Ongoing review of Van Drunen's "Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms"

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mvdm

Puritan Board Junior
Dr. Nelson Kloosterman of Mid-America Reformed Seminary has begun what promises to be a lengthy review of this book. It is being published in installments in Christian Renewal magazine, which I believe comes out every 2-3 weeks.

Here is installment #1 from Dr. Kloosterman's website:

Auxesis.net - Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms: A Review

Addition by PuritanCovenanter.

Whole Review and Critique can be found here in pdf.
http://worldviewresourcesinternational.com/kloosterman/DVDreviewNL2K.pdf
 
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kvanlaan

Puritan Board Doctor
Brother, thank you for this - I have been watching this in CR myself and what I understood at first be a bit of an academic exercise (the two kingdoms discussion) has taken on new significance, with some of the comments made by Dr Kloosterman. To paraphrase: the project undertaken by VanDrunen belongs to something larger whose result, intended or not, will be the dismantling of a vision for personal and communal Christian cultural engagement in our generation. Yikes.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Here is a little that VanDrunen wrote laying out in broad fashion his ideas. Westminster Seminary California faculty.

Since he cannot lay out a detailed analysis of his views here it is unfair to criticize based soley on this but the article did raise some questions and concerns for me that prompted me to want to get the book under review to see how he defends himself.

For one he seems to assume some form of seculerism to undergird his argument for interacting in the public square. I say this because he denies that to "be Christian and submitting to Scripture is a prequisite for participation in the public square." So than what do we submit to? Natural law with all the limitations that he himself admits to? How would we define what counts as natural and authoritative without falling into the same limitations he admits to?

It seems that some seculer authority is needed to arbitrate between what is a natural law and what isn't. So what theory of securlism would he invoke to justify these claims? He appeals to general consensus of people to argue against abortion or cloning but the limitations he admits too in the beggining of this paper completly invalidate those claims. So then he is left with a serious problem of authority in the concept of natural law.

Also he says that with his views we can have "geniune" moral dialogue with the unbeleiver and that his views are the way to treat people with "civility" and respect. Really so us neo-Calvinists believe in not being civil to our fellow men and women and that geniune dialogue is impossible? I think not but what else could he mean by these sorts of statements? If his way is the only way in theory to acomplish these things than anyother way in theory cannot do so. So than we must accept his proposals limitations and all. But all that is needed to dispel this claim is to produce an alternitave theory that does allow for civility in treating others and geniune dialoge, Van Tillianism does this nicley. For a guy who teaches at a Van Tillian institution he seems to have some very un-Van Tillian things to say. Now being a Van Tillian is no prerequisite for being Reformed but His view points are much more at home in classical apologetics than in presupossitionalism.

Ifor one hope that he deals specifically with these questions and concerns of mine in this book. Does anyone who has this book know how he would answer therse claims of mine? I am not outright accusing him of error only raising questions and concerns upon initial exsposer to his ideas.
 

mvdm

Puritan Board Junior
James, the following article which also is at Kloosterman's site will help address your questions.

http://auxesis.net/kloosterman/natural_law_response_essay.pdf

You also should listen to Van Drunen's inaugural lecture {linked at WSC's website, I believe}. It is Exhibit A of this R2kt project. You will hear a straightfaced argument for a "dual ethic": one for the church, and another for the "civil kingdom".
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
James, the following article which also is at Kloosterman's site will help address your questions.

http://auxesis.net/kloosterman/natural_law_response_essay.pdf

You also should listen to Van Drunen's inaugural lecture {linked at WSC's website, I believe}. It is Exhibit A of this R2kt project. You will hear a straightfaced argument for a "dual ethic": one for the church, and another for the "civil kingdom".

Thank you very much! He pointed out problems with his arguments that I didn't even notice so that was helpful. It was nice to see someone echoing my own criticisms as well, which serves only to strenghthan my concern over his thinking, basically that I may have gotten him right after all. I will listen to his inaugeral adress now thanks!
 

Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Well worth the time to read. Dr. Kloosterman does an excellent job of showing how the "neat" divide Dr. VanDrunen is trying to make does not exist in the historical record.
 

Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Not at all. I have his book and think it is vitally important for us critiquers to read those whom we critique.

