Apologetics wolf-wolf

Published on November 9th, 2011 | by Bojidar Marinov


The Moral Relativism of the Two Kingdoms Theology

I am often asked what my opinion is of the threat of socialism and communism to the United States, and whether I see a trend to socialism in this country. My reply usually surprises people: I always answer that there are attempts at producing socialism and even some successes, especially when it comes to the Federal government and the states’ governments. But I do not see a trend. Socialism and communism are self-destructing; they can not produce anything of their own, and they need capitalism to survive. That’s how the Soviet Union survived: using imported American grain and stolen American technologies. That’s how socialist Canada survives better than its European socialist counterparts: it is so much closer to the American economy which still keeps much of its original capitalism. Socialism can’t survive in America even if it completely overtakes the country: It won’t have another nation’s money to live on.

Then, when asked what I see as the main danger for America today, my reply startles people even more. I believe that the main danger for America are our own Christian celebrities, popular preachers, seminary professors, pastors of big congregations; in short, figures of authority in the Christian world who, by the virtue of their ability to use words and convey ideas, are considered above any reproach and above any criticism. I have witnessed this phenomenon over and over again, when Christians fall in love with a preacher only because he is able to convey old trivial truths in a new and entertaining, or shocking, or literary beautiful way. It is from the mouths and the pens of those Christian celebrities that the main danger flows; they are those who teach us and our children in the way of moral relativism. Many of them use one or two doctrines in a conservative and orthodox way – for example, the doctrine of God’s grace in salvation – only to capture the minds of their Christian listeners, and then, once those minds are captured, give them doctrines and worldview in other areas of life that are morally relativistic, compromising, and entirely foreign to the Biblical message. Socialists in this country are wolves in wolves’ clothing, or may be in watchdog’s clothing – so they are easily recognizable. But when a Christian preacher dons the sheep’s clothing of the doctrines of grace, most sheep follow such a person even when the core of his doctrine is the wolfish doctrines of moral relativism and socialism.

And when someone exposes the true nature of such celebrity’s doctrines, he is maligned as “unloving,” “divisive,” etc. I have experienced this attitude first-hand. But being a slow learner, I continue to expose them.

A couple of weeks ago I had another opportunity to witness the confused – or deliberately confusing – nature of the doctrines of the Two Kingdoms, coming from the pen of Albert Mohler, the president of the largest Baptist seminary in the US, and arguably the largest seminary in the world. Mohler is a well known proponent of the Two Kingdoms theology, and I have written about his theology in previous articles. (See here, here, and here.) These days, with the much ado about the race for Republican nominee and the presence of the Mormon Mitt Romney in that race, Al Mohler wrote an article which expounds his view on the issue of “Mormonism, Democracy, and the Urgent Need for Evangelical Thinking.” In it, Al Mohler calls the evangelicals to their “responsibility as evangelical Christians is to think seriously and biblically about these issues.” Unfortunately, his article is another example of the thinking of the Two Kingdoms theology, which is neither serious nor biblical.

The first half of the article uses very definitive and strong language to explain why Mormonism is not Christianity and can not be considered Christianity by any stretch of our imagination or of the doctrines of orthodoxy. Mohler is not very original there, others before him have expounded on this issue; but the succinctness of his exposé deserves admiration. Within several paragraphs he gives enough reasons why a Christian can not and should not even begin to think of the Mormon religion as Christianity. In conclusion, Mohler states:

It is neither slander nor condescension to state clearly that Mormonism is not Christianity.

Such conclusion is very necessary, especially in our modern world where many evangelicals often allow to be led astray by false teachings.

Once he is done with Mormonism, Mohler moves to the issue of the Christian’s social and political responsibility. Or at least, that’s what he says.

But the second half of his article contains no advice whatsoever as to what Christians should do when they vote for a political candidate. Mohler is completely unclear as to what the Christian’s social and political responsibility is.

He first transfers the responsibility for the importance of the religious identity of the political candidates to historical developments, not to any clear moral or Biblical principle:

It can be argued that our contemporary political context puts greater emphasis on the religious identity of candidates at all levels than has ever been experienced in American history.

