Theonomy vs. 2 Kingdoms

This is for you way-deep-into-theology types...

Lately, I've got one theological foot in the Reconstructionist theological camp (theonomy) and the other in the more traditionally Reformed, Banner-of-Truth camp. This essay by Ligon Duncan (in the latter camp) was good for me to read. I've been looking for sound responses to Reconstructionism, and think we might finally be getting it, though I'm not completely convinced. What do you think?

Gene Veith has started a culture sub-blog, Cranach, over at www.worldmagblog.com, arguing for Luther's 2-kingdoms approach...


  1. I thought Duncan's article was, as usual for him, well documented and helpful in dealing with theonomy. As a Christian lefty, very few things frighten me more than this movement. If such a movement ever gained the power it seeks to implement its biblical reconstruction, I would immediately emigrate to Canada (I say this in all seriousness).

    It is one thing to be a Kuyperian reconstructionist (although I myself have very little appreciation for him or Van Til), and quite another be a theonomist, who sees no abrogation of the OT civil/penal law. The society which theonomists would like to establish is similar to the Puritan theocracy which existed in New England in the early 17th century. It would be very hard for someone who cherishes the liberties and freedoms inherent in a liberal (I use this word in the classical sense, not the partisan) democracy. Abortion as a capital crime, the execution of a vast number of criminals (who violate what a modern person would consider trivial laws), and other such changes would result in a nation more in common with Iran than the U.S. today.

    My answer to theonomists of any stripe is that the Church has spoken definitively on the issue at the Council of Jerusalem (ca. AD 50). "For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you [i.e., Gentiles] no further burden than these essentials: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication" (Acts 15:28).

    In other words, the church is not Israel, and the ceremonial/civil theocratic laws do not apply to the Gentile church. To restore the Israelite theocracy (even in a democratic form) would be a step back into spiritual bondage.

  2. I find the theonomist movement (if we can call it that) has a very American smell to it. Neo-calvinism in much of the rest of the world shares little afinity to the "anti" dispensationalism of American theonomy. For example, in Canada, neo-calvinism has followed a more Doyweerdian path (as opposed to VanTillian). This is where I think the artical is incorrect. I am not sure that VanTill is rightly a follower of Kuyper of Doyweerd. VanTill wqas just as influenced by American calvinism as he was by the Dutch. This is another deficiency in the article. It failures to consider American theonomy's relationship to the "Kingdom of God in America" theology of the mid-20th century.

    Oh, and neopuritain, we'd be happy to have you. :)

  3. Steve,
    Here's a great article in the latest OPC edition of their denominational magazine,

    I've become more and more convinced of the rightness of Luther's view on the two kingdoms. It's great to see others in reformed and presby circles agreeing. I would also recommend Concordia's recent book, "The Anonymous God", which is a critique (from an LCMS perspective!) of American civil religion. Brilliant!