Kingdom of God

Christians in general have no idea that the main focus of Christ's teaching and preaching while walking the earth was the Kingdom of God. Tragically many Christian leaders and seminaries overspiritualize the Kingdom of God making it irrelevant in this earthly life. As a result we live a dualistic lifestyle in which Christianity applies only to the spiritual dimension of the Christian life. It has no cultural relevance. The result is an impotent Christian gospel that has no relvance to the life here on the earth. As a result we have failed to fulfill the Great Commission given to us by Jesus to take dominion as his stewards over the earth and to disciple the nations with all Jesus taught us. In fact, rather than being influences for godly transformation and the holistic redemption of the world for God, most Christians live a life that is totally disconnected from their earthly life and restricted solely to church (spiritual) activities.

The result is a life that divides the Christian life into an unbiblical dualism that is more Greek in it's application. Many Christians believe their faith only applies to the spiritual life. They don't believe their faith or the Bible applies to the current world in which they live. This helps to explain why the gospel is so impotent to influence our nation and those nations where the Gospel has been taken by our missionaries. We have not applied the gospel as salt within culture. As a result, the pagans have filled the void left by us and have taken dominion of the culture. The results are plain to see as our nation has become morally corrupt at a time in which we have more biblical revelation than at any time in previous world history.

This needs to change. Jesus stated that all authority, in both heaven and on the earth, has been given to him. He has delegated and empowered us to take that authority into all of the earth as we spread the gospel. Instead, of fulfilling the Great Commission most Christian missionaries and our leaders have been presenting the "Half-way Gospel." We have been presenting a gospel message in which Jesus becomes Lord at some future date when he returns at His second coming. The reality is that he initially established the Kingdom of God while he was here on earth and demonstrated his power over Satan by casting out demons and miraculously healing the sick.

The following articles and videos help explain this more fully. This is an important concept to understand because our interpretation of the Kingdom of God will determine how we relate to the world around us in this life time. 


Augustinevs. the Two-Kingdoms Theology

Aug 10, 2011 by BojidarMarinov 

The modern argument of the two kingdoms is afairly recent development; it appeared in the late 1990s as a rhetorical retortagainst Theonomy. For over 20 years after the publishing of R.J.Rushdoony’s Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) and over 10 years after Greg Bahnsen’s Theonomy in ChristianEthics (1984), theReformed seminaries – all amillennial in eschatology and antinomian in theirview of the Law of God – were desperately searching for a thorough theologicalresponse to Theonomy. Theonomy: A Reformed Critique(1990) was devastatingly refuted a year later by Theonomy: An InformedResponse (1991). Meanwhilethe theonomists were producing a large body of literature applying the Law ofGod to every area of life which the opponents couldn’t even dream to producebased on their views. By the mid-1990s it became clear that theological orexegetical response to Theonomy could not be produced.

That’s when the argumentof the “two kingdoms” was retrieved from the dustbin of theological ideas andput back into use. The argument had been abandoned after the disastrouseffects it had on the German church in Nazi Germany. It wasn’t used before1995; and no one tried to develop it into a “theology” before that. But in thelate 1990s the history of it was already forgotten so it was safely to use itagain against Theonomy.

In our articles atAmerican Vision we usually call it the “Two-Kingdoms Theology.” It must be understood, however, that as anargument it is very far from being a “theology.” It has never been developedinto a full-scale theology that explains the Bible and the world from a unifiedperspective. There is no thorough Biblical theology to show the exegeticalfoundations of it. There is no systematic theology to give it a solidstructure. And there is no body of literature of applied theology to presentapplications and blueprints for action to all other fields of human life andknowledge. For all it is worth, the argument is simply a rhetorical retortagainst the covenant theology of Theonomy; it should be called theTwo-Kingdoms Rhetoric. Any popularity it hasis based not on any systematic or exegetical or applied qualities it has but onthe fact that it is an easy way for seminary professors and pastors to avoid havingto reply to the difficult challenges Theonomy presents to their ideology andpreaching.

