Saturday, November 20, 2010

Paul Helm Reflecting on VanDrunen and Two Kingdom Theology

Theologian Paul Helm has written a couple of helpful essays on Two Kingdom Theology.  The title reveals that he is interacting with David VanDrunen's recent work, Living in God's Two Kingdoms. 

Helm's Deep: From Hippo to Escondido - I

Helm's Deep: From Hippo to Escondido - II

The second essay includes a discussion of Dooyeword, Van Til, Gary North and Meredith Kline.  It includes this quote...

There is something similar about Van Til, as is witnessed by the fact that two of his disciples, Greg Bahnsen and Meredith Kline, ‘develop’ his ideas in entirely different direction. Bahnsen heard Van Til say ’no natural ethics’, so he developed a scheme under which Christians are obliged to keep the whole law of God ‘as a pattern of sanctification’. Revealed law swallows up natural law. Christ’s kingship may be affirmed, but it is not the two-fold kingship of the two kingdoms. Yet not quite, since according to Bahnsen, it is the state, and not the church, which bears the sword.
On the other hand Meredith Kline, who ended his career as a teacher at Westminster West, Escondido, ‘develops’, if that is the word, Van Til’s thoughts back in the direction of the classic position, while being (so it seems) largely ignorant of that position. He did this by the way in which the covenant comes to play a crucial part in his thought. Common grace, though antithetical to God and his redemptive kingdom, has beneficial purposes ordained by God. Behind this lies the covenant of works, and the covenant of common grace made with Noah for the benefit of failed humanity, which legitimizes the state and culture more generally, but has a temporal and provisional character. This then approaches the conceptuality of the two kingdoms without (apparently) Kline being aware of this.
There is a lot packed into these two paragraphs and I am by no means an expert in this area.  But sometimes a view from 30,000 feet is the best way to understand your surroundings. 

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