---------- Post added at 09:09 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:06 AM ----------

"And if God’s natural law, embodied in OT Mosaic law, prohibits public blasphemy, and if this natural law ought to underlie civil enactments, then why should Dr. VanDrunen so vigorously oppose appeals to God’s requirements amid public policy discussions about moral issues covered by the Decalogue?"
pg. 5 of the review.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
But I mean that I love and completely agree with everything I've read so far.

But that would be the first two pages. ;)
 

Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Well then you'd be interested in this caution from Dr. Venema:

With that agreement as background, we offer two significant criticisms of the author’s
treatment of Calvin’s view of two kingdoms and natural law. The first involves the abuse of
sources, and the second involves the neglect of confessional resources.
Concerning the abuse of sources, it gives us no delight to warn the reader of the need to
check the author’s references and use of sources.


---------- Post added at 09:35 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:32 AM ----------

Also

Several additional significant points could be raised in evaluating this portrait of John Calvin
and NL2K. Space does not permit us to explain how Calvin’s teaching concerning special
revelation as the spectacles required for rightly seeing and understanding general revelation
would significantly contradict the NL2K project presented thus far. And we will need to leave to
others the task of showing how Calvin’s teaching that redemption (grace) restores creation
(nature) contradicts the NL2K project at its very foundation.
pg. 11

---------- Post added at 09:49 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:35 AM ----------

Just realized I keep typing "Venema" instead of "Kloosterman". Moral of the story...Don't try and type Dutch names until your second cup of coffee. :lol:
 

mvdm

Puritan Board Junior
Just realized I keep typing "Venema" instead of "Kloosterman". Moral of the story...Don't try and type Dutch names until your second cup of coffee. :lol:

Perhaps for a "Glaser", a pot of coffee would be necessary to keep "Venema" and "Kloosterman" straight---the names sound so much alike. :)
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
1. Don't be Lazy. LOL I know how easy it is to be Lazy. I don't want to read things on the internet. I like books.

2. No I haven't.

Pt. 7

http://www.worldviewresourcesinternational.com/kloosterman/natural_law_two_kingdoms_07.pdf

Just as a side note....

I have been reading Jeremiah Burroughs.

In Chapter 2 of Gospel Conversation, by Jeremiah Burroughs, he talks about the Light of Nature in comparison to the Gospel of Christ. He even does this from the Catechism showing that the Light of Nature reveals such things but the Gospel of Christ goes beyond it. One can be submitted to the Light of Nature but Gospel Conduct goes beyond the Light of Nature observances by grace. It is a great book.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
In the various parts of the review (in PDF) what are the red numbers in braces? I thought they may be notes but nothing seems to be linked.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
I think I'm starting to get a handle on it too, Randy. In addition to the linked review, yesterday I got his more popular work on the Two Kingdoms. The work by Piscator that Adam translated was interesting, and I suppose will help in a fair critique of VanDrunen as well.
 

mvdm

Puritan Board Junior
In the various parts of the review (in PDF) what are the red numbers in braces? I thought they may be notes but nothing seems to be linked.

I think it may match up with the page number of where it is being published in print "Christian Renewal"

CT

That is correct. Those bracketed numbers correspond with the page change occurring in the print version in Christian Renewal.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
The uncited Kuyper writes:
Hence it is that, for the Calvinist, all ethical study is based on the Law of Sinai, not as though
at that time the moral world-order began to be fixed, but to honor the Law of Sinai, as the
divinely authentic summary of that original moral law which God wrote in the heart of man,
at his creation, and which God is re-writing on the tables of every heart at its conversion
So are there other moral guides for Christian politicians than the above?
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Just to be fair here is a defense of Van Drunen. I am not sure how good it is because I haven't had the time to peruse it yet. Content wise it really doesn't address as much material Kloosterman addresses but maybe it is revealing. Read the whole thing guys. I am only posting the conclusion because it is a bit lengthy.


