Law, Wisdom, And Charity: Life In A Twofold Kingdom

Does recognizing that we live under God’s twofold kingdom somehow dispense with the moral law?

Yes, we do live in two spheres simultaneously but a believer is always under God’s moral law in both. As a citizen of the common sphere, under God’s sovereignty and authority, I am not free to enter into business relations that compromise my profession of the Christian faith. Obviously, Paul tells us that we’re not to “go out of the world” (1 Cor 5:10). We do to business in the common sphere with unbelievers but should we do business with notorious people? We have to buy milk from pagans. We pave roads in common with unbelievers but one usually has a choice whether to do business, to enter into a partnership, with a notorious person or business entity.

 

 

Under the subject line “2k” P writes,

If Abraham the sojourner had no trouble making secular deals with people in Canaan, why did he refuse the offer of possessions from the king of Sodom?

What would have been so wrong if the king of Sodom had made him rich?

Should I tell the man in my church who is about to close on a massive construction deal with Hugh Hefner — don’t do it — because Hefner might say, “I made that man rich”?

Hi P,

As I understand God’s twofold kingdom, that distinction gives us a way of analyzing problems but it is not as if there is a single twofold-kingdom answer on which every Christian will agree. After all, Luther held to a two kingdoms analysis of Christ and culture and Calvin taught a twofold kingdom and they came to different conclusions. American (post-1789) adherents of the two kingdoms disagreed with Calvin and Luther regarding the government’s role in establishing and maintaining orthodoxy as did Abraham Kuyper.

The question seems to assume that “if a twofold kingdom, then x.” If so, that logic is suspect.  My first instinct would be to read the narrative of Abraham and the king of Sodom (Gen 14:21–24)  in light of the progress of the history of redemption. Is the point of the narrative to teach us how to relate to the “kings of Sodom” in our lives? I doubt this is a good way of reading Scripture.  Rather, we should ask how this narrative fits into the larger story of Genesis.

What point is Moses making here? How does this narrative fit into the patterns (of sin and grace) evident in Abraham’s life hitherto and after? Abraham’s life does illustrate something of what it means to live in God’s twofold kingdom but I would be hesitant to draw straight lines from him to us because there is a discontinuity between Abraham, an actor in the canonical history of redemption, and our lives today. We are not actors in that story. We participate in it by faith (Heb 11), by identification with our forefathers in the faith but we live in the post-canonical world. We remember redemption. We benefit from redemption. We receive it by grace alone, through alone, in Christ the promised Redeemer, but we are not actors in that typological story leading up to the incarnation, obedience, death, and resurrection of Christ.

The question also seems to assume (please forgive me if I am drawing the wrong inference) that recognizing that we live under God’s twofold kingdom somehow dispenses with the moral law. Yes, we do live in two spheres simultaneously but a believer is always under God’s moral law in both. As a citizen of the common sphere, under God’s sovereignty and authority, I am not free to enter into business relations that compromise my profession of the Christian faith.

Obviously, Paul tells us that we’re not to “go out of the world” (1 Cor 5:10). We do to business in the common sphere with unbelievers but should we do business with notorious people? We have to buy milk from pagans. We pave roads in common with unbelievers but one usually has a choice whether to do business, to enter into a partnership, with a notorious person or business entity. I don’t know if I could say that it was sin but it might be.

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