What the Heck is 2K Anyway, and an Answer to Todd

Good Question, Todd. I received some new interest in the topic, a little bit of pushback, and one really good suggestion. A pastor emailed me a suggestion about defining our terms clearly. Since we started off with a two-kingdoms response, I thought it would be good to define this doctrine using the words of VanDrunen himself, as he wrote in his book Living in God’s Two Kingdoms. Of course, the books Todd recommended by VanDrunen are much more thorough than a quote I can give. This is a helpful excerpt that also clarifies what Two Kingdoms is not:


This two-kingdoms doctrine strongly affirms that God has made all things, that sin corrupts all aspects of life, that Christians should be active in human culture, that all lawful cultural vocations are honorable, that all people are accountable to God in every activity, and that Christians should seek to live out the implications of their faith in their daily vocations. A Christian, however, does not  have to adopt a redemptive vision of culture in order to affirm these important truths. A biblical two-kingdoms doctrine provides another compelling way to do so. According to this doctrine, God is not redeeming the cultural activities and institutions of this world, but is preserving them through the covenant he made with all living creatures through Noah in Genesis 8:20-9:17. God himself rules this “common kingdom,” and thus it is not, as some writers describe it, the “kingdom of man.” This kingdom is in no sense a realm of moral neutrality or autonomy. God makes its institutions and activities honorable, though only for temporary and provisional purposes. Simultaneously, God is redeeming a people for himself, by virtue of the covenant made with Abraham and brought to glorious fulfilment in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, who has completed Adam’s original task once and for all. These redeemed people are citizens of the “redemptive kingdom,” whom God is gathering now in the church and will welcome into the new heaven and the new earth at Christ’s glorious return. Until that day, Christians live as members of both kingdoms, discharging their proper duties in each. They rejoice to be citizens of heaven through membership in the church, but also recognize for the time being they are living in Babylon, striving for justice and excellence in their cultural labors, out of love for Christ and their neighbor, as sojourners and exiles in a land that is not their lasting home. (14-15)


With that in mind, here’s my response to Todd’s points:


  1. I am persuaded by the two-kingdoms doctrine. As a housewife, the implications of living out my faith in everyday life became confusing. Do I need to try and participate in God’s plan of redemption by Christianizing the activities my family and I were involved in? What exactly is God redeeming and transforming in this age? Being invited to things like “Christian” yoga and Upwards sports led me to ask questions. I found biblical help in learning that God rules the common kingdom (shared between believers and unbelievers) differently than his holy kingdom of the church. In the church we see a redemptive rule in Christ, and in in the government of the secular world and its accompanying social establishments, we notice God rules with different means and purposes as creator and maintainer. This distinction, along with the definition above, helps me see that the church’s greatest responsibility to the world is to proclaim the gospel and properly administer the sacraments. As a citizen in both kingdoms, Christians are receivers of grace who are then given a benediction, sent out to love our neighbor and serve alongside of them. We are the salt of the earth.

  2. I am not a transformationalist. The bible is pretty clear that Christ is not going to return to a Christianized culture. My doctrine of Christ and culture is very much connected to my eschatology. This frees me to live as a Christian in my culture and make my cupcakes to the glory of the Lord, daggone it. But I am not transforming the cupcake industry for Christ.

  3. “Some of the advocates of 2K and Transformationalism send me running in the opposite directions.” Amen, preach it brother.

  4. “The three of us don’t occupy the same place among the 2K/Transformationalist continuum.” Translation: Todd is busy fighting hard to make the government ban women from combat, Carl is ready to throw every sharp-shooting woman in the front lines, and I require that they can do the solid three pull-ups and pass the same physical test as the men. Maybe that’s a bit of a caricature.

  5. “The purpose of MoS is not to criticize our guests.” No, we criticize each other, not our guests. But we can challenge them sometimes. And our listeners may have been offended on occasion...

  6. “The next interview that airs on MoS is going to make the 2K folks really mad.” You see? We are equal opportunity offenders. Conversations that count.

  7. “Which group do you want to make angry next?” I don’t know Todd, maybe those who sing “Sweep Me Away” in worship?