It is no wonder thenthat in their defense the modern proponents of the Two-Kingdoms Theology shouldturn not to the books they have written developing it systematically andexegetically – for there are only a few such books, short and limited in scope– but to an alleged “historicity” of the argument. Martin Luther, of course, isthe first champion summoned to the cause, because he did use the argument in anunfortunate turn of events, and that with disastrous consequences.[1] Worthmentioning that Luther didn’t develop it into theology either; he too used itas a rhetorical device; when asked to give advice, most of the time he went tothe Law of God as revealed in the Bible. The attempt to link Calvin to theTwo-Kingdoms Theology have been based on outright lies, as Joel McDurmon so masterfullydemonstrated. No historical roots for the Two-Kingdoms can be foundin the history of the Reformed churches either: The very Reformed ideal of Cityon a Hill is in stark contradiction to it.

There’s only onehistorical hope left for them: Augustine of Hippo, the theologian that throughhis writings, sermons, and commentaries, shaped the theology of the WesternChristendom, and through it shaped the world. Since so few Christians todaybother to read Augustine, the proponents of the Two-Kingdoms Theology eagerlypromote the myth of the “Augustinian two-kingdoms view.” Michael Horton at WestminsterSeminary in California claims that Augustine’s The City of God “helped create what came to be called thedoctrine of the two kingdoms”; and throughout the rest of the article heproceed by making the parallel between Augustine’s two cities (the City of Godand the City of Man) and the “two kingdoms” of his theology.

In this article we willsee that such parallel is preposterous. There is nothing in Augustine to pointto anything like the modern Two-Kingdoms Theology with its dualism between thechurch and the state, and nature and grace. The historical context, Augustine’sview of the law, justice, and the state, his practical and political advice, aswell as the developments of his theology by his immediate successors, all pointto the conclusion that Augustine viewed the world as a unified Kingdom ofChrist, under the same eternal Law of God. Augustine, contrary to Horton, isrightly called the “theological father of Christendom,” the same Christendomwhich the Two-Kingdoms Theology denies as both an ideal and a historicalreality.

To start, we need toquickly go over the main tenets of what is known as the “Two-KingdomsTheology.” The Two Kingdoms theology, as explained by its own adherents, hasthe following tenets:

1) Every Christian inthis life is a citizen of two distinct kingdoms, the Church and the state (aka“the common kingdom”).

2) The two kingdoms areunder two separate systems of law. The Church is under the special revelationgiven in the Bible, and its main goal is personal salvation. The state is underthe natural law, revealed to all men; its concern is government, not salvation,and therefore the Bible can not be its sole source of authority and legitimacy.

3) Since the churchderives its authority only from the Bible, and the state doesn’t, the churchshould never trample on the authority of the common kingdom institutions.[2]

Based on these, theTwo-Kingdoms theologians declare that since culture is part of the “commonkingdom,” which is not ruled by the revealed Law of God, Christians thereforeshouldn’t try to create Christian culture, establish Christian civilgovernment, nor can the church speak to the cultural, political, or any otherissues of the day. Some – like Horton – advocate complete withdrawal of Christiansfrom political or cultural endeavors, while others – like Albert Mohler – onlylimit the church from speaking to politics and culture but allow individuals todo it (but without specifying what law exactly they should use when they speakto culture, “natural” or revealed).

So, let’s see whereAugustine stood on all these issues, and whether he really preached a“two-kingdoms” theology.

The Historical Context

Before we look atAugustine’s views, we need to understand the context of the times in which hewas writing. Augustine lived between AD 354 and AD 430, an era of the historyof the Roman Empire and of the church under the influence of the EcumenicalCouncils. In AD 325 Constantine summoned the bishops of the Empire to Nicaeafor the First Ecumenical Council of the church – an act of submission of theEmpire to Christianity. The next century was marked by this newarrangement, with the Empire gradually becoming a Christian Empire. In AD 381, while Augustine was a teacherof rhetoric at a pagan Roman school, Emperor Theodosius I – a Christian ruler –summoned the Second Ecumenical Council in Constantinople. When Augustineconverted back to Christianity in AD 387, seven years had passed sinceTheodosius had declared Christianity the official religion of the Empire. In AD389-391 he issued the “Theodosian Decrees” which established a complete ban onreligious expressions of paganism in public, under the influence of Augustine’smentor and teacher in the Christian faith, bishop Ambrose of Milan.

