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Modern movements such as neo-Calvinism, the New Perspective on Paul, and the emerging church have popularized a view of Christianity and culture that calls for the redemption of earthly society and institutions. Many Christians have reflexively embraced this view, enticed by the socially active and engaged faith it produces. Living in God's Two Kingdoms illustrates how a tw Modern movements such as neo-Calvinism, the New Perspective on Paul, and the emerging church have popularized a view of Christianity and culture that calls for the redemption of earthly society and institutions. Many Christians have reflexively embraced this view, enticed by the socially active and engaged faith it produces. Living in God's Two Kingdoms illustrates how a two-kingdoms model of Christianity and culture affirms much of what is compelling in these transformationist movements while remaining faithful to the whole counsel of Scripture. By focusing on God's response to each kingdom--his preservation of the civil society and his redemption of the spiritual kingdom--VanDrunen teaches readers how to live faithfully in each sphere. Highlighting vital biblical distinctions between honorable and holy tasks, VanDrunen's analysis will challenge Christians to be actively and critically engaged in the culture around them while retaining their identities as sojourners and exiles in this world.


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Modern movements such as neo-Calvinism, the New Perspective on Paul, and the emerging church have popularized a view of Christianity and culture that calls for the redemption of earthly society and institutions. Many Christians have reflexively embraced this view, enticed by the socially active and engaged faith it produces. Living in God's Two Kingdoms illustrates how a tw Modern movements such as neo-Calvinism, the New Perspective on Paul, and the emerging church have popularized a view of Christianity and culture that calls for the redemption of earthly society and institutions. Many Christians have reflexively embraced this view, enticed by the socially active and engaged faith it produces. Living in God's Two Kingdoms illustrates how a two-kingdoms model of Christianity and culture affirms much of what is compelling in these transformationist movements while remaining faithful to the whole counsel of Scripture. By focusing on God's response to each kingdom--his preservation of the civil society and his redemption of the spiritual kingdom--VanDrunen teaches readers how to live faithfully in each sphere. Highlighting vital biblical distinctions between honorable and holy tasks, VanDrunen's analysis will challenge Christians to be actively and critically engaged in the culture around them while retaining their identities as sojourners and exiles in this world.

30 review for Living in God's Two Kingdoms: A Biblical Vision for Christianity and Culture

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    See Keith's Matheson's review here. While I appreciate Vandrunen's concern with legalism (as I appreciate the concern with human-centered effort to transform culture), some of the R2K arguments sound eerily similar to some of the we're-not-antinomian-but-seriously-stop-trying-so-hard messages of people such as Tullian Tchividjian and Barbara Duguid. See a helpful review here. Wilson critiques the R2K position here (May 2020). One positive Goodreads review actually said, "The problem with [a trans See Keith's Matheson's review here. While I appreciate Vandrunen's concern with legalism (as I appreciate the concern with human-centered effort to transform culture), some of the R2K arguments sound eerily similar to some of the we're-not-antinomian-but-seriously-stop-trying-so-hard messages of people such as Tullian Tchividjian and Barbara Duguid. See a helpful review here. Wilson critiques the R2K position here (May 2020). One positive Goodreads review actually said, "The problem with [a transformational approach] is that it's exhausting to redeem every square inch." Sounds about right, regarding the cultural war fatigue that I suspect is the real motivation for the R2K position. The aversion to power seems to come from a preference for being an armchair quarterback: It's too difficult to lead well, and it's much easier to remain in a position of perpetual "exile" or "pilgrimage." Political power and authority is terrifying to 2K folks, not because it's unbiblical, but because it's too much work/pressure/responsibility. It's difficult, although not impossible, to defend biblically based policies; it's easy to sit back and complain about how bad things are and how triumphalist certain Christians are.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Geoff Paulson

    I'm not surprised to see so many bad reviews for this book, many of which state the reason for the low rating was how much they disagree with the author! This book mounts a strong challenge and provides a worthy alternative to the established viewpoints on how Christians ought to live in and view this world. I've treated these viewpoints like fad diets in the past. From a theonomic postmillennialism heavily informed by Reconstructionism (truly, I thought, the only way one could be optimistic abou I'm not surprised to see so many bad reviews for this book, many of which state the reason for the low rating was how much they disagree with the author! This book mounts a strong challenge and provides a worthy alternative to the established viewpoints on how Christians ought to live in and view this world. I've treated these viewpoints like fad diets in the past. From a theonomic postmillennialism heavily informed by Reconstructionism (truly, I thought, the only way one could be optimistic about the world) Burned out by that I briefly dipped my toes into emergent theology before getting comfy in a modern, Kuyperian view. Suiting up to reclaim every square inch and redeem absolutely everything under the sun. The problem with this is that it's exhausting to redeem every square inch. Have you seen the world? It contains many square inches! Plus, as I actually began to read my Bible again it just didn't square with what I read. That I was a citizen of a kingdom not of this world, that we were to render unto Caesar what was his due and that God established government authority (the Roman Empire, to take historical context into account!). Just as alarming as what was written was what was absent. No calls to take over the government and establish temporal authority, No mandate to establish certain forms of economies or certain social programs. It seemed primarily concerned with the church and how Christians conducted themselves. The more I read and researched this, the more I realized how similar Reconstructionism, Kuyperianism and Emergent Theology were to each other. Each was its own brand of selective theonomy. This research also lead me to discover 2k (or R2K for the haters) theology and it lined up very well with what I had been reading in the Bible for myself. If you attempt to make everything sacred, nothing is. It is important to keep the sacred and the secular separated as we live in both. As I continued to research 2k the more it fit, even as I struggled with quandaries I challenged myself with. In a 2k view, after all, how could a Christian oppose, say, slavery on moral and religious grounds if that was in the domain of the secular? I wish I had read this book years ago rather than piddle around reading blog posts and posing hypotheticals to myself. Rather than puzzle over those few verses that challenged me, I could have read VanDrunen's readable but comprehensive survey of 2k that uses the whole of Scripture, from the Garden to the Second Coming. VanDrunen clearly displays the establishment of the two kingdoms through the Covenants God has created. the Covenant with Adam that he failed but Christ fulfilled (and we are not second Adams ourselves, meant to work on what Christ has already perfected). The Noahic Covenant which established the secular kingdom and the common grace we all enjoy, the Covenant with Abraham that established the Church, or the secular kingdom. This call to simple, humble, ordinary living as pilgrims on the way is a wonderful alternative to the radical, restless and transformative theologies that are so dominant. It provides a profound sense of comfort and rest, but not complacency. We can rejoice in our labor and gifts, but rest in knowing it's not up to us to somehow Christianize them. As R Scott Clark has said, if you don't think the magistrate should be executing heretics, you're some form of 2k. Despite protests to the contrary, I think many who oppose 2k agree with it much more then they let on. This reading of Scripture just departs from the theonomic, emergent or Kuyperian readings they're used to My only major complaint is the last chapter of the book, which considers the 2k perspective on education, vocation and politics. it was far too short to cover those three in the depth they deserve. Each could easily have been its own chapter, or own book. The chapter still covered the ground well enough, and even offered my favorite aside in the book, pondering if Christian Schools are usurping the Church's authority by focusing on chapel and piety when there is math and history to learn. I'd recommend this book to anyone tired of Facebook posts that uses selective verses haphazardly to promote their politics and virtue signal. We all have a natural tendency to want to wrap up our political beliefs with Scripture to prove our moral superiority while casting out the opposition as heretics. 2k theology provides a healthy antidote to using the sacred as a secular bludgeon. It's easy to see here on Goodreads just how fearful people are of that being taken away.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Josiah