Notice the impersonal passive voice: “It can be argued.” It is a specialized literary device of modern educators, as Richard Mitchell explains in his book, The Graves of Academe. Its specific purpose is to avoid responsibility for direct, positive statements. “It can be argued” but it doesn’t have to be true. Or “it can be argued” the other way too. And if someone disagrees with the statement, then Mohler is safe; he just said that it can be argued, not that it is true.

And then, even if we take the direct statement for what it’s worth, it is our “contemporary political context” that forces us to look at the religious identity of the candidates. Not the Bible. Not any absolute ethical or spiritual principles. It is the context, the circumstances, that have created such an emphasis. Otherwise, normally, we wouldn’t have to worry about the religious commitment of our politicians. From the very beginning of his analysis, Mohler makes the issue a temporary issue, an issue that is dependent on the situation, on the historical context. He doesn’t mention any Biblical principle to base his article upon; “it can be argued” that we have to make such decisions only because the historical situation forces us to do so.

Consequently, the discussion in the article deviates from the specific issue of what a Christian’s social and political responsibility should be to what is permissible for a Christian to do:

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Evangelicals stating a desire to vote for candidates for public office who most closely identify with our own beliefs and worldview.

Notice again the careful avoidance of clear statements: “stating a desire to vote.” Not “voting.” Even better, in the very next sentence Mohler calls such “stating a desire to vote” an intuition. And that intuition is “understandable and right.” Mohler doesn’t give his readers knowledge or understanding from the Bible; he only comments on their “intuition” to “state a desire to vote” for certain candidates and sees no problem with it.

That is, the discussion now is not on what we must do as Christians but on whether our intuition is right or wrong.

Then he introduces another factor in the analysis, one that is his favorite when Mohler discusses politics: “competency.” He has talked about this before, and I have discussed it in a previous article, pointing to the fact that the reasons for the political incompetence of Christians can be traced no farther back than the lack of sound teaching on political issues from the pulpits, and that can be traced no farther back than the lack of teaching on Biblical principles of civil government and politics in the Christian seminaries who train the pastors. I mean Christian seminaries like the one whose president is Al Mohler.

Mohler ignores the obvious fact that he himself bears responsibility for the political incompetence of so many Christians, and he says that “competence for public office is also an important Christian concern, as is made clear in Romans 13.” Romans 13 doesn’t mention such a requirement. The only requirement is that the ruler is a servant of God, that is, punish the wicked and commend the righteous. Which means he must know the Law of God – where only the standard for righteousness and wickedness is given – and apply it in his judgments. There is no such thing as “competence” separated from obedience to the Law of God or separated from faith in God. Mohler tries to support his statement with an apocryphal quote from Luther: that “that he would rather be ruled by a competent Turk (Muslim) than an incompetent Christian.” Luther never said such a thing, and Mohler knows Luther never said such a thing but he still uses it to justify his claims that “it well summarizes an important Christian wisdom.” Al Mohler claims to be Reformed, that is Calvinist, but for some reason he avoids mentioning John Calvin’s view on the duty of magistrates from chapter 20 of Book 4 of his Institutes:

That [the duty of magistrates] extends to both tables of the law, did Scripture not teach, we might learn from profane writers; for no man has discoursed of the duty of magistrates, the enacting of laws, and the common weal, without beginning with religion and divine worship.

And then again:

Hence in Scripture holy kings are especially praised for restoring the worship of God when corrupted or overthrown, or for taking care that religion flourished under them in purity and safety.

There is no such thing as requirement for an abstract “competence” for civil magistrates in the Reformed theology; a magistrate is under the obligation to preserve the national obedience to both tables of the Law and to make sure the Christian religion flourishes under him. It is obviously not separated from his faith in the God of the Bible. How would a “competent Turk” qualify for being a Biblical civil magistrate? Mohler doesn’t say.

Then he goes to what the current experiences of Christians in other lands are, for example Turkey. They must choose between Muslim candidates. Again, Mohler avoids the responsibility of telling his readers what their responsibility is when they vote.

Predictably, the article concludes with an open declaration of Mohler’s lack of clear advice:

None of this settles the question of whom Evangelicals should support in the 2012 presidential race.

