Wednesday, June 25, 2008

For Those Interested in 2K

There is an interesting conversation taking place between two bloggers I respect and love to read, Lane Keister of Green Baggins and our very own Jason Stellman. The discussion started with Lane's post on How to Avoid a Recession. This post prompted a response by Jason, Speaking Prophetically to the Church. After Jason's response, Lane wrote a Response to Jason. These are all relativly short posts. I would recommend reading them for anyone who is interested in understanding the Two Kingdoms idea in action.


  1. Who's view of Two Kingdoms should we espouse: Augustine's? or Pope Gelasius's two swords? or Calvin's (which didn't prevent the whole Servetus thing)? or Knox's (who used OT case law to argue for killing tyrants) or the postmillennial Princetonians? and on we go...

    Augustine, as Oliver O'Donovan has made clear, held the impossibility of a consistently un-Christian society.

    But these kind of discussions have become very easy for me recently. I am no longer a theonomist. I despise American politics, and have become more focused towars the larger CHristian tradition.

    I do want to point out one logical fallacy Jason made. He seemed to say that if the Bible doesn't say anything about nuclear physics (and with the exception of Colossians 1:18, it doesn't), then it isn't of much use to political critique. That doe3sn't follow.

  2. Jacob,

    The point about physics and politics is not that they have something immediately in commonn but that they both comport under the rubric of temporal or the affairs of this world.

    If we don't consult the Bible about how to make cars what makes us think it has anything to do with statecraft?

    And, BTW, Psalm 134 has nothing to do with reproductive non/rights.


  3. I don't follow on Psalm 134. I don't remember quoting it nor saying anything about reproductive rights. Oh well.

    You wrote,

    ****If we don't consult the Bible about how to make cars what makes us think it has anything to do with statecraft?******

    Again, you are making a logical jump, but I won't defend a more theonomic thesis. They can have that field. My point, which went unanswered, is that all of the talk about 2kingdomz, while popular with the white horse inn folk, is useless so defined. The historic 2kingdom theology is almost categorically different from the Enlightenment stuff today.

  4. Jacob,

    Oops, make that 139. I know you didn't say anything about it. It's just that it's the go-to passage that folks use to shut down dicussion on a certain social policy. But to use it to for that purpose is not only to shut down temporal discussion but to keep is from its eternal meaning in general.

    If you want me to be making a logical jump I can't do anything about that. Seems there might be little more I could say since it would all be categorized as jumpy. But the point here is that we have so use temporal/eternal categories to make it make any sense: everything from car repair to statecraft is temporal. The Bible is only concerned for the eternal. It uses temporal truths to make eternal points, but it really isn't about how to order any section of this age. It's about how to get to the next one.


  5. Despite your post being more Platonic than Christian, I will run a reductio ad absurdum on it.

    Marriage is temporal, not eternal. Therefore, the bible has nothing to say about marriage.

  6. Jacob,

    I love fancy names for being simplistic. "Nothing to say" is shorthand, however, to mean "nothing to say the way we naturally understand it." Jesus said his kingdom was not of this world, that we are to hate our parents and that our marriages will be dissolved in the consummation. Listening to this with natural ears renders the Lord a Gnostic.

    The Bible has something to say about marriage, but its point is ultimately an eternal one. I mean, is it really news that we are to love our wives?

    One of the beauties of triadalism is that escapes charges of being Platonic or Gnostic. If we fully affirm that sphere called the "temporal" (along with the common and eternal) it must mean that it matters. After all, God called it "very good." But it is passing away and it's best not to be too tied to something going down (as Calvin prayed). What Reformed triadalism demands is that we walk and chew gum at once, live with paradox and tension. How do I fulfill the fifth commandment and hate my parents at the same time?

    Are you sure you've dumped all your theonomy?