    When I first picked up VanDrunen's book, I was hesitantly optimistic about his thesis. I had read a lecture by him before about the biblical foundation for civil government, and had appreciated some of his thoughts. So I was fairly open to his suggestions. His decision to lump Kuyperianism in with the New Perspective on Paul and the Emerging church in his introduction was alarming, but I was willing to hear his actual argument. 200 pages and 80 post-it notes of disagreement later, I'm genuinely c When I first picked up VanDrunen's book, I was hesitantly optimistic about his thesis. I had read a lecture by him before about the biblical foundation for civil government, and had appreciated some of his thoughts. So I was fairly open to his suggestions. His decision to lump Kuyperianism in with the New Perspective on Paul and the Emerging church in his introduction was alarming, but I was willing to hear his actual argument. 200 pages and 80 post-it notes of disagreement later, I'm genuinely confused about how anyone could find the biblical arguments for 2K-ism plausible--at least from the way that VanDrunen presented them. I mean, I get the appeal of 2K application, but the rationale for that application? I honestly don't understand it. After finding 80 separate places where I disagreed with the author, I could write for a long time about the various problems I've found in this book, but I've attempted to reduce my disagreements in the below section to a few main points. The Negatives First off, the way that VanDrunen deals with the "Two Adams" was pretty concerning. VanDrunen places a lot of emphasis on the cosmic aspect of the Fall--but seems to strangely ignore the primary effects of the Fall: the guilt that we all have and our need for a personal Savior. The primary tragedy of the Fall was not that Adam's cultural task was unfulfilled--it's that he rebelled and separated himself from God! VanDrunen's attempt to re-focus the salvation narrative on cultural tasks rather than on our personal sin and need for a Savior was therefore extremely concerning and undermined a large portion of his argument. Christ's coming obviously did influence how we are to interact with culture (see: Matthew 28); however, interpreting passages that are clearly dealing with Christ's victory over sin as really being about Christ fulfilling cultural tasks (as VanDrunen argues Hebrews 1:3-4 is) was concerning to me and an interpretation that I could not see justification for. (Page references: 47, 51, 55) Second, in VanDrunen's historical walk-through of the Old Testament, he very much seemed to interpret biblical passages with an agenda, instead of letting biblical passages set his agenda. When dealing with Old-Testament Israel, VanDrunen's argument seemed to basically be that Old-Testament Israel didn't fit well with his pre-determined thesis that Christians are ONLY sojourners into the land; therefore, it must not be relevant to the current discussion. This might work if not for the fact that this is a pretty biased look at the evidence. It honestly felt like VanDrunen was just trying to force these biblical passages to fit his thesis, instead of fitting his thesis to these biblical passages. On a side-note, his treatment of Daniel's work in Babylon was likewise confusing. VanDrunen claims that Daniel and his friends weren't trying to transform Babylon into a different society. But he conveniently ignores the fact that Daniel and his friends' influence made all the princes abstain from meat, convinced them to stop bowing down to idols, and even led to the king himself commanding all men to pray to the true God! VanDrunen tries to say that Daniel had to either serve Babylon, or try to transform it. But this kind of dichotomy is nowhere found in Scripture. (Page references: 88, 94-97) Third, VanDrunen's distinction between moral commands that are applicable to everyone, and commands that are only applicable to God's people was also very alarming. VanDrunen claims that some parts of God's moral law, such as the Sermon on the Mount, are only applicable to God's people and are not universal moral commands for all people. Even ignoring the fact that Jesus wasn't only teaching his disciples in this passage like VanDrunen claims (he was teaching the multitudes), this sort of dichotomy is an extremely dangerous dichotomy that has no foundation in Scripture unless you're willing to read things into the text (which VanDrunen, unfortunately, seems willing to do). There are no special moral laws that are only given to God's people. God's moral law is universally the same for all people. (Page references: 110, 166) Fourth, VanDrunen seems to believe in an individualized-interpretation of biblical wisdom which means that the Church should be silent on matters of Christian wisdom. VanDrunen argues that when the application of biblical teaching is a matter of discretion, that churches must be silent. And, to a certain point, I'm ready to agree with him. But VanDrunen defines "matters of discretion" way too broadly. Laws against abortion are not simply matters of "political analysis" and thus matters that churches should be silent on. While VanDrunen clearly argues that churches should oppose abortion as a moral sin, his argument that churches should be silent on it politically is honestly foolish. When you're arguing that laws against abortion fall into "matters of discretion," then we have a problem. (Page references: 185, 199-200, 203) Finally, VanDrunen doesn't seem to understand Kuyperianism. Apart from the fact that he lumps it in with NPP and the Emerging church movement, he also seems to think that Kuyperians want Christians to set up their own financial markets, view the church as secondary to the Christian life, think that pastors should tell business owners whether or not to fire difficult employees, and claim that Scripture instructs us on the technical aspects of our jobs. While I know in every movement you will have wacky extremes, deciding to only focus on those extremes in rebuttals is bad argumentation. As a result, I don't feel like VanDrunen made many solid argument against Kuyperianism that weren't just arguing against strawmen. (Page references: 122, 132, 163, 175, 178, 182) Some other final questions I had after reading this book: How can you interpret Romans 8 as the creation longing for its destruction?? How? Why is God's authority over the nations found only in Genesis 9 and not in the fact that God is the Creator and Ruler of the universe? God's authority over the nations did not begin in Genesis 9. Has VanDrunen spent much time in workfields outside the church to see how much certain fields are run contrary to biblical principles? VanDrunen claims that he's all for biblical principles being applied in our work, but he doesn't seem to understand how radical of a change that will make in a culture that's as corrupt as ours. Why is VanDrunen unwilling to acknowledge Christian influence in transforming the culture? In several places, but particularly in his section on education, he seems either ignorant of or unwilling to admit the huge impact that Christians have had in the rebuttal of modern education. What does VanDrunen think we'll be doing in heaven? If all our cultural acts are meaningless in the eternal perspective and there is no real continuity between the present earth and the new earth apart from our resurrected bodies (a view that few Reformed theologians hold to), what are we doing in heaven? Is it just an eternal Church service? Will we actually have work to do in Heaven? The Positives There are a few positive parts of the book. His chapter on the church was actually really good and I appreciated the emphasis he places on the primacy of the church. This primacy of the church is not a 2K-exclusive position, as much as VanDrunen may seem to think it is. But I did appreciate his thoughts on the importance of the Church to the believer. In addition, some of his warnings about Christians being too obstinate and legalistic about matters of discretion are warnings that certain conservative Christians need to hear. VanDrunen defines these matters of discretion way too broadly. But some Kuyperians do have a tendency to be less humble and more judgmental than they should in certain matters. Overall I expected that this book would help me appreciate the 2K position more. Instead, my opinion of 2K theology as a viable alternative to Kuyperianism has only fallen. Perhaps more biblically-reasonable defenses of 2K theology are out there. But this book most certainly is not one of them. Rating: 1 Star (Very Poor).

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bob Ladwig

    A presentation of natural law Christianity at the pop level. I am not a fan at all of the position that VanDrunen espouses here as a presuppositionalist. It is as Frame put it, "Amillennialism on steroids", Vandrunen focuses in on the sojourner texts as well as the idea that the "Kingdom is not of this world" and seems to say the kingdom of God is not in this world, and thus he fails to escape the charge of escapism. I also though his understanding of the progression of the covenants to be rathe A presentation of natural law Christianity at the pop level. I am not a fan at all of the position that VanDrunen espouses here as a presuppositionalist. It is as Frame put it, "Amillennialism on steroids", Vandrunen focuses in on the sojourner texts as well as the idea that the "Kingdom is not of this world" and seems to say the kingdom of God is not in this world, and thus he fails to escape the charge of escapism. I also though his understanding of the progression of the covenants to be rather shabby and borderline dispensational, as he pits the Noahic covenant against the Mosaic in order to derive his two kingdom idea. I just go back to our Lord's final marching orders, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, go therefore making disciples of the nations..." Much more can be said and if one wants an evenhanded critique of this book I'd recommend Keith Mathison's article where he essentially rips Vandrunen's arguments to shreds.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Wade Stotts

    Just awful. A theology of reformed cultural retreat. It's like dispensationalism got infant baptized. For a complete leveling of two kingdoms theology, check out this interview: http://www.ezrainstitute.ca/resource-... Just awful. A theology of reformed cultural retreat. It's like dispensationalism got infant baptized. For a complete leveling of two kingdoms theology, check out this interview: http://www.ezrainstitute.ca/resource-...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jacob London

    Say what you will about the book but there is no doubt that it will make you think deeply about the subject. There were some things I found concerning, other parts I found quite convincing. All I can say for certain is that this is only the beginning of my study.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Even though I've rated this book low, I agree with many of DVD's points. But there are many more that I disagree with and I found his applications to either be confusing or just plain ridiculous. To take just one example out of many, DVD says "...how much liberty do Christians really have when these topics [abortion, homosexuality, etc] become political controversies? To what extent are there 'Christian' positions on political questions such as abortion, such that the church might promote them a Even though I've rated this book low, I agree with many of DVD's points. But there are many more that I disagree with and I found his applications to either be confusing or just plain ridiculous. To take just one example out of many, DVD says "...how much liberty do Christians really have when these topics [abortion, homosexuality, etc] become political controversies? To what extent are there 'Christian' positions on political questions such as abortion, such that the church might promote them and one Christian expect another Christian to hold them? In my judgment, the general rule is that the church must teach--and Christians may hold one another accountable for believing--all that Scripture says about such topics as moral issues but should be silent about such topics as concrete political or public policy issues" (177; emphasis removed). This strikes me as absurd. Excuse me while I use an extreme example to illustrate my point: Suppose for the sake of argument that me and VanDrunen go to the same church. I start going around town telling everyone that I think VanDrunen's kids should be murdered and his wife abused because he's such a dummy. Could VanDrunen not approach the church elders about disciplining me? Of course. I'm confident that I would be called to repent and excommunicated if I didn't. Now what if I start going around town and telling everyone that I think, as a matter of public policy, VanDrunen's kids should be murdered and his wife abused because he's such a dummy. I even write up a bill detailing how it should be done. Well, now it looks like DVD can't bring his complaint to the church because the church should be silent about such topics, what with it being a concrete public policy issue. Christian liberty, right? Absurd. And if a bill was proposed to round up all Jews and send them off to concentration camps and murder them then, Christian or not, it seems obvious that all persons have a responsibility to vote against it and any Christian who didn't vote against it should be called to repentance by their church officers for being complicit in murder (or attempted murder assuming it didn't pass) and excommunicated if they were obstinate. Same with bills that advocate murdering children. VanDrunen also criticizes labeling certain activities "Christian," but I find his criticisms here to be misguided, or else directed at a fringe group that is hardly representative of what most people mean when they talk about doing something in a "Christian way." When we consider what most "transformationalists" mean by this term they seem to mean the *same thing* that DVD says when he makes the following kind of statements: "Christians should seek to live out the implications of their faith in their daily vocations" (12). "I hope to provide encouragement to ordinary Christians--to ordinary Christians who work, study, vote, raise families, help the poor, run business, make music, watch movies, ride bikes, and engage in all sorts of other cultural activities, and who wish to live thoughtful and God-pleasing lives in doing so" (21). Apparently, DVD thinks that we can ride our bikes in a "thoughtful and God-pleasing" way. But I don't see how this is less "Christian" than seeking to play football in a God-pleasing way (in his book "Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms" DVD criticizes neo-Calvinists who look for a "Christian" way of playing football. If DVD just doesn't want to slap the label "Christian" onto Christians riding bikes in a "thoughtful and God-pleasing" way then fine... he can call it whatever he wants, but it still looks the same to me. The fact is, atheists aren't riding their bikes in this way and therefore, despite the fact that we are doing the same activity, there is a sense in which we aren't doing it in the same way. DVD basically admits this but offers specific defense of his position in chapter 7. I didn't find any of it convincing. He ends by saying that he finds calling certain cultural activities Christian to be confusing and unhelpful. Frankly, I think that's because he is caricaturing the way most "transformationalists" would understand the term and I found his own discussion here unhelpful. But laying out his argument and then laying out my response would make this a very long review, so I'll just leave it at that.

