By Sarah Pride. Pictures by Art Cox.
Patrick Henry College
Dr. David VanDrunen, guest Faith and Reason lecturer, during the afternoon panel discussion
In his lecture, entitled, The Two Kingdoms and the Social Order: Reflections on Political and Legal Theory in Light of a Reformation Idea, visiting professor Dr. David VanDrunen laid out a political and legal theory he posited as, “a wonderful antidote to two chronic temptations for believers in the history of Christianity—retreat from cultural pursuits for the sake of remaining pure from the world and triumphalism in the interest of taking over the world for Christ.” His solution, a “two kingdoms” theory based on Reformed theological tradition, provided a possible foundation upon which Christians might build a just society, or “common kingdom” alongside unbelievers while also growing the eternal, “redemptive kingdom.”
PHC Provost Dr. Gene Edward Veith observed that the doctrine of the two kingdoms allows the Church to stand separate from the world, while simultaneously showing Christians how they are called to politics, literature, and a range of pursuits typically classified as “secular” activities.
“You can’t throw God out, since He is totally sovereign to both kingdoms,” explained Dr. Veith. “In what we call the ‘secular’ realm, God is just hidden. That is why Christians are free to participate in the secular kingdom, because that’s God’s too.”
Check back soon to view the full video of this lecture.
“What is the two kingdoms doctrine and its biblical foundation? Let me summarize very briefly. The two kingdoms doctrine is rooted in both the Lutheran and Reformed wings of the Reformation. I believe it is best understood as the idea that God rules the whole world by his Son, yet rules it in two distinct ways. As the creator and sustainer, he rules the natural world and all creatures, ordaining families, governments, and all other legitimate institutions that maintain life and society despite the fall into sin. I call this the “common kingdom,” since by this rule God governs all people in common, whatever their religious profession. This kingdom is temporary and provisional, serving important yet limited functions until the return of Christ at the end of history.
“As the redeemer in Jesus Christ, however, God also rules his special people, whom he is gathering into the church now and will welcome into the new creation on the day of Christ’s return. I call this the “redemptive kingdom,” since by this rule God saves his people unto everlasting life. This kingdom is veiled in suffering now, advancing through the humble ministry of word and sacrament, but will be consummated in glory and endure forever.
“Christians at present are citizens of both kingdoms, obligated to pursue responsibilities before God and neighbor in each kingdom, yet in ways that respect the significant difference between them and God’s distinct purposes in governing them. This two kingdoms doctrine, I am convinced, is a wonderful antidote to two chronic temptations for believers in the history of Christianity, retreat from cultural pursuits for the sake of remaining pure from the world and triumphalism in the interests of taking over the world for Christ.”