Blog

  • The Two Kingdoms: A Guide for the Perplexed

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    The Two Kingdoms: A Guide for the Perplexed

    What does it mean to live as citizens of this world and of the world-to-come? How can we render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s? In recent years, fresh controversy has erupted over these age-old questions, and especially over the meaning and relevance of the Reformation’s “two-kingdoms” doctrine. At stake in such debates is not simply the shape of Christian politics, but the meaning of the church, the nature of human and divine authority, and the scope of Christian discipleship.

    In this concise guide, Reformation scholar and Christian ethicist Bradford Littlejohn first sketches the history of the doctrine and clears away common misunderstandings. He then shows that the two-kingdoms doctrine can offer a valuable framework for thinking about pastoring, politics, and even financial stewardship.

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  • For the Healing of the Nations: Essays on Creation, Redemption, and Neo-Calvinism

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    For the Healing of the Nations: Essays on Creation, Redemption, and Neo-Calvinism

    The doctrine of creation is obviously one of the first things, but it is also one of the last things since the world to come is also, by definition, creation. The simple truth that it is so is incontestable since neither the world to come nor those whose dwelling it is built to be are God. But the way in which this is so is the subject of a long, long debate in Christendom, with the question of whether and in what degree the life to come is continuous with this one. How common is the “thing” in “first thing” and “last thing”?

    Our answer to this question conditions our answer to many others: the relationship of philosophy to theology, of the church to the saeculum, of the kingdom of Christ to the visible church. This volume brings together the careful investigations of established and emerging historians and theologians, exploring how these questions have been addressed at different points in Christian history, and what they mean for us today.

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  • Natural Law: A Brief Introduction and Biblical Defense

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    Natural Law: A Brief Introduction and Biblical Defense

    As Christians, we affirm that Scripture is our supreme guide to truth and righteousness. Some wish to go further and assert that it is our only guide. But how then can we account for the remarkable insight and moral integrity that many unbelievers seem to display? Indeed, how to account for the myriad ways in which believers themselves navigate the world based on knowledge and intuition not always derived from Scripture?

    Enter the doctrine of natural law. Frequently misrepresented as an assertion of the autonomous power of human reason or as a uniquely Roman Catholic doctrine, natural law has actually been an integral part of orthodox Christian theology since the beginning, and is even clearly asserted in Scripture itself.

    In this brief guide, David Haines and Andrew Fulford explain the philosophical foundations of natural law, clear up common misunderstandings about the term, and demonstrate the robust biblical basis for natural law reasoning.

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  • For Law and for Liberty: Essays on the Transatlantic Legacy of Protestant Political Thought

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    For Law and for Liberty: Essays on the Transatlantic Legacy of Protestant Political Thought

    For the Reformers, their 17th-century successors, and indeed thoughtful Protestants right up through the last century, the vocations of minister and magistrate may have been strictly separate, but the accomplished theologian was usually a master of jurisprudence and political philosophy as well. Many wrote classic treatments in both the fields of theology and law, with a keen sense of both the distinctions of these disciplines and their unity. Today’s Protestants are rarely so fortunate, with most evangelical engagements with political theology betraying a painful naiveté and a profound historical myopia.

    Together, the essays in this volume challenge us to recognize the breadth and depth of our heritage of Protestant political wisdom, and the complexity and contingency of civic life to which its principles must be artfully applied, which rules out any attempt to inscribe any particular instance of Christian politics as a model for all time. May they also provoke renewed reflection on how to faithfully apply our Protestant principles to the challenges facing our polities today.

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  • “Nursing Fathers”: The Magistrate and the Moral Law

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    “Nursing Fathers”: The Magistrate and the Moral Law

    Not many passages in the New Testament speak directly to political order. The first part of the thirteenth chapter of Romans is perhaps the most famous. I would like to focus in this essay on vv. 3-4, which may appear prima facie to be something of an interpretive crux. Are these verses descriptive or prescriptive? That is, are they simply declarative, or are they imperatival, telling us what magistrates ought to do?

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  • The Neglected Craft: Prudence in Reformed Political Thought

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    The Neglected Craft: Prudence in Reformed Political Thought

    Aristotle described politics as involving art or craft (techne). It, too, required skill. It, too, could produce excellent, even wondrous edifices: regimes. Once upon a time, the Reformed tradition saw politics in the same manner. Althusius, for example, spoke of “the art of governing.”[1] Joseph Caryl, a Westminster Divine, described rulers as engaging in an “art” or a “craft.” These thinkers, moreover, developed this artistry, doing so consciously within a Reformed framework.

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  • The Promise and Peril of Disestablishment: Baptist and Reformed Political Theology in the New Republic

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    The Promise and Peril of Disestablishment: Baptist and Reformed Political Theology in the New Republic

    This essay briefly attempts to explore the major formational differences between Baptists and Reformed Christians in the American republic on the question of church and state.

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  • The Decline of the Magisterial Tradition and the Rise of the Cromwellian Consensus (Pt. 1)

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    The Decline of the Magisterial Tradition and the Rise of the Cromwellian Consensus (Pt. 1)

    After the conclusion of the English Civil War, the tensions between two Puritan emphases began to become apparent: the ideal of the “godly magistracy,” which assumed general uniformity in religious practice, and the tendency towards a “gathered church,” which had encouraged the gathering of the “godly” in separate assemblies.

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  • “Presbyterians” and the Making of an Informal Establishment (Pt. 2)

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    “Presbyterians” and the Making of an Informal Establishment (Pt. 2)

    So far, I have worked to argue that the English Reformed tradition had already become considerably less magisterial by the mid-seventeenth century. Next, I want to suggest that Cromwell’s move towards supporting a kind of multiple establishment had echoes in the early republic, first in the abortive attempts to create shared establishments that would support churches of various denominations, as was attempted by Jefferson’s enemies in Virginia, then by the creation of an informal evangelical establishment in which Presbyterians and Congregationalists played the central role.

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  • The Shape Fallacy: The Book of Common Prayer as Text

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    The Shape Fallacy: The Book of Common Prayer as Text

    The Reformers were concerned not only with theology but also with its expression in worship. Many liturgies were produced in the churches of the magisterial Reformation in Germany, England, Switzerland, and elsewhere.

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