  8. 5 out of 5

    J. Rutherford

    One of the most important theological and pastoral issues today—and throughout Church history—is the so-called "Christ and Culture" debate, or how do Christians and the Christian Church relate to the unbelieving World and institutions that are not the church. A dominate stream among Reformed and Evangelical Protestantism today is "Transformationalism" or Niebuhr's "Christ the transformer of Culture," the view that Christians are called to transform unbelieving culture into a Christian culture of One of the most important theological and pastoral issues today—and throughout Church history—is the so-called "Christ and Culture" debate, or how do Christians and the Christian Church relate to the unbelieving World and institutions that are not the church. A dominate stream among Reformed and Evangelical Protestantism today is "Transformationalism" or Niebuhr's "Christ the transformer of Culture," the view that Christians are called to transform unbelieving culture into a Christian culture of some sort. Over against this trend, there has been a resurgence of Two-Kingdoms or "Christ and culture in paradox." Meredith Kline and Westminster Seminary California have been particularly associated with a Reformed two kingdoms theory. In his book Living in God's Two Kingdoms, (I read the Logos edition, which was of good quality except for several paragraphs of text where the footnote was transposed into the body, near the end of the book) David VanDrunen of Westminster California presents a relatively up-to-date defence of this position (published 2010). VanDrunen offers a careful and clear presentation of the doctrine, so the volume is a helpful contribution for the student, pastor, or scholar seeking to understand the main argument for and implications of the Reformed Two Kingdoms doctrine (R2K). Even for the reader who does not sympathize with this position, there are insights to be gleaned; VanDrunen's analysis of the ethic of the Sermon on the Mount as an inversion of the lex talionis, instead of giving proportionate retribution it is rendering proportional kindness and mercy in response to injustice, is profound: "When the citizens of heaven refuse to retaliate against an evildoer, but instead endure the second evil themselves, they are a living exhibit of the gospel" (111). However, as for the proposal itself, VanDrunen fails to convince on several grounds. After summarizing the book and VanDrunen's argument, I will then offer an evaluation of VanDrunen's R2K proposal. Summary In the first chapter, after discussing the Christ and culture debate, he defines culture as he will use employ it: "In a book such as this, I do not use the term 'culture' in an overly precise or technical way. I use it primarily to refer to the broad range of activities—scientific, artistic, economic, etc.—in which human beings engage" (32). The following six chapters are divided across three parts. The first part, chapters two and three, sketches the biblical-theological context for the Two Kingdoms doctrine, focusing on the contrast between the first Adam and Jesus Christ, the second Adam. These two chapters have a significant role in his case for the R2K doctrine. His argument here is against the continuing cultural mandate, a transformationist teaching. He argues that Adam's task was probationary, to keep and guard the garden as a test to see if he will inherit the "world-to-come." Because Jesus Christ fully succeeds in Adam's task, securing the world-to-come for Believers who are found in Him, there is no task left to accomplish. The rest in the world-to-come that was Adam's ultimate destiny—which he failed to attain—is attained by us in Christ. Therefore, the mandate is no longer valid. For this reason, there is no specific, redemptive task involving general "cultural" duties. This is primarily a negative argument: if the cultural mandate is not in place, Transformationism is false. The second part, chapters four and five, go through the Old and New Testament, showing how the two kingdoms play out across the Testaments. He argues that there is a spiritual antithesis in play, an essential Reformed doctrine, but contends that this antithesis does not override the cultural commonality ordained in God's common kingdom. The common kingdom is grounded in God's covenant with Noah. This covenant concerns cultural activity, not religious activity, which is associated with God's redemptive covenant. This latter covenant is instituted with Abraham and concerns salvation, "opening up the gates of the world-to-come" (84). The common kingdom is governed by God through nature (e.g. 153-154, 168), (Cf. VanDrunen, A Biblical Case for Natural Law, 37-39) the redemptive kingdom is ruled by God through His verbal revelation. In the Old Testament, we see the two kingdoms doctrine working out in Abraham's life, Israel's life outside the land, and Israel's exile in Babylon. Within the land, there is only the redemptive kingdom. In the New Testament, the exilic or sojourner theme in 1 Peter, Hebrews, and elsewhere demonstrates the continuity between these experiences. The third part, chapters six and seven, zooms in to consider the concrete application of the two kingdoms for the Christian life. VanDrunen argues that Christians should do not have distinctly "Christian" vocations and do not engage in "redemptive" work. Common kingdom work is blessed by God but has no enduring significance, so we live within this kingdom in a "detached" manner. Education is another instance of a common kingdom endeavour. VanDrunen argues that politics is a common kingdom matter; Christian can participate in government, military, or law enforcement. VanDrunen argues that the Bible gives five general principles concerning government by which Christians ought to conduct their common kingdom lives. VanDrunen's main focus in this chapter, however, is the Church. He argues that the primary referent of the Church in the New Testament is the local Church gathered (116, 132-135): "I distinguish between the work and life of the Church and the work and life of individual believers (or groups of believers) as they make their way in this World. Believers and groups of believers do not constitute 'the church' in everything they do." (117) "Participation in the life of the church, not participation in the cultural activities of the broader world, is central for the Christian life" (133). (Cf. "Bearing the Sword in the State," Themelios 34:3, pg. 329-331) He argues for the ministerial authority of the Church and the regulatory principle of worship. - See my full review at https://teleioteti.ca/?p=4058 (as of 8:00 pst, May 11)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Maria Copeland

    This was entirely an academic read, and I can only recommend it as such -- if at all. I went into Living in God's Two Kingdoms expecting to agree with some of the foundations of Two Kingdoms theology and find the applications off; and I came out feeling I could approve some of the applications but finding the theological principles severely concerning. Admittedly, I didn't know that much about the idea to begin with, given that I've only been familiar with it for about a month since an intense a This was entirely an academic read, and I can only recommend it as such -- if at all. I went into Living in God's Two Kingdoms expecting to agree with some of the foundations of Two Kingdoms theology and find the applications off; and I came out feeling I could approve some of the applications but finding the theological principles severely concerning. Admittedly, I didn't know that much about the idea to begin with, given that I've only been familiar with it for about a month since an intense and chaotic discussion about it with friends. (On our own, we came up with the exact example VanDrunen outlines regarding a 2K perspective on abortion and the church -- cheers!) Perhaps it's a little early to entirely discount any merit to the 2K argument, but if VanDrunen is the leading proponent and this book a primary document of this theological branch, then I think it's a sound conclusion, however hasty. To begin with, for a book that draws such a sharp distinction between cultural activity and the Christian identity, this work -- and the Two Kingdoms ideology, by extension -- essentially makes cultural activity the basis for the Christian identity. I thought VanDrunen raised interesting points about the implications of God's commands to Adam, but I disagree with his emphasis of it as solely a "cultural mandate" and his argument that Adam's failing lay in his neglecting to carry out such a mandate. VanDrunen's case includes no reference to personal sin and our need for a personal Savior, but rather states that Jesus is a second Adam because he carries out the "cultural tasks" the first could not. Worldly achievements, therefore, become the basis for the separation for the "Two Kingdoms" -- the common kingdom and the kingdom of heaven. Nowhere is Adam's disobedience of God's law and consequent disruption of his relationship with God addressed as key to Jesus's redeeming work. As a result, it is our cultural efforts and actions which take center stage in our relationship with God, where according to VanDrunen we are not obligated to make an effort to "redeem" our contemporary culture but rather to examine how to live as Christians within it. It's a timeless issue well worth discussing, how Christians should handle what VanDrunen describes as conflicting ideas of antithesis and commonality -- the great difference between Christians and non-Christians, but the fact that believers and non-believers alike interact and engage in similar behaviors as long as we are together in this world. I just don't think the 2K perspective succeeds at all at addressing it. I suppose if the point of any work in the world is earning your redemption, then it's unnecessary given what Christ has done; but why exactly should social action be considered an attempt at securing God's mercy? (I do need to better comprehend the preservation vs. redemption debate before I can fully articulate all of my issues with the idea, but that's about the size of it.) Finally, to praise the organization and articulation of VanDrunen's argument seems questionable given the faults I've found with it, but for what it's worth -- the author is a solid writer and has a couple of strongly expressed phrases that I agreed with. One or two. I also found myself agreeing with much of what he says regarding the church. (As for the abortion debate, though, I wouldn't say I'm entirely sold. Perhaps telling the congregation from the pulpit to vote for or against a certain bill isn't part of a pastor's duties, as VanDrunen argues. But calling out abortion, which is very much an issue of policy as it is morals, seems fitting to me.) Regardless of whether you advocate the 2K perspective, understanding the importance of the church is fundamental to the Christian faith. This review may be a work in progress, depending on what I discover next. Always up for a new discussion on this subject now.

