The Two Kingdoms: A Guide for the Perplexed

Bradford Littlejohn


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.

About the Author

W. Bradford Littlejohn (Ph.D, University of Edinburgh, 2013) is the President of the Davenant Institute. He is the author of Richard Hooker: A Companion to His Life and Work and The Peril and Promise of Christian Liberty as well as numerous articles and book chapters in Reformation studies, Christian ethics, and political theology.



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From the Book

Of course, these acts of love, in which the Christian makes himself “the most dutiful servant of all,” are the very stuff of which the “earthly kingdom,” the space east of Eden and west of the new Jerusalem, subject to human authority and prudential calculus, is made. But this simply highlights the fact that the language of “the two kingdoms” ought not serve to neatly divvy up the various elements of the Christian life into one or another sphere, but rather, often, ought to be viewed as two different ways of talking about the same elements. We are simul justus et peccator, at the same time free lords and dutiful servants, at the same time alive with Christ in the heavenly places and toiling in murky paths here below, and even as we enjoy the liberty of a conscience set free by grace, we live under the laws (natural and civil) that regulate our lives with one another as human creatures. To confuse these two rules is to risk libertinism or legalism, triumphalism or despair.

from The Two Kingdoms: A Guide for the Perplexed, ch. 1


The Davenant Institute

The Davenant Institute supports the renewal of Christian wisdom for the contemporary church. It seeks to sponsor historical scholarship at the intersection of the church and academy, build networks of friendship and collaboration within the Reformed and evangelical world, and equip the saints with time-tested resources for faithful public witness. See more at

Davenant Guides

Davenant Guides seek to offer short and accessible introductions to key issues of current debate in theology and ethics, drawing on a magisterial Protestant perspective and defending its contemporary relevance today.