Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Regulative Principle of Culture?

The churches of the Reformation differ from their Lutheran, Anglican, and evangelical brethren in that they reject the claim that whatever the Bible does not prohibit in public worship is therefore permitted, but insist that whatever the Bible does not prescribe is therefore prohibited. In a word, God is not interested in our "strange fire" (just ask Nadab and Abihu).

The fact that there are two kingdoms, however, has led us to affirm the opposite with respect to the culture, namely, that what is not forbidden is (all things being equal) allowed.

Enter Ron Paul....

Presidential candidate Ron Paul, who is really a Libertarian in Republican dress, has become quite popular among many Reformed believers, particularly those with a strong two-kingdoms paradigm. The role of government, according to Christians sympathetic to libertarianism, is to be limited to those functions outlined in Romans 13:1-7 (to approve the good, to punish the evil, to bear the sword, and to collect taxes). Other functions such as public education, the postal service, and Social Security are to be turned over to the private sector since the federal government has no business meddling with these services.

Although two-kingdoms proponents rightly insist that the civil and spiritual powers remain in their respective God-ordained corners, it seems to me that limiting government the way Reformed libertarians do actually undermines the two-kingdoms position by forcing culture to play by a cultic rulebook.

If the sacred and secular realms are in fact distinct, and if the Reformed churches are correct in erecting a higher hurdle for what is permissible in the former sphere, then why must we limit the role of government exclusively to those few functions listed in Romans 13?

If culture must play by the church's rules as Christian libertarians insist, then why do you call yourself a two-kingdoms proponent? Or if the church may adopt the playbook of the culture as John Frame argues, then why do you call yourself Reformed?