  10. 4 out of 5

    John Dekker

    This book is a defence of the "Two Kingdoms" view of how Christians are to live in this world and relate to the surrounding culture. VanDrunen argues against the idea that legitimate cultural activities are redeemed through the gospel. Whereas Al Wolters wrote a very helpful book called Creation Regained, VanDrunen sees his position as being "Re-Creation Gained": "Our cultural activities do not in any sense usher in the new creation. The new creation has been earned and attained once for all by C This book is a defence of the "Two Kingdoms" view of how Christians are to live in this world and relate to the surrounding culture. VanDrunen argues against the idea that legitimate cultural activities are redeemed through the gospel. Whereas Al Wolters wrote a very helpful book called Creation Regained, VanDrunen sees his position as being "Re-Creation Gained": "Our cultural activities do not in any sense usher in the new creation. The new creation has been earned and attained once for all by Christ, the last Adam" (p. 28). VanDrunen does not believe that the creation mandate of Genesis 1:26-28 still applies to Christians today; instead, Jesus has fulfilled Adam's obligations on our behalf (p. 50). Christ "does not restore us to Adam's original task but takes us to where Adam was supposed to arrive" (p. 59). VanDrunen sees Christians and living in two kingdoms, each ruled by God. The first he calls the "common kingdom", and includes every human being. This is regulated by the covenant with Noah in Genesis 9, but not, for example, by the Ten Commandments. The second he calls the "redemptive kingdom", and is to be identified with the church: "the church is the only institution or community in the present world that can be identified with the kingdom proclaimed by Christ" (p. 101). This is virtually the Roman Catholic view, although VanDrunen later clarifies this by saying that the church is not identical to the kingdom (p. 116). "Identified with" but not "identical to" is, however, a rather subtle distinction. VanDrunen concedes that "the New Testament does not say explicitly that God still rules the broader cultural life of this world through the Noahic covenant," (p. 118) but suggests that "it does not have to" since it was to be a perpetual covenant: "while earth remains" (Gen 8:22). VanDrunen labours under the disadvantage of being forced to invent terminology: the Bible never refers to the "common kingdom". In practical terms, this means Christians should not try to "take over" or "take back" politics or education (p. 125). Instead, we should see ourselves as exiles, just like the Israelites in Babylon. VanDrunen writes very well, and his writing is saturated with Scripture. I appreciate his emphasis on the uniqueness of Christ and his high view of the church. Were it not for some obvious drawbacks, I would have been convinced of his view. Firstly, VanDrunen virtually ignores the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20). There, Jesus instructs his disciples in a way that is reminiscent of God's words in Genesis 1:26-28. Now it's quite clear that VanDrunen doesn't view it as supplementing or expanding the creation mandate, but it's disappointing that he does not deal with the text at all. The clear link between creation mandate and Great Commission is a significant argument against VanDrunen's thesis. Secondly, in regards to education, VanDrunen argues that theology is the province of the redemptive kingdom, and all other areas of study belong to the common kingdom (p. 174). This does not account, however, for subjects on the borderline, such as church history. Is this something the church can teach, or not? It appears that VanDrunen's distinction between the two kingdoms may be rather artificial. Individual parts of this book are, however, excellent, and I can endorse many of VanDrunen's conclusions while disagreeing with his thesis. For example, he rightly points out that "the church, acting officially through its deacons, has authority to do only the kind of diaconal work that Christ, speaking in Scripture, authorizes it to do" (p. 157). I can agree with that, precisely because I see a distinction between church and kingdom: there are works of service and cultural activities that constitute kingdom work but not church work. The church should focus on the ministry that Christ has specifically called her to do, but the work of Christians (both individually and in groups) goes far beyond that. Living in God's Two Kingdoms almost persuaded me, but not quite.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Smith

    I really enjoyed reading this book, and I think Christians would do well to consider its arguments even if they don't end up agreeing with the conclusions. VanDrunen is an excellent writer in my estimation, mostly because I appreciate his style: sections begin with a short preliminary roadmap of the arguments ahead, detailed arguments are formed in the middle, and a short piece concludes each section to restate the main points and important conclusions. I suppose that this is a common way to wri I really enjoyed reading this book, and I think Christians would do well to consider its arguments even if they don't end up agreeing with the conclusions. VanDrunen is an excellent writer in my estimation, mostly because I appreciate his style: sections begin with a short preliminary roadmap of the arguments ahead, detailed arguments are formed in the middle, and a short piece concludes each section to restate the main points and important conclusions. I suppose that this is a common way to write, but his execution is better than that of many other books I have read where it is easy to get lost in the argument and its contribution to the entire thesis. VanDrunen is writing to assert the Reformed Two Kingdoms (R2K) perspective, which advocates a Christian approach to culture that is joyful, but measured. In our vocations and activities, we are to honor God and participate in common activities with humility, diligence, and dignity, but we are also to do so with a detachment and a preference for that which is "above." In the introduction, VanDrunen notes that his view concerning culture is an alternative to the "transformationist" perspective found among Neo-Calvinists, those like NT Wright who believe in the New Perspective on Paul, and the Emerging Church. While Neo-Calvinists might strenuously object to being included in that list, the point of connection, according to VanDrunen, is their belief that our current cultural activities will be redeemed, which I think may be shortly summarized by the statement, "All cultural labor is kingdom work" (19). This assertion is fundamental to the disagreement between this view and the R2K view. In direct contrast to a transformational model of eschatology, VanDrunen’s argument for the complete end of the present natural order on pages 66-71 is really helpful in my opinion. His argument harmonizes well with my reading of the New Testament. From 2 Peter 3, it does seem that our cultural works experience the same destruction as the rest of the natural order when it is dissolved by fire. Paul's teaching repeatedly emphasizes the temporary nature of that which is below, part of what VanDrunen calls the common kingdom, and the surpassing value of that which is heavenly, or part of what VanDrunen calls the redemptive kingdom. Finally, our Lord compares the days before his next coming to those before Noah had completed the ark, where people are engaged in regular cultural activities until all of it is radically swept away. The point of continuity between the current natural order and the new creation is the believers of the redemptive kingdom, who will receive new bodies and participate in the perfect world-to-come, thus fulfilling the destiny that should have been attained by the first Adam, according to VanDrunen's argument, but was actually purchased by the second Adam in his perfect life, death, and resurrection for all those He came to redeem. At this point, VanDrunen moves to a biblical overview of how God's people approach cultural activities in a world marked by sin. This involves lengthy discussions about biblical covenants, which I think are some of the highlights of this book. The main point is that, while living in this world, believers are to live in spiritual antithesis while sharing cultural commonality with their neighbors. The redemptive kingdom began in the covenant of grace and was formally established by the Abrahamic Covenant, which will reach final fulfillment in the world-to-come. Until that time, the Church, VanDrunen argues, is the penultimate fulfillment of the redemptive kingdom. The key point made here is that it is only the church that may be identified with the kingdom of God. The Church has been given "the keys of the kingdom" and lives in purity according to the ethic prescribed by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. I found pages 103-106 to be particularly encouraging as it relates to the Church and the promises that belong to her. While the Church has specific aims under the direction of her Lord, individual Christians participate in the world under what VanDrunen has named the "common kingdom." While the "redemptive kingdom" was formally established in the Abrahamic Covenant, the "common kingdom" was formally established in the Noahic Covenant. God relates to all people, believers and unbelievers alike, in the common kingdom according to his promises in the Noahic Covenant. One of the implications of this is that believers are supposed to participate with unbelievers in common cultural tasks until the present world comes to an end. VanDrunen observes that this covenant does not make promises to or demands of the redeemed specifically, but rather this covenant is made to all mankind. There is a considerable amount of weight placed on this covenant, since the basis for the common kingdom rests on relatively few verses. It is my understanding that this has been a primary source of criticism, which should be considered thoughtfully as well. However, I do think that VanDrunen provides quite a few good biblical examples to show how this principle plays out according to God's will. For one, it is really helpful to see the stark contrast between the redemptive kingdom and the common kingdom in the Babylonian captivity. In Babylon, the principles of R2K are illustrated by God’s command for Israel to seek the welfare of their pagan captors’ city, because in so doing they would find their own welfare as well, even though they were promised to return to their land in a short time thereafter. Though they are being oppressed and living as exiles, they were to engage in the daily life of their present location away from their homeland. Daniel and his friends are perfect exemplars of this principle. The New Testament designates believers as sojourners, and thus this type of approach, though not necessarily directly parallel to our current situation, is to mark contemporary Christian cultural engagement. Christ is Lord of both kingdoms, but he relates to both of them differently according to different covenants. The order of the present age for believers is governed by cultural commonality and spiritual antithesis with those in the common kingdom. Even if you don't agree with this model for Christian engagement with the world, all Christians would benefit from his discussion about the Church. Life in the Church is the Christian’s primary responsibility and focus. We should not get too caught up in the things of the common kingdom at the expense of the things of God in the Church. Corporate worship is mandated by God and particularly honors him, so we should place substantial importance on our activities in our local churches. One part of the book that really interested me comes when VanDrunnen objects to the way modern Christians so willingly participate in common kingdom activities on the Lord’s Day. He has some fairly convincing Sabbatarian objections to our behavior, and I think it is good to think about. In the discussion of the Sabbath, there was an amazing part where he discusses the Sabbaths and the Jubilee and how these types are fulfilled in Christ. It's really beautiful to think about and reinvigorated my love for the Bible. In addition, the points about the spirituality of the church and the magisterial authority of the church were really helpful and need to be clarified in the church today. Christians should be careful to recognize that other Christians have liberty where Scripture does not speak, and church leaders should not bind consciences on issues that are not directly spoken to in Scripture. We should be very precise to maintain biblical distinctions of authority. Although I really enjoyed reading this book, I have to say that I was disappointed with the treatment of political questions. I think the Bible speaks more to our common actions than he is giving credit for. Members of the redemptive kingdom are to live righteous and holy lives even in the common kingdom, which he rightfully asserts as well. Christ is Lord in all circumstances. While it is valuable and true to say that Christians have spent too much time, effort, and energy conflating particular political programs with faithful Christianity, I don’t think he sufficiently proves his point that there are many political positions even for the most substantial moral questions that may be held by faithful Christians in honest disagreement. The issue of abortion and civil justice left too many questions unanswered in my mind. In our voting or political activity, is it possible that we are “giving approval to that which is evil”? How does he deal with complicity in evil? There is grave concern in the church today, particularly among Black brothers and sisters, that the Church has abused doctrines such as the "spirituality of the Church" to remain silent on issues pertaining to justice in society. How should a church respond to justice issues under the R2K paradigm? He may have good answers to these and many other questions, but the principles he provides are so limited and provide such broad ranges of interpretation that almost any Christian could appeal to liberty in any situation involving politics. It doesn’t really resolve any conflict, but just asserts that the conflict can exist. This is a good corrective for many circumstances, but I hesitate to say that it should apply to all questions. Overall, this book has a lot going for it, and I really did enjoy reading it. I intend to read more of his writing to understand his positions in greater detail. Though I may not agree with all of his positions or in his wide extensions of the Noahic Covenant, I still think this book is helpful to read and can be very encouraging to all Christians. There are many faithful criticisms, and these should be considered as well, including Keith Mathison's, which I would recommend reading on Ligonier's website.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nathan White

