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James Grant transcribes an exchange from this interview:

Question: One of the arguments out there by what I am going to call a "high two-kingdoms view," is that there is not a distinctively Christian way of doing "X" vocation, even that we should resist that because that would be to mix the kingdoms, and if you were to, for example (this would be the anti-Abraham Kuyper position), be a politician, your Christian thought should not come in. Could you interact with that a little?

Myers: First of all I would agree...I am a believer in natural law. Let me put it this way. Let me say for the sake of the argument that I'll agree with that, there isn't a distinctively Christian view of politics and art, or anything. But there is a distinctively human view; that is there are de-humanizing possibilities in those spheres; Christians we are necessarily humanists. That is, Christians are necessarily interested in sustaining the best for human beings as human beings.

Now, having said that, I also do believe that any effort to understand the human apart from Christ falls short. Not that it is wrong, but I do think that we only understand our humanity fully by understanding [Christ]...I think that the biblical account of life helps us understand our humanity. So I think there are insights into humanity that come from all sorts of cultural sources through general revelation, but I do think that there are correctives that Scripture offers to understanding our humanity that are just not available elsewhere. Again, that doesn't necessarily mean it is distinctively Christian.

Let me put it the other way. What does Paul mean when he says in Colossians 1 that all things are through him and for him and to him in. That whole passage, that whole hymn from Paul seems to be that creation cannot be properly understood unless you understand it in a Christocentric form. And I think that it has as much to do with Christ's identity as creator as it does Christ's identity as redeemer.

This is where I challenge my two-kingdom friends. I think there is a danger in two kingdom thought of separating Christ as creator and Christ as redeemer, at least more than the New Testament does. I think that the New Testament speaks, just as the Old Testament, about the identity of God as creator and redeemer in a non-modalistic way. God is both creator and redeemer at once, and Christ is both creator and redeemer at once. In fact, redemption is a recovery of creation; redemption is a restoration of creation. So I think that we need to be careful from separating creation and redemption too starkly.

So I would say that there ought to be a Christocentric politic and aesthetic. Christians will not be the only ones who can recognize properly human and hence Christocentric realities. I think that is what the Reformed idea of common grace means. That non-believers will have the capacity to see that because they perceive things that are built into the structure of creation, built in there by Christ. So there is no getting away from Christ.

I became excited by this when I read Colin Gunton, who points out that there has long been a tendency by Christians to view creation as Unitarians, in other words, an impersonal and non-Trinitarian view of creation. So we think that God the Father made everything, things got screwed up, God the Son came and paid the penalty, and God the Spirit comes along and affirms it. So there is a type of sequential Trinitarianism. But Scripture affirms over and over that creation is a Trinitarian act, and so we don't separate Christ from the fact of creation and the ordering of creation. To do that too starkly is to make a mistake.

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8 thoughts on “Ken Myers on Two-Kingdom Social Theory”

  1. Caleb Land says:

    “…but I do think that there are correctives that Scripture offers to understanding our humanity that are just not available elsewhere. Again, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is distinctively Christian.”

    What the… ????? Does anyone else feel like the AFLAC duck in the Yogi Bera commercial?

    We are corrected by scripture that we can’t get anywhere else but that is SOMEHOW not distinctively Christian?

    This position doesn’t work because it isn’t consistent.

    1. David Rogers says:

      The Scripture reveals that we are made in the image and likeness of God. We function in creation as sub-creators. This theological revelation is accessible for reflection even to those in Jewish, and possibly Islamic, traditions. This insight about humanity is of course fully understood in the revelation of Christ, but its Old Covenant revelation in Genesis does make it available for theological exploration distinct from the Christ revelation.

  2. David Rogers says:

    If Creation is a whole Trinitarian (Father-Son-Spirit; Creator-Redeemer-Sanctifier) act, what impact does that have on making hard distinctions between common grace and special grace. I’m not suggesting universalism in salvation but whether the so-called “common grace” distinct from salvific “special grace” might have more connect in enabling the lost to be able even in their lostness to respond to God’s grace and not just be condemned.

    1. David Rogers says:

      Is all grace (common or special) enabling?

  3. Bill Burns says:

    @Caleb – I have a feeling that your AFLAC! moment is the result of too closely parsing a transcription of an extemporaneous answer to a question. I listened to Myers’ interview when it was first podcast, and I tried reading the transcription carefully, but his meaning in the excerpted portion you’ve pasted from the transcription is simply not clear.

    Sorry to go all Bill Clinton on you, but it really depends on what the word ‘it’ refers to to make any sense. I have a feeling the phrase, “that doesn’t necessarily mean IT is distinctively Christian,” is a case of a thought not fully formed, and so not clearly expressed (emphasis mine -wtb).

    So I think you may have gotten hung up about something less important in Myers’ response to the larger question about the relative danger he sees in what the interviewer termed a ‘high two-kingdom’ view that there is no distinctively Christian way to be or do ‘X vocation.’ On that point, Myers’ answer seems perfectly clear. He agrees that there is a danger there, and yet is not saying that he’s entirely opposed to the valuable contributions of two-kingdom viewpoints, even ‘high’ ones.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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