Guest Post: J.K. Wall on the Two Kingdoms Debate

J.K. Wall is a business journalist in Indianapolis, where he is a member of the Christ Church Reformed Presbyterian congregation. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history, writing his master’s thesis on the early sermons of Augustine of Hippo. His book Messiah the Prince Revisited, a modern update on Scottish theologian William Symington’s book, was published in September by Crown & Covenant Publications.   J.K. applies Symington’s work to a current theological issue in this guest post entitled “Avoiding Double Vision: A Helpful Historical Lens for the Modern Two Kingdoms Debate.”

It’s natural that we look to past thinkers for guidance in the midst of contemporary theological debates—like the one between two kingdoms theology and the one kingdom, neo-Calvinist viewpoint.

So in recent years, there have been numerous back-and-forth arguments as to whether Augustine’s concept of “two cities” or Luther’s concept of “two kingdoms” or Calvin’s comments about the “twofold government” of a spiritual kingdom and political kingdom give the upper hand to one side or the other of this discussion.

Over at the Reformation 21 blog, Matthew Tuininga declared it “anachronistic and impossible” to fit Calvin into the contemporary two kingdoms controversy—a prudent warning that clearly applies more broadly than [...]


Weekend Quote: Bonar on Coverings for Sin

From Light and Truth, Bible Thoughts and Themes by Horatius Bonar, in reference to Adam and Eve covering themselves with fig leaves after eating the forbidden fruit in the garden.

Man thinks he can cover himself.  He knows not the greatness of the evil; he does not calculate on the penetration of the all-seeing eye.  He sets to work and makes himself a covering, and he says this will do.  What sin is, or what the sinner needs or what God requires, he has no idea of.  Each sinner has his own way of covering himself; he weaves his own web, whatever may be the substance of which it is composed.  He wishes to be his own coverer, the maker of his own raiment.  He thinks he can do it himself.  He has no idea that it is utterly beyond his power.  He trusts to the skill of his own hands to provide the dress that shall hide his shame from the eye of God and man.  He thinks it an easy thing to deal with shame, and fear, and conviction, and conscience.  He will not believe that these can only be dealt with by God.  This is the last thing [...]


Is Christianity Homophobic?

A young man in our congregation runs a chain of bakery stores in Northern Ireland. A few months ago a gay man representing a group called ‘Queerspace’ came into one of his stores and placed an order for a cake with the message ‘Support Gay Marriage’. The order was refused by the management because it went against their strong Christian convictions about the nature of marriage. There would have been no problem selling the customer a cake—he wan’t being denied service because of his sexual orientation. The bakery simply refused to endorse his campaign for gay marriage. The management have also refused to ice cakes with (heterosexual) pornographic pictures or slogans they found offensive. There was no question of this man being treated differently because he is a homosexual.

Nevertheless, a few weeks later, the bakery was threatened with legal action by the Equality Commission, a publicly funded body, claiming they had breached equality laws which outlaw discrimination in the provision of goods and services.

Needless to say, the case prompted a media storm. And it didn’t take long before Christians in general, and the management of this bakery in particular, were being accused of homophobia. It’s such a common slur, isn’t [...]


Browse Worthy: Holding Hands

Often it is a little look, a quiet gesture, a soft touch that communicates so much.  I wanted to highlight these two articles in the hope that you might stop today, take a loved ones’s hand in yours, and dwell on the beauty and love that simple gesture conveys to another.

R.C. Sproul Jr., now a widower, offers wisdom in Husbands, Hold Your Wife’s Hand.  After his wife passed away two years ago, he tweeted “I wish I had held her hand more.”  Don’t have the same regret.

We also need to hold our children’s hands.  Melissa Edgington writes her thoughts about doing so in a touching post fitly titled So Many Stories in a Mama’s Hands.

After you read these posts, you might then think about how many times the gospels tell us Jesus touched others with his hands.  Blessing babies.  Touching a leper.  Raising a child.  Healing a bent woman.  Those he loved he touched.


Will all my sins be seen on the last day?

Will all my sins be seen on the last day?

A friend recently asked me this question. More than that, this question has been asked me of me several times in recent months. Christians, with good reason, want to know what we can expect on the last day. Several have asked me point blank, “When Jesus returns and judges everyone, will all of my sins be broadcast up on a cosmic-sized movie screen for God – and everyone else – to see?”

Some passages in Scripture seem to point this way. Revelation 20:12 speaks about the dead on the day of judgment being “judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.” And Romans 2:6 promises that God “will render to each one according to his works…” Verses like these give many the impression that each and every human will have the same experience on the day of judgment: having their every sin brought out into the light, to be seen for what they’ve truly done and who they truly are.