Nothing in thehistorical context of the times gives even the slightest hint that a“two-kingdoms” doctrine was preached, known or followed by anyone. Augustinehimself, living in such times, never seems to criticize this arrangement. Whileour modern “two-kingdoms” theologians deplore the “Constantinianism” of thechurch at the time, Augustine seems to be comfortable with it as somethingnormative; in fact, as we will see later, he himself advised Christian rulersin the same spirit.

Additional insight intothe views of the church at the time can be gleaned from a famous historicalclash between Augustine’s mentor and teacher, Bishop Ambrose, and EmperorTheodosius. Like we mentioned above, modern Two-Kingdoms theologians deny thatthe church has any right to speak as a church to the civil government. In AD 390, a year after Augustinereturned to North Africa from his learning under Ambrose in Milan, Ambrosepublicly excommunicated Emperor Theodosius I for his actions against theparticipants in a tax revolt in Thessalonica. When the Emperor reacted inanger, Ambrose didn’t cave in but used his position as a Bishop to teach theEmperor concerning the limits on the civil government in relation to individualrights, private property, and church immunity. The Emperor eventually repentedand had to go through a period of penance.

Given the fact that ourmodern Two-Kingdoms theologians still criticize Moral Majority today, 30 yearssince its founding, for its innocent purpose of just getting Christiansinvolved in politics, a modern Ambrose would have been demonized in thepublications by Westminster Seminary in California or the Southern BaptistSeminary. But Augustine never spoke against his mentor Ambrose. That’s becauseit never even occurred to Augustine that the church should remain silent aboutpolitical issues.

If there were any“two-kingdomers” at the time, they would be found among the Manichaeans andamong the Donatists. The Manichaeans were a dualist sect that believed thatmaterial world – and everything it contains, including civil government,courts, and the whole visible culture and society – were created by the devil,and therefore believers should stay away from them. Augustine experimented withManichaeanism in his youth before he became a Christian. The Donatists were aChristian sect that emphasized absolute purity to the point of denyingrestoration to the church for those that had broken under persecution and haddenied Christ; they refused to participate in the same communion with the restof the church, and they believed that there can be no such thing as a ChristianEmperor; the Empire was of the devil by default, and therefore Christiansshould not participate in its political life. In his works, Augustine arguedagainst both Manichaeans and Donatists; he denied there was a dualisticseparation of reality in any possible way except in ethical terms. And we willtalk about his ethical dualism later.

Augustine’s View of Law: “Natural” and Revealed

The distinction between“natural” law – governing the “common kingdom” – and the revealed Law of God –governing the redemptive kingdom, the Church – is of central importance to theTwo-Kingdoms Theology. Since the two “kingdoms” of the church and the state areunder the same King, they can not also be under the same law, otherwise thewhole concept of the “two kingdoms” will disintegrate: they will become simplytwo separate institutions in the same Kingdom, as is the Theonomic position.Also, remember, the Two-Kingdoms Theology is a backlash against Theonomy; ifTheonomy says that the law for the state is the same as the law for the Church,the Law of God, and they differ only in function, then an anti-theonomic theology must insist that the law for thestate is not the same as the Law of God. The dualism of the Two-KingdomsTheology is necessarily based on a legal dualism, on the belief in twodifferent law systems for the two kingdoms. In addition, since both “kingdoms”are God’s, and they are both legitimate in God’s eyes, then both systems oflaw, “natural” and revealed, must be legitimate in their own spheres. And sincethe church is the “kingdom of grace,” and the state is the “kingdom ofjustice,” a Two-Kingdoms theologian will have two different law sources for hisjustice and his grace. He won’t go to the Law of God revealed in the Bible forjustice because it is not applicable to the state; and he won’t look for God’sgrace in the “natural” law because that would be “confusing law and grace.”