Much more than that. None of Mohler’s writing settles the question of what a Christian’s social and political responsibility is when that Christian goes to the voting booth. There are no Biblical requirements for Christian candidates. There are no principles for Biblical political action. There are no principles for Biblical civil government. There are no principles for what law should rule the land. Mohler talks loosely about “our own worldview,” but he doesn’t explain what that worldview is when it comes to civil government and politics. All he has done is say that it’s okay to vote for a candidate that says he is a Christian. That’s all.

How is this possible? How come the president of the largest Christian seminary in this nation has no clear advice to give when it comes to political action and civil government? How is it that he has no clear principles to offer when we Christians choose our candidates for office?

The answer lies in a sentence in the middle of the article:

In a fallen world, political questions are always contextual questions.

This is a professor’s newspeak: A language that is deliberately vague and misleading because the professor knows that if he expressed his views directly, his listeners won’t like them. But when the words are chosen carefully (“contextual”), and if conditional clauses are added (“in a fallen world”), the true nature of the professor’s worldview and ethical commitments won’t be so easily unmasked. Let’s see what Mohler’s statement actually means.

What he is saying is that political questions will always have their answers dependent on the context, i.e. on the circumstances. It is the immediate situation that determines how we react politically and how we vote. There is no clear and unequivocal Biblical absolute standard for political action and civil government applicable to all times and all situations. The answer to the question of “How then shall we vote?” is not ethical in nature; or, if it is ethical in nature, its answer must be found not in the Bible but in the specific political context of the time. The true meaning of Mohler’s statement is that political questions are subject to situational ethics, that is, to moral relativism, where there are no eternal, immutable moral principles that apply to all situations and all times.

The true wickedness of Mohler’s statement becomes even more obvious when we take it to its logical end: Why limit it to only political questions? Why not say that “in a fallen world,” all questions are always contextual? Why not say that in a fallen world, questions of personal morals are always contextual? (Remember that Mohler declared that the sin of sodomy is not just a choice.) Why not say that family questions are always contextual? What about church questions, or questions about business ethics, or education, or training our children in the Lord, etc., etc.? What could stop anyone from declaring – based on Mohler’s statement – that in a fallen world all ethics is situational, all ethical responses are decided by the circumstances, and we must always choose between concrete options, not “between theoretical constructs,” as Mohler himself says? (By the way, if we don’t have any theoretical constructs, how do we decide between candidates? Aren’t real candidates only representative of worldviews and ethical principles?)

Such moral relativism must be expected from one who is a proponent of the Two Kingdoms theology. In the Two Kingdoms theology, there is no clear Biblical standard for social action; only the “redemptive kingdom” of the church is under the Biblical Law – to a certain extent. But the “common kingdom” of the society is under the “natural law,” a law that is supposedly found not in the Bible but in nature, and is common to all, believers and unbelievers. That “natural law” controls the civil government and all the other responsibilities a Christian may have outside of his personal faith and outside of the church.

But no one has the holy book of that “natural law.” No one knows what it specifically says. The doctrine of the Two Kingdoms assumes there is such a clearly expressed body of principles called “natural law,” but it can’t tell where it is. People do not naturally agree on what a law should be; it is only in the Bible that we find a clear law given by God. All other laws are men’s laws; and while they may sound “natural” to one group of men, they would be unnatural to another group of men. And the Two Kingdoms theology has no answer to which of all man-made laws should be “natural” to all men.

The result is moral relativism. If the civil government is controlled by “natural law,” and if no one knows what that “natural law” is, we end up with laws that are “contextual,” i.e. decided by the personal whims of politicians for specific circumstances, in favor of specific interests. If the Law of God is not declared to be the only law for civil government, then there is no clear idea of what law is, and therefore Christians are left helpless and without an answer to the question, “How then shall we vote?” And more than that, they are left with no answer to the question of what the civil government should look like in order to be obedient to God. Following Mohler’s theology of the Two Kingdoms, we must come to the conclusion that it is all relative.

Like Frederick Engels wrote in a letter to Conrad Schmidt of 1890, that in the issues of economics and politics, “everything is relative and nothing is absolute.” Mohler’s moral relativism when it comes to political questions was shared by the founders of Communism as well.

And that’s why it is not the socialists in this country that I fear but our own Christian – and especially Reformed – celebrities.

