David VanDrunen graciously agreed to answer a few questions on a topic of great importance and of which he has much wisdom: Two-Kingdoms Theology. Dr. VanDrunen (JD, Northwestern University; PhD, Loyola University Chicago) is Robert B. Strimple Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics at Westminster Seminary California and is an ordained minister of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. He has written several important books, including Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms: A Study in the Development of Reformed Social Thought (Eerdmans, 2010), Living in God’s Two Kingdoms: A Biblical Vision for Christianity and Culture (Crossway, 2010), and A Biblical Case for Natural Law (Acton Institute, 2006).

Could you briefly define Two-Kingdoms Theology and explain how it differs from a transformationist approach to Christ and culture?

I like to describe the two kingdoms doctrine briefly as the conviction that God through his Son rules the whole world, but rules it in two distinct ways. As creator and sustainer, God rules the natural order and the ordinary institutions and structures of human society, and does so through his common grace, for purposes of preserving the ongoing life of this world. As redeemer, God also rules an eschatological kingdom that is already manifest in the life and ministry of the church, and he rules this kingdom through saving grace as he calls a special people to himself through the proclamation of the Scriptures.

As Christians, we participate in both kingdoms but should not confuse the purposes of one with those of the other. As a Reformed theologian devoted to a rich covenant theology, I think it helpful to see these two kingdoms in the light of the biblical covenants. In the covenant with Noah after the flood, God promised to preserve the natural order and human society (not to redeem them!), and this included all human beings and all living creatures. But God also established special, redemptive covenant relationships with Abraham, with Israel through Moses, and now with the church under the new covenant. We Christians participate in both the Noahic and new covenants (remember that the covenant with Noah was put in place for as long as the earth endures), and through them in this twofold rule of God—or, God’s two kingdoms.

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