Thursday, November 19, 2015

Refugees And The Twofold Kingdom - Or Worrying About The Theonomy Of The Christian Left

Rather than ping-ponging between the theocracies of the the Christian Left and Right, we should recognize that we live as Calvin wrote, in a “twofold kingdom” (duplex regimen). Surely we understand what that means differently from the way he did but it is a good and helpful distinction. It means that we have duties to both the civil magistrate and to the church. As members of the civil polity, which is best understood as a covenant of works, we ought to advocate policies that are for the welfare of all citizens. Those policies are best grounded in natural revelation, accessible to all who will use their senses and rational faculties. As members of the spiritual polity (represented by the visible church), which is a covenant of grace, Christians have a duty to show love and grace to those the civil magistrate admits to the protections of the republic. The United States is not a new incarnation of national Israel nor is it the church. It is a civil polity. As such it does things that the church cannot and should not do (e.g., bear the sword). The church is the Israel of God, in Christ. The church does what the state cannot do, namely show grace to the undeserving and to administer the keys of the eternal, spiritual kingdom.
It is not easy to know how to relate our duties to both realms simultaneously and faithful Christians will disagree but we have liberty to do so. One may think that it is good civil policy to admit Syrian refugees (e.g., to help defuse anti-Western sentiment in the Middle East) and another may think it foolish to admit thousands of refugees when it seems clear that doing that helped facilitate the recent attacks in Paris. Now we are having the sort of discussion we should: the proper application of wisdom and natural law to civil policy rather than a debate about who is or is not a faithful Christian using the machinery of the state to enforce their eschatology upon citizens who may or may not agree with them.
Read more at: Refugees And The Twofold Kingdom | The Heidelblog