I do not reject 2KT. In fact, I affirm it. I affirm it in its Klinean form. My argument has been that some advocates of 2KT are not as Klinean as they might be. DVD comes the closest, I believe. But, unfortunately, Hart takes it all in a very different, radical direction.

    • David says:

      Jim,

      Thanks. I’ve found this discussion extremely helpful, and I do think I have a better grasp now of where you’re coming from. Baus’s essay, and the categories he introduces, have helped me make a bit of a breakthrough. Regarding my use of the term “fails,” I believe I attributed that to Baus’s position, not yours, as I think he’s perhaps more critical of DVD than you are (perhaps in the end, you’re not really so critical at all). And if we can all agree on Kline’s version of 2K, I guess we’re doing okay….

      It strikes me that part of the difficulty in this discussion is that the notion of structural commonality, as articulated by Kline (apparently borrowing from neocalvinism) includes an ethical component, which is perhaps the basis for DVD speaking in terms of “an objective moral standard in the common realm.” And yet if directional holiness is what truly norms ethics, then to speak of a supposed ethic empowered by common grace alone is really an equivocation. I’ll continue to chew on these things …

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I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve. (Romans 16:17-18)

 
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