Tuesday, August 21, 2007

W2K Part One: The Exclusiveness of Christianity

While in Oxford last winter my good friend Ryan and I concluded that the issue of Christ and culture in general, and of the two kingdoms in particular, is the most important discussion that needs to take place within contemporary American evangelicalism, and that we should do everything we can to "force" the conversation by whatever means at our disposal.

I'm happy to see that the discussion is taking place in various online forums, often framed in terms of the helpfulness or unhelpfulness of what has come to be known as "W2K" (which is code for Westminster Seminary California's doctrine of the two kingdoms). I have already given a basic biblical defense of the teaching; my goal now is to approach the issue from various other angles.

One of the main arguments for the two kingdoms doctrine begins with the exclusive nature of the Christian religion. A brief survey of our creeds, confessions, and catechisms from the past couple thousand years will indicate just how arcane our faith is: We place a lot of emphasis on such topics as the hypostatic union of the divine and human natures of Christ, the extent of his atoning work, the role of faith in justification, and the exact meaning of "Hoc est corpus meum."

What role, I ask, does the Eutychean/Nestorian controversy play in determining whether the federal budget should concentrate more on social aid to the poor or on expanding the military? How crucial is a correct interpretation of the communicatio idiomatum for setting the agenda for U.S. foreign policy?

I trust you see where I'm going with this....

We are certainly free to make it our goal to legislate the second great commandment of the law under the guise of creating a Godly society, but love of neighbor cannot be divorced from love of the one true God and still be called "Christianity."

So our only options are to (1) bite the bullet and proselytize by sword-point, (2) reduce Christianity to a social gospel, or (3) let the State be the State, and the Church the Church.