Print Friendly

About the Author

A Reformed missionary to his native Bulgaria for over 10 years, Bojidar preaches and teaches doctrines of the Reformation and a comprehensive Biblical worldview. Having founded Bulgarian Reformation Ministries in 2001, he and his team have translated over 30,000 pages of Christian literature about the application of the Law of God in every area of man’s life and society, and published those translations online for free. He has been active in the formation of the Libertarian movement in Bulgaria, a co-founder of the Bulgarian Society for Individual Liberty and its first chairman. If you would like Bojidar to speak to your church, homeschool group or other organization, contact him through his website: http://www.bulgarianreformation.org/

26 Responses to The Moral Relativism of the Two Kingdoms Theology

  1. alex alexander says:

    Hi Bojidar,
    Bear with me:
    1. You write: “…only because he is able to convey old trivial truths in a new and entertaining, or shocking, or literary beautiful way…”
    It should be “literarily beautiful way”. I can’t explain why, but I’m right.
    If you’d omitted “beautiful” you could have written “literary way”… alternatively, you could have written “beautiful literary way”. But definitely NOT “literary beautiful way”.
    English is a devilishly-complicated language!
    2. Re your article:
    Alex A

  2. Sebastian says:

    Why can’t any of you guys be honest about the moral relativism of salvation by “faith alone?” If you don’t like moral relativism, then why do you hang on to the man made doctrines that logically lead to liberal theology? “Faith alone” turns the commands of God into the suggestions of God.

    You say God is sovereign, but then you say that His commands need not be kept in order to be saved; how is that a spirit which honors His sovereignty? Instead, it is a spirit that impugns God for treating us like spiritual yo-yos: sanctifying us in “piecemeal” fashion.

  3. aCultureWarrior says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention Communist China using capitalism to stay afloat BM.

    Regarding the two faced politics and religion of one Mitt Romney. AFA’s Bryan Fischer said it best when he said “It’s not that Mitt Romney is a Mormon, it’s that he’s not Mormon enough.” Fischer was talking about how the Mormon’s are pro life and pro decency; Romney’s legislative history is neither.

    • Tired Old Man says:

      The article is not about the Chinese (communist or otherwise) economic system. However, their beginning use of capitalism is a fascinating subject.

      • aCultureWarrior says:

        BM mentioned communist and socialist regimes, yet he failed to talk about the one that is at the forefront of today’s economic headlines.

        And yes, it would be “fascinating” to talk about the forced abortions and what amounts to political slavery that still continues in China to this day.

  4. Don Confalone says:

    So, here we go again.

    “But the second half of his article contains no advice whatsoever as to what Christians should do when they vote for a political candidate.”

    I don’t remember any advice from you either. Do you have any? And don’t say “Vote for the guy closest to the Law Of God”. That means different things to different people as well. Tell me what are we to do when we vote?

    You say he “… knows that if he expressed his views directly, his listeners won’t like them.” Please, you guys here do the same thing. Sure we would criminalize sodomy. Really? That’s it? What a $10 fine? Never a word about how you would kill practicing homosexuals. Say it loud and proud. Or are you worried your listeners won’t like you? And if hide the whole truth on this point, are there others? Don’t hide your true beliefs here only to say “We say it clearly in our rarely read books” Say it in public before you crush Mohler for doing the same thing.

    The most terrifying thing is so many people believe they know the mind of GOD and they are all different. No, more terrifying is people follow them. Yes?

    • Jason says:

      You, my friend, have a profound hatred of God and his word. Your quarrel is not with the folks at AV, but with God himself and what he has clearly revealed in his word.

      • Don Confalone says:

        …but with God himself and what he has clearly revealed in his word.

        Over 3000 different christian sects and you use the word clearly? Wow. Is it only your kind who sees it and everyone else is wrong.

        You say I “…have a profound hatred of God and his word.” That’s not true. I don’t even “hate” your idea about God and his word. I think it there are great and good things about your idea of God. I also see alot of bad things in it and like to read about how this line of thought is evolving, and to have a place where intelligent people can sharpen me some. I mean, nobody has it all correct, right? And I do believe you guys are the most intelligent consrvative christians out there, as I was a reconstuctionist at one time on my journey.

        So if I offend you, I’m sorry. I was always taught as a reconstuctionist, never to fear different lines of thought. And let’s face it, I read many of Gary North’s books, when it comes to socratic language, I pale in comparison.

