What makes someone "Radical 2k"?

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by jwright82, Jan 9, 2020.

  1. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    My question is what is the dividing line between someone who is simply 2 kingdom from "radical 2 kingdom"?
  2. Rutherglen1794

    Rutherglen1794 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Surf and/or early skateboarding culture.
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  3. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Is that a California joke?
  4. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    R2K would be people like D.G. Hart who advocate a total separation between the church and society in terms of the application of the Law of God. R2K argue that Christians shouldn't care about promoting morality and Christian values in the public square. But they don't merely take the view that the world, being the world, will always be corrupt and antithetical to the church but they often celebrate aspects of worldly culture, indulge in them and think there's a lot that can be learned from such culture. This is combined with a very condescending attitude towards those who would argue that Christians should separate themselves from the world (R2K believes the church and society in general are separate spheres but that the world has a lot of good stuff to offer) or those Christians who try to influence society. R2K are usually very antinomian.

    Simple two kingdom theology- as I understand it- would be best exemplified by the Southern Presbyterian church, I think. The church, as an institution, is not to involve itself in civil matters but Christians should still be active members of the community.
  5. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Okay, that's good. But not sure that D. G. Hart would be "radical", however it's defined. But I agree with the rest of it. But simple 2 kingdom people, myself and I believe Hart, would emphasize natural law as dictating human behaviour. What you describe is radical. But I don't think it applies to simple 2 kingdom people. I also think radical goes beyond that as well, like accepting gay marriage as ok to support (Lee and Mysty Irons, I believe?) as civil unions.
  6. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    Well where I first came across the R2K label was with the Bayly brothers who would use it to refer to Hart and people like him. I'm not promoting the Bayly brothers (I'm not disavowing them either) but that is the context I came across it (usually through Hart responding to them as I used to be quite the avid reader of his blog years ago). I think Hart would dispute the term has any real meaning other than as a slur concocted by people like the Baylys. Hart would definitely say he was following traditional two kingdom. But I would dispute that.
  7. Susan777

    Susan777 Puritan Board Freshman

    I think that is a fair characterization. It’s my understanding (admittedly limited) that classical 2k theology bears little resemblance to what’s been formulated at Westminster West. For ex. Michael Horton felt he could support same-sex civil unions based on the love-your-neighbor principle, wanting what’s best for them. Whoa! To me, that’s radical.
    I do read DGH’s blog but a lot of it goes over my head. It’s like there’s some sort of insider knowledge being discussed :cool: that just leaves me baffled. I would like to know who those interesting looking people are who adorn his blog. I only recognize Machen.
  8. Henry Hall

    Henry Hall Puritan Board Freshman

    That's regular 2K. People like the Puritans. Andrew Melville with his famous speech to the King. Calvin said some 2K-ish things.
    But Calvin and some others who talked about 2 kingdoms also thought that the state *ought* to recognize and submit to King Jesus.

    r2k-ers like Hart, VanDrunen, Scott Clark, and Escondido Theology advocates in general, deny that. That's what gives you the "r."
  9. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    Ouch, lol. And he’s so on top of current events. My pastor, Lane Tipton, would be regular for sure.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2020
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  10. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    White Horse Inn would be another good example, yeah. That whole sorry spectacle of Misty Irons and sodomite marriage another one. Of course her husband was very in with the Escondido people if I'm correct?
  11. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    One thing that makes a person R2K is their radical dichotomous view of Law and grace. They make things so dichotomous that Law and Grace lose their biblical fullness. Another thing they do is remove the full responsibility and accountability to both tables of the Law for the civil kingdom based upon how they define Natural Law.
  12. Rutherglen1794

    Rutherglen1794 Puritan Board Sophomore

    I don’t know. I’m from the Great White North.
  13. A.Joseph

    A.Joseph Puritan Board Sophomore

    I would say Hart is more of a theological purest in the vein of Machen. Probably a bit more libertarian politically like Machen. I have a difficult time reconciling some of that while totally supporting other aspects of it. Obviously, it all starts with the church. I think we can fully engage both realms as per regular two kingdom theology. I think both realms spill over into each other for better or worse sometimes.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2020
  14. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