Can we find suchdistinction in Augustine? Not at all.

There is no dualism oflaws in Augustine’s thought. There is one ultimate Law, which he calls the“eternal Law of God,” which is the same for all people, all tribes, all nations,whether they have the Law of Moses revealed to them or not, or whether they aresaved or not. Augustine calls it also the “law of nature,” but “nature” here hemeans the original, unpolluted nature of man, not the sinful nature men inheritfrom their father Adam. All people know this eternal Law, and therefore allpeople are judged by it in the final judgment.

But this eternal law isnot just limited to their personal actions and righteousness. It is also thefoundation of justice, according to Augustine, princes are expected to judge byit, and nations are supposed to abandon their customs and submit to thateternal Law of God:

When God commandsanything contrary to the customs or compacts of any nation, even though it werenever done by them before, it is to be done; and if it is has been interrupted,it is to be restored; and if it has never been established, it is to beestablished.[3]

Notice the active voice:“When God commands.” Augustine does expect God to give special revelation tonations that will contradict their established customs and compacts. There isno “natural” law separate from God’s command.

The important questionhere is: How does this eternal, “natural” law relate to the revealed Law of Godin the Bible? Does Augustine teach, as the Two-Kingdoms theologians do, thatthe natural law that is given to all the people in the “common kingdom” isdifferent from the Law of God as revealed in the Bible? Not at all.

That eternal law, saysAugustine, is written in the hearts of the godly, and from this eternal law wascopied the law given to the Jews through Moses.[4] Thereis no difference nor contradiction between the natural law and the revealed Lawof God, for the revealed Law of God in the Ten Commandments and in the Gospels– yes, and in the Gospels – give the natural law greater force, since they are adirect revelation of that natural law. Men do not listen to their naturalconscience so God codified what’s already in their hearts in a written Law:

But lest men shouldcomplain that something had been wanting for them, there hath been written alsoin tables that which in their hearts they read not. For it was not that theyhad it not written, but read it they would not. There hath been set beforetheir eyes that which in their conscience to see they would be compelled. . . .But because men, desiring those things which are without, even from themselveshave become exiles, there hath been given also a written law: not because inhearts it had not been written, but because thou wast a deserter from thyheart, thou art seized by Him that is everywhere, and to thyself within artcalled back. Therefore the written law, what crieth it, to those that havedeserted the law written in their hearts? “Return ye transgressors to theheart.” [5]

Contrary to the dualismof the laws of the Two-Kingdoms Theology, Augustine’s view is Theonomic to thecore: One Law, revealed first in the hearts of all men, redeemed andunredeemed, and then confirmed in writing to all men, redeemed and unredeemed.The laws of Moses are not a separate law for the redeemed only; they are thesame law that is given to all men from the beginning, and that still convictsmen in their hearts. The only thing that is not valid in the New Testamentanymore are the Ceremonial Laws; Augustine does not divide the rest into“civil” and “moral” laws. They are all moral, including those that advise aruler how to rule his people. Nothing in Augustine can lead us to theconclusion that he is teaching the dualism of the Two-Kingdoms Theologyconcerning the Law of God.

And, as we will see inthe next article, Augustine’s view of justice and the state follows hisTheonomic view of the Law. And we will see why his two cities, of God and ofman, are not thetwo “kingdoms” of our modern anti-Theonomic theologians.

[1] JoelMcDurmon, “One Kingdom, One Law,” in Principlesof Christian Politics, CD-series by American Vision.

[2] I havetaken the tenets of the Two-Kingdoms Theology from David VanDrunnen, Living in God’s TwoKingdoms (Wheaton, Illinois:Crossway, 2010).

[3] Confessions 3:8:15.

[4] Sermons 31:2.

[5] Sermon on Ps. 58.