Book Review:

Living in God’s Two Kingdoms, David VanDrunen (Crossway, 2010) How should I educate my children?  Is there such a thing as Christian politics? Should my church tell me how to vote?  Is it nobler for me to seek Christian employment rather than a secular job?  How can I best serve my community as a Christian?  These are some of the questions addressed in VanDrunen’s Living in God’s Two Kingdoms.  Some are easier to answer than others. I was very excited to read this book. Christianity and culture has been a passionate topic for me.  Isn’t that something every believer needs to think about—how does my faith affect my daily living?  Well, there is a theology behind that important question.  Many today think it is our duty as Christians to transform the culture for Christ.  While there is both good intent and romantic notions in this cause, VanDrunen points to its dangers.  Those who champion this cause of redeeming culture believe it is part of the Christian’s duty to fulfill the Cultural Mandate (given in Genesis 1).  However, VanDrunen demonstrates how we are not to fulfill the Cultural Mandate’s ultimate goal because Christ already has. We are not second Adams, Christ is, and his work is sufficient to earn the new heavens and the new earth. The two-kingdoms doctrine teaches how God rules the Spiritual Kingdom (the church) redemptively in Jesus Christ, and rules the Civil Kingdom (the state, and other social institutions) as creator and sustainer. He demonstrates adequately how the Spiritual Kingdom is formally set forth in God’s covenant with Abraham, and the Civil Kingdom is formally established through God’s covenant with Noah.  Therefore, “the kingdom of God proclaimed by the Lord Jesus Christ is not built through politics, commerce, music, or sports.  Redemption does not consist in restoring people to fulfill Adam’s original task, but consists in the  Lord Jesus Christ himself fulfilling Adam’s task once and for all, on our behalf.  Thus redemption is not ‘creation regained’ but ‘re-creation gained” (26). VanDrunen organizes his thoughts well as he takes the reader through the covenants God has made and how they unfold for us. After the doctrinal teaching, he discusses the authority, responsibilities, and limits of the church, family, educational, vocational,and political institutions at detail. This is a very helpful section by which all Christians will be encouraged in their daily living.  In the end, we can serve our God and love our neighbor with greater confidence and joy in God’s sovereignty.  However, we are made aware of our great responsibility in discernment as we live and worship. For those of you reading this review feeling unfamiliar with some of the language I’m using, this book is for you.  VanDrunen is a good teacher.  You will be challenged, but won’t drown in a bunch of intellectual speak.  For those of you familiar with this debate already, I highly recommend this book as well. VanDrunen’s tone is well-balanced, not arrogant or sarcastic, but all the while affirming his passion and truth. It is written respectably toward those who hold the opposing view. With that being said, I did have a few expectations that were unmet in this wonderful read.  I wished he would have wrestled more with para-church organizations in relation to the two-kingdoms.  Instead, he acknowledges the elephant in the chapter and says it will not be discussed in this book.  This makes me wonder if it’s because he doesn’t think his conclusions/opinions would be appealing to most of his readers?  Or maybe the publisher did not want him to address the issue?   Related to this, I wished he would have addressed some thoughts that he has brought up in some conventions regarding the conjunction of Kuyper’s spheres and two-kingdoms.  (Side note: Michael Horton addresses some of these issues well in The Gospel Commission, which I later read.)  Lastly, I would have liked to hear his views of the early and late teachings of Francis Schaeffer, as much of his followers are in the neo-calvinist (opposing) camp. Although I affirm the two kingdoms, I was helped very much through the articulate earlier teachings of Schaeffer.