Opinion

The Rotten Fruit of Two-Kingdom Theology

My wife and I have been members of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). It was started in 1973 because of the liberal drift of the Presbyterian Church in the United States.

The liberal drift isn’t everywhere, but like cancer, it can spread rapidly. The most recent cancer is something called Two-Kingdom Theology. There’s the kingdom of the church and the kingdom of the world. God’s Word only applies to the kingdom of the church. Issues like abortion, homosexuality, and civil government are to be responded to in terms of religious neutrality and some form of Natural Law.

Thus, the result of two-kingdom theology is that Religion (Christianity) is personal, restricted to the heart, and the rules for the body politic must not be determined by the Bible.  In America all religions are equal, and therefore all religions are equally irrelevant in the public square.  Religion is only useful in so far as it makes people good citizens who are obedient to the law of the land.

Natural Law forms the basis of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Of course, most advocates of Natural Law in the 18th century were formulating its specifics because of centuries of familiarity with the Bible. The Bible was pervasive, and people’s knowledge of it was comprehensive. Natural Law was mostly dependent on the Bible. This all changed in 1859.

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Prior to Darwin, William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England was the standard legal reference work on the origin and nature of law.

Thus when the supreme being formed the universe, and created matter out of nothing, he impressed certain principles upon that matter, from which it can never depart, and without which it would cease to be.

This law of nature . . . is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times: no human laws are in validity, if contrary to this; and such of them as are valid derive all their force, and all their authority, mediately or immediately, from this original.

Upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws; that is to say, no human laws should be suffered [permitted] to contradict these.”1

With the publication and adoption of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1859, Blackstone’s moral and legal worldview became a logical impossibility. How could an immaterial law be derived from a purely material cosmos that had come into existence by chance? It couldn’t.

Charles Darwin destroyed natural law theory in biological science…. His successors destroyed natural law theory in social science. In the 1920’s, quantum physics destroyed natural law theory in the subatomic world. This immediately began to undermine modern legal theory.2

Christian advocates of a Two-Kingdom approach to culture and ethics are living in the past. Secularists don’t care anymore for Natural Law than they do Biblical Law. They hate both. Recall Sen. Joe Biden’s grilling of Clarence Thomas on the subject during his Supreme Court nomination hearings. Law is in process. It evolves.

We’ve come full circle. Andrew White, a PCA elder and a Democratic candidate for the Governor of Texas, has fallen into the religious neutrality/Natural Law/Two-Kingdom approach to culture trap.

Larry E. Ball, a retired minister in the Presbyterian Church in America, offers a helpful analysis of the issue. If Andrew Wright is the future of the PCA, the PCA won’t have a future.

__________________________

Governor-Candidate Andrew White and Two-Kingdom Theology

Knowing how prominent two-kingdom theology is in the PCA, I’m not sure that the PCA is equipped to handle this kind of problem.

By Larry Ball

Thus, the result of two-kingdom theology is that Religion (Christianity) is personal, restricted to the heart, and the rules for the body politic must not be determined by the Bible.  In America all religions are equal, and therefore all religions are equally irrelevant in the public square.  Religion is only useful in so far as it makes people good citizens who are obedient to the law of the land.

When I recently read the post about Andrew White, a PCA elder and a Democratic candidate for the Governor of Texas (The Aquila Report, January 26), I was disheartened, to say the least.  What bothered me most is that he seemed to imply that since both abortion and homosexual marriage are the law of the land, they must be right and good in a democratic society.

I know most leaders in the PCA are rather disturbed by his position, but then I finally concluded that this seems rather inconsistent on their part. His presuppositions about the personal nature of religion and the public nature of civil law explain his views very clearly. He is just consistent with his presuppositions.

His approach is deduced from what is called two-kingdom theology.  There are two kingdoms in this world (and here I am not referring to the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Satan).  Two-kingdom theology is a view that divides the world into two separate spheres – one is the church (or the Kingdom of God), and the other is the state or the realm of the civil government.  The Bible gives us guidelines pertaining to the arena of the church, but not for the civil magistrate.  The civil magistrate must determine right and wrong from either natural law or the democratic process.

Natural law in history has been described as the rules that come from general revelation (creation and conscience), however today it a reference to the principles discovered independent of the Bible by men who use the scientific method.  If it works for mathematics and chemistry, modern man has concluded that it must also work for social and political science too.  If modern man concludes that abortion is the right of every woman to choose what is best for her own body, and that same-sex attraction is as natural as an opposite-sex attraction, then this must be reflected in the law of the body-politic.

A second complement of this natural law approach is the democratic process. If natural law struggles to define right and wrong, then in a Democracy there is always the final authority of the voice of the people. The only problem here is that in the United States, the voice of the people has been supplanted by the voice of the Supreme Court, and they usually appeal to natural law.

Both natural law and the democratic process determine civil law for the body-politic. The Bible has no place in the body-politic. The Bible is a religious document and it must be restricted to the realm of the church and personal faith.  The State must remain neutral toward religion.

Thus, the result of two-kingdom theology is that Religion (Christianity) is personal, restricted to the heart, and the rules for the body politic must not be determined by the Bible. In America all religions are equal, and therefore all religions are equally irrelevant in the public square. Religion is only useful in so far as it makes people good citizens who are obedient to the law of the land.

Either natural law or the voice of the Supreme Court makes right in society as a whole. Mr. White admits that he and his wife would personally not choose abortion, but this is only a personal and therefore a religious matter. The Bible must not be brought into the arena of the civil magistrate. This is to mix church and state.

This is the view of Christianity in America and, in my opinion, the prominent view in the PCA as a whole. It finds its roots in Newtonian rationalism of the 17th century, and is exhibited in the thinking of our forefathers as they wrote the United States Constitution in the late 18th century. What we see in the views of Mr. White is the fruit of this thinking.  Therefore, even though I am disturbed with the position of Mr. White, I am really not surprised.  Knowing how prominent two-kingdom theology is in the PCA, I’m not sure that the PCA is equipped to handle this kind of problem.

Larry Ball’s article originally appeared in the February 5th, 2018, issue of the Aquila Report.

  1. William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, 4 vols. (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, [1765–1769] 1979), 1:38, 41, 42. []
  2. Gary North, Political Polytheism (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989), xxii. []
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