    As the subtitle states, this book concerns Christianity and culture. But specifically, Dr. Van Drunen intends to respond to the popular 'redemption/redeeming culture' or transformationalist movement in Christianity today. This movement seeks to 'redeem' culture for the glory of God, transform society through social work, seeing all of life as 'kingdom duty' for the Christian, etc. (Personally, I have been influenced by some of this teaching through my reading -and normally, enjoying of- NT Wrigh As the subtitle states, this book concerns Christianity and culture. But specifically, Dr. Van Drunen intends to respond to the popular 'redemption/redeeming culture' or transformationalist movement in Christianity today. This movement seeks to 'redeem' culture for the glory of God, transform society through social work, seeing all of life as 'kingdom duty' for the Christian, etc. (Personally, I have been influenced by some of this teaching through my reading -and normally, enjoying of- NT Wright, Tim Keller, and others within that circle.) To this, Van Drunen has authored a devastating critique. As one who has sat under him at Westminster Seminary, his writing very closely resembles his lectures. The book is very carefully written, and his argument is very firmly rooted in scripture after scripture. He is gracious in frequently mentioning the positive impact of such teaching (such as how it has properly exposed escapism, a Christian's seclusion from society, etc.), but his general thesis is going to be pretty difficult to assail. I found it eye-opening, challenging, and an enjoyable read altogether. But with all of that said, here are a few critiques, though nothing that keeps me from giving it 5 stars: 1) It is repetitive at times. He repeats the terminology so many times (ex: 'common kingdom') that it becomes a bit annoying for the reader. 2) He makes a number of giant theological leaps throughout. Almost all of them I agree with (more on this below), but the average reader is going to be left scratching their head. It seems as though it is best geared towards a seminary audience or someone who has had formal training of some sort in biblical interpretation. So it is not a real accessible work. I understand that this isn't meant to be a full treatise, but some people are going to read and walk away unconvinced because he just doesn't provide enough evidence in this work for some of his theological conclusions. 3) Theological inconsistencies as a paedobaptist. Now understand, I love my paedobaptist brothers. I am a Baptist that attends a paedobaptist seminary. I don't at all mind when an author talks about paedobaptism. But in this book, there were points where his paedobaptism was clearly inconsistent with his thesis. In fact, a light dawned as I read it, understanding now why so many paedobaptists are so vehemently critical of him and 2KT. I'll just mention two for the sake of space: first, his entire argument is built on the fact that the Noahic covenant governs the common kingdom while the Abrahamic covenant governs the redemptive kingdom (the church). He repeatedly, again and again and again, goes back to the Abrahamic covenant in explaining how it is both different than the common kingdom as well as different from the temporary Mosaic institution. That is, that the church now, in the Covenant of Grace, is modeled after the Abrahamic covenant. But he never deals with the fact that there are 'common' and/or Mosaic elements in the Abrahamic covenant (such as, the land promised to Abraham, and of course the physical children). He would've been much better of demonstrating how it is the NEW covenant that stands in contrast with the Noahic covenant of common kingdom. Here, in my opinion, he seriously hurt his overall thesis. Some of the conclusions he draws by appealing to Abraham are glaringly inconsistent, even though I agree with his conclusions (just not all his reasoning for them based upon the Abrahamic covenant!). Another area of inconsistency is when he clearly identifies families as part of the 'common kingdom'. To see him try to dance around that and still argue for infant inclusion in the redemptive kingdom was a bit amusing. This point is another glaring inconsistency, in my opinion. Marriage, families, having children, are part of the common kingdom, and yet infants of believers are baptized? And this based upon the Abrahamic covenant which is the redemptive kingdom? This was hard to accept. But all in all, as long as the reader is aware of these things, I highly recommend this book. One of the very best I've read on the issue!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Philip Bunn

    I gave this book two stars instead of one because it does a reasonable job of summarizing the two kingdoms approach to the life of the Christian. However, if it was intended to be an apologetic for the position, it was relatively unsuccessful. First, a significant part of VanDrunen's argumentation rests on portions of scripture to which he grants inordinate and dubious theological significance. His reliance on the Noahic covenant, for example, as a proof-text for the existence of his version of a I gave this book two stars instead of one because it does a reasonable job of summarizing the two kingdoms approach to the life of the Christian. However, if it was intended to be an apologetic for the position, it was relatively unsuccessful. First, a significant part of VanDrunen's argumentation rests on portions of scripture to which he grants inordinate and dubious theological significance. His reliance on the Noahic covenant, for example, as a proof-text for the existence of his version of a "common kingdom" seems to have as little New Testament support as anything he critiques. Another example is his use of the books of 1 Peter and James to suggest that all Christians are refugees and exiles in diaspora. This would make more sense if the passages he quoted weren't addressed to specific groups of Christians who were actually in physical exile, and actually dispersed because of persecution. Nothing in the passages he quotes suggests that Christians will always and forever be in exile in the so-called "common kingdom" until Jesus decides to actually begin reigning on the earth. Second, VanDrunen's suggestion that only matters within the sphere of the church have the significance of being involved in the Kingdom of God seems to miss the notion that all things are under Christ's feet. Not only are we to do all to the glory of God, but Christ is currently, actively sovereign over all things, both in the church and outside of it. To suggest that the work of the Christian plumber, while significant in some pragmatic capacity, is only only less significant than church work but completely INSIGNIFICANT to Christ's kingdom is just baffling to me. If this is the extent of the 2K position, it grates against me strongly, and doesn't seem to mesh with the scripture I am reading. Third, VanDrunen never considers what would happen in a community that experienced great revival for Christ. What happens if, after you've finished the kingdom work that happens exclusively within the confines of our churches, our obedience to the Great Commission actually DOES disciple the nations? What if they are actually taught to observe all the things that Jesus commanded them? What would that look like? Of course, VanDrunen cannot consider this possibility, because all Christians are perpetual exiles and refugees. They could never have victory prior to the new creation, or live in a community that consisted predominately of believers. Nonsense. Finally, VanDrunen dances around the issue of natural theology without ever actually getting into specifics. If the rulers of the common kingdom are indeed obligated to enforce justice, as VanDrunen suggests, this drives us to consider the definition of justice. Of course, if Christianity is true, all else is false, and justice is reflective of the nature and will of God. Anything that does not conform to his will and nature is not just. This means that all men in the common kingdom are obligated to obey God! How, then, can the common kingdom be obligated to obey God when it is not part of his kingdom? What does it look like for the common kingdom to enforce God's justice? What does it look like for a Christian to enforce God's justice in the civil realm, or can he really even do that? After all, Mr. Christian is an exile and a refugee. He has no business telling men in the common kingdom that they are specially obligated to God. They can work all that stuff out on their own. Ultimately, VanDrunen's 2K theology is theologically untenable and pragmatically unworkable. At the end of it all, I'm still a stubborn transformationalist.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Joel Arnold