  7. While your last comment was nice, I still want to focus on somethign you said earlier.

    *****The Bible is only concerned for the eternal. It uses temporal truths to make eternal points, but it really isn't about how to order any section of this age. It's about how to get to the next one.******

    I am resisting the urge to call this gnostic. It is social deism. It is pure assertion and no argument. In the meanwhile, my questions for radical 2kingdom advocates have not been answered. My use of Augustine's definition of community in City of God 19.4 remains unchallenged. I am standing in the historic Christian tradition. The Klineans and radical 2kingdomite people are the innovators.

    As for your most recent post, there are some practical truths in it that go without saying (not being too attached, etc). But they don't really affect my overall point.

    Yes, I have abandoned theonomy. It shares the same deistic premise that your post shares.

  8. Jacob,

    If it's pure argument you are looking for I would suggest plumbing the archives of, say, Stellman's blog. Or try this:

    I am usually suspect of those who simply keep demanding argument. It's something of a "proof-texting" syndrome. But the best of the Reformed tradition really isn't in the habit of such rationalism. It works with presuppositions and is a more organic project than that. Baptists demand an explicit text, for example, for infant baptism that says thou shalt baptize thy child. There isn't one, it naturally arises from the text.

    My hunch is that no matter what amount of argument is put in front of you it will always be "radical W2K" that can never win. You seem to be maybe looking for something between theonomy and W2K, but methinks that an effort as promising as finding middle ground between Arminians and Calvinists. I know many try it, but until someone finds a whole number between four and five I think options are fairly limited.


  9. So it's either W2K or Theonomy? Calvin and Knox would be surprised.

    I am not looking for middle ground. I know what my social ethic is. It is largely after the Augustinian scholars Oliver O'Donovan, John Milbank, and William Cavanaugh.

    While there is a danger of rationalism, I don't think it is rationalistic to expect others to actually give reasons and not assertions for their positions.

  10. Calvin and Knox didn't have the history between us and them or W2K/theonomy. While it's true that there is nothing new under the sun, different times and places do play a role in all of this. Referring to historical figures should be done with a high view of their contribution, not an infallible one. It's fine to locate your views in them, but there is also a thing called being too wooden and having nothing of your own to say.

    I've thought through my reasons and have moved on to assertions (and given you resources to do thr same). That may be of little use to you, but that's not my problem. At some point you have to graduate. If after graduation one asserts a mathematical theory it really is a bit useless to demand he explain his basic arithmetic, don't you think?


  11. Aside from your unwarranted condesencion, moving on to the response. I didn't read the stuff from Stellman because I despise link-tag theology. It's like saying, "I don't want to do the hard work of summarizing what I believe, so here read this."

    I could easily find a dozen links by O'Donovan, Milbank and others and say read that. But I think that would be disrespecting your intelligence.

    Telling me that it is time to graduate is disrespecting my intelligence. I could easily respond by calling you gnostic, but I won't.

    I will restate my original claims: Augustine, given his view of self-love and his definition of community, held to the impossibilty of a non-Christian society. This is seen in City of God 19.4, defining a community in terms of agreeing to its love. If a community is secular, then it has fragmented ends and false loves. If false loves, then it can't be a consistently true community. The converse is a Christian society.

    Your last paragraph, besides condescending, is another way of saying you can't argue your point. You can't give logical premises which lead to a conclusion.

  12. This has to be my last post because I am going out of town for a month. I actually agree with natural law and 2kingdomite theology. I simply posit, which should be obvious, that for Aquinas, Calvin, Knox, the Puritans interpreted it differently than Kline. Kline himself admits this when he accused Bahnsen of being too similar to Westminster (Kline, "Comments on an Old-New Error").

    The clearest example of the more Luthero-Kline view is in Gene Veith's article on the subject. He says there is one absolute norm for the state and another absolute norm for the church. Problem is, you can't have two differing absolute norms.

    Anyway, I am well-read on the material. I have read almost 2,000 pages of Augustine, 1,000 pages of Aquinas, and myriads of other stuff by the Patristics and Medievals. To use your condescending metaphor, I have very much graduated.

    *And I have also read the leading Thomist and Augustinian interpreters, so I am not in left-field on the matter.


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