  15. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

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  16. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    “Nero did not violate God’s law if he executed Christians who obeyed God rather than man. If Paul continued to preach after the emperor said he may not, then Nero was doing what God ordained government to do.” D.G. Hart
    Am I imagining things or did Hart just say that Nero cannot break God's law by obeying himself?
  17. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    There are 565 comments on that thread. The quote from DGH is about 1/4 of the way into them. That means that

    1. There's the original post for context.
    2. There's a history of posting for context.
    3. There's a whole series of exchanges within the comments, many of which are soundbite, many which are talking over one another, many which are continuation of previous conversation (so, snatches of exchanges that extend cross-post and cross-comment-thread)

    The critique offered by Triablogue is only applicable to itself. It isn't obliged, and it makes no systematic effort at any "interpretation" of DGH's thought. It exercises it's right to criticize one, isolated, comment-section remark (not even a blog-post, where an author might choose to preempt certain critiques). That's fine, if the whole free-for-all is reckoned just a standard internet snipe-fest.

    (BTW, I read a lot of Triablogue, and it is a quite useful site, so when I say it may critique as it wills, I'm affirming their right to express any opinions however desired.)​

    If you read more of the comments, along with the blog post that inspired them (all 3yrs ago), and put it in the context of the whole blog with many posts, the reductionist and provocative tenor of the post becomes more understandable. DGH takes critique from friend and foe, and offers his own subtle qualifications.

    DGH is a college prof, an "intellectual." He is used to stimulating discussion in a classroom setting, he's seldom satisfied with pat answers, and his blog reflects that style. He also writes papers and books, and those are more likely to have a different style of engagement altogether.

    I think DGH would say that, judged purely on the question of whether punishing sedition (which is what Christians were usually accused of) is within the scope of a ruler's authority, clearly this is "YES." Which is a question that may be considered apart from whether the Christian was in fact guilty of sedition as God's looks at it from heaven.

    In other words, was Nero culpable on either the human level or the ultimate for his repression? And if so, was that culpability mitigated at all by his ignorance, by his duty to laws in place, or by other limitations? Sweeping these questions aside by peremptory decision for the defendants (Christians) seems to DGH to completely ignore the "ministerial" role fulfilled by the Roman ruler, and NT statements about that rule from the mouth or pen of both Lord and Apostles.

    You don't have to agree with DGH's final, nuanced position. But he raises legitimate questions. And the biggest noise against his position come from the party that insists that their position is "self-evidently true," and so anyone who faults it is of course in sin and rebellion. Natch.

    Is "the" Christian position on human government ascertainable from a simple read of the NT (or also incorporating OT witness)? I think not. I don't even think there is ONE biblical position; and if there is a single best form for it worldwide and in every time, it isn't discernible purely by theoretical derivation from Scripture. It has to be tried historically and evaluated. That is to say: it is a matter of sanctified, biblical wisdom; and not divine prescription.
  18. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    I’ll let Steve comment for himself and I’ll refrain from comments about DGH.

    Here’s a bit of my exchange with DGH on that marathon thread.


    Regarding Nero / Greg, I thought my response was a bit more nuanced. As a general rule, I believe subordinates (e.g. soldiers) may submit without hesitation. That’s the ideal. Notwithstanding, I believe there are times when citizens should revolt, soldiers are to commit mutiny. From fiction, was Lt. Steve Maryk right to save in a typhoon minesweeper USS Caine and all on her from the seemingly paranoid Queeg? Was Lance Corporal Dawson and PFC Downy guilty of murdering William Santiago with a “code red” or should they have submitted to Kendrick and ultimately to Colonel Jessup? Was Hawkeye Pierce right to have removed Colonel Lacy’s appendix in order to prevent him from needlessly sacrificing 20% of his soldiers on Hill 403? Although all fiction, these examples highlight complex ethical questions.

    And again, I find it simplistic not to distinguish subordinates from those in authority. In the case of Nero, even if he gets a pass as executioner, which I don’t believe he does, he is certainly guilty of ordering unjust executions. He may not claim he was merely obeying himself.

    Ron, I agree. It’s complicated. And sometimes it’s especially complicated for authorities who don’t know if Jesus is the Messiah, a rival monarch, or just one more ascetic preacher.​


    I am curious given things you’ve said. If you were locked up unjustly, would you get an attorney or would you suffer for righteousness sake, counting it all a joy? Let’s say you actually were breaking the law for faithfully teaching Romans 1:21ff. Would you object to individuals from your church “forming political action committees” so that you might be released, or the law you broke might be revoked?