    This is a very readable book with a fairly thought-provoking message. The book is clearly intended as a polemic for transformationalists in the Niebuhr / theonomic postmillenialist mold. VanDrunen separates all of life and cultural engagement into two kingdoms. The common kingdom is shared between believers and unbelievers (what we would typically call "culture") and the redemptive kingdom is the purview of believers alone. Overall, this is an excellent starting point for combatting the transforma This is a very readable book with a fairly thought-provoking message. The book is clearly intended as a polemic for transformationalists in the Niebuhr / theonomic postmillenialist mold. VanDrunen separates all of life and cultural engagement into two kingdoms. The common kingdom is shared between believers and unbelievers (what we would typically call "culture") and the redemptive kingdom is the purview of believers alone. Overall, this is an excellent starting point for combatting the transformationalist view. On the other hand, dividing life into separate spheres runs the risk of (1) implying cultural issues are more neutral than they actually are. Depravity fills and affects every part of life. (2) Might imply that life in the "common kingdom" is somehow separate from who we are as believers. Still, I enjoyed this book greatly because it caused me to think about these issues more than I had in the past. I look forward to further ruminations. Thoughts from Brian Collins: I'd list the following as strengths: Emphasis on the pilgrim character of God's people in the present evil age. We're sojourners, not transformers. His emphasis on the church as central to God's plan for this age. The call for modesty in claiming that certain ways of living are "the Christian way." and the following as weaknesses: reducing the creation mandate/blessing to the probationary test of Adam (as well as some odd statements about the imago dei). attempt to ground two kingdoms in the Noahic and Abrahamic covenants. Not exegetically convincing.  his identification of all culture with Babylon and the related insistence that redemption is replacement rather than restoration of creation. the minimization of the antithesis that exists between Christians and non-Christians in parts of the cultural realm. 134-35 - "Some people today, with pious intentions, assert that all of life should be worship to God... but Scripture also speaks of a special activity that is more properly deemed "worship." 136-41 - good discussion of the theology of the Lord's Day. 149 - it has always been tempting to associate the church with a given nationality or people group or culture. Christians from anywhere in the world should be able to say amen to anything done in an American service. We should not confuse our Christianity with Americanism. 151 - the church should constantly ask itself whether it is taking on tasks that properly belong to civil institutions. The church is really a civil institution. 155 - helpful reminder that a church leader has a responsibility to not teach more specifically than Scripture itself does, even when attempting to be "practical."

  15. 4 out of 5

    Christopher M.

    This is one of those books that I wish I had read years ago. VanDrunen's vision (which, I think, is really the Bible's vision) for Christianity's relationship with culture is formed out of some very simple, common-sense principles. Because of Adam's rebellion and through God's covenant with Noah, there is a common kingdom in which all people live, work, learn, coexist. And because of the covenant with Abraham, which was fulfilled in Christ, there is a redemptive kingdom which exists (already) in This is one of those books that I wish I had read years ago. VanDrunen's vision (which, I think, is really the Bible's vision) for Christianity's relationship with culture is formed out of some very simple, common-sense principles. Because of Adam's rebellion and through God's covenant with Noah, there is a common kingdom in which all people live, work, learn, coexist. And because of the covenant with Abraham, which was fulfilled in Christ, there is a redemptive kingdom which exists (already) in seed form, in anticipation of its (not yet) culmination at Christ's return. VanDrunen expertly and clearly traces these two kingdoms through biblical and human history, describing their implications for believers who are simultaneously citizens of both kingdoms. A cursory understanding of Covenant Theology is helpful when reading this book, but not necessary. The views are never presented recklessly, and VanDrunen (appropriately) errs on the side of Christian liberty where Scripture is silent. The book presents a response to the "cultural transformation" or "redeeming culture" perspectives of what he terms the New Calvinism, the Emerging Movement, and the N.T. Wright/New Perspectives on Paul group. It also has words for the Religious Right and Fundamentalist groups, views in favor of withdrawing from culture, and those who support establishing a Theocratic government. Both "liberal" and "conservative" perspectives find a needed corrective in the Two Kingdoms doctrine, where neither kingdom is over-extended or under-emphasized. I would recommend this book to ANY Christian. The vision contained may seem very difficult to achieve given the current American milieu and the seemingly paradoxical relationship between Christianity and culture. Regardless, these perspectives, I believe, should give the church a needed attitude adjustment. An understanding of what these kingdoms are and how they function could have saved me (and a lot of people I know) a great deal of confusion growing up.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mike Jorgensen

    I've wanted to read this book for a long time because I've dwelled for far too long amongst the ignorant when it comes to the Reformed two kingdom debate. First the positives. He is articulate, readable, and for the most part very charitable to those with whom he is writing against. I do not think he always understands his opponents, but he always makes an effort to. As I read this, especially the final section, I understood why it is so appealing. It is much easier on the Christian conscience t I've wanted to read this book for a long time because I've dwelled for far too long amongst the ignorant when it comes to the Reformed two kingdom debate. First the positives. He is articulate, readable, and for the most part very charitable to those with whom he is writing against. I do not think he always understands his opponents, but he always makes an effort to. As I read this, especially the final section, I understood why it is so appealing. It is much easier on the Christian conscience to make a clean break between church and culture. I think this book would influence quite a few people (especially millennials) if it reached them. After reading this I can confidently say that I disagree with his use of scripture, theology, and conclusions. There are very few times when reading a book where I have to vent to someone about my frustration, but this was one of them. His misunderstanding of the opposing side and consistently poor use of scripture are maddening. It should be noted that the seminary I attend is deeply entrenched in the opposite side of this debate so I am not a neutral party although I tried to give it a charitable read. In the end I did learn quite a bit and in terms of how the book is written in terms of clarity, biblical faithfulness (in its aim), and theological coherence it deserves three or four stars. However, since I could find so little common ground with his views and was met with constant frustration I can't give it more than two.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jeanie

    How do Christians live in a culture that has a world view instead of a bibical view on topics of education, marriage, abortion, and work. Mr. VanDrunen starts a foundation in the covenants with God and his people. The covenant with Noah established a covenant with mankind that is practiced by all, a form of government, a form of education, a form of marriage. I appreciated the fact that how as Christians we must be careful not be dogmatic on issues that are not clear in the bible. Such as educat How do Christians live in a culture that has a world view instead of a bibical view on topics of education, marriage, abortion, and work. Mr. VanDrunen starts a foundation in the covenants with God and his people. The covenant with Noah established a covenant with mankind that is practiced by all, a form of government, a form of education, a form of marriage. I appreciated the fact that how as Christians we must be careful not be dogmatic on issues that are not clear in the bible. Such as education. However, as parents we are ultimately responsible for our children's education. We just cannot expect others to feel the same way. Whether we homeschool or elect public education. I found it interesting in the area of politics how as christians, we push the Kingdom of redemption on those that are not receptive to the kingdom of God. The Kingdom of Redemption is the completion of the Abram's covenant thru Jesus Christ. The read is more about learning the difference of mankind's covenant thru Noah and the redemption covenant finished with Jesus. I did find it informative and realized that there is more to learn and ponder living in two different cultures that clash. What is my response and to have an educated reponse in crucial.

  18. 5 out of 5

    John Yelverton

    Though I fully understand the author's premise, he is failing miserably in his presentation in two areas. First, he draws lines two separate some things that should never be separated. Second, he fails to account for what should happen should a country or community attain universal Christendom, thus negating all lines in the first place. It is this isolationist theology that has quite frankly led to the sad state of the church today. Though I fully understand the author's premise, he is failing miserably in his presentation in two areas. First, he draws lines two separate some things that should never be separated. Second, he fails to account for what should happen should a country or community attain universal Christendom, thus negating all lines in the first place. It is this isolationist theology that has quite frankly led to the sad state of the church today.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sean Crowe

    Was looking for a good explanation of 2K theology. If this is it, I am definitely not a 2k theologian. The book was well-written and well-organized but because I did not agree with the authors primary premise (i.e. the Noahic covenant governs the common kingdom), I did not agree with his arguments or conclusions.