    • Jason says:

      OK Don. My point is that the idea of “killing practicing homosexuals” was not cooked up by the guys at AV, but is declared by God to be the just punishment for such grievous sin (e.g., Leviticus 18:22). Ergo you don’t have a quarrel with anyone at AV.

      • aCultureWarrior says:

        I think you and other AV’ers are reading Jewish ceremonial laws when you talk about executing practicing homosexuals Jason.

        That’s not to say that a homosexual who spreads a deadly disease through sexual contact or the blood supply, or one that “murders the spirit” of an innocent child by molesting him shouldn’t be put to death.

        It’s kinda hard to repent your sins here on earth if you’re hanging at the end of a rope instead of sitting in a jail cell.

    • Michael Earl Riemer says:

      Don Confalone I will give you some good advice. However, it seems, at least to me, that contempt radiates from your comments. Your “tone” seems to imply that you really do not care, nor really want to know what the Scriptures teach concerning how a christian should “order” his life in relation to his nation, his culture or life in general.

      But here goes, with a little advice for the next time you vote. Why not start with this advice, and go on from there, to help restore our nation.

      Are you looking at the candidate as God does?

      Saul was head and shoulders over all the people. He was a king after the people’s heart. (I Samuel 9:2)

      I Samuel 13:14 “But now they kingdom shall not continue; the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart…”

      I Samuel 16:7 “But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him; for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”

      Qualifications (requirements) for office: (Exodus 18:2; II Sam. 23:3)

      1. Able man – skillful, proficient, capable, competent, effective, experienced.
      2. Fears God – reverence, deep respect, regard, devotion, awe
      3. Man of truth – integrity, fidelity, veracity
      4. Hates covetousness – lustful, greedy, selfish, envious
      5. Just – righteous, as in a judge or king who maintains the right and dispenses justice, both in punishing and in rewarding.

      II Sam. 23:3 “The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.”

      Acts 6:3 “…full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom…”.” Also see II Chronicles 19:6-7; Proverbs 28:2; Ecclesiastes 12:13; Isaiah 16:5; 59:1-9 Ezekiel 18:5-9 For the Church: I Tim. 3:2-13; Titus 1:6-8

      Does your candidate qualify?

      So what should you do? How should you vote?

      1. Take Jesus into the voting booth with you.
      2. When you vote, ask yourself, would Jesus be pleased with my choice?
      3. Remember, God looks on the heart of a person, not on the outward appearances. You must do the same. Of course you will not know a persons heart, but look at his fruit, do his words match his actions and works?

      Brother Marinov, a wonderful column. Great job!

    • E Harris says:

      This is where I like Mr. McDurmon – he comes right out & says what the “Christian Reconstructionists” would do with homosexuals. And then says that if they don’t like it – they could always escape to another city – that is not run by the Christian Reconstructionists~!!

      Well, it’s logical.

      But I don’t think that approach is in keeping with the New Testament time. I’m not disapproving of McDurmon’s approach because it’s ok to act upon homosexual lust, but because of New Testament text. It would require us to kill confessing homosexuals. Not only that, but have an earth-bound law-structure wherein such killing can be done without it being vigilantism. That’s interesting: nowhere do I see a proof text in the New Testament for such a structure within the church (for killing the bodies of homosexuals). All I see in the New Testament are a band of believers, who met together, and sometimes refused (individually) to socialize with people who were rebellious to the message. That was the extent of the ‘cutting off.’

      Too many people are caught in an old-fashioned Roman mindset of trying to CONTROL everyone else within a certain geographic vicinity. I think that is what all of this kingdom-confusion is about.

    • Jason says:

      Don, do you think Jerry Sandusky needs more time to repent of his sins?

  5. RJ Cain says:

    There is so much that I agree with in this post, that I wouldn’t know where to begin in comment.

    There is a veneer of false Christianity keeping the way forward hidden. It is like moths being drawn to the brightest light around only to be consumed by it.

    In my opinion all the “Christian celebrities” have lost all credibility. Just one example among dozens would be the children (next generations). Look at the children who have grown up under their (20th century evangelical type Christian celebs) guidance. Most have completely left the Church and joined the flesh feeding frenzy, and those that remain look and live like they have.

