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Dualities in Epistemology, Eschatology, and Citizenship

It is often helpful to employ distinctions in theological discussions. Other times, entire philosophical systems are based on two ultimate and opposing forces. In this episode, the panel parses through several theological distinctions—seeking to show when they may be considered proper dualities, and where they may move beyond the teaching of Scripture. Listen to this fluid conversation that touches on the antithesis, epistemology, two-age eschatology, and heavenly vs. earthly citizenship.

Participants: , ,


Christ the Center focuses on Reformed Christian theology. In each episode a group of informed panelists discusses important issues in order to encourage critical thinking and a better understanding of Reformed doctrine with a view toward godly living. Browse more episodes from this program or subscribe to the podcast feed.

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Penn

7 years ago

This episode helped me to see the distinction between the Old Testament’s emphasis on national Israel and how that typified the New Testament Kingdom of God. I had never seen the nation’s punishment as a type of hell before Camden mentioned it here, either.

The example with Daniel being an individual under God’s favor at a time when the nation was under God’s judgement was also very insightful.

I hope this message helps a lot of pastors know how to teach these subjects from the pulpit and Sunday school class room.

Your show is a good resource and I get a lot out of it, even though I’m not a formal theological student.

Jeff Waddington

7 years ago

Penn

Thanks for the encouragement! We hope we are a help to pastors, seminarians, and laypeople. We would love to be beneficial to scholars too. But mostly we want to be of service to the Lord and his church.

Douglas

7 years ago

So would the problem with transformationalism be that it is trying to force the “not yet” into the “already”? Or better put, that it is a pietism or holiness movement for culture?

The reason that I ask is that I’m trying to hold onto the Establishment principle while still having a robust Klineian/Vosian two kingdom/eschatology.

Jeff Waddington

7 years ago

Douglas

Thank you for your comments.

Speaking for myself, I recognize that the Gospel transforms the world around us. But it does so indirectly through transformed individuals who go into the world and simply live like Christians. In some instances this will involve transformation of our surroundings or at the very least differences in how things are done or what attitudes are held.

But as we go out into the world and seek to live as Christians in our different vocations we will also face resistance or push back or simple inertia. And it may be God’s will that we experience defeat as the world counts defeat. Victory or defeat is not a foregone conclusion.

Transformationalism, it seems to me, commits several errors. First, it is a natural fit with postmillennialism. It assumes the eventual Christianization of the whole world before the Lord returns. As an amillennialist I do not see Scripture guaranteeing such comprehensive Christianization before our Lord returns. As I see it, we are called to live as pilgrims in this weary land. We are not to disparage creation and culture but we ought not to assume we will be successful in transforming our world. It is debatable whether we should aim to directly transform cultural structures. Second, related to the first point, it operates with an over-realized eschatology. As you note, it tries to bring too much the “not yet” into the “already.” This it would share with some forms of Pietism and the Wesleyan/holiness movement. We are called to follow the path of our Lord which basically means we go through suffering before entering into glory. Third, some forms of transformationalism err in thinking that we are involved in the bringing in of the kingdom. The bringing in of the kingdom is a supernatural thing and is not the inevitable result of human kingdom building. Fourth, transformationalism tends to deny or neglect the antithesis and over-emphasize common grace. Fifth, it tends to forget the covenant of grace while stressing the cultural mandate. Sixth, transformationalism tends to bypass the church as institution with its circumscribed purpose of a Word and Sacrament ministry. Seventh, it tends to equate anything Christians do with “kingdom work.” This forgets that the cultural mandate, for instance, rest upon all people as created.

Now with regard to your desire to hold together the establishmentarian principle and a two kingdom theology, I am not sure how that would work out. On the one hand, it might not work because the church and the culture are distinct. On the other, it may still work as the church is called to prophetically speak to culture where the Bible speaks prophetically. More work needs to be done in this area.

Hope that helps.

Mark G

7 years ago

This was a very helpful discussion. In the last 2 years I’ve been reading Pauline Eschatology, Paul: An Outline of His Theology, Kingdom Prologue, Resurrection and Redemption, Paul’s Two-Age Construction and Apologetics, and The Defense of the Faith. I found a number of the definitions and distinctions helpful for putting this all together and clarifying a couple issues I was confused on or had questions about; for example, the ethical/ontological, ethical/psychological, dualism/duality, dual citizenship/kingdoms of distinct orders.

I would like to see some interaction with the new book “Kingdom through Covenant” by Gentry & Wellum since it (“progressive covenantalism” & “new covenant theology”) is being promoted as a corrective to Covenant Theology including Kline. It seems like this demands some kind of response. I think it could make for an interesting program, but then maybe I’m the only one.

Jeff Waddington

7 years ago

Mark

I have the Gentry and Wellum book and would love to interact with it when I have had an opportunity to read it. I imagine there will be much I agree with but being from a Baptist perspective I also assume there will be much I will disagree with. Helpful, right?! But I want to treat with the significance it deserves and not shoot from the lip.

Mark G

7 years ago

Thanks Jeff. Maybe that will give me time to read it before you can put together a program if that happens. There is an article on the sbts website by Gentry titled “Kingdom through Covenant: Humanity as Divine Image.

http://www.sbts.edu/resources/files/2010/02/sbjt_121_gentry.pdf

I was a member of Providence OPC in Kingwood (Houston) before moving to Dallas. There’s no OPC church nearby so I greatly appreciate reformedforum.wpengine.com and the connections with WTS; Tipton, Gaffin, Beale, Olipint, Kline, Van Til, Vos, etc.

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