    Ron, as a citizen, I’d do what Paul did. If not a citizen, I follow Peter. In either case, I take my lumps. What Jesus Did.​


    Thank you for that. So, as a citizen you’d want to be treated as such, just like Paul. Great. Me too. I’m just not sure that tells me whether after being struck for popping off you’d ever approve of “forming political action committees” either to (i) help ensure a speedy and just trial or else (ii) challenge the law on constitutional grounds. Surely you agree that a willingness to take one’s lumps does not in all cases require that one forgo trying to escape punishment. Or do you think a willingness to undergo persecution always precludes seeking release from prison through any means that resembles what you’d call a political action committee?

    If you were in a region from which you did not hail as a citizen, like Peter, can you imagine finding yourself in a situation wherein you might consider getting help from back home? Or do you think God’s word forbids non-citizens from trying to extricate themselves from hostile governments while overseas?

    Darryl, you’re frustrated with what can be a very frustrating church – a church that may very well have an unhealthy obsession with “my rights” rather than a devotion that would follow the downward trek of the Savior. To what I think is your point, we should all be willing to to be crucified upside-down. Even count it a privilege. So, I get in some sense splattering over the finer points of this discussion because of deficient thinking within the church. I just don’t think it helps your cause. You’re not being as effective as you might. For what it’s worth, this sort of paintball modus operandi didn’t help Doug Wilson whose main gripe, as I saw it, was with evangelicals who rejected the Reformed tenet that there is any ordinary way of salvation outside the visible church. In Doug’s effort to make that point without precision and greater care, he ended up collapsing his soteriology into his ecclesiology, undermining anything Reformed. My advice would be don’t make the same mistake. A little more nuance and occasional reiteration of your exceptions isn’t just for “world view types.” Clarity, especially for the sake of unity over truth, is always under good regulation.

    Ron, I took out the trash. Now I need to do it joyfully? Stop. It’s a blog.​

    [Even I know when someone isn’t interested in defending a position. The blog card. Right. Why didn’t I think of that?]
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  19. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    Having spent a considerable time following his blog (a number of years ago) I'd say that quote is an excellent summary of his philosophy. He should use it as his site's mast head.
  20. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    Of course Hart's blog has a certain tone and purpose that is not that of the systematic theology professor. However his blog is purpotedly a Christian blog. His purpose appears to be to offer direction and teaching to Christians and the church at large. His blog is not his classroom. He has a duty to the church to promote Biblical doctrine and godliness if he is going to take it upon himself to speak publicly on Christian things. The fact that he allows the sewer which is the comments section of his blog to carry on is enough to question the whole enterprise never mind what he himself actually posts.

    As to the post in question maybe he is technically correct, maybe he isn't. What is more concerning is that- again, having spent a good deal of time reading his blog and the comments in the past- one thinks he would have been quite happy with Nero's slaughter of the Christians because of their insubordination.
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  21. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    Would Tullian Tchividjian be considered R2K, particularly in making a cleft between grace and law? (Wish I could put that in the past tense, but he appears to be in the pulpit again.)
  22. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I have a blog that has dealt with Tullian and others concerning this stuff.


    I use to go back and forth with DG at one time on his blog. I like the guy. I would be able to sit down, imbibe, and share of bowl of Black Cavendish with him. I think he is a good clean example of Radical 2K advocacy (or as some would call it Natural Law Two Kingdoms). Either way it is Klinianism run a muck. He has also been called out for his interpretation of Machen. He interprets everything through the lens of his radical dichotomous views of Law and Grace which lead to his Radical 2 Kingdom conclusions. But I like the guy. He is fun.
  23. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    I sent him a bow tie once through a mutual friend. :)

    Here’s another interaction from another critical thinker.
  24. Nate

    Nate Puritan Board Junior

    Has anyone published a direct critique of R2K, or at least the WSC flavor of R2K?