    I mean these guys are all over the radio, on the internet, speaking at all the conferences, have numerous books authored by them (supposedly showing immature Christians the way to righteousness), people are always saying have you seen so and so or heard so and so. Their list of so-called achievements goes on and on, and what do they have to show for it……….. You should be hearing crickets about now.

    If the children are any indicator or better yet representation of their fruit (and I believe they are the prime), their fruit is rotten. You don’t have to be and arborist to see that.

    Way to say it like it needs to be said Bojidar! The “Christian celebrities” are a part of the problem, not the solution.

  6. Bill Evans says:

    While you are on this topic, would anyone care to weigh in on Calvin’s denunciation of French Hugoneut armed resistance to on-going persecution?
    And, in your opinion, were the Hugoneuts wrong for trying to protect themselves? and for that matter, were the Scotch Covenanters? My gut says they were obeying the sixth commandment. Both groups were loyal nationalists, and would have gladly given full allegiance to their monarchs, but only to a point. The political philosophies of these two groups seem to be the seed for the American concept of government by consent of the governed, which I have a bit of a problem squaring with Scripture, given God’s sovereignty. Help me please.

    • John Caneday says:

      Bill, have you read C. Gregg Singer’s book “A Theological Interpretation of American History?” He spends a lot of time discussing the founding documents and their theological suppositions. I highly recommend it.

      Here’s a brief sample:

      “It should not be surprising that Locke’s political thought was a far cry from the biblical declarations concerning the origins, nature and power of human government. He declared that all government was originated by mankind in terms of a social contract for the preservation of those human rights which nature had conferred upon man. From man through the compact, or contract, government derived all its just powers and hence ‘all government exists by the consent of the governed.’ When any human government failed to observe the terms of the contract, or failed to protect those rights which it had been created to defend, its citizens had the undoubted natural right of revolution.

      The secular nature of this political philosophy is quite obvious. The sovereignty of God was replaced by that of the people and the decrees of God under common grace for the government of his world were replaced by a nebulous, unhistorical and humanistic concept known as the social contract. The ruler was no longer responsible to God for his administration of government, but responsible to the people. The law he enforced was no longer the revealed will of God for men, but the announced will of the majority which was now sovereign. Even the rights which Locke declared that man possessed did not come to him from a sovereign Creator whose image he bore, but from an impersonal nature deistically conceived.” p. 32-33

  7. Maungakiekie says:

    That was breathtaking, Bo. Keep it up!

  8. Larry Ball says:

    Excellent analysis. This is why I have a difficult time watching Fox News and even Judge Nepolitano on Fox Business News (even though I have to say I like “The Judge”). Sometimes, I want to scream! The two kingdom view is foundational for both Roman Catholics and Lutherans. Sadly, it is now foundational for both the evangelcial and refomed comunnities. It has made us irrelevant in our culture, and eventually a high price will be paid and accountibility required. Keep up the good work. There are those of us who understand and agree.

    • Cromwell says:

      the “Judge” and his Anarcho-Capitalist Rothbardian clique, are devout Moral Egalitarians. Just the other day their leader, drew a Moral Equivalence between the Apocalyptic Iranian Mullah’s and Canada.

    • Jon says:

      That’s a good point: How would a 2K theologian differentiate their political views from a Roman Catholic or Lutheran? Of course, over at Darryl Hart’s blog, he has many simpathetic Lutherans whose views are indistinguishable from his.

  9. Jason says:

    Great article. Thanks Bojidar.

    The simplest way of disabusing the proponents of Two-Kingdoms Theology of their folly would be to have them go and live in a Muslim or Hindu country for a few months. Then they’d soon realise what utter nonsense it is that they are spewing out.

    • Funny. I just said the same thing to a friend of mine the other day.

    • E Harris says:

      We ALL dwell in a foreign country, on this physical earth…

      We don’t need to concern ourselves with what the “Roman Empires” of this world are doing, at the top. We need to speak the truth, to all men. BEGINNING with the core gospel truths of how to approach God (through Jesus).

      The saints in the Bible had their own society within a society. And they didn’t worry about how to pull the levers of secular government, or how to take it over. They simply won souls. They kept walking, and winning.

Back to Top ↑