  20. 5 out of 5

    John Knox

    A good introduction to two kingdom theology. It won't be the final word on the subject, and it is a topic that VanDrunen continues to work on. You might not agree, but it's a good place to start in the ongoing debates. A good introduction to two kingdom theology. It won't be the final word on the subject, and it is a topic that VanDrunen continues to work on. You might not agree, but it's a good place to start in the ongoing debates.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Justin Daniel

    The premise of the book rests on the idea first of Adam: Adam had a very particular task when God set him and Eve up in the garden. Adam was given a cultural mandate for the common kingdom. Now, his particular job was in the absence of sin. When sin entered in the world, everything was tainted, even human culture. This is important to understand because as Dr. Vandrunen points out in the beginning of this book, there has been a cry from neo-orthodox and emergent theologians that are calling for The premise of the book rests on the idea first of Adam: Adam had a very particular task when God set him and Eve up in the garden. Adam was given a cultural mandate for the common kingdom. Now, his particular job was in the absence of sin. When sin entered in the world, everything was tainted, even human culture. This is important to understand because as Dr. Vandrunen points out in the beginning of this book, there has been a cry from neo-orthodox and emergent theologians that are calling for a reformation of culture. They argue that we are to set right every wrong that is committed in this world by infiltrating the government and other man-made institutions to change the culture. The argument that Dr. Vandrunen makes is a call back to a biblical understanding of culture and worldview.. and it’s very intriguing. Dr. Vandrunen argues that God made a covenant with Noah that formally began the idea of man-made institutions: the institution of man or the common kingdom. This includes the government, the family, etc. With the covenant with Abraham, God formally began the institution of what would later become known as the Church, or the redemptive kingdom. You can see the dichotomy of the “two kingdoms”: the institutions of man and the institutions of God. This two tiered system is very helpful when looking at the claims of the neo-orthodox and emergent theologians. We are not here to continue Adam’s work: it ended with Adam and the rise of sin in a fallen world. Today, the institutions of man are very important. They are the basis of civilization in government and the basis of the nuclear family. With government comes certain conditions that direct behavior and condemns injustice among other things. In the Church, we understand that there are restrictions on what we can and cannot do not just from government, but also from the moral law of God. For instance, there is no law for prohibiting the definition Jesus gives us of what adultery is; in the Church, this is considered a sin that needs to be repented of. Also within the Church, we understand that if one were to break a law that the government has instituted, after repentance and paying your due diligence to the state (in the form of a fee, prison/jail time, etc.), there is forgiveness and grace in that. While the state says “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” the Church signals that grand refrain, “amazing grace, how sweet the sound.” The redemptive kingdom is also unique in that it is the only kingdom in where salvation is offered. The state can’t save you; neither can the family. Only through the atoning work of Jesus Christ can save and therefore, the sound of the “redemptive kingdom” becomes so much more clear. Dr. Vandrunen makes 3 points at the very end of his book about how this affects our relationship with education, vocation, and politics. I liked the chapter on politics best. I think as Americans, we’ve been inundated with this idea that we need to change the political landscape to a “Christian nation.” The political landscape is important and I believe Christians have a duty to vote and elect (and even run for office) people who agree with the Christian worldview and on issues that are important to Christians (like religious liberty). But at the same time, we can’t go too far to claim that we are or were ever a “Christian nation”; to say this would be to impose the redemptive kingdom onto the common kingdom, something that really hasn’t been done since the theocracy of Israel. We are not a theocracy, nor will we ever be. Does that mean we don’t elect Christians or that we abstain from the voting process altogether? Certainly not. What it does mean is that the cultural mandate given to Adam was fulfilled in Christ and until He sets up His kingdom, the world will never be right. A word of caution to those with a theological background.. this is a reformed look at culture and worldview, and it comes from a covenant/amillennial position. While I am grateful for Dr. Vandrunen producing this work, I do not entirely agree with him on all points. I do like the idea and I’ll be looking forward to studying it more in the coming days.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Brandon

    In this book, Dr. VanDrunen seeks to argue for his famous (or infamous) “Two Kingdoms” approach to the relationship between Christianity and Culture. He does so in a way that clearly explains the approach, the issues that relate to it, and his reason for doing so in terms so simple that your average layman could understand it. In this book, Dr. VanDrunen highlights three main strands of Transformationalism he is responding to: the Emergent Church, the New Perspective on Paul, and Dutch Neo-Calvi In this book, Dr. VanDrunen seeks to argue for his famous (or infamous) “Two Kingdoms” approach to the relationship between Christianity and Culture. He does so in a way that clearly explains the approach, the issues that relate to it, and his reason for doing so in terms so simple that your average layman could understand it. In this book, Dr. VanDrunen highlights three main strands of Transformationalism he is responding to: the Emergent Church, the New Perspective on Paul, and Dutch Neo-Calvinism. Much of his argument relies on Covenant Theology, from which he does a good job at explaining why a consistent Protestant soteriology would reject Transformationalism and a consistent view of the Noahic Covenant and Covenant of Grace would lead to a Two Kingdoms view. Far from caricatures that have been made of this book, Dr. VanDrunen doesn’t teach total withdrawal from the world. In fact, many portions of this book seem like they were also written as a response to Monasticism and Retreatism. Similarly, though it has been accused of such, this book doesn’t teach that our works in the Common Kingdom don’t matter, but rather provides a framework for believers to act within the Common Kingdom in a way that is consistent with out status as sojourners and exiles. Dr. VanDrunen gets one major thing right in this book that a lot of Practical Theology/Christian Living literature gets wrong. He lets his Systematic Theology and his Biblical Theology inform his Practical Theology. In a time where we often let the tail wag the dog (that is, let Practical Theology inform Systematic and Biblical Theology), it was a breath of fresh air to read Dr. VanDrunen rightly order the relationship between these three. Chapters 6 and 7 are really the pinnacle of the book: the point every other chapter is building up to. In chapter 6, Dr. VanDrunen discusses the Church’s role. I must also commend this book for its heavy emphasis on the local church. Dr. VanDrunen summarizes it in the book, “Many [books about Christian living] seem to treat the church as of secondary importance for the Christian life and the various activities of human culture as where Christianity is really lived. In this book, I defend the opposite position. The church is primary for the Christian life. Every other institution - the family, the school, the business corporation, the state - is secondary in the practice of the Christian religion.” I think this is a rightly ordered approach. In chapter 7, Dr. VanDrunen discusses “Education, Vocation, and Politics”. He does so in a way that emphasizes the role Christian liberty and wisdom in these areas, demonstrating that Christians can act differently from one another in each of these and not be in sin. In an age where Cultural Custodianship seems to be the default view of the goal of the church, I recommend this book as a good response to this common error.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Donald Owens II

    A fuzzy-headed flirtation with liberalism, defending relativism, and denying that Christ is actually king of anything but the church. If all authority in heaven AND earth has been given to Christ, if in Christ are all the treasures of wisdom AND knowledge, and if we are to take EVERY thought captive to the obedience of Christ, then VanDrunen is full of it. If the 2K theory weren't taken so seriously by so many, I would brush it off as an insignificant grab for press, sure to die a quick death. T A fuzzy-headed flirtation with liberalism, defending relativism, and denying that Christ is actually king of anything but the church. If all authority in heaven AND earth has been given to Christ, if in Christ are all the treasures of wisdom AND knowledge, and if we are to take EVERY thought captive to the obedience of Christ, then VanDrunen is full of it. If the 2K theory weren't taken so seriously by so many, I would brush it off as an insignificant grab for press, sure to die a quick death. This is one of those books that I constantly wanted to chuck across the room. My copy now has full margins, and as I read it became clear that a long, careful, review was in order. Having finished it and checked out some other reviews, however, I see that others have done the job more thoroughly than I have time to do. There are just a few things that I think should be added to the critiques I've seen. 1. Reasonable? VanDrunen absolutely slaughters logic, especially in his circular argumentation, his false dilemmas, and his flagrant equivocations. This book is populated with more straw men than Zhuge Liang's fleet. If his gross misrepresentations of his opponents are unintentional, he is too ignorant to be talking in public. If they are intentional, he is too dishonest to be paid any attention whatever. This is a sad commentary on what it takes to be licensed as an attorney these days. It is astonishing how many readers mistake this for sound, careful reasoning. What do they teach them in these schools? 2. Biblical? His supporters like to claim he quotes too much scripture to be wrong, forgetting that the devil can quote scripture too. There is a difference between frequent citation and carefully exposition, and DVD is maddeningly deaf to context, and blind to biblical themes. 3. Charitable? I have seen his critics concede that he is charitable to those he is attempting to answer. I can't imagine why. What is charitable about misrepresenting your opponents? The closest he gets to charitable is to occasionally cop a patronizing tone. No, David VanDrunen has not represented or answered my position charitably. 4. Reformed? I am not surprised at how many Baptists have lauded this book; it is essentially repackaged dispensationalism, and by pushing the family out into the "common kingdom", he has effectively removed any rationale for paedobaptism. All in all, a sad distraction to have to be dealing with in an era with so much real work to be done. I hope it passes quickly from the scene.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Peter Bringe

