Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Strict Subscription to the Constitution?

I argued in my last post that the Reformed penchant for limited government, particularly when appeal is made to Romans 13, seems to undermine the two-kingdoms position. For some, of course, this presents no problem whatsoever. But for many two-kingdoms proponents, libertarianism seems to follow as a matter of course. To these, I would ask why the civil and spiritual kingdoms aren't left distinct, but culture is forced to play its game within the confines of a cultic rulebook.

Some two-kingdoms libertarians, however, may respond that Romans 13 has nothing to do with their political persuasion that the government should be limited to a small handful of tasks such as punishing bad guys.

To these I would respond that the claim that Reformed Christians' desire for limited government is a-biblical certainly seems suspicious, given that the Good Book has a chapter in a pretty well-known epistle containing a limited list of functions for the "powers that be" to perform.

Moreover, If I had a nickel for every time Romans 13 was invoked in political discussion with fellow Reformed believers, I'd have a dollar, maybe even more.

Still, the appeal could be made not to the Bible but to the Constitution to substantiate a more limited government. "The Constitution," the argument goes, "only allows the government to do certain things. Going beyond these, therefore, is wrong."

Just as the limited government argument seems to apply the regulative principle of worship to the culture (thus disolving the distinction between the civil and spiritual kingdoms), so the argument from the limited warrant of the Constitution seems to apply the rules of strict confessional subscription to the documents that govern the State as well as the Church.

If we two-kingdoms folks are going to continue to boast in letting the Church be the Church, and the State the State, then whatever our political persuasions, let us justify them by an appeal to their own rules, and not to the rules of another kingdom altogether.