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Archive for the ‘Political’ Category

It has become increasingly popular for confessing Reformed theologians to actually reject the Reformed consensus on the role of the civil magistrate. This project has been a long time coming. The Scots modified the Westminster Confession on this subject when they first adopted it, though they did not erase all reference to the Magistrate’s role in protecting the Church. They simply limited its powers. The adoption of the Westminster Confession in the United States marked the most drastic departure, as several paragraphs were significantly changed to promote the new idea of “separation of Church and State.” However, we are now seeing a truly distinct theological explanation of this shift, claiming that the civil realm is to be kept wholly apart from the religious (not simply clerical) realm.

It has to be admitted that Christian political thought was not helped by the so-called Religious Right that arose in the 1980s. That movement wasn’t wholly bad, but it tended not to represent the best of traditional Christian thought, and on the ground level it could look downright scary. Nevertheless, we should not be fooled into thinking that this is the sum of Christian political thought. There is a long tradition to be uncovered.

Again, the astounding thing about these Reformed theologians currently promoting a purely a-religious civil realm is that on most other issues they insist on complete adherence to the Reformed confessions. Since this is the case, I would like to use the historical confessions as a leverage point to show a better alternative to the new so-called “Two Kingdoms” theology. There was, to be sure, a Two Kingdoms theology in the Reformed tradition, but it looked vastly different. To show the traditional view, I would like to provide a catena of Reformed Confessional statements on the civil magistrate.

Here is a chronological survey:

Tetrapolitan Confession-(1530 Bucer and Capito):

23- … They accordingly teach that to exercise the office of magistrate is the most sacred function that can be divinely given. Hence it has come to pass that they who exercise public power are called in the Scriptures gods… Therefore none exercise the duties of magistrate more worthily than they who of all are the most Christian and holy… (more…)

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