    Elam and Van Kooten published a critique of Klinean Republication with their Merit and Moses. Has anyone done the same for R2K and/or what is being called here the WSC dichotomisation of law and gospel?
  25. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    Honestly I think he is just a rank antinomian. R2K at least makes the attempt to ground their understanding of the Law in the spirituality of the church doctrine. Ostensibly R2K should promote the use of the Law as regulative at least for the Christian. The problem is in practice I don't see that being the case beyond the most general application of the Law.
  26. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    Not that I'm aware of. The Bayly brothers on their blog interacted with it a lot a number of years ago (they could well be talking about it now). I don't know if you'd really want to go down that rabbit hole though. I think interactions with and critiques of Republication probably address some of the key presuppositions of R2K, indirectly at least. Although I don't know if Hart is a Klinean.

    I've always read R2K as more a sensibility rather than a fully fleshed out doctrine. A sensibility that is motivated by a sneering contempt for Fundamentalism (a number of the key R2K guys are ex-Fundamentalists) and a love for a lot of the things the world has to offer. In seeking Biblical support for this attitude they have adopted the spirituality of the church doctrine because of its pedigree and its association with the Southern Presbyterian church which, from what I understand, had a reputation as a very rigorous "truly Reformed" denomination which prized theological precision and didn't have the "pietistic" baggage of other Reformed denominations. (None of that is meant as a value judgment on any of those terms. Just reading it as I see it). Because these R2K guys have sought, since their conversion to Reformed theology, to be as Reformed as one can be they have attached themselves to what they consider the very essence of true Reformed Christianity: the Early Reformers and people like Machen. Their disdain for Puritan/Scottish experimental Christianity goes hand in hand with their views on these other matters.
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  27. BottleOfTears

    BottleOfTears Puritan Board Freshman

    If I recall correctly, on an episode of Vos Group, Two Kingdoms came up. I believe Dr. Tipton was appreciative of some 2K stuff, but he definitely wasn't as negative as a lot of this thread has been. That's rather confusing to me.

    This is a pretty serious accusation. Would you like to back it up in any way?

    In what way are these connected? I also think there is a difference between critiquing say modern evangelical pietism and critiquing the puritans, which seems to be a far more common theme in Michael Horton or RSC's works.
  28. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    Not as exhaustive as you might like but I’ve provided a couple of links below that might be of interest.

    Maybe keep in mind that because R2K is closely related to an over reliance upon natural law, to criticize the latter is to look unfavorably upon the former. That’s why these two critiques by Kloosterman and Frame of Van Drunen’s natural law gets into 2K considerations.


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  29. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    Hart's blog is full of glowing references to tv shows, films and other worldly culture. It's not just one or two references but habitual. One of his heroes is Mencken. Just go through his blog it is all there. I might also have suggested reading the comments of his followers but that is grim reading.

    I'm not saying that, for example, Clark is like that (though he's always talking about American Football) but Hart certainly is.

    They're connected because people like Hart think Puritan/Scottish Christianity is subjective and unReformed. They rarely make references to writers from those periods and when they do often the references are unfavourable. Whereas someone like Clark is forever referencing the very early Reformers as if they are the pinnacle of Reformed thought. Clark will jump straight from the 16th century to the 20th. Other than Boston I honestly can't remember reading any engagement by him with Scottish divines.

    It's an attitude which permeates them: anti-experimental religion (which they put under the banner of pietism) and a very lenient attitude to engagement with the world by Christians.
  30. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    This is slanderous (typical) nonsense.

    Clark's extensive quotations favorably reference a particular stream of Reformed thought, both from the Continent and the Isles, which extend into the 17th and 18th centuries. In other words, his is an argument of continuity, and one that does not aim at so broad an embrace as some others might like. Others who, in their own right, often draw such a line demarcating their full approval themselves, only further afield.

    In addition, Clark has numerous favorable references to the Marrow of Modern Divinity, which was opposed around the time it was republished (later annotated by Boston) as too experimental (among other things) by the legalist party. He has favorably quoted Seceders such as Ralph & Ebenezer Erskine.

    Legalists and moralists don't have title to experimental religion. Neither do antinominans. One of the chief questions is: what determines true piety? Clark et al argue for a particular form of Reformed piety, not Pietism. The form they argue in favor of is distinct from that which is influenced by revivalism and by certain streams of introspective Puritanism (which is a label, like "Evangelicalism" so broad as ordinarily to demand qualification of some kind).

    For his part, Hart is a defender of Christian liberty in an era that is both secularly licentious and reactionarily religiously moralist (outside the sphere where the church is just like the world). That is something he should not have to apologize for.
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