But is that what Scripture really teaches? Is that what believers in Jesus can expect? While there are many Biblical scholars who might disagree, [...]


The Logic of Abortion ~ Or Why a Mother Can Kill Her Baby

Mara Clarke of the Abortion Support Network (a pro-abortionist organization) recently debated Scott Klusendorf on the Unbelievable radio show. When pressed as to why it is morally permissible for a pregnant woman to end the life of a human being in her womb, Mara Clarke said,

Mara: “At the end of the day, all I can go with is: women who are living outside of the womb absolutely have a right to- and I don’t say this term- I never say this term- bodily autonomy, right? They have a right to continue with or not continue with a pregnancy.”

Justin (the host of the show): “Ok. So that in a sense overrides any issues of whether we’re dealing with a human in the womb or not for you.”

Mara: “Yes.”

Justin: “The autonomy of a woman over her body trumps that- and that presumably is the distinction then we’re drawing between the toddler and the child in the womb. A toddler is separate to the woman at that point, obviously. There’s not a question of her having control of her body at that point. You’re dealing with a separate individual.”

Mara: “Yeah, we can send [...]


STAR Bible Reading Program

Over the years I have used a number of Bible reading programs.  From choosing different books of interest to McCheyne’s classic plan to a consecutive Genesis-through-Revelation-in-a-year approach, when it comes to Bible reading plans I have either tried them or discussed them at length with those who have.

One of the struggles I have always had with reading programs is the guilty feeling that comes when inevitably a reading is missed.  Usually the first few times I try to make it up, but get distracted from enjoying the reading because I “have to” get caught up.  As my own personal reading rhythm is more inclined toward pausing and meditating on certain passages when I am touched by a truth, the need to check off a completed reading usually ends up frustrating me. Why does one of the sweetest means of grace have to have built-in legalism battles?

This struggle became especially acute a few years ago when I tried the 3650 Challenge (also known as Professor Horner’s Bible Reading Program).  This method has you read ten chapters from different places in the Bible per day (the 3650 obviously coming from the multiplication of the number of days in a year by ten).  At first I enjoyed reading from ten different places in the [...]


Speaking to One Another in Song

If I’m honest, I think one of the downsides of being a pastor is that I don’t often get to sit in the pews. I know pews aren’t always the most comfortable and the sweat stains on the back of ours may cause some people to wonder why sitting in them would be such a blessing. But there’s something about standing side-by-side with the people of God as they worship. There’s a certain connection that can seem lacking when you’re standing alone at the pulpit.

I was thinking of this when I attended a funeral at our church a couple of weeks ago. I was able to sit in the pews; something I hadn’t done since becoming pastor. And it was a blessing. But what really left an indelible impression on me was the singing of the Psalms. The Apostle Paul said, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Colossians 3:16). The Puritan Thomas Manton observed that we sing Psalms primarily to glorify God, but also to mutually edify one another. He wrote, “It is not meant of teaching from the psalms, but teaching [...]


Joy at Geneva, or: Oh, the Humanities!

Last night was one of the highlights of my 16 month tenure as chaplain of Geneva College.  I got to participate in the Geneva Reading Series, an initiative of the brilliantly creative Dr. Dan Williams.  GRS has become one of my favorite parts of being at Geneva.  It’s a time when the campus community can come together to enjoy and celebrate God’s good gifts among us.  Music, poetry, humorous stories, contemplative essays and other creative compositions by students and faculty remind us of the joy of being human.  GRS is a time to allow our souls a deep, cleansing breath, to revel in being image bearers of the God who has built spectacular beauty into his creation, and especially into humanity.

GRS represents so much of why I love being at Geneva, why I love Christian higher education rooted in the humanities, and why it breaks my heart that the academic disciplines which give rise to such joyful gatherings and which spark such brilliant fire in the hearts of students – music, literature, writing, history, philosophy and theology – are increasingly considered expendable in the brutal but necessary battle to keep college as inexpensive as possible.  Cutting deeply into such disciplines [...]


Speaking With One Another

“Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name.” – Malachi 3:16

Pastor Kenneth G. Smith preached on these words ten years ago in the congregation I serve as pastor. On that Lord’s Day, we gave thanks that the Lord had allowed us to continue as a congregation for forty years. Looking at these words from Malachi, Ken Smith mused on the words that the godly people of Malachi’s day must have spoken to one another in the midst of trouble times. The comfort, of course, is that the Lord paid attention and heard them and wrote a book of remembrance. God will not forget his people!

But what did those who feared the Lord say to one another? We do not know exactly, but they were obviously words that pointed one another towards God in the midst of an increasingly crooked and perverse generation. God will not forget his people, and we must not forget him either!

Pastor Smith exhorted us to speak to one another as members of the local body in three ways. [...]