Theological critique of Escondido Two Kingdoms Theology (VI): To be rid of the burden of confessing Christ...

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(NOTE: This post is part of a series showing the errors of so-called Two-Kingdom Theology. We refer to it as "so-called" Two-Kingdom Theology because what the church historically has meant by "Two-Kingdoms" bears little resemblance to what Escondido Theology men mean when they write it today. Thus sometimes we write "Two-Kingdom Theology," but more often we write "Radical Two Kingdom," "Rigid Two Kingdom," or "R2K.")

In an essay critiquing R2K that ran¹ in the latest issue of Mid-America's journal for scholars, Cornelius Venema writes:

For those who advocate the two kingdoms perspective [R2K], human conduct in the common kingdom of life and culture is the same for believer and unbeliever alike. The two kingdoms perspective, therefore, liberates Christians from the burden of having to find a distinctively Christian way of living in the “common kingdom.” ...Unlike (those who call) for the transformation of human life under the lordship of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, the two kingdoms project promises a far simpler, less pretentious and burdensome view of the vocation of human beings within the framework of the common kingdom of God.

Which being interpreted simply says the R2K man breathes a deep sigh of relief and calls out to his R2K playmates "Allee, allee in-free!" Surveying the minefields they would have had to walk as followers of Jesus Christ at work, in the university classroom, inside the courtroom, at the statehouse, in the cafeteria, on FB, and in the coffee shop when everyone else was confessing sodomite marriage, they found a principle to allow them not to confess Scripture, God's Law, Creation sexuality, manhood and womanhood; in short, a principle allowing them not to confess the Lordship of Jesus Christ...

How convenient.

One breathes a sigh of relief, doesn't one, when one arrives at the point in one's life that one has finally found a carefully nuanced justification for one's public silence. A good reason for not confessing one's faith before men. For not making disciples of all men. For denying all authority on earth to one's Lord. For keeping one's own Lord's authority in Heaven (and yes, also in Church Lord's Day morning). One does breathe a sigh of relief, doesn't one?

Cornelius Venema rightly puts the focus on R2K's release of Christian men from the "burden" of "having to find a distinctively Christian way of living in (the world)." Being in the world but not of it is "burdensome," and so the R2K man says:

The standards for my own or my unbelieving neighbor's conduct out there in the messies are alike, and so I can stop asking myself, "What did Jesus do or command?" I'm not Jesus and I have no responsibility to try to come up with any uniquely Christian way of living in the world. The Church is the only place we do uniquely Christian things—quote the Bible and sing hymns in four-part harmony (or the Psalter only, a capella), and of course, the Sacraments and catechizing—but outside the church in our naked public square, I get it! Leaving it naked is our cherished principle! I have no particular obligations there as a Christian. I can hide. I can teach other Christians to hide, too. Hiding is our principle and it's an easy sell as the thunderheads gather on the Western horizon. We have a reason, now, to go silently into that dark night.

All my life I've been looking for a way of justifying my silence outside the church and home. It hasn't felt right—my silence. To tell you the truth it's felt cowardly. Again and again I said nothing when men were mocking my Lord Jesus, laughing at the slaughter of the unborn, excoriating Christian parents whose gay son was disciplined by their church and went on to commit suicide. But now, finally, I understand: I'm liberated from "the burden of having to find a distinctively Christian way of living" out there.

As Venema puts it: "Unlike (those who call) for the transformation of human life under the lordship of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, the two kingdoms project promises a far simpler, less pretentious and burdensome view of the vocation of human beings within the framework of the common kingdom of God."

Yes. The principle of hiding our lights under a bushel and running water over our salt until it has no savor at all is less "burdensome."

Speaking Biblically, if a man comes up with a way to justify his denial of the Lord Jesus Christ, a way to live in this world while avoiding His Cross, a way to flee from His shame, a way to get all people to speak well of him, a tack that allows him to anchor lee side of an island (or even to make a principle out of sitting in the doldrums, going nowhere while the sailors frolic in the water); if a man comes up with a way not only to justify his own silence, but to gag other Christians who make life difficult for him, who "out" him without his consent even going so terribly far as to quote the Bible out there in public!

What is to be said about such a man?

He is ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. ..When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say. - Luke 12:6ff.

No danger of R2K men and their converts ever being brought before "the rulers and the authorities" to defend themselves.

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¹ "One Kingdom or Two? An Evaluation of the 'Two Kingdoms' Doctrine as an Alternative to Neo-Calvinism," by Cornelis Venema. Mid-America Journal of Theology 23 (2012): 77-129.


This is the sixth in a (so far) eleven-part series opposing the liberal theology called "Two Kingdom," "Radical Two-Kingdom," "Rigid Two Kingdom," or "Revisionist Two Kingdom," and abbreviated here simply as "R2K." Here's the first in this series, the second, the third, the fourth, the fifth, the sixth, the seventh, the eighth, the ninth, the tenth, and the eleventhAnd here's a post subjecting R2K to an historical critique.

A change to the title has reset the social networking stats at zero.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

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