A Reformation21 Essay on the Two Kingdoms

Reformation 21 has posted an essay by me introducing readers to the two kingdoms doctrine. It is the first of a series of three, the second of which will discuss John Calvin’s version of the doctrine, and the third of which will consider the doctrine in light of Scripture. Here are the first few paragraphs:

When Jesus came to Jerusalem for the last time before his crucifixion, his arrival was marked by a triumphant entry into the city and the crowds proclaiming Jesus as the messianic king (cf. Luke 19:28-40; Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11). When the Pharisees failed to persuade the crowds from proclaiming such things, they changed strategies and tried to force Jesus to say something that would place him and his kingdom in conflict with the authority of Rome. In a series of three public interrogations the religious leaders of the Jews asked Jesus about his authority, the relation of his kingdom to civil government, and the relation of his kingdom to the family.

The result was fascinating. While Jesus refused to answer the Jews’ question about his authority, realizing that they knew well where his authority came from, he demonstrated that his kingdom is not in inherent conflict with the institutions of this world – whether government or the family – because it is of another age. To be sure, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus (Matt 28:18), and one day these earthly institutions will pass away (1 Cor 7). But in the meantime, the order of this world continues. Therefore, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” (Luke 20:25). What’s more, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage” (Luke 20:35). Christ is king but the order of creation, fallen as it may be, continues.

It is this distinction between the two ages, and between the institutions of one age and the kingdom of the age to come, that forms the foundation of the classic doctrine of the two kingdoms, as articulated by Martin Luther and John Calvin.

Read the rest here.


About Matthew J. Tuininga

Matthew J. Tuininga is the Assistant Professor of Moral Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Posted on September 4, 2012, in Two Kingdoms and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on A Reformation21 Essay on the Two Kingdoms.

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