Calvin And The Two Kingdoms: Calvin’s Political Philosophy In Light Of Contemporary Discussion -- By: Jeong Koo Jeon
WTJ 72:2 (Fall 2010) p. 299
Calvin And The Two Kingdoms: Calvin’s Political Philosophy In Light Of Contemporary Discussion
Jeong Koo Jeon is Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology at the Chesapeake Reformed Theological Seminary in Maryland and a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America.
Calvin’s concept of the “two kingdoms” has been very influential not only for the understanding of the relationship between church and state in the Reformed and evangelical traditions but also in western civilization as a whole since the Protestant Reformation in Europe.1
As we live in the Global Mission Age due to the development of science and technology through the benefits of God’s common grace, it is important to formulate and provide a biblical worldview not only for believers in the church but also for believers’ lives in the present world so that they may glorify God through all facets of their lives, expanding God’s kingdom throughout the world.
In this article, I will revisit Calvin’s concept of the two kingdoms in light of contemporary discussion. In doing so, I will attempt to comprehensively and critically evaluate Calvin’s view. Calvin understood and developed his concept of the two kingdoms in his own life through both religious and political contexts, which can be helpfully understood as a sixteenth-century form of European Christendom. Some scholars suggest that Calvin made a clear distinction between church and state in his analysis of political philosophy, which was interpreted and explained by the concept of the two kingdoms. For example, VanDrunen argues that Calvin’s political philosophy taught “clear distinctions
WTJ 72:2 (Fall 2010) p. 300
between church and state”: “In this article I discuss important aspects of Calvin’s view of church and society and explain how, contrary to what we would expect from a theocratic tyrant, his theology taught clear distinctions between church and state and advocated significant yet distinct liberties in both realms. Calvin’s legacy here has been profound and is still worth embracing today”2
However, it is my assessment that Calvin was unable to offer a clear distinction between church and state, even though it was his goal to do so through his analysis of the concept of the two kingdoms. His concept of the two kingdoms left out a tension, and provided a hermeneutical, theological, and practical ground for his followers to pursue the idea of the Christian state or theocracy which is the practical outcome of an amalgam of church and state.
I will argue that Calvin id...
Click here to subscribe