    A rather disappointing book with an unsatisfying account of the biblical narrative. Dr. VanDrunen argues against a distinctively Christian approach to culture. He argues that Christians are distinguished by their subjective motive, rather than objective standards, and the salvation they have in Christ does not lead to a transformation of culture. He argues that this creation and earthly culture was never designed to be humanity's lasting home, but rather a place of testing. Human culture on this A rather disappointing book with an unsatisfying account of the biblical narrative. Dr. VanDrunen argues against a distinctively Christian approach to culture. He argues that Christians are distinguished by their subjective motive, rather than objective standards, and the salvation they have in Christ does not lead to a transformation of culture. He argues that this creation and earthly culture was never designed to be humanity's lasting home, but rather a place of testing. Human culture on this earth was a test, and now that Christ has passed the test for us, culture no longer has any connection to the future state. It is a temporary thing that is necessary for the preservation of human life until the elect are gathered. Thus, he would deny that we should speak of the "redemption" or "restoration" of culture or creation. To summarize from my paper I wrote from class, I would argue that, first, Christians are objectively distinct in their cultural activities. Christians are set apart by having unique access to God’s written law and the orientation towards obedience (Deut. 4:5-8; Matt. 5:13ff). Second, I would argue that the creation and its culture is good and lasting; to be purified not replaced. Psalm 104 is an account of God’s glory in creation, and it ends with “Let sinners be consumed from the earth…” (Ps. 104:35). Rather than the earth being destroyed and replaced, the godly desire is for it to be purified of sin. Third, I would argue for an approach that gives a place for human agency in the advance of the kingdom. To say that Christ has subjected the world does not mean that we have no role in subduing the world to His lordship. For example, VanDrunen notes that “We have not been commissioned to conquer the devil; Christ has already conquered him” (p. 62). But actually, we have been commissioned to do that by virtue of Christ’s victory (Luke 10:17-20, Rom. 16:20). We share in His mission by virtue of our union with Him. Christ is King, but His reign is realized as His church disciples the nations to observe everything that He commanded. VanDrunen does make a number of clarifying remarks throughout the book that make his position more balanced, but I still find it unconvincing. I did find some of his comments helpful though. For example, his careful delineation of the limited nature of the institutional church is helpful to keep the institutional church from becoming a different kind of institution.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    VanDrunen’s book is a concise look at Two Kingdoms theology. He is mostly addressing the concerns of what he calls “neo-Calvinism” or the creation-redemption doctrine favored by Kuyperians and Al Wolters. While VanDrunen makes many good points, many of which I think those more sympathetic to the creation-redemption doctrine could agree with, his polemic is not sufficient. VanDrunen roots his argument in Pauline theology of Old Adam/Last Adam language. For VanDrunen, Jesus is the last Adam, and as VanDrunen’s book is a concise look at Two Kingdoms theology. He is mostly addressing the concerns of what he calls “neo-Calvinism” or the creation-redemption doctrine favored by Kuyperians and Al Wolters. While VanDrunen makes many good points, many of which I think those more sympathetic to the creation-redemption doctrine could agree with, his polemic is not sufficient. VanDrunen roots his argument in Pauline theology of Old Adam/Last Adam language. For VanDrunen, Jesus is the last Adam, and as such we (the church) are not new Adams. We do not take up Adam’s original vocation as given by God. Because Jesus has already accomplished this work on the cross, we are liberated from that impossible task and are simply called to a life of obedience to Jesus until death or his return. This argument also stems from his reading of the Adamic covenant which infers that Adam’s original calling was always meant to be temporary. If Adam had obeyed God perfectly, he would have been rewarded with eternal rest in the new heaven and new earth. But after the Fall, God begins his long plan for redemption of people, not creation, and establishes two kingdoms by two covenants. The first is the common kingdom as defined by the Noahic covenant which promises that God will preserve the natural order for all people, believers and unbelievers. This order includes common institutions like marriage, civil government, and economics. The Abrahamic covenant institutes God’s divine kingdom with a particular people and promises salvation for them alone. To this he gives very specific authority to the church. As such, the common kingdom and the divine kingdom have specifically defined roles and should never appropriate from one another. In many ways, VanDrunen is persuasive. His point is incredibly liberating for the individual Christian which he demonstrates by applying Two Kingdoms theology to three hot-button issues: education, vocation, and politics. But in the end, he inadvertently creates a sort of dualism that is problematic. I fear it creates a too insular church that spurns a missional focus clearly given by Jesus and to ancient Israel before that. I appreciate VanDrunen’s contribution but I want to read more before I’m willing to be convinced.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Timothy

    I've read many of the reviews of this book, and it seems people give "stars" on the basis of their personal alignment with the author's points. That seems to negate the quality of the author's arguments. In addition, since this is a book purporting to base arguments on the Bible, we must evaluate on the basis of its dependence on the Word. Having said this, I gave this book four stars not because I agreed wholeheartedly with the book, but because I was challenged in my thinking of biblical passa I've read many of the reviews of this book, and it seems people give "stars" on the basis of their personal alignment with the author's points. That seems to negate the quality of the author's arguments. In addition, since this is a book purporting to base arguments on the Bible, we must evaluate on the basis of its dependence on the Word. Having said this, I gave this book four stars not because I agreed wholeheartedly with the book, but because I was challenged in my thinking of biblical passages and overarching themes in the Bible. Personally, I have not disagreed so much with a book and yet also, at the same time, heartily affirmed many of its points. I found this book challenging and refreshing. I still do not agree with certain assumptions the author makes (and some points I heartily disagree - like when he talks about children of believers being baptized. I'm a Baptist, so. . .). I also am still contemplating his foundational arguments regarding Adam and Sabbath rest. In addition, I think sometimes he draws too strong of lines where there may need to be "dashed lines." Finally, in his final chapter, I felt he moved too quickly in his arguments or even his illustrations (especially regarding the issue of abortion). But his points were still understandable if you listened in the context of the entire book. Personally, I loved the book for its challenge and encouragement to get back in the Word and to live in this world as a sojourner and exile. His desire that people simply appreciate the world and love people while working alongside of unbelievers is refreshing to me. He seems to keep the Bible and the reality of a fallen-yet-God-created world in view.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jon Pentecost

    Living in God's Two Kingdoms tries to present an answer to how Christians should think of their responsibilities in this world. VanDrunen is responding to visions of 'redemptive work' and culture-shaping that were particularly in vogue ten years ago (including neo-Calvinists and Emerging Church types). But the book is useful beyond that particular debate, as he establishes an argument for how Christians should think of their life in this world--as citizens of two kingdoms: God's rule over all hu Living in God's Two Kingdoms tries to present an answer to how Christians should think of their responsibilities in this world. VanDrunen is responding to visions of 'redemptive work' and culture-shaping that were particularly in vogue ten years ago (including neo-Calvinists and Emerging Church types). But the book is useful beyond that particular debate, as he establishes an argument for how Christians should think of their life in this world--as citizens of two kingdoms: God's rule over all humanity, and his rule over his redeemed people. VanDrunen's drumbeat throughout is that in matters of work, politics, and cultural engagement, Christians have freedom to have different approaches, as long as they are seeking to work with integrity and faithfulness. This point is the most helpful aspect of the book. His concluding chapters on the Church and Education, Vocation, and Politics are very useful in applying this notion of Christian liberty in these matters to central components of life. His initial biblical theology, explaining the progression of covenants is helpful, though it feels rushed. As a slight critique, I think he makes a little too hard of a distinction between the Noahic covenant and the other covenants, which he then builds his argument for understanding a hard differentiation between the common Kingdom and the heavenly kingdom. Overall, I was helped by the book. I recommend it if you're wanting to think through more big-picture questions about Christians and work.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Karisa Totah

    Living in God’s Two Kingdoms is a book my husband and I have been reading together slowly but surely since last May. We finally finished it in January. The highlight for me from this book was the solidified mindset shift from... ...everything I do as a Christian is building God’s Kingdom on earth (including secular tasks) TO ...there are common kingdom (created order) mandates and tasks AND there are redemptive kingdom (the church, etc.) mandates and tasks. They’re both good, God honoring, and wor Living in God’s Two Kingdoms is a book my husband and I have been reading together slowly but surely since last May. We finally finished it in January. The highlight for me from this book was the solidified mindset shift from... ...everything I do as a Christian is building God’s Kingdom on earth (including secular tasks) TO ...there are common kingdom (created order) mandates and tasks AND there are redemptive kingdom (the church, etc.) mandates and tasks. They’re both good, God honoring, and worth while, but not for the reasons I have often heard. I won’t go into further explanation/clarification cause the book does a much better job of it than I could do in an IG post if at all. But I did find this book very interesting to engage with and would for sure recommend it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Davalos

    VanDrunen does a wonderful job of presenting his argument clearly, and his applications at the end are a helpful corrective in favor of Christian charity. I just happen to disagree with his premise. I’m glad for this book, though, as it presents the most winsome version of two kingdom theology I’ve seen. Still, I take issue with his characterization of one kingdom theology as downplaying justification. I do not believe that subscribing to a still-relevant cultural mandate somehow weakens Christ’s VanDrunen does a wonderful job of presenting his argument clearly, and his applications at the end are a helpful corrective in favor of Christian charity. I just happen to disagree with his premise. I’m glad for this book, though, as it presents the most winsome version of two kingdom theology I’ve seen. Still, I take issue with his characterization of one kingdom theology as downplaying justification. I do not believe that subscribing to a still-relevant cultural mandate somehow weakens Christ’s federal headship. I also wonder if VanDrunen would argue that postmillenialism is the necessary eschatological vision for us 1K folk. He never says it outright, but he does tend in that direction.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Steve Frederick

    Vandrunen is helpful in sounding a warning about much of the loose language about us ”redeeming” creation. In that he has rightly identified a genuine error! However, his solution bares little to no resemblance to the reformers (Calvin, Luther, Hooker) doctrine of the ”Two Kingdoms” and effectively requires you to take on his covenant theology, and equate the Noahtic Covenant (not created order) as equivalent if the State, and the Abrahamic Covenant as an equivalent of the Church. This has numero Vandrunen is helpful in sounding a warning about much of the loose language about us ”redeeming” creation. In that he has rightly identified a genuine error! However, his solution bares little to no resemblance to the reformers (Calvin, Luther, Hooker) doctrine of the ”Two Kingdoms” and effectively requires you to take on his covenant theology, and equate the Noahtic Covenant (not created order) as equivalent if the State, and the Abrahamic Covenant as an equivalent of the Church. This has numerous ecckesiologicak and Christilogical problems.

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