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Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms: A Study in the Development of Reformed Social Thought (Emory University Studies in Law and Religion) Paperback – December 30, 2009
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— Calvin Theological Seminary
“The strength of this book is the overwhelming amount of historical evidence, judiciously analyzed and assessed, that positions the Reformed tradition clearly in the natural law, two kingdoms camp. This valuable contribution to our understanding of the Christian life cannot and should not be ignored or overlooked. The growing acceptance of the social gospel among evangelicals puts us in jeopardy of losing the gospel itself; the hostility to natural law and concomitant love affair with messianic ethics opens us up to tyranny. This is a much needed and indispensable ally in the battle for the life of the Christian community in North America.”
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Top Customer Reviews
VanDrunen's best and most original contribution comes when he turns to the early American developments in Reformed social thought (Ch.6). Here VanDrunen focuses on a rather neglected aspect of the Reformed tradition. He shows the difference between the Puritan traditions with subsequent disestablishment traditions in Southern Presbyterianism, with particular focus on the much-maligned doctrine of the Spirituality of the Church. What makes this chapter so valuable is that VanDrunen argues that here the Two Kingdoms and Natural Law traditions finally receive their most consistent expositions. For those wondering how Two Kingdoms proponents can have diverted from Calvin, Turretin, the Puritans, etc...Read more ›
On the other hand, earlier Reformed writers recognized Jesus Christ as sovereign over his special kingdom, the church. The church is guided by the Bible as a whole, and enforces the will of Christ by its spiritual authority, not by physical force. Jesus, as Messiah and Mediator of the new covenant, is sovereign over this second kingdom.
According to this traditional understanding, the civil laws of the Old Testament were directed to national Israel under the theocracy. They were not intended for the other nations, nor are they applicable today, except as they are tied to natural law.
David VanDrunen believes that this traditional scheme is biblical and correct. He further demonstrates in this book that this was the view of mainstream theology in the church, from the times of the church fathers, through the Middle Ages, through the Reformation times, and since then through the nineteenth century.
However, in the last century many Reformed writers have attacked this position, and have taught in a single kingdom of Christ, denying the two kingdom and natural law teachings.Read more ›
Following the end of Scholasticism and subsequent demise of Modernism, natural law lost its street cred. Once upon a time the secular man on the street, as well as the ivory tower philosopher, assumed the existence of an objective natural order inherent in the universe and human nature that man could discover through the exercise of right reason, if not good conscience. Then along came the skepticism of David Hume and the hyper-skepticism of postmodernism, and the concept of an objective, discoverable, universal natural law became as outdated as phlogiston and spontaneous generation.
VanDrunen acknowledges the decline of natural law since its Scholastic heydays. He admits that "appeals to natural law actually made more sense in a pre-Enlightenment, pre-liberal Christendom context" and that "the present social context surely exacerbates the difficulty of constructing good natural law appeals." (Location 7134, 7141.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
You must have your mental climbing shoes on for this one. It is a very heavy read, however, the discussion is very thorough with much backing reference.Published on June 13, 2011 by Bernard H. Kamerman