VanDrunen in the Hands of an Anxious Kloosterman:: Westminster Seminary California
VanDrunen in the Hands of an Anxious Kloosterman Conclusion

To conclude, I raise for readers' consideration not only that natural law and the two kingdoms are historic Reformed doctrines, but that they are part of the warp and woof of the Reformed system of doctrine. In classic Reformed theology, distinctive Reformed doctrines such as the Sabbath and the covenant of works were articulated with explicit reference to natural law. In classic Reformed theology, Reformed doctrines such as the regulative principle of worship and even justification were expressed with intimate relation to the doctrine of the two kingdoms. Perhaps that sounds preposterous, but it is true, as I hope to explain in some detail in the future. Is it any coincidence that the past century—precisely the time period in which natural law and the two kingdoms have largely fallen into disuse in Reformed circles—has witnessed serious erosion in commitment to the Sabbath, the regulative principle of worship, the covenant of works, and justification in Reformed churches? Or, to add another wrinkle, is it a coincidence that in the past couple of generations so many Reformed people have been tempted to embrace the theonomic movement and the majority that has resisted has offered for the most part only tepid and insipid alternatives? I do not think that it is in any sense a coincidence.
To put it one more way: Has the century of Reformed distaste for natural law and the two kingdoms been a golden age for confessional Reformed Christianity? I doubt many readers of Ordained Servant would think so. Our contemporary denominations that seem most serious about historic, confessional Reformed Christianity are small splinters off much larger bodies that have gone in different directions. Confessional Reformed Christianity has truly become sideline rather than mainline. Are our Christian primary and secondary schools and colleges, so many of which proclaim the neo-Calvinist vision of transformation and worldview cultivation and dismiss the two kingdoms idea as "dualistic," stronger theologically and academically now than they were some generations ago? My interaction with the kind of people who read Ordained Servant leads me to guess that a great many of you would answer no (which is why a great number of you homeschool your own children).

I realize that natural law and the two kingdoms seem like novel and suspicious doctrines to many Reformed people today. But turning against these ideas, I am convinced, has been to the detriment of Reformed doctrine, piety, and life in the world. Resist the attempt to revive these doctrines if you must, but a "conversation" about them will not be productive, nor even very conversational, if it puts these doctrines in a misleading and pejorative light and caricatures their defenders before the conversation has really begun.
 

tcalbrecht

Puritan Board Junior
Just to be fair here is a defense of Van Drunen. I am not sure how good it is because I haven't had the time to peruse it yet. Content wise it really doesn't address as much material Kloosterman addresses but maybe it is revealing. Read the whole thing guys. I am only posting the conclusion because it is a bit lengthy.


VanDrunen in the Hands of an Anxious Kloosterman:: Westminster Seminary California
VanDrunen in the Hands of an Anxious Kloosterman Conclusion



I realize that natural law and the two kingdoms seem like novel and suspicious doctrines to many Reformed people today. But turning against these ideas, I am convinced, has been to the detriment of Reformed doctrine, piety, and life in the world. Resist the attempt to revive these doctrines if you must, but a "conversation" about them will not be productive, nor even very conversational, if it puts these doctrines in a misleading and pejorative light and caricatures their defenders before the conversation has really begun.

But wasn’t Kloosterman’s argument, as well as much of the suspicion around the WSC-style 2K, directed against whether VanDrunen and his colleagues have correctly and sufficiently articulated the 2K philosophy of the Reformers?

At one point, Kloosterman says this regarding VanDrunen’s use of Calvin:
(1) The author has already declared Calvin to be guilty of inconsistency in mixing the duties and authority of the two kingdoms in Geneva. But Calvin’s warrant for this mixture was undeniably and indisputably his appeal to Scripture (for example, to OT kings and events). Are we prepared, then, to draw Dr. VanDrunen’s unstated yet necessary conclusion, that although Calvin employed Scripture in connection with civil law in the other kingdom, he was inconsistent in doing so? (2) “Calvin did not believe,” we are told, “that the civil kingdom can be governed solely or primarily by the teaching of Scripture.” But who does believe that? Some of us insist that the civil kingdom (public society) should be governed in part by the teaching of Scripture, in connection, say, with issues like homosexual marriage and abortion, and even debasing monetary currency. But who among us has ever claimed that “the civil kingdom can be governed solely or primarily by the teaching of Scripture”? (3) And if God’s natural law, embodied in OT Mosaic law, prohibits public blasphemy, and if this natural law ought to underlie civil enactments, then why should Dr. VanDrunen so vigorously oppose appeals to God’s requirements amid public policy discussions about moral issues covered by the Decalogue? Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms: A Review (4) - Calvin

So, as I read these things the suspicion is not against 2K per se, but against the novel interpretation of the Reformers in certain areas by the WSC